Landlord Adventures: Toilets, Baybays and Excuses

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In Trinbagonian society, most of us have the luxury of living in our parents’ homes till we big and ol’. Feeling shame? Well, don’t. Our parents actually prefer that we save our money or contribute at home instead of putting that money in a landlord’s pocket.
But for the young adults (like me) who decide to leave the nest, and embark on a struggled journey of independence, we either leave home to pursue studies and live on campus, are in the lucky few who can purchase our own homes immediately, or rent until we strike gold to get a deed with our name on it. Renting and finding a suitable apartment that you can afford has its challenges, but most importantly you have to deal with landlords.
I once had a landlord named “Baybay Whatdidhappenwas”. Yes, it would have been quite comical if this was actually her birth name, but this was the nickname my roommate and I had come up with, as she often referred to her tenants as “baby” (pronounced: bay-bay), and her answers or excuses for various complaints always started with the phrase, “Well, what did happen was…”
For example, when I asked her why the hot water was not working, she responded by saying, “Well what did happen was the electrician hadda come cause like he didn’t connect the wire good”.
Me: “Why is the electric gate still not working after so many days?”
Baybay: “Well what did happen was I know allyuh tell meh bout it, but meh brother in law have to come… baybay.”
Me: “Why do we have to pay an extra TT$ 500 fee?”
Baybay: “Well what did happen was, if allyuh leave early, that is the cost for me to place another ad in the papers…”
At the end of it all, I could never really get down to the bottom of what really DID happen or was perhaps too exhausted from the excuses to make sense of it all. No matter how “nice” your landlord or landlady may appear to be, you are bound to come across the following types.
The “I’ll Get Around to It” Landlord
It can become frustrating when you realize that several items you’ve requested to be fixed never get attended to until your landlord makes the time to do it and God forbid your landlord has a busy schedule! You can’t always take repairs into your own hands unless specifically stated on your lease. Some leases state that the tenant is liable to all small fixes; others allow the tenant to fix, and then be compensated thereafter. However, I have discovered that many landlords prefer to do it themselves.
The Mr. Fix It Landlord
Mr. or Ms. Fix it may or may not have been technically trained in plumbing, electrical or masonry work, but they’re down to trying anything to save a buck and cut costs. My current landlord, who I will call “Mr. X” can add plumber, electrician, mason and general fixer of all problems to his repertoire.
When I had just moved, my toilet had an overflow problem, and for months he tried to fix it himself. When I came home after work, I’d find my bathroom mats in disarray or completely removed. I even found a dirty mop in my shower, for which he later explained that he’d shoved the mop down the toilet with hopes of pushing whatever was causing the clog further down. Surprisingly, that did not work and my toilet continued to overflow with every flush, which is especially unacceptable for a woman may I add.
Mr. X tried it again, and when I got home late from work he was happy to announce that he was not sure what the previous tenants did, but he pulled out a huge piece of meat from the toilet and he believed that I would no longer have a problem. Yes, he said meat. Disgusting! Well, guess what, the toilet still did not work. I had had enough and told him the next day that I would be getting my own plumber to fix the problem because as a woman, I could not handle those conditions. He finally spent the money and called a plumber. Now my toilet works.
The Landlord who’s a Bit Strange or Makes no Sense
Mr. X is a kind man, but sometimes he just makes no sense. He was quite proud of himself one evening, when he told me he had finally installed a gate. He then handed me a key, as the new rule would be to padlock this damn gate with each and every exit and entry. The wall right next to the gate, however, was not finished. As a matter of fact, only one wall was completed, and if I were a bandit, I would not be deterred by a padlocked gate, when I could cross right over the wall!
On the matter of burglary, Baybay had her own strange explanation when my handbag went missing from my bedroom at my last apartment. She found my handbag under the house and summed it up to a ‘piper’ who took one of the PVC pipes from the back, and fished my handbag through the window.  I doubt a “piper” was the culprit as you’d need a key to come in and out the gate, the wall had barbwire, and she had a number of strange workmen that came in and out that building. Nevertheless, with cash and my cell phone stolen, I managed to install an air conditioning unit soon after, and hardly ever opened that window again.
The Bold Face Landlord
This is the type of landlord who will have unannounced mini-parties in your parking space – complete with chairs, tables and food. And when you arrive, he and his guests act as if they’re surprised you live there, and slowly move to position themselves in a better spot.  This landlord may also ask for his rent before the end of the month, because he’s going to Tobago on a mini vacation with family.
The Nosey Landlord
If your landlord does not live on the same compound with you, great! However, this does not stop them from minding your business.  A doctor and his family who moved from India ended up being my new neighbours. Later on, I found out he had become best friends with Baybay and the village maco, keeping her well informed about guests and all that was going on.
Mr. X and his wife also have a nosey way about them, as I often see them peeping through the window whenever I leave to go out at night.
Mr. X also doesn’t like the idea of multiple male guests. He had informed me of the previous tenant’s habits of having various men leave the apartment. I thought to myself, “There goes my potential dating life”.
The Parental Landlord
Finally, there are the landlords who are so nosey, that they have turned themselves into your second parents. But this is not always a bad thing. Mr. X and his wife often water my plants, offer me fruits from their garden and are very good cooks – my favourite dish being their fish broth. But it can get annoying, if they are monitoring my bathing habits. Imagine I actually got a phone call one time, because he didn’t hear my water tank go off for the day.
I have many more peculiar stories, too long to tell, and I’m sure those of you who have been renting longer than I have are enriched with tales that would make us all want to form a support group. But I’ll leave you with a bit of advice.
When renting and dealing with landlords, I suggest studying your lease and keeping it close to you for referral, pay your rent on time, or right before the end of the month, if you can.  I have found that this makes a landlord have more trust in you and in turn your requests may fall on more receiving ears.  Finally, be respectful and friendly, but firm. You don’t want to make landlords feel that your business is their business of for the public. If you’re professional and reliable, well what would happen is dat they’d treat you with more respect… baybay.

In Trinbagonian society, most of us have the luxury of living in our parents’ homes till we big and ol’. Feeling shame? Well, don’t. Our parents actually prefer that we save our money or contribute at home instead of putting that money in a landlord’s pocket.

But for the young adults (like me) who decide to leave the nest, and embark on a struggled journey of independence, we either leave home to pursue studies and live on campus, are in the lucky few who can purchase our own homes immediately, or rent until we strike gold to get a deed with our name on it. Renting and finding a suitable apartment that you can afford has its challenges, but most importantly you have to deal with landlords.

I once had a landlord named “Baybay Whatdidhappenwas”.I

 once had a landlord named “Baybay Whatdidhappenwas”. Yes, it would have been quite comical if this was actually her birth name, but this was the nickname my roommate and I had come up with, as she often referred to her tenants as “baby” (pronounced: bay-bay), and her answers or excuses for various complaints always started with the phrase, “Well, what did happen was…”

For example, when I asked her why the hot water was not working, she responded by saying, “Well what did happen was the electrician hadda come cause like he didn’t connect the wire good”.

Me: “Why is the electric gate still not working after so many days?”

Baybay: “Well what did happen was I know allyuh tell meh bout it, but meh brother in law have to come… baybay.”

Me: “Why do we have to pay an extra TT$ 500 fee?”

Baybay: “Well what did happen was, if allyuh leave early, that is the cost for me to place another ad in the papers…”

At the end of it all, I could never really get down to the bottom of what really DID happen or was perhaps too exhausted from the excuses to make sense of it all. No matter how “nice” your landlord or landlady may appear to be, you are bound to come across the following types.

The “I’ll Get Around to It” Landlord

It can become frustrating when you realize that several items you’ve requested to be fixed never get attended to until your landlord makes the time to do it and God forbid your landlord has a busy schedule! You can’t always take repairs into your own hands unless specifically stated on your lease. Some leases state that the tenant is liable to all small fixes; others allow the tenant to fix, and then be compensated thereafter. However, I have discovered that many landlords prefer to do it themselves.

The Mr. Fix It Landlord

Mr. or Ms. Fix it may or may not have been technically trained in plumbing, electrical or masonry work, but they’re down to trying anything to save a buck and cut costs. My current landlord, who I will call “Mr. X” can add plumber, electrician, mason and general fixer of all problems to his repertoire.

When I had just moved, my toilet had an overflow problem, and for months he tried to fix it himself. When I came home after work, I’d find my bathroom mats in disarray or completely removed. I even found a dirty mop in my shower, for which he later explained that he’d shoved the mop down the toilet with hopes of pushing whatever was causing the clog further down. Surprisingly, that did not work and my toilet continued to overflow with every flush, which is especially unacceptable for a woman may I add.

Mr. X tried it again, and when I got home late from work he was happy to announce that he was not sure what the previous tenants did, but he pulled out a huge piece of meat from the toilet and he believed that I would no longer have a problem. Yes, he said meat. Disgusting! Well, guess what, the toilet still did not work. I had had enough and told him the next day that I would be getting my own plumber to fix the problem because as a woman, I could not handle those conditions. He finally spent the money and called a plumber. Now my toilet works.

The Landlord who’s a Bit Strange or Makes no Sense

Mr. X is a kind man, but sometimes he just makes no sense. He was quite proud of himself one evening, when he told me he had finally installed a gate. He then handed me a key, as the new rule would be to padlock this damn gate with each and every exit and entry. The wall right next to the gate, however, was not finished. As a matter of fact, only one wall was completed, and if I were a bandit, I would not be deterred by a padlocked gate, when I could cross right over the wall!

On the matter of burglary, Baybay had her own strange explanation when my handbag went missing from my bedroom at my last apartment. She found my handbag under the house and summed it up to a ‘piper’ who took one of the PVC pipes from the back, and fished my handbag through the window.  I doubt a “piper” was the culprit as you’d need a key to come in and out the gate, the wall had barbwire, and she had a number of strange workmen that came in and out that building. Nevertheless, with cash and my cell phone stolen, I managed to install an air conditioning unit soon after, and hardly ever opened that window again.

The Bold-face Landlord

This is the type of landlord who will have unannounced mini-parties in your parking space – complete with chairs, tables and food. And when you arrive, he and his guests act as if they’re surprised you live there, and slowly move to position themselves in a better spot.  This landlord may also ask for his rent before the end of the month, because he’s going to Tobago on a mini vacation with family.

The Nosey Landlord

If your landlord does not live on the same compound with you, great! However, this does not stop them from minding your business.  A doctor and his family who moved from India ended up being my new neighbours. Later on, I found out he had become best friends with Baybay and the village maco, keeping her well informed about guests and all that was going on.

Mr. X and his wife also have a nosey way about them, as I often see them peeping through the window whenever I leave to go out at night.

Mr. X also doesn’t like the idea of multiple male guests. He had informed me of the previous tenant’s habits of having various men leave the apartment. I thought to myself, “There goes my potential dating life”.

The Parental Landlord

Finally, there are the landlords who are so nosey, that they have turned themselves into your second parents. But this is not always a bad thing. Mr. X and his wife often water my plants, offer me fruits from their garden and are very good cooks – my favourite dish being their fish broth. But it can get annoying, if they are monitoring my bathing habits. Imagine I actually got a phone call one time, because he didn’t hear my water tank go off for the day.

I have many more peculiar stories, too long to tell, and I’m sure those of you who have been renting longer than I have are enriched with tales that would make us all want to form a support group. But I’ll leave you with a bit of advice.

When renting and dealing with landlords, I suggest studying your lease and keeping it close to you for referral, pay your rent on time, or right before the end of the month, if you can.  I have found that this makes a landlord have more trust in you and in turn your requests may fall on more receiving ears. Finally, be respectful and friendly, but firm. You don’t want to make landlords feel that your business is their business of for the public. If you’re professional and reliable, well what would happen is dat they’d treat you with more respect… baybay.

 

Keisha Stephen-Gittens

Certainly a "Jackie of all Trades", Keisha Stephen-Gittens is a professional makeup artist, and has always had a keen interest in the arts and theatre, having been part of small productions. She holds degrees in journalism, public relations and communication studies, and is now an Account Coordinator at one of Trinidad' and Tobago's top, advertising agencies. Follow her on Facebook.

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