Frank and I met with our former landlord to hand over keys, get back the deposit check and just generally give a handshake and say goodbye. Despite our issues with the apartment, the landlord himself was a great guy – friendly, responsive and just an overall mensch. If he owned other properties, we would absolutely rent from him again.We were talking about his attempts to find a new tenant, and about some quirks with the apartment and he was talking about how much he loved us and was sad to see us go, and wanted to find more “quality people.”
I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but something about this bugged me. If I was a landlord, I would also want “quality people” – someone you think will pay the rent on time, not trash the place, not drive the neighbors crazy, etc. So, I don’t blame the guy, and I don’t really think its borne out of racism, but I suppose it is classist. Which makes sense, to a certain degree – because you want someone from an economic class that you think would be able to pay the bills (and get past the crazy co-op board that you have to be approved by, even for renters). And I think that if he got interviewed someone and got the sense that the person would have loud parties and a stream of guests, he wouldn’t rent to him or her – even if the bank account dwarfed his own. So, I get what he is saying – and I am proud that Frank and I are “quality people” but … still. Maybe the phrases just echoed of racism that wasn’t present here, but the same words could be used to exclude euphemistic “less desirables”.
In another awkward moment, he was telling us about a couple that was going to take the place but backed out at the last minute, and he was surprised, because they were real “quality people.” As an example of their high caliber, he said he loved that even though they were engaged, the man would live there alone until they got married in November, when she would then move in. He remarked that he and his wife didn’t vacation together until their honeymoon. What was weird and awkward, is that he was renting to Frank and I, an unmarried couple, for three years – and holding us up as a standard of “quality people.”
What were we supposed to say? “Yup, those guys seem like really upstanding people! Living together before marriage certainly shows a decay in society.” Or, “Yay for ‘traditional values’!” Because there is nothing I love more than when old-fashioned customs are paraded and lauded, even though most likely, this display of “morality” is probably a wink-wink-nudge-nudge thing.
I don’t know. But it was a little sad to shut the door for the last time. But these quality people have moved on to bigger and brighter things. With a parking spot.