Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Damaged Goods

Dear Indigna,

I live in Florida and decided to downsize last year. After selling my 7,000 sf house and while waiting for my much smaller 5,000 sf penthouse to be completed, I rented a tiny little 3,000 sf condo in the same area. I treated that place even better than my own, going so far as to have a cleaning lady in weekly and not even putting pictures up on the wall! (Of course, it was easier to keep my Renoirs in their climate-controlled storage, but still, it was a sacrifice.) Imagine my surprise when I moved out and my movers discovered that there was a huge stain under my pedestal table! Clearly, the landlord is to blame for failing to properly maintain my furniture.

Although she has somehow figured out how to restrict the obvious slab leak to the two square feet under the plant table, the one my dog liked to pee against, it is obvious that she has caused considerable damage to my belongings, not to mention all my other furnishings, which now must be refinished or replaced so that everything matches. Despite her malfeasance, the bitch has kept part of my security deposit for “carpet repair”!!

I spoke to her recently on the telephone, and she acted all “surprised” that I was planning to sue her in civil court for not only my full security deposit but also for a new houseful of furniture and emotional distress not only to me, but to my dog (who was deeply insulted at the implied imputation that he might have had something to do with it). She kept going on and on about her “professional house inspection” and “carpet professional” and “indoor air quality consultant” and all this other scientific mumbo-jumbo (she probably believes in evolution too). But I know what I know. I may not have the fancy-pants “scientific reports” and “facts” and “witnesses” and “evidence” to “prove” things, but I know I am right, because how else could my furniture have been damaged? She claims it’s because I didn’t run the air conditioner enough to dehumidify the condo. Well, she wasn’t paying the bills, was she? Listen, Indians lived in Florida long before there were air conditioners and they didn’t find their furniture ruined! I kept those windows sealed tight; how could humidity have snuck in while I was at work? And I certainly couldn’t be expected to keep my windows open at night because I live alone (except for my Rottweiler)! Hey, I’m the one who sweated heavily through the entire time I lived there, with no relief! I should be compensated for that discomfort as well!

How do I get my point through to this idiot? I was willing to live with the stench of mildew, and now she’s telling me it was my responsibility to complain about it? How about her responsibility to have electronic sensors throughout the house that automatically inform the landlord and appropriate repair agency about any real or potential problems?

BTW, I am a little concerned that, as irrational as she is, she will take exception to the fact that I felt entitled to take the appliances and lighting fixtures with me when I left, as I had been paying for them these six months and they would go perfectly in my new place. However, I’m sure the judge will agree with my reasoning.

Enraged and Insulted
Delray Beach, FL

Dear Enraged,

Have you considered adding a charge of “conspiracy,” since her ability to only damage your one table and nothing else clearly required a lot of planning and assistance, as well as “loss of consortium” for both you and your dog? Obviously, you two could not have enjoyed the same level of “company” with all your worries about this egregious lack of care on the part of your landlord. She should have dusted and waxed your possessions weekly, and at the very least offered to refinish them once every six months. In addition, if she cared so much about her damn property, why was she not paying for your cleaning lady? Finally, if she wanted you to keep the place free of humidity, she should have paid for the air conditioning and/or the security guard needed if you kept your windows open!

That said, you want I should call in a favor? Because I know a guy who knows a guy who "takes care" of this sort of problem, and all you'd owe him would be a promise to do him a "favor" someday. Let me know how it turns out. I care.

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