A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pet Rent

So, the lease is almost up on this rathole of an apartment, and I am once again tasked with the dubious pleasure of finding a new place to live. I have a hefty list of things I do not want to see in my next home: I do not want to see any more "surprise" fees. "Oh, by the way, you pay a portion of the water and heat for the building. It varies." "Oh, by the way, we have pet rent." Rental management has become the new way to scam people out of their money, and I'm more than a little fed up with it. I mean, come on! "Pet rent?" Please tell me how is this not a scam?

Don't even try to tell me this is a result of government interference in the market. Right now Colorado laws are virtually silent on tenant rights. About the only thing we can get government support for is if the management is maintaining a slum and have the city condemn the building. Otherwise, we effectively have no rights when we rent. Pest infestation? Too bad. Deceptive business practices? Meh. Outrageous fees? Suck it up.

In theory, this should create an opportunity for management companies to rise above the competitors currently screwing over their tenants by ditching the excessive fees and doing right by their customers, right? Well, this is the second time I've had to move in two years, and I'm waiting to see it happen. Don't want to deal with pet rent? I found one company who didn't demand it. But they're charging water and heat as an extra instead of including it in the rental price. Don't want water and heat to be a "gotcha" on your bill? Pay pet rent. Oh, and everybody has this whacked "administrative fee" for the privilege of applying for their substandard services. Okay, credit checks cost money. They do not cost that much. The Free Market Fairy claims I should be able to take my business elsewhere if I don't like the practices I'm seeing, but where am I supposed to go?

Ooh, I know the logical answer to this question: own my own home! Bullshit. Even if I could afford the down payment (which my ex-wife has guaranteed I will never be able to do in the next fifteen to twenty years), the market is still seriously whacked. I told people eight years ago that the rising market prices were unsustainable. I was told I didn't know what I was talking about. So, how's the equity on that new house you just bought? Bad and getting worse, I know. The housing market has hit bottom and is starting to dig. It's going to be years before it returns to equilibrium.

So, we have yet again another example of how the Free Market is a genuine myth that has little to do with reality. You still think our housing market is a result of government interference? Consider that these problems arose after the government deregulated the loan industry. If you still insist that the Free Market Fairy exists, I strongly recommend you check yourself in for some intense psychotherapy. There's a point where your failure to distinguish reality from fantasy becomes very unhealthy.

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