Julie Vincent Photography | A Big Story about How It's the Little Things...

A Big Story about How It's the Little Things...

December 01, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

It's been an interesting 20 months around our house - literally "around" due to a renter, who moved in next door....


I learned a lot of things in the last year and a half - about social behaviour, about patience, about ear-plugs, about wind, and what it does to curtained gazebos, and about the minutia of the landlord/tenant legislation in Alberta. I also learned about what it feels like to be a potential seller, and how a careless comment can put a hole in a heart....

Our neighbour of more than 20 years has an agreement with their landlord which allows them to sublet. There have always been sub-tenants next door, but in all that time, beyond the occasional parking crunch (mostly on-street around here), there have been zero issues.

Last year, a sub-tenant moved in, leaving all propriety, manners, and privacy somewhere else.  Our dining room window faces their stairs and porch. Between the six times daily smoking on the porch punctuated by also-six-times-daily phlegm ejection into junipers beside the stairs, the sub-tenant was an ever-present fixture. It didn't help their attire of choice, regardless of weather,  was shorts. Just shorts, and I mean JUST shorts..... nothing else.  At. All.And, if that tenant wasn't on the porch, they were in the back yard, where they'd placed their bbq against the fence (no, I don't know what they were thinking...), which meant they were either watching us come and go from the front, or watching us through the fence; hence the curtained gazebo. Also hence the opaque window film and a change from open for breeze to closed to keep out the smoke.

The situation did not improve after I lost my cool one day and suggested, strongly, the tenant please, please use his bathroom indoors as a receptacle for what was coming out of his lungs. This did not land well, and was met with strong language and threats, an uptake in phlegm ejection and the addition of "farmer blows."

Worse, the tenant began to listen for our back door; any time they heard us outside, they were out there, smoking and spewing... it was gross. Eighteen months of daily incursions resulted in two letters to the owner and, finally, when it got to be too much, a phone call.

It was at this point I understood one of the finer points of the provincial tenancy act is this: our neighbour of 20 years is the tenant of the landlord. They are the landlord of the tenant they sublet to. What this meant is the actual owner didn't necessarily have the legal footing to act with respect to the sub-tenant, although he did speak to his long-term tenant. It didn't make any difference, unfortunately; the sub-tenant was on a mission.

For the record, the tenants in the other side of the residence - a duplex - have posed some challenges over the last 10 years as well, including an aggressive dog and one of them hitting my car and busting off the front bumper while my entire family was watching during dinner, and their "I didn't do that and I have no idea who you are, or where you live," comments when we confronted them....

So, around the time the entire situation became unbearable, I mentioned the residence to a builder who is very active in this community. I didn't expect that mention would result in anything, necessarily.

Imagine my joy three weeks later, when a For Sale sign appeared on the lawn next door! I was ecstatic but my enthusiasm turned into confusion and not a little panic within hours, when said builder, hoping to acquire an "assembly" a term I'd never heard, made us an offer.

As a real estate photographer, I am regularly in contact with realtors, sellers, buyers and buyers agents. I thought I had a pretty good handle on the drill, until this offer landed in my ear.

I know this builder well. They do beautiful work. Because I had made the initial overture to the builder, and because I had suggested our property might also be available, and because the rep knows what work I do, their representative rightly felt free to speak frankly to me. There is a gap, however, between business, and one's attachment to the home they've lived in for 30 years; the rep's comment, "You should take this deal, your house is just a tear-down" was an unintended but painful slap. It was at that moment my understanding of how a little comment - and a presumption - can kill a deal. To be clear, the rep in no way meant to be hurtful but I was shocked by how hard that comment hit, even though I know it is correct. But that unintended lack of awareness killed the deal for me.

The lesson I learned is this; even though a seller/potential seller brings you the deal, is motivated, driven, decided - whatever - they will have bits of their heart and soul stored in the walls and spaces of their home. Even knowing the seller wants it sold, we must always keep, in our back pocket, the knowledge sellers will leave a bit of themselves in that home.

I bear no ill-will at all towards that builder's rep. He has an excellent reputation, and was doing his job. I'm very glad to have had this experience. It shone a bright light on a little, important detail.


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