People are weird. Especially people you meet online. And if you’re planning on letting these weird people you meet online rent out your apartment, do yourself a favor and think about it real hard.
I’m planning on going away for a few days and figured I’d try to recoup some of the money I’m spending on my trip by following the lead of a few friends and renting out my apartment when I’m not there. Basically, the idea is that if you’re going away for a while on vacation, and being you in a tourist hot-spot, there would probably be a bunch of people who’d be willing to rent out your place while they are in town. Sure, my place might be considered a slight downgrade from the Mandarin Oriental, but it’s a nice apartment in a great location, and not staying in a five-star hotel means that the guest won’t pay five-star prices. I’m just looking for a normal dude who wants a cheap, comfy place to sleep and shower. Not too much to ask for, right?
OK, the view from the Mandarin is pretty nice… but my fire escape/laundromat view is right up there.
Well, it didn’t quite work out that way for me.
I put an ad on craigslist and only got one response (I posted it kinda late). I spoke to the woman on the phone and she sounded really polite and sincere. She was visiting from Florida and her parents were visiting from India, and they have family that lives in the area, but they didn’t want to stay with them (understandably). We arranged for her parents, who were already in town, to come see the place that night.
So they get there, and they seem normal enough. Pretty quiet. They bring their brother-in-law. He goes into the bathroom and stays there for five minutes. I’m near the door. No tinkling sounds. This dude is totally snooping through my meds…or taking them (was actually hoping he’d take some deodorant, because the dude was stank). The parents are walking around, not saying much but exchanging a few comments in Hindi. We start shooting the breeze a bit, and they seem very friendly and interesting. By now the brother-in-law is laying on my couch, perusing my coffee table books. Things are going well with the parents, until:
Mother: Your apartment is very nice.
Me: Thank you.
Father: But, uh, can you move some things?
Me: Huh? Oh yea, sure, I’ll clear space on the dresser for you guys to put your things on, no problem.
Father: No, uh, other things.
Me: What things?
Father: These things (pointing to picture frames littered throughout the room) and those things (pointing to the posters on my wall).
Me: What? You want me to take down my pictures and posters?
Father: Uhh Yes. Yes.
Me: Why? You know this only for a few days, right?
Me: So then…? (giving a wtf are you talking about look)
Father: Maybe someone will come who doesn’t like those posters and these other things.
Me: What? Why not? Who will come? Are you planning on having guests?
(Father abruptly pulls out a phone and starts talking to someone in Hindi for 3 minutes, then turns back to me)
Father: (Looking at wife, then me) OK, we will be frank. Some people will come to see us here. (pause) And they cannot see these things. (pause) We would not keep these things in our house. (pause..notices my intensifying glare) OK, because, we are going to tell them that we live here. That this is our apartment. So we cannot have these pictures. You see now…you know the truth!
Me: But, how would, why would, are you saying that..
Father: Yes YES exactly! You see now! I am a hindu priest, I cannot have these things! Hookah? No I don’t smoke a hookah, you have to hide this. And these children [in the pictures], they know my daughter, these are not my children. You see now!?
Mother: You don’t have to take down everything.
Father: No, no. Just this, that one, these things, yes just take them down, those things, yes see it can come down quickly (nearly ripping poster)..
Me: Don’t touch that poster!
Father: Ok you can do that later of course. Ok so here is some money where do I sign?
Me: Um yea I don’t know about this..
Father: Oh yes dont worry here take the money we have to go now take the deposit call my daughter to arrange dont worry heresthemoneycalldaughter.
(Door closes behind them)
Ok. WTF just happened? Telling people they live here? How many freaking people were they gonna have over? Why would they lie about that? What else are they lying about? If there weren’t posters that wouldve busted there cover and would have been impossible to discreetly remove, would they have bothered to tell me this? I doubt it. And I don’t like the idea of them moving all of my pictures, plaques, posters, arab-esque decor and anything else suggesting that this apartment is not usually inhabited by a conservative Hindu Indian couple in their 60s, which would be a whole lot of stuff. I’m not trying to come home and re-decorate my apartment, or worse, see something missing and have to put a 60 year old Hindu priest in a head-lock. Not to mention the fact that they seemed ready to have a Diwali party in my apartment (I thought that wouldn’t be a concern with 60+ year old guests)… and if I came home to see the tall, lanky brother-in-law sitting on the couch, wearing my underwear and watching a pay-per-view bollywood movie, I’d have to kick his ass, then just set my apartment on fire and find a new place to live.
Actually coming home to this Diwali party would be pretty fun…
Even if none of this actually happened, having these thoughts run through my head is not my idea of peace of mind, and that is something even more valuable than the small amount of money I wouldve gained for the short rental. How much value it has to you is something you should strongly consider if you’re ever in the same boat.