An open letter to the former tenant

Dear former tenant,

You know who you are.

I don’t know who you are. But it’s almost like we’re different generations of the same family, part of a long, strange continuum of shared spaces and roommates that cycles on for sublet after sublet, lease after lease. One person currently living in the house still knows you, or at least knows a former roommate who knows you and can get in touch if need be about that couch you left, and here is your hoisin sauce, your half-finished bag of dried pinto beans, your sake carafe, your Donnie Darko poster, and your bathroom cleaner that I’m not totally sure is ok to just use up but I’m going to go for it because damn. Damn.

I do have a couple questions to ask you.

Are you worried about the volume of mail we’re still receiving for you? I didn’t know so much direct mail from cigarette companies was a thing.

(If you love cigarettes so much, why didn’t you take your Cigarettes of the World poster with you instead of leaving it stuck to the dining room wall with twelve pieces of disintegrating double-sided puffy tape?)

When you said there were no plumbing problems in the house, were you forgetting or just failing to mention that the sink, toilet, and tub all, in fact, have the kind of leaks you notice after your second or third shower? I guess if squirrels had constructed a water slide from the roof into the first-floor bedroom you might have mentioned some “minor issues.”

When you said the landlord is “really chill,” what, exactly, did you mean? These are a few of the situations in which I have been informed that the landlord’s really chill:

  • The landlord does not come to the house often. (Was this a factor in the washing machine probably being older than I am, and the subsequent lake of mildew in the basement caused by its leak?)
  • A rainstorm makes a massive hole explode just above the doorframe of the house’s only bathroom, on the second story of a three-story house, and the landlord promises to fix it quickly. (Would a roof leak of this scale have occurred if the landlord were a little less chill?)
  • The landlord does not complain when you are a month late with the rent. (The landlord is, in fact, unlicensed, and collecting rent illegally. Very chill.)

That memo on the fridge that says “Layla’s Mouse Count” over four little skull-and-crossbones drawings? Anyone have more info on that?

My current roommate just cleaned out what he says he thought were candles that have been in the back of the fridge for, he estimates, eighteen months. They weren’t candles. They were once jars of homemade jelly, which my current roommate relates to the fact that you apparently grew up on a farm. He also says the candle assumption was partly because you’re a man who used to place candles all over the house and it was, quote, “kind of a weird situation.”  Now I know I can throw out that foot-high tower of black wax behind the bathtub. Ok, this isn’t really a question.

Things seemed cool when I first toured the house, but when I later hear that you’re actually “a little shithead” or “a bully” or that you absconded with a TV and vacuum that weren’t yours or you hoodwinked your pals into paying more per square foot or snookered someone out of $1000, I have to wonder if you’re really that bad, or if I’m about to be a resident guest star in some long-running real-life soap opera. They say we can’t choose our family. We also can’t choose the former tenants.

The defunct battery-powered faux Christmas candle with the one rusty screw resting on it, now sitting in a milky pond of toothpaste-infused water beside the bathroom sink faucet. How long? Why?

It is clear to me that you owned a cat with abundant gray hair. I know it’s too late for me. But I sincerely wish, for the sake of your current and future roommates, that I could introduce you to a device known as a vacuum cleaner.


The current tenant


Add yours →

  1. Good one.

  2. Sounds like you’re ready to get your real estate license! 🙂

  3. Kathleen Johns June 8, 2016 — 8:52 pm

    Oh MY – the secret life of sub-letters revealed. By the time you get it cleaned up, patched and de-furrified you’ll be off to new former tenant lands.

  4. Ewie ewie! But I’m on board with the mouse count.

  5. Rachel Diamond June 11, 2016 — 2:42 pm

    Oh my God. This sounds like my last place. It wasn’t QUITE as bad, but the former tenant, under the pretense of being “charitable” left his kinda gross couch and chair AND a ~50lb kitchen table and chairs AND an OLD tv “for us.” Of course, he also left THREE SHELVES of board games and action figures in the basement. I moved in in April and he swore he’d come pick up his stuff in May… of 2013. By the time WE were all moving out in August of 2015, we asked him to come pick up his shit. He complained that were weren’t giving him enough notice. He set up a date for his grandfather to drive him over and pick everything up: 7am one morning. My roomie woke up to meet them… and they never showed. Finally, we just threw everything in a dumpster. Oh, and we also had a ridiculous mouse problem that didn’t get fixed until my fiance (who did not live there) and I did it ourselves; our landlord was also “super chill.”

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