It was February 2015. I had just returned from Kuala Lumpur from a miserably failed internship, and my mental health had reached an all-time low. I had no house to live in, no job, no internship, and my limited income (technically a student loan) would very soon dry up. I had to finish my studies quickly, and I needed to get my life on track. Luckily, I did have my partner. My Kuala Lumpur adventure had destroyed our future plans, and quite abruptly changed them for new and more boring plans, much closer to home.
We were quite desperate for a house. There was no luxury of choice.
We received one response to the many housing ads we responded to. This particular house, it wasn’t really a house. It was more like a mansion in the woods. The mansion was located on the edge of our university town, in a forested suburb. It had a large garden in the back, lined with Hydrangea and Rhododendron, as well as large trees all around it. The garden was huge and very private. In the back, there was a small wood-fired sauna. When you would look at the place, you just felt that it was built by an insecure person that wanted the world to know they were worth something. It was posh on the outside, but very IKEA on the inside. It was big, no, huge, but very cheaply built. It looked like quite something from a distance, but perhaps the best thing about it was its garden and that ramshackle sauna. We also loved its location in the woods, and the people that lived there besides the landlord.
The landlord. What a dude. He must have been about sixty, grey hair floating wavily around his scalp. Sometimes he dyed his hair in a purple hue. His skin had an unhealthy tone, his face was rather thin and often with a stubble. This was strange, especially given that he was himself quite obese. He had a huge gut, that he didn’t even try to hide. It often peaked out from under his shirts. He had an artistic side. He said he was a sculptor, but although the property was dotted with his works – some of which were quite decent – I have never actually seen him work on one. He often looked lost, sometimes running around and in a rush, and other times seemingly living on the couch for weeks on end. He did not make the impression of being particularly happy. We never figured out what it is that he actually did. He must have had a good job. He was very clear about the 1.5 million euros the mansion had cost him. He had it built for him and his family. His wife left him not long after, and the kids were soon adults, and no longer visited for longer than a couple of hours. The man was a lonely and aging guy. A guy with a bloody ten-room mansion that he only shared with a golden retriever named Nils, and an red-furred cat named Pete.
What would you do if you had ten rooms to spare?
Landlord dude chose to rent it out to students. What a great idea. Students are not exactly known for adding great value to a property, but in this case, it was actually landlord dude that probably caused most of the deterioration.
God, I have so many excellent stories about landlord dude alone that I could write a book about him, his weird life, his visitors, the people he had living in his house. I have been meaning to write so many chapters over the past years on this blog, but until now, I never did. They somehow needed introduction first, like the extended Kuala Lumpur story above, and how it changed my life for the better. I wrote those stories quite some time ago, but somehow I forgot that I wrote them as an introduction to a series of short stories about landlord dude. I think the time is ripe for my series on landlord dude.
One thing you need to know about landlord dude, is that he was completely and utterly careless, and to be frank, also a bit nuts.
Needless to say, we had a great time living in landlord dude’s mansion.
We first met landlord dude on our viewing appointment on this cold February afternoon. The forest was foggy, and it was close to dark when we arrived on-site. We were a bit confused about the place. A mansion like this usually is not a student accomodation. We were assured that we were exactly on the right address. Landlord dude quickly showed us around the garden, and showed us the 20 sqm room he had to let, he didn’t care if it was one or two people living in the room, which was perfect for us. He made little haste to introduce us to the other tenants, and basically told us we could come and sign the contract the next day. The other tenants were one floor up, and we could meet them if we wanted to, as he told us. It was immediately clear that the other tenants thought they had a say in the matter (they didn’t). There was a weird disconnect between how we spoke to them (‘we’ll move in then and then’), and how they spoke to us (‘if we choose you, then…’). They were not asked for their opinion by landlord dude. Like I said, we had no real choice either, as we had to accept it. Our future in the short term depended on getting this place. We signed the contract, and accepted potentially shitty house mates. The situation was typical landlord dude: careless, reckless, and totally unorganized.
We moved in a week or so later.
The house mates turned out to be cool. Some weird ones moved out soon. Some other ones remain friends to this day. We had a great time with the people living there.
Now that you have been introduced to landlord dude, I think it is about time that I share some of his stories. Some of them hilarious, some of them sad, but all of them a bit nuts. Perfect stories for the ‘True Tuesday’ series.
More landlord dude will follow next Tuesday!