Periscope Depth

sus-sus-sudio

I haven’t told everyone, but: I’m moving this weekend.

It’s not that far a move, though I won’t publicize where to/from over the Internet. And technically I’ve been schlepping boxes all week, as I’ve had the keys since Thursday. But Saturday marks the big transition.

Though everything has worked out so far, this whole arrangement weirded me out from the beginning and hasn’t let up. Consider:

o I’m leasing a fully furnished studio. I can’t replace any of the furniture in the studio with stuff I own – it all has to stay within the studio. I don’t object to this; it’s a nice enough place. But I’m only bringing my bed, my largest bookcase and an office chair to the new apartment – everything else must go.

(By the way: if you live in the Boston metro area and need a love seat or air conditioner, let me know and we’ll work something out)

o I put a deposit down on the place on April 23rd. I filled out a rental application and waited to hear back on the credit check. After a week went by and I verified with HR that yes, someone from the realtor had called, I checked in with the broker to see if I got the place. “Yeah, sure, you’re fine,” she said.

“When should I come in to sign the lease?” I asked.

“We’ll sign it when you take the place,” she said.

“So … you don’t want me signing a lease before June 1st?” This bothered me in that way which only pure irrationality can. A lease protects the landlord more than the tenant. Which of the two of us has a better chance of vanishing overnight: a skinny white guy or an apartment building? Why they wouldn’t want to lock me into a year’s worth of rent as early and as rigorously as possible baffled me.

o I talked them into signing the lease a whole three days early (since June 1 fell on a Sunday), drove to the realtor’s office before they closed at 5:00 (who do these people do business with?), and filled out the appropriate paperwork. After moving into enough apartments, the signatures fall into a comforting routine: mold inspection, de-leaded paint, blah blah blah.

“All right,” the broker said as I signed the last bit of paperwork. “So now it’s just the check and we’re all set.”

“You have my check,” I reminded her, pointing to the check for $x that I’d given her on the 23rd.

“No, this is the first month,” she said. “We need one for the last month as well to hold in escrow.”

“You didn’t tell me that,” I said. “I don’t have my checkbook on me.”

We puzzled for a minute over what to do.

“Just cross out the $x and write in $2x on the check,” the broker suggested.

“… are you sure?” Again, as with the lease, the broker – and the property owner, standing in the room with us and nodding enthusiastically – seemed perfectly willing to screw themselves over here. Most banks won’t accept a check that’s had dollar values crossed out and re-entered, even if someone does initial the changes.

So it’s not a con – I don’t think. I’ve actually been to the apartment; my keys allow entrance to it. I’m not being sold an empty barrel. But everything about the whole transaction seems either slapdash or slightly dingy. I’m documenting it here in case I end up in trouble later on.

I really like the place, though; you ought to come see it.

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