A Letter to My Landlord...

Dear Mr Piegay, my loyal and long-suffering landlord...


It is fast approaching seven years that I have occupied the room in Rue Laennec and it is not without a twinge of sadness that I hereby present you with my official notice of leave. In your last email you asked that if I did indeed decide on quitting the premises that I was to inform you of any small repairs or renovations that are needed so as you could make the room good for the next tenant. On this note I am pleased to inform you that apart from some minor and natural wear and tear the apartment is in pretty much the same condition as the day you let it to me. The one thing I feel I must bring to your attention is the outside shutter of the far window. As you are most likely aware, it is not of the highest quality and was bound to fail at some stage. Well, it has failed - almost certainly due to the mechanics in the pulley system. In fact, it is the mechanics in the pulley system. I know because in attempting to fix it I accidentally shattered the interior plastic cover and a spool of cord and a broken cog shot out – leaving it quite beyond repair. The box itself I managed to make good, albeit using half a roll of brown scotch tape covered over by an old cravat which serves to keep the whistling draught out. My intervention works sufficiently well, although I would imagine that a new tenant paying 400 plus euros a month may not be too enthused about such a remedial looking repair. The shutter on the nearside window however remains in good working order; it is only the graffiti sprayed upon its exterior that you may want to look at. Shutters aside I suppose I should take this opportunity to inform you about the two electric wall fires and how they blew out, one after the other, two winters ago. Though neither now works, it is the one in the bathroom which poses a more serious problem as it somehow detached itself from the crumbling plasterboard wall. It currently sits on the floor connected only by exposed electrical wiring. As a consequence I have had to remove the heating fuse from the main fuseboard so as to prevent any unwanted electric shocks. The bathroom itself, although in need of a new lick of paint, has stood the test of time pretty well. It is only the cracked sink which needs replacing and, of course, the shower unit, which came clean down one afternoon and with it pulled two fist-sized lumps out the wall. As it came down it caught me a good whack on the head, though, it seems, without imparting any permanent damage. So as to save you the cost of a new shower rail and curtain I salvaged what I could of the old one, dis-assembled it and stored it in a black bag behind the toilet. The cracked sink I must put my hands up to. One day, while nodding out in front of the mirror, I accidentally knocked one of my painted stones off the product shelf and it smashed with full force into the ceramic. The crack is not so bad as to leak and so you may be able to hide it from the view of the new tenant. At worst all you need is a new sink which, thankfully, are very inexpensive nowadays. What are not so inexpensive are water boilers. The cheapest one I have come across is over 500 euros and that is without the added cost of the engineer to fit it. I only mention this as the element packed up in ours almost three years ago and the apartment has been without hot water since. The toilet, although useable, is tremendously rocky on its base. In order to gain access to the u-bend (a quite unpleasant blockage which I'll not go into) I had to unbolt it from the floor. Where I delayed in re-fixing it the two six-inch bolts somehow got wet and rusted and would not bolt back down as a consequence. The only worthwhile counsel I can give you on this issue is that you advise any new tenant to spread his weight out evenly when he plonks himself down on the throne. Failure to take care in doing so could possible upend the entire thing and then the bathroom really would need renovating.


The main room. As mentioned above it stands in pretty much the same condition in which you rented it to me. The sole exceptions are the walls which are covered in coffee and blood and paint and have turned a septic yellow colour through years of confined chain-smoking. There also are what appears to be large cracks running up the sides of each window. Whether it is structural damage or not I am unqualified to say. What I am qualified to say is that, as with the bathroom, a good coat of paint will do the room a world of good. What paint will not fix is the broken door of the fuse box. As you'll probably never have noticed the damn thing was installed too near to the main door, and the same day I removed the heating fuse I unwittingly knocked the fuse-box door clean off its hinges. There is also a problem with the lighting. The two Edison screw-type holders are at present unusable after the light-bulbs burnt and melted themselves into their fittings and now are impossible to remove. I did try removing one but the bulb, from the sheer force required to turn it, shattered in my hand leaving just a bare stalactite of tungsten element protruding from the fitting. The ceiling itself is more of a problem, half collapsing on the left side, victim of an upstairs flood which soaked through and nearly brought the place down last spring. Concerning the small kitchen area in the far corner of the room, one would suppose that not much could go wrong in such a tiny space, and indeed, not much can. Unfortunately, the little that could go wrong has. I am of course referring to the two electric plates. One does nothing but burn black smoke up the wall and the other short-circuits the instant it is turned on and not only blows its immediate fuse but that of the entire apartment. The light casing above the hob also needs changing after melting away one night as I slow-stewed a curry. It seems the heat from cooking and the natural heat emitted from the bulb was too much for it to handle. The only other minor problem in this part of the room is the fridge: it no longer works and is currently being used as a book cupboard. It looks like some idiot tried to defrost the small freezer compartment with a knife and hammer and has pierced the casing of the evaporator. As to any other damage, apart from the MDF cupboards which all warped in a small flood I had back here in 2010, I can't think of anything else. The floor, as you know, is tiled and so apart from the two centre tiles (which have somehow cracked) is as polished and flat as ever. One good piece of news I can give you is that I have fixed the once lagging front door and it now closes. The repair was a simple case of heating and gradually sawing four inches off its bottom. The downside of the repair is that the door is no longer insect proof. As a result, for two months during the summer, the apartment falls foul of quite a severe ant problem. Rats are also prone to sneak in from time to time. There is a dead one somewhere in the storage cupboard as I type. I did my best to keep it fed and happy, each night consistently leaving it out handfuls of expensive handmade Italian egg pasta, but, alas, it seems the good life isn't conducive to such rodents and there is now quite an horrendous stench lingering in the small square of hallway. I only tell you this as you'll surely remark upon it during your visit next week, and I don't want you thinking it is me. For the ten thousand used and uncapped syringes stored in the top cupboard, I was hoping that together we could maybe contact the environmental health department and have their hazardous waste disposal team come around and clear them out. It's something I would greatly appreciate your help on.


In regards to the rent; it is only right and fair that I give you warning now that it is highly unlikely that I'll be able to make good on the three months of outstanding arrears. It is, of course, for such defaults of payment that all tenants in France are obliged to have a legal guarantor. All I can offer is my good luck with that: the guarantor I used appears not to actually exist. In fact, all the paperwork (barring my passport) was fake. The work contract was downloaded and adapted from online, and my last twelve months of payslips I created myself using Word and pasting and re-sizing the company logo up in the top left hand corner. Another quite interesting fact is that the day you met me outside my work to sign the contract, well, that wasn't my place of work at all. Indeed, it was the first time I had ever been there, and I could only pray for divine intervention when you asked that we go inside to sign the paperwork so as to escape the spitting rain. Divine intervention indeed (or just sheer fucking luck) the warehouse was closed up for the evening. I remember sitting in the depressing dark of your car, that vile perfume of mint air-freshener making me think of all manor of depressing life events as I watched you go over and over the paperwork. How I fucking despised you and knew what you were from that first moment – a meticulous, risk-assessing, teetotal cunt. That stupid balding head of yours shining under the dull compartment light, the few front strands of hair looking like something one would blow away and make a wish upon. And oh, those cheap, ill-fitting, faded jeans that you wore and those large, padded sports shoes - which maybe allowed you to brake more easily but also had the effect of making you look like some kind of a fucking bum. It turned out that you was much worse than the honesty of a man with nothing. Six months down the line and you tried laying a three thousand pound electricity bill at my feet, worming your way out of what you had agreed when we signed the contract, blaming my intermediate French on misunderstanding the finer details. It was only when I bluffed you with a non-existent piece of paper which I said had your writing on with all the details that you backtracked again and said you did indeed remember saying such a thing and that it was your error. Still, you also said that you couldn't afford to pay the bill and that unless I forfeited my guarantee that I would remain through the winter with no electricity – which meant no lighting or heating. I agreed and let you use my deposit. Well, now you can re-use the non-existent deposit to cover the costs of renovating the apartment. Not only was your rent exorbitantly high for a room measuring less than 18² meters but you made me suffer hours of checks and a two hour 'state of the place' walk-around. Even my fake guarantor, complete with a stolen identity card, was cursing your indecisiveness. Your forehead actually trickled sweat as I signed the contract! And do you recall the one time you came knocking at my door uninvited? Pushed your way in, and then stood staring at me in open-mouthed horror when you saw melted plastic tops from methadone bottles stuck to the electric rings and paintings nailed into every part of every wall? How you asked to use the bathroom and then I heard you scuttling around in there, looking through the cupboards and no doubt discovering my used needles in the lower cupboard. You returned looking like a ghost who had been told he would die again. You left pretty soon after, forgetting to have me sign the shitty piece of paper you had brought down for me. When you returned twenty five minutes later I was fresh from having taken a shot and shouting something out over a broken guitar. I signed the paper on the doorstep not quite sure if your re-appearance was real or not, or what the fuck I had even signed for. It was the rent increase. The increase you had so scrupulously thought up to cover your costs in the electricity fiasco. I guess that finally says more about you than anything else.


In ending this letter I will not pretend that the damage caused to the apartment was a calculated response to your cunning, duplicitous nature, as the truth is that I would surely have been just as despicable a tenant to even the most honest of landlords. But the thing is this: I have never met an honest landlord and I seriously doubt that one exists. It's the age old story of greed and profit, and how the two can only go hand-in-hand and do go hand-in-hand. And so, I will end this letter, not on a bitter or hateful or goading note, but to wish you well with yourself and all you are. Maybe people like you are the future and it is the fools like me who will die hideous economic deaths and fade away. For the sake of humanity I hope not.


With all the sadness a man can have...

Yours sincerely, Shane Levene.

- - -

40 comments :

lucky said...

hahah - landlords ime are usually money grabbing cunts so well done for getting one in for us poor sods who have been screwed over the years by the unscruperlous lowlifes.
G

MHO said...

This is one of my favorites from you. Actually I love all your writing! It's crazy how a Chinese girl from California can relate so much to your stories.

Speedy said...

Reminds me of an old appartment I had, still have a 4500€ debt from there. Everything from melting a plastic tub on the stove, burning a crater into the floor and breaking my door down on a Sunday afternoon with a hammer after I locked myself out on a 3 day speed binge. My landlord was somewhat of a bitch but I still feel kind of bad that I caused THAT much damage, she definetly didnt deserve that.

Anways great writing like always!

vee said...

I particularly liked the way you signed off... "with all the sadness a man can have"
Nice touch :)

JoeM said...

I have never met an honest landlord and I seriously doubt that one exists.

Moi aussi.

And I have decades of experience of Bedsit Hell.

I think he deserves all he gets. Especially since after that one visit he knew what was going on but chose to ignore it as long as you paid the rent, clearly calculating that he could get repair money off you when you left. As if! Just disappear to the UK without saying a word and let him discover the horror whenever he can drag himself away from his no-doubt luxury mansion.

I loved the build-up of that catalogue of horrors after the initial 'I am pleased to inform you that apart from some minor and natural wear and tear the apartment is in pretty much the same condition as the day you let it to me'. Ha!

The fun part was in the details:

The box itself I managed to make good, albeit using half a roll of brown scotch tape covered over by an old cravat which serves to keep the whistling draught out.

It stands in pretty much the same condition in which you rented it to me. The sole exceptions are the walls which are covered in coffee and blood and paint and have turned a septic yellow colour through years of confined chain-smoking.

Though neither now works, it is the one in the bathroom which poses a more serious problem as it somehow detached itself from the crumbling plasterboard wall.


Somehow.

As it came down it caught me a good whack on the head, though, it seems, without imparting any permanent damage.

You returned looking like a ghost who had been told he would die again.


Funniest line – either:

At worst all you need is a new sink.

Or:

Even my fake guarantor, complete with a stolen identity card, was cursing your indecisiveness.

But really I feel you've plagiarized the style of that wonderful but troubled writer Tristram Spencer. Luckily he's dead and can't sue. Or murder...


Did you report things like the boiler breaking down/upstairs flood etc? Is so and this was ignored the landlord deserves all he gets. And if he hasn't bothered to visit the property more than once in 7 years the same thing goes!

When you move to London you should try to get a council house. You probably already qualify as disabled or something and if not it shouldn't be a problem for a master scammer to fake it!

I've been in my little 2 room council flat for 12 years and very happy with the council's care and attention – good tenants get £100 a year for NOT doing anything bad.OK you probably wouldn't qualify for that...But, having watched TV progs like Neighbours from Hell I see that it's almost impossible to get the council to evict you. I think your mother found that with her problem neighbour. Also my rent is £218 compared with your £288 (400 Euros) for a bigger place with lots of good landlord attention re:repairs, upgrades - new fitted kitchens, double-glazing etc.

This is why I loath selling off government stuff like housing/gas/electricity etc. As we've seen with the gas/elec scammers the private companies become a cartel and set their own prices and there is no competition or any avenue of complaint. If they're owned by the government then we can play the parties off against each other and vote against those who don't work in our favour.

I'm going to look at the 'Lines for Joe M' now.

Oh two out of three! Which, in the immortal words of Meatloaf, ain't bad...

Anonymous said...

BURN THE CUNT OUT

Shane Levene said...

Cheers Lucky... we'll take our small victories when and where we can. You do any damage you can and I'll do the same and maybe one day we'll make it a little farther. X

Shane Levene said...

A Chinese girl from Cali... reading the Heroinhead! Oh My, what is the world coming to. It was a much lighter post as the last few have been quite heavy and serious. Of course there's a serious side to this post too (especially for my landlord) but I think we all deserved a few laughs. X

Shane Levene said...

Hey Speedy... I think people often get what they deserve, adn i know that if my landlord had treated me with a little more respect then I would have made a greater effort not to put any costs or trouble his way (or if I did make sure I could pay for the damages). With someone like Piegay (who tried to ruin me to worm his way out of one of his own mistakes) I have no guilty conscience and will only try to damage the place even more before I leave. With all the profit he has made in exorbitant charges he should be able to fix the place back up and not even feel it. People like him store money away like squirrels store nuts... he'll be fine. He'll be fine until a terrible health tragedy hits him and then he'll maybe regret never having lived... though probably not. He is what he is and I suppose that's punishment in itself. X

Shane Levene said...

Hey Vee... XxX

I was gonna mail you a couple of days ago just to make sure you were fine as I'd not seen you about at all. But as you're here I guess you're fine... I guess you're more than fine if you're still getting my words and what they're all about. Us junk bags can lose everything but we cannot lose our intelligence... and even more fortunately we cannot sell it either! X

Shane Levene said...

Hey Joe... excuse me for no replies as yet to yours (and other comments) on the last post. I wil reply but kept procrastinating. Think I was getting greedy and waiting for a few more comments before sitting down and replying to them all. Infamy has gone to my head!

I should have but never did report any breakages. I didn't want the landlord coming around for fear he would see the place and then decide to give me notice of leave before I damaged anything else. So I never gave him the chance to fix things (which shouldn't really matter, as whether he fixes one thing a year, every year, or has to fix everything at once, the overall cost is the same). Most things did break because of shoddy work and installation or using cheap products The shower rail was put into plasterboard wall and the heavy fires were also mounted on plasterboard. They hold up for a few years and then start malfunctioning and falling to pieces. Other damages were my fault but not done intentionally.... I'm not that smart!

I'll try pulling a John on my move back home... return in a wheelchair or something. I just need then to find myself a Tristram Spencer to push me about and suck cock every now and again... shouldn't be too difficult with my charm and bad french.

Yeah, as you know I'm totally against privatisation, but it gets complicated especially when the government isn't really looking after their businesses and the standard people get is absolutely below par (and unfortunately it often goes that way). My brother's girlfriend has just been diagnosed with lung and brain cancer and it was only discovered becasue she ignored her doctor and arranged her own MRI scan. Her NHS doctor told her the headaches were stress related and gave her sleeping pills! A week later she drove herself to the hospital and they found two lumps on her brain which, unfortunately, were secondary tumours. When they did another full body scan they found the origin of the cancer was in her lung. She's just started a course of chemotherapy and so we're hoping she's one of the lucky ones who can pull through. X

Shane Levene said...

Hey Anon... I almost have multiple times... with myself still in the apartment! X

chad said...

The apartment is pretty much in the same condition...

The bathroom has held up pretty good lol

(Facebook comment)

Steven M said...

Hahaha Only minor wear and tear, he wrecked that place.

(Facebook comment)

Tracey Helton said...


This is a great piece Shane

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Dmitry said...

That was great. I really needed that laugh this morning,and Mssr. Levene you never disappoint. I've had an apartment or 2 like that in my time. It's only very recently that I've been able to get something nicer.

(Facebook comment)

Jane G said...

Hliarious. For what it's worth, I have a great landlord. However I suspect he may be the only one.

(Facebook comment)

akemi said...

I had a similar experience with a dive on Hindley st. (There were katana holes in the ceiling when I left and large me shaped holes in the kitchen floor where I fell through and about 80 milk crates in the basement and the back door I could happily say had not fallen in on account of it still being attached to a large section of the back wall which was in the process of falling in after I had to make egress by repeatedly throwing myself at the door and then using a cinder block to knock a hole through the door- it simply transpired that the door and it's jam were more solid than the brick wall)
The landlord asked, "What condition have you left the place in?" I said, "Worry Not, ! It's in precisely the condition I found it,"

(Facebook comment)

Anonymous said...

where are you moving to?

MHO said...

Lighthearted or dead serious, I enjoy them all! :) I've lived in the suburbs all my life and have enjoyed an easy life but after I started down this long road a few years ago I haven't been able to stop or turn back. My favorite one so far is probably the chap from "a syllabus of deceit". It just reminded me so much of the shady so-called "friends" I hang around for one reason only.

luckystarnick said...

Shane I am working on a documentary about addiction. I wonder if you are interested in helping me. Please contact me via email. luckystarnick@gmail.com

Thank you!

luckystarnick said...

Shane I'm working on a documentary about addiction. I wonder if you are interested in speaking with me about it. Please reach me at luckystarnick@gmail.com

Thanks!
Nick

Miss Margo said...

Landlords have souls made of coal dust.

I like your blog.

Regina Walker said...

I can't quote from this because there are too many parts I want to quote!
Thank you for giving me such a great, sinister laugh!

David Allison said...

This is a nice post. Thanks for sharing with us.

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... said...

Brilliant!!! -Sailor

Jude said...

you make my world seem right - thank you

Chris Walter said...

"Honest" and "landlord," the perfect oxymoron.

(Facebook Comment)

mohammed said...

very funny and cool this one i loved its tone , totally felt like i was taking a tour of the ravaged flat smile emoticon

(Facebook Comment)

ekin said...

You are one of my favorite writers, I have exhausted your blog and am on my second run. Im on suboxone maintenance (16mg/day) after a year of a finger per week addiction that burned sweltering holes in my pockets and left me nearly kicked out of university and with little left to my name. Thank god my musical wits have kept me afloat and I've had a family to support me with a place to stay. My lifelong dance with gear isn't over, we've merely briefly sidestepped, but I never wish to steep to that desperately gray place again - sucking withering cock for a dillybag to escape the hell that is junk sickness. Well, here's to many more stories from you, Shane. I love them all and they help me through these bitter, citrus-tainted days!

Dr Nuke said...

sarcasm is the high form of wit

Anonymous said...

When the fuck are you ever going to write something new huh?
Your pieces are a great source of comfort and inspiration, besides the fact that they're of course very entertaining and well written, but by now I've already read it all, multiple times..
So kindly, if you find the time and inspiration, get your lazy ass fingers on those keys, okay? ;)
Sincerely, Sam

Anonymous said...

Oh my, now that I read back my comment I fear my tone might have come across a tad more harsh than intended, I suppose sarcasm doesn't always translate as intended when written down?
Still, now I again fear underestimating the thickness of your skin and your ability to distinguish sarcasm from actual verbal abuse haha, god, it never ceases to amaze me how tiresome my thoughts are, I guess I should refrain from posting comments in the spur of the moment (especially when dopesick haha) in the future..
So yeah, write some new stuff, or don't.
Just know that it would be a great loss to mankind to be deprived of your writings, or something...
Anyway, I hope you die, you're a paper cut on the foreskin of society, and all that good stuff <3
Love, Sam

Shane Levene said...

Hey Sam and thanks for your words... Well, some of them at least! Oh, I've been online long enough now and have disgusted enough people and received their hateful wrath (real mean stuff) to discern between the real sad cases of this world and someone trying to rile a few new texts outta me. Good news on that score... There's a couple of new posts just waiting to be finished off and posted (early next week I should think... Though it all depends on how many relapses I squeeze in before now and then!) Possible texts are: Scenes from the Death Cart (a short text about death and mortality), or: an ad yet unnamed text about the complete loss of pride and shame when needing a bag to stave off sickness. It's anyone's guess which will be posted and going on previous form it may be neither of them... Things are completely out my hands and have been for many a year now... X

Anonymous said...

Hey there, it's very good to hear there's some new stuff (possibly) coming up, and also that you didn't feel I insulted you or your intelligence with my incoherent ramblings haha.. I always feel insecure about shit like that, especially since English isn't my native tongue ( as you could probably tell haha)..
But yeah, really looking forward to reading the new texts, the latter one you described sounds especially recognizable; I proverbialy whored myself out for a bag of dope not even an hour ago ( apart from the countless other times I traded a little bit more of my self worth for a few brown pebbles haha), as I'm sure most dope fiends have..
Can't wait to read it my friendo, whatever you decide to share with us next, I'm sure it will be another gem <3
Best regards, Sam

Dave said...

Hi Shane, first time I have posted. I love your style and have read most of your blogs. I was cut off my bupe at 6mg/day for the last 5 days. I decided not to score and found reading your blogs very therapeutic surprisingly - thinking about gear would normally set me off clucking but you write so well. It's true the life of a junkie really is up and down, mostly boring but it can take you some insane places.

Lots of people say it so over time I am sure it means less and less but your writing is amazing, your talented both at writing poetically, but also observing people and their motivations like nobody else.

Anyway just wanted to say thank you for giving me something to keep my brain occupied. I hope to join in some discussions I've seen in the comments.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Ya Dave and welcome! X

God, cut off from your script... not sure I'd survive without having a major breakdown. Just missing a single dose leaves me with severe restless leg syndrome, terrible yawns and burning eyes and insomnia. Whoever would think real addiction involves such stuff?

Oh, join in the comments all you like. Probably best to subscribe to the comments if you do as I'm not always too punctual when it comes to answering. I do my best but other things get in the way... the same thing which seems to get in the way of just about everything!

Anyway, thanks for your words and looking forward to any more you have to spare. X

Dave said...

Bupe doesn't seem close to as bad as meth for me at least and definitely not got anything on dark. My legs were flaming and my fluids were jumping ship but only in one direction, I could still eat. I gave myself cotton fever last night, knew the shot was dirty but did it anyway because it usually puts me to sleep and in the morning I was back on bupe. Dunno if I would be so meh about it if I was speaking yesterday.

I do honestly want to quit, but I get how you write about people saying "blah blah it's going to kill me terrible." I want to be able to travel because I'm 24 and I been using for 4 years, also I was on 1mg of bupe before a little hicup a few months ago so I know I can do it. Got me thinking about how we aren't just one mind - more ying vs yang or angel on one shoulder demon on the other, I get what you say - either use constantly or not at all but do you ever have a demon saying stop while you still have some veins left? Hope it's not to personal, just a bit of a thought.

And not too sure how to subscribe but I check back here fairly frequently.

Look after yourself mate.

Leilani Kyle said...

I'm falling in love with your words. I've been lurking in the shadows of your website for a couple of days but I had to jump out for just a moment in response to this sheer brilliance.

Shane Levene said...

Hey O Leilani & WELCOME! Oh, lurk all you like... lurking's cool. Just make sure you jump out every now and again so as we know you've not gotten lost. X