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.
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