Angel’s Hell #4: A Renter’s Parable

Angels Hell - Pringle and Moreno 4

Some days you feel so lucky, negotiating with the Anaheim City Government, it’s like you just got dealt four of a kind!

Let’s say you’re a renter.  A long term renter.  You’ve been in your happy home for a very long time.  You and your landlord know each other well, but as time has gone on, you notice that your happy home isn’t as happy as it once was.  The walls need painting, the carpet is dingy, and you’d really much rather have a nice new commercial gas range than the electric avocado beast that’s fried your eggs reliably for so many years.  You have many happy memories here, your friends and family are all close by, you’re a deeply embedded part of the community, but maybe it’s time to move on.

You’ve still got another two months to think about what you’d like to do.  So, you call up your landlord Maybe she’ll agree to the carpet and the paint, but surely the new range is out of the question.  Maybe she’ll allow you to buy your own.  Surely this means a new long term lease.

The phone rings.  Once.  Twice.  She picks up.  “Well how’s my favorite tenant? “

“Fantastic.  I’d like to talk to you about . . .”

“Let me guess.  You’d like a new driveway.”

“Well, no, but . . .”

“Oh, some new landscaping?  Maybe a new water heater?”

“No, no, they’re all fine, but . . .”

“Oh, well then surely this must be about the vacant lot next door.”

“No . . .”

“Tell you what” she says, “I just can’t figure out what to do with it.   How about you find someone who can use it.  You can keep whatever rent they agree to pay.  Does that sound nice?”

“Well, yes, but . . .”

“So, we’ve got the new driveway, the new landscaping—I’ll add sprinklers, too, a new water heater free use of the lot next door for what you see fit, let’s see . . . what else can we do?”

“ . . . I’m so confused.”

“Alright, let’s replace your carpet, paint the walls, and that range of yours is quite out of style.  I’ll replace it with a new Viking model, which is yours to keep.”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Yes, you can keep the range.  It’s my gift to you for being such a lovely tenant.”

“Well, thank you!”

“No problem.  It’s my pleasure.  Now, about that lease . . .”

“Well, sure, where do I sign?” you say.

“Oh, no need to sign.  Let’s get all these improvements in line first.  Be sure to rent out that space next door as soon as possible!  Instead of your lease being up in two months, let’s just make it three.  You can decide if you want to stay or go then.”

Confused, you try to sum the deal up with your landlord, “So, I get a new driveway, new landscaping, new sprinklers, new water heater, a new range, new paint, new carpet, and I can lease the lot next door. “

“Absolutely.  And if you decide to leave in three months, you can keep the new range and any rent from the property next door.”

“OK . . .”

“OK!  See you in three months!  If you could, I’d appreciate it if you could make some improvements to the house.  You know, whatever you want.  I’m not going to bind you to that of course.”

“Great.  We’ll see about that.” (click.)

Pretty great, right?

Now let’s imagine this.  Now you’re the landlord.  Your property manager just offered the same terms to one of your tenants.  You’re furious, right?

Now, instead of a house, it’s Anaheim stadium.  Instead of a stove, it’s $2 billion in deferred revenue and diverted taxes.

It’s like a bad sci-fi flick.  Just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get more ridiculous . . .


About Ryan Cantor

Our conservative columnist, raised in North Orange County, works as an Analyst and Strategic Planner.