A reptile does not live by the Golden Rule. It sees the world as predator and prey, so that the only question is, which are you? When you try to act reasonable and kind, to the reptilian landlord, you look like a soft, succulent lunch. There is no reasoning. They are too far down on the food chain to understand why it is better for everyone to just work it out. Not until you bare your teeth and claws, and charge toward the landlord does it dawn on him/her that you may be predator, and things should be worked out. This lesson will often cost the landlord “an arm and a leg”. A minor problem of a tenant turns into a financial disaster for the landlord, costing tens of thousands of dollars. It happens!
You’ve already experienced the landlord’s arrogance, no doubt, but just couldn’t put your finger on it. It is that attitude of superiority, that they are above the law, and may do whatever they wish. They can breach the contract with impunity, and yet hold you to the most trivial term.
It is from the Middle Ages, when the feudal landlords controlled everyone’s life. They’re tripping. There are a few things to understand about arrogance that will help you deal with it. The first is that truly strong people are not arrogant; it is the mask of a weakling, in the same way that bullies are actually cowards [ie, why they won’t pick on someone their own size].
They are insecure, and pretend to be superior as an emotional crutch, like a yapping little dog tries to scare people away. Arrogance is the cousin of Ignorance, in the Know-it-all family. Why should they look up the law, or find out the truth, when their omniscience is all they need? The most intelligent people you’ll ever meet claim to know nothing, and always ask questions; few of them will be landlords.
As a result, landlords are always caught off-guard in a legal battle, and so fun to watch panicking. When dealing with an arrogant landlord, speaking adult-to-adult [if you’re familiar with Transactional Analysis] doesn’t work. You have to speak to them as a parent does to a child, which exploits their basic insecurity, starts their ignorance panic, and gets them on the defensive.
In Communist East Germany, the government picked the low life in society, the criminals and bums, and gave them the power of life and death as Informants, “stasi”, able to have someone arrested or killed by their word. In no time, the power went to their heads, and they began bullying the population under threat. It was the slave who would be King: to never have had power before…and love it. Fast forward to today. Imagine not being able to hold down a decent job, or pay normal rent, because you’re a loser in life, and then getting the power to threaten tenants with eviction unless they obey your every word, a Resident Manager.
You work like a slave, and unaware how much you’re being ripped off by the landlord, but it’s worth the degradation to treat the other tenants even worse! The little people at the property management company who supervise the resident managers share the same background, except they have an office job. They see themselves as Gods, with no personal accountability, but authority to do whatever they wish… until they get the owner and their boss sued!
Most of the world operates under an aristocracy, where a wealthy few dominate the millions of common people. After decades or centuries of abuses, those common people rebel and the former aristocrats come to our country for political asylum and become landlords.
They know how to treat tenants: like dirt. They are shocked when we don’t fear them, and that we talk about exercising our rights, or complain to the government. These people come here without a clue as to what we will tolerate, or our sense of fair dealing. It’s a culture shock for them. The best way to deal with the boorish foreigner landlord is to call in the government, right away.
A building inspector’s citation, being sued in court, or being served legal papers by the Sheriff, invokes their fear of what the government can do, impresses upon them that you have connections with the government, and it’s a whole new game for them. This is not xenophobia; it’s tough love. You have to help them learn how we do things in America.
If you rent a house which the landlords inherited, you may know this one. One of the owners actually spent their youth in that house, filled with fond memories of home, holidays, and special friends. Then, long after moving away, the last parent dies, and the surviving son or daughter keeps the house and rents it out. Mama’s spirit is still there.
The house is a sacred temple, which shall not be defaced by nail holes in the wall to hang pictures, spilling things on the sacred carpet, or otherwise living a normal life for the tenant. Their expectations are unrealistic. You can’t please this owner. There is too much emotional attachment, the same that kept them from selling the place. Move out to be happy. Your security deposit will be a major battle to recover.