Yesterday, I had a lengthy discussion with colleagues that live as lodgers, who narrated some of the most horrendous and sometimes hilarious incidents they encounter with a landlord, particularly one that lives at the property.
A colleague, who is a sub editor for this newspaper, said when he was still a bachelor, the landlady was very nice to him because he would put lots of meat in her fridge which she would also cook and eat with her family.
But there was a sudden change in behaviour when this colleague introduced his girlfriend, who is now his wife, to the landlady.
“She started behaving awkwardly and I suspect she had anticipated that I would perhaps take one of her daughters as a wife,” the sub editor said.
“She became so hostile and I decided to leave the lodgings and sought accommodation elsewhere.”
With the biting economic problems facing the majority of Zimbabweans today, very few working people can afford to buy a house because banks are not offering mortgage finance.
Every month end, our roads feature property in trucks that ferry goods from one home to the other.
This is because the majority of these landlords create so many problems for their tenants who eventually decide to seek alternative accommodation.
Another journalist said that her landlady became indifferent when her husband was promoted and given a company car.
“This property owner made it very clear to us that she did not want to see any tyre markings in her yard.
“We then sought a friend in the area who allowed us to park our car there every night until such a time we found another place to live.”
Some of the things that these landlords do are so funny. They demand toiletries which under normal circumstances would take a family six months before restocking.
“I live at a house where there are four bachelors who hardly spend time at the house, but the landlord demands four tissue rolls from each of these young men, a bottle of detergent, air freshener and sometimes bleaching agent which she says is meant to whiten the tubs and sinks which we hardly ever use. This is a monthly requirement.
“These landlords are also so nosy and want to know who has visited you and some of them will lock the gate after 8:30pm.
“I have on numerous occasions been locked out and end up putting up at a neighbour’s house,” said another journalist who lives in GlenNorah.
These landlords take control of a lodger’s life so much that they sometimes even want to know what they are cooking.
It is also very common for lodgers to find food missing from their rooms as landlords have spare keys that enable access.
“I decided to put key blockers in the keyholes and I think this did not go down well with the landlord who always helped herself to tomatoes, cooking and even laundry soap whenever I was at work.
“I once found the landlord’s daughter lying on my bed when I returned home after falling sick at work.
“She was a bit tipsy and when I told her to leave the room, she stripped naked.
“When I called her mother’s intervention, she did not react and that is actually what made me leave that home. I knew a trap was being set for me to perhaps marry one of her daughters.”
Women lodgers also experience similar problems where sometimes the father of the house demands sex from them when wife is away.
“One man actually said to me that I could live for free if only I could be intimate with him,” said a general worker with a local clothing factory.
She said the man would walk into her room and chat with her and hence decided to leave this home.
“But the new place was even worse. The landlady was very suspicious of me because she thought I was a threat to her marriage. I was to learn later that her husband was in the habit of sleeping with women lodgers, with one having conceived a baby girl,” said Auxillia of Tynwald South.
Some lodgers said that moods changed whenever they bought new gadgets like televisions or refrigerators.
“The rent is raised the following month because there is a perception that a landlord must be of a higher social standing than a lodger,” said a young accountant in the city.
She said when she eventually decided to move out after being promoted, she invited her landlord and family for a party at her new Greendale home.
“They were so shocked to discover that I had actually bought a house using mortgage financing and was about to marry a man from their neighbourhood. And they were astonished to discover that I was now driving a new Toyota Hilux.”
A lodger cannot entertain visitors or play music on their stereos.
The tales of lodgers and their landlords could fill volumes and volumes of books, but the exciting thing is that no situation is permanent.
A lodger is a future homeowner who, hopefully, will not mistreat his tenants or lodgers.
Regardless of your social status, if you live as a tenant or lodger, a landlord is a constant pest because you are living at their mercy and the law does not seem effective when dealing with such issues.
This is why lodgers will continue being abused because they have nowhere to go, until perhaps when fortune knocks at their doorstep when they will move out to their own homes as property owners.