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I've said it before and will say it again:

Religion is a CON.

Religion is a con, but started out as just plain ignorance. When Constantine saw the cross up in the sky and heard the inner voice say "in this sign you will conquer" the modern christian just knows that Jebus was in control of everything from then on. Hello! Ad the twist that Constantine would now have bigger armies because of belief in an afterlife and therefore start early "patriotism." Follow it through the centuries and you see it done yet today. You can fight and die for your country and also be on the "side of god." (Yes, I am also ex military.)

The problem is, everyone in the entire world believes this! They see it as to their culture, and not the way YOU do. That is why religion is the worst thing on earth. It will not solve your problems. It only leads to destruction.

In America it leaves the befuddled christians throwing (and making) more money around with no hope in sight of seeing the real problem. Some of the idiots actually do believe that you can convert the world. This will never happen. Never ever! Sorry.

I had a landlord last summer who was a con artist.  He grew up Mennonite, and his brand of con-artistry looks like it came from his religious upbringing. 

Because of allergies, I needed a place to live that hadn't had pets in it, so I rented a trailer from this guy in a no-dogs mobile home park.

It turned out to have a LOT of mold problems, landlord was an incredible cheapskate on fixing the mold problems even though he charged a very high rent ...  When I found that water was getting inside the wall through a rotted windowsill, he asked me to move out.  I'd been living there only 3 weeks.  I agreed because the MH park owners had new mobile homes for rent - no mold, no pet dander.  I had a 12-month lease, but the usual practice around here is that if you want to get out of a lease, you or the landlord finds a new tenant, and once the tenant moves in, you can stop paying rent.  This is a college town, and the students come back during August.  I moved out at the end of July, so I was sure there would be no problem finding a new tenant.  Also, the landlord was constantly feeding me stories about how many people were interested in his mobile home. 

About a week after I moved out, the landlord called me and said that he didn't have any idea why, but he hadn't been able to find a new tenant and there was little interest.  And, he said, if he didn't find a new tenant by the time the school year started - when the housing market dries up - he probably wouldn't find a new tenant till January, and I would have to keep on paying him rent until then!

He said he was getting calls but he couldn't find anyone suitable.  Suitable for him meant a (preferably married) couple or an older single person - thus ruling out the great majority of tenants.  This is illegal housing discrimination in New York State.  This place was 900 square feet, but he only wanted one or two people living there. 

I told this guy if he couldn't find a tenant in the most active housing market of the entire year, he was being unreasonably picky. 

I had gotten no responses at all from my rental ad on Craigslist - except for one person who told me that the rent was crazily high.  Later I heard the same from other people. 

He had written a custom lease for me, which said that if I moved out for any reason during the lease period, I would have to keep on paying rent until I found him a mature (i.e. older) single person or married couple to live there.  The reason he wrote a custom lease was that I told him about my allergy situation when I looked at the place, that I might not be able to stay there for allergy reasons. 

This looked a lot like a con job to me.  At the very least, he made a play to get rent from me until January.  Often people will make a try for a lot of money, just to see if you will let them have it.  They may not want to fight for the money, but they figure, why not see if they can get it. 

This guy is extremely pleasant.  He dishes out compliments and positive statements with a shovel almost.  People generally think he's a nice guy, and I thought so too at first. 

But it was looking now like he had set this up, perhaps deliberately - he'd gotten me to sign a lease to nail me for 12 months rent, asked me to leave after a short time, "had trouble" finding new tenants - so he figured he could take me to court to collect the rest of the lease from me - $10,000 - without even having to have a tenant there!  He also told me a lot that he was a lawyer - in the sense that he had a degree from Harvard Law - so that he would have a big advantage in court.  Also that he was friends with practically everybody - the police, professors at the university, etc. etc.   He was very friendly when I first looked at the place. 

I took the lease to a real lawyer, who told me it was a pile of crap that tried to take away from me rights that under state law, can't be taken away by a lease.  The lawyer wrote a letter to him asking for the security deposit back and he agreed, and we signed a lease termination agreement. 

But not without one last little sting.  When we met at the lawyer's office to sign the agreement, he said I should pay rent because I'd been coming back to the place to use the wifi (about half an hour per day) after I moved out!  $30 per day is a lot for wifi!  I agreed to let him keep $250 out of the security deposit - which pissed me off later, because he had treated me so shabbily when I was there.  He had NO consideration for my mold allergy.  He made NO effort to clean the kitchen before I moved in, and there was a moldy garbage pail in the kitchen, a moldy dishwasher, a moldy cutting board in there. All of which made me sick through July - and I'm trying desperately to avoid allergy exposures so I can recover my health!  So I don't think I owed him $250, although it was probably a good idea to give him some money to grease the wheels a bit. 

He did find a new tenant, apparently at the same high rent.  He seems to be able to do this because some people arriving here don't know what rent to pay, perhaps they're foreigners, maybe they don't care much about money.  Also they won't find out about the downside of living in a trailer until later. 

This guy, while pushing compliments and pleasantries in a constant stream, has an eagle eye for his own advantage and will seize what he can.  His surface "niceness" is a lie.  He persuades academics living here to trust him by telling them he went to Harvard, so that he's sort of an academic himself.  Con artists try to gain people's trust by claiming to be similar to them. 

And he likely learned this very fake surface pleasantness in his religious upbringing, and he found how to use the esteem people have for religion, to his own advantage.  He was extremely manipulative, and I was in a health crisis, desperate for an animal-free place, and easy to manipulate.   

Two things.  I suspect NY law is similar to Texas in property code aspects.  He undoubtedly knew that the window leaked and mold would form, so he rented under false pretenses.  In that manner, he breached the lease before you did, and a material breach by one person disallows that person from suing on the contract.  The other point is to remind you of the old rock song popular in the latd 60s or early 70s by, I think, Sly and the Family Stone, called "Smiling Faces." The refrain went: "Smiling faces, smiling faces, smiling faces...sometimes tell lies."  That and the observation of the late William S. Burroughs who said, "When you're dealing with a religious nut, get it in writing."  You had it in writing, but he suckered you into the lease.

The con-artist landlord wasn't currently religious, he just had a Mennonite upbringing - probably pretty intense. It trains a lot of people in having an outside "face" that is nice and and agreeable, hiding their real feelings. I don't know if it trains them to be con artists, but it trains people to be hypocrites.  He was also a liar, he lied to me about the age of the mobile home and the constant stories he was telling about all the people who wanted to rent it were apparently also bullshit.

The trailers he rents are old - the one he rented to me was made in 1985.  They aren't worth more than maybe 5 or 10 thousand dollars, and he rents them for just under $1000/month.  He sweet-talks people into renting.  The space rent is only ~$350/month. 

And he got very angry when I moved in and asked him to get rid of various mold.  He said usually when people moved in, he didn't hear from them unless there was some emergency like the heater breaking, and he was angry because I'd been asking him for too many repairs.

Apparently the usual deal for him was that he gets from each mobile home, a net income of about $650/month - for almost no work and almost no investment on his part! 

So - like a con artist - he was trying to support himself while doing hardly any work.
I was asking him to actually DO something in return for the money - get rid of mold to reasonable standards - and that made him very angry. 

It was all quite outrageous - outrageous for him to expect me to pay him rent till January if he "couldn't find" a tenant at his outrageous rent, in the busiest time of the year.  Outrageous to get angry at me for asking him to repair slummy conditions.  He felt entitled to lots of money for very little work. 

I hadn't rented a place for a long time and I'd forgotten how badly some rentals are maintained.  Some landlords have incredibly low standards for other people's living places!

The back door had a HOLE cut it in for the dryer vent hose!  Covered with a plywood flap on the outside when you weren't using the dryer.  The plywood flap was unpainted and VERY moldy.  Mobile homes have no eaves on the side so rain got into the door around the plywood flap, and the door was VERY moldy.  His handyman ended up replacing the bottom part of the door, although doing that much of a fix made the landlord storm off in anger. 

When I have a bad experience I usually try to figure out how to prevent it in the future.  I'm unsure in this case because I was desperate to find a place that hadn't had pets in it.  Just the previous week, I had spent a couple hours at a house where the owners hadn't had pets for the 7 years they'd been there.  And I got sick for 5 days from that - and that was the only place out of many, that seemed promising enough for me to visit.  I was spending >$3000/month living in hotels, and still somewhat sick from allergies, all the same.  So I really was desperate, and when I spent a couple hours in this guy's mobile home and I didn't feel definitely worse, I wanted the place.  Very badly. 

Compared to living in a hotel, I did save a lot of money.  The only thing I can see that I might do differently next time, is that if someone presents you with a custom-made contract, it should be run past a lawyer.  I had signed lease contracts before without having a lawyer look them over, and I didn't realize, reading this one, that it was suspicious. 

He put pressure on me by telling me how many other people wanted the rental, and he told me later he wouldn't have rented it to me without his custom-made lease (also probably illegal housing discrimination). 

I was lucky that NY state law has protections for tenants that they can't sign away in a lease.  The lawyer told me you can't sign away the implied warranty of habitability, and the lease attempted to do that. 

And it bothers me that I was so susceptible to his manipulations, to his pretended niceness, to the bullshit about how many people wanted the place, to his pretended financial neediness.  I felt sympathetic and empathetic with him, and he exploited that - as con artists do. 


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