Cimarron Layne wrote:This may sound like a rant, but what I'm saying is, IF you decide to build a community, make sure you vet your candidates completely and don't share your living accommodations with strangers. You just never know what they are really like until it's too late to do anything about it. People sometimes aren't truthful about themselves.
The vetting really should go both ways - we're in a situation now with an owner that is quite literally a mooch and scam artist, and all of his neighbors will back that up. All of his neighbors can verify this as they have been mooched from, too. One neighbor told him to leave her lawnmower alone because he would just take it whenever and mow over anything - sticks, rocks, etc., mow his place and run the gas out of it, never offering to chip in on gas. When the neighbor told him to stay out of the fridge (he helped himself to everything), he got mad and refuses to go over to her place now. Previously, he had been helping her with odds and ends around her place as she's in her 80s and can't do much.
The deal when we came here was that the rent was $400/month and $100 to cover our part of the utilities, and that we would work it off at $8 per hour. Work included was feeding/watering the rabbits, helping him with planting and weeding, and fixing up the house and property. It also included going over to the other property where his tree farm is and help thin so the bigger trees weren't competing for nutrients, and he'd pay cash for those hours. The hours at this house and property works out to about 64-1/2 hours per month, which is an average of 16 hours (and some change) per week, average of 2-1/4 hours per day. When we realized how much the electric and water jumped, so we offered to pay a little more so he isn't getting stiffed. Mind you, we get just under $800/month and we have just under $400 in non-household bills. He agreed to pay his part and the connection fees. He's got a tiny house out back and we're in the 2-bedroom, but the electric is connected to both. Basically, he uses very little electric. He uses the washer and dryer, his microwave, a hot plate, and a slow cooker. With the water, he does 2 loads a week, takes a shower a week, used around 150 gallons a week for watering the rabbits, and around 300 gallons a week watering his orchard/planting area of nearly 1000 plants. The water bill was going up and up and up (county water), yet all we uses is for one load of laundry a week, 2-3 showers each, doing dishes, flushing the toilet as little as possible, and water for our dog. My wife and I sat down and figured out who was paying what because his usage has increased, but the amount he pays isn't. Turns out that he was only paying the connection fee and stiffing us with all the water, most of which was his usage. When we questioned him about it, he decided that he wants us out by the end of the year because he's going to sell the house (which we offered to buy, but he declined before storming out the door). He also decided that the work on the house and property no longer counted. He also decided that anything we do must be for the orchard and it must be two and a quarter hours each day or more (but only 2-1/4 hours counts). And it only counts when he's standing there watching because we don't do anything right and he feels he's being stiffed on hours. The time of day to work is quite random, so if we go to the store or go get our mail at the post office, he's mad because apparently, that is when he wanted to start. Every. Single. Time. He was mad when I had to go to my eye doctor appointment to get new glasses and get a warranty replacement on the lenses of the old ones. He was even madder when I had to pick them up two weeks later. And he had advance notice - he was okay with it until we actually did it.
Dude insists on knowing what we get in the mail, what we do on our computers and phones, any packages we get, what we do with our money, what we should eat (liquid diet only or live on eggs and potatoes like he does), our bedtime, our get-up time, medical stuff, you name it - this is not a complete list. He has no issue eating our food uninvited. Example: We get 4 pounds of butter a month, and not the cheap store brand like he uses. He decided one day that he would help himself to it. That 4 pounds lasted 5 days. When confronted about it, he got all p****d off. He can afford to get his own food and stuff, but gets very little because he feels he can just raid everyone else's stash. We don't mind sharing, but we have an issue with being taken advantage of. He uses my wife's good pans to make his eggs (which is fine), but gets all p****d off when she asks him not to use metal in them as they are not cheap pans. I drink a high alkaline bottled water that's close to $10 a case. He'd guzzle those down like they were free (since he wasn't buying them). When it was mentioned to him, he got all p****d off again. Scratching up her pans was the last straw for him - now he wants us out in 90 days. Two days after getting written notice of the 90 days, he asks my wife, "Are you looking for a place to go, or are you going to milk the 90 days?"
My wife had her gall bladder removed yesterday and came home right after. He actually expected her to get right to work not 5 minutes after watching her slowly (and in obvious pain) get out of the car and I helped her up the steps and into the house. He was mad again that she was struggling to feed the rabbits this morning, just less than 24 hours after having an organ removed. This doesn't even count the very demeaning, condescending and chauvinistic way he has treated my wife - conveniently when I'm not there to hear it. His reason for not running his mouth in my presence - apparently I have anger issues. The only time he could be referring to about these "anger issues" is when we were transplanting trees at the other property and he literally stood over me and in a very
condescending and snotty manner told me how to transplant a tree (something I have plenty of experience with and he is aware of that). I looked up at him and said, "No kidding? You mean I've been doing it right all these years?" That's anger issues. But I think most husbands would be angry if another man is mistreating his wife. I haven't seen/heard it for myself yet - waiting to catch him in the to speak up about it. If I had anger issues, I'd be in jail right now!! I learned to hold my tongue and not let emotions dictate my actions during my years in public safety.
So now he claims that we're not getting our hours in (we keep meticulous written records of it as well as using a time clock app where we punch in and out, and that keeps records as well. When he found out we were doing that, he was mad again and says "it doesn't feel like 2-1/4 hours." Well, it turns out that my wife was getting the most hours, on the order of nearly 70 per month, so that's what she turned in for the rent. I was also doing between 10 and 30 hours per week which was never counted. He got a lot of free work out of us and has the gall to claim we're not getting our hours.
If I am working for a decent person, I actually willingly toss a few extra hours of work in here and there to show my appreciation for the opportunity. But for this guy, he's only getting the required hours for the remaining 90 days and when we leave, he's not going to con us out of any of our stuff. We have no issue contacting a deputy or constable to stand by while we load up our stuff to avoid issues.
In contrast to the above, our last farm stay (intended to be a budding intentional community) went very well until the owner passed away unexpectedly. He had no complaints and bragged about us to everyone he knew, including the owners of the feed store and his coworkers at the hospital (he was an ER doctor). Dr. Eakin was like a dad to me. We were there for two years with every intent to be there forever if he wanted us to. He told us multiple times he was glad we came into his life and he never wanted us to do.
I wrote this "book" to say this: Owners, vet your workers. We have several people that know how well we work, including our neighbors here (who we're on excellent terms with). And workers - vet the owners. There's nothing like getting settled and things start going downhill as you discover that the owner is a con artist (or a womanizing pig).
And to both workers and owners - get everything in writing!