pop quiz

So I’ve been spending most of my free time recently engaging in a grand old San Francisco tradition: fruitless apartment-hunting. It’s been an educational experience if nothing else.

But tonight was…special.

On paper, it looked like an amazing deal. A full house, with 3 bedrooms, a back deck, run room and yard, a full dining room… for $1800 a month. It’s in “Mission Terrace”, which is a little far out in the sticks, but you can’t have everything, right?

I got to the place around 7:30. The neighborhood was unprepossessing but clean, quiet and sunny. The exterior of the house was in decent shape. It’s a standard SF-style 2-story house where the first floor is a basement/garage area and the living space is on the 2nd floor.

The owner showed up on time and led me around on the tour, talking nonstop. He’s lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, most of the other people there are family homeowners who’ve been there for 20-30 years, all the neighbors know each other… sounds great so far. The house is in very good shape internally, and it’s no-joke huge. The back yard could be in better shape, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a lawn mower and some mulch. Great, right?

Well, except… there’s a strange list of caveats and exceptions that the owner starts rattling off at me. Very, very strange. Let’s go down the list:

  • All utilities including water and trash are the tenant’s responsibility, and have to be in our name.

  • The lease doesn’t include use of the basement/garage, which he uses to store “his cars.”

  • There is no access to the basement level whatsoever: it’s locked and he keeps the keys.

  • The circuit breakers are in the basement. If we blow a circuit, we’re to page him to come over and flip it.

  • He doesn’t want to put the security deposit into an interest-bearing account, because he “doesn’t want the paperwork”

  • We’re welcome to use the driveway in front of the basement as a parking space.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I put to you a simple question:
What is this man doing in his basement?
One vote per person, no fair looking at other people’s answers first.

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When I lived out near SF, we had a nightmare experience with our landlord and our security deposit. He was supposed to have put it in an interest bearing account but I think he just pocketed it. He, for instance, wouldn't pay to replace the hot water heater when it broke because he decided we had "used it too much". I don't think we ever saw a cent of the deposit.

If dealing with putting it in an interest-bearing account is too much of a hassle, I'm sure coming over to flip the breakers is too...
Oh but I didn't answer your question!

Meth lab?
That's where he keeps the gimp.