Dear Thieving Landlord

In my late 20s, I bounced around NYC for about five years. One of the many neighborhoods I lived in was Harlem, where I had my first no-roommate apartment. Rent still wasn’t cheap, despite not being in one of the high-end neighborhoods, but I was making good money bartending so I splurged on living alone for once.

One day I gave a beer to a friend without charging him, a practice many bartenders did often, and before I could even blink I got fired. I only had one month’s worth of rent banked, so I had to act fast. I talked to my landlord, and he said he would work with me to break my lease so I could find something cheaper but I had to find someone to take over the apartment. With that settled, I still needed a place to live, so I swallowed my pride and contacted my ex-boyfriend who said I could stay with him until I got my deposit back and could find another place.

I kept my end of the bargain and found a new tenant, but then my landlord disappeared without returning my much-needed deposit. With my landlord nowhere to be found and the legal system proving completely ineffective, I had to get creative. The following is a series of letters written to my landlord, which share the entire story of my path to victory.

Dear Landlord — I mailed you a letter.

June 15, 2011

Dear landlord,

It’s been about a month since you said you’d mail my security deposit and half month’s rent. Remember you also owe me a half a month’s rent because you made me move out two weeks early so the new tenant could move in?

Anywho, where is it? I mean, I know it’s called “snail mail” and everything, but the snail doesn’t usually take 6 weeks. Do you think it got lost? I’ve left you several voicemails and sent a lot of texts. Haven’t heard back. Is your phone broken or something?

Well, since I can’t get you on the phone I’m putting a letter in the mail for you today. Hopefully you’ll get that and you’ll send my check soon. You probably just forgot. I can’t move into a new place until I have it, so please let me know what the deal is ASAP. Thanks!

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Landlord — Are you alive?

July 1, 2011

Dear landlord,

Did you get my letter? It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t heard from you. I tried calling and texting again, but still nothing. Are you alive? I’m starting to think you have no intention of sending me this money…

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — You’re starting to look like a douche bag.

August 3, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

You still aren’t answering my calls. This whole thing is really making you look like a huge douche bag.

I’ve started using my credit card to pay for stuff since I need cash to move into my new apartment and don’t have enough without you giving me back that $1,642.50. It’s starting to build up as time goes by, so I hope you give it back before I get into too much debt, otherwise that would really suck.

Today I reported you and your “business” to the attorney general and the bureau of consumer affairs. Unfortunately, they said more than one person has to complain before they can do anything about it. So, check your mail soon, looks like we’re going to court!

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — I came by your apartment.

August 15, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

I came by the building today to see if I could talk to you in person. I buzzed every apartment since I don’t have a key anymore, hope that’s okay.

The person in 3C let me in, he was pretty cool. I talked to him for a little bit and asked if he’d seen you in a while. He said he had just seen you the day before and that you’re usually home at this time. Guess that means you’re alive and well!

I told him the situation, hope you don’t mind. I was just trying to explain why I was looking for you so he didn’t think I was some sort of stalker.

When I knocked on your door you didn’t answer. That’s so weird, since 3C told me you’re usually home at this time…not to mention that your apartment IS your office, so it’s not like you could’ve been working late. I swear I heard you inside leaning against the door; the floors are very creaky. Also, just a tip, when trying to be completely silent you probably shouldn’t lean against the door, it makes more noise than the floors.

Anyway, I banged on the door for a while, doesn’t seem like you wanted to talk though. Maybe you were just tired or something. All that stealing probably takes a lot out of you. I’ll just have to try you again later.

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — Who the fuck is Debbie?

August 19, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

When I first realized you had no intention of giving me my money back, I called you every day and left the same message:

“Hi xxxxxx, Jessica Mulder here. Just a friendly reminder that you still owe me $1,642.50, it was not a gift. Call me back, thanks!”

There were other variations, but they were all very calm and sweet and got the main point across.

After almost two weeks of doing that, I got tired and stopped. Then today I thought, what the hell, I’ll try again, and you answered!

Thieving landlord (YOU): Hello, Debbie?
Me: Hello?!
Thieving landlord: Debbie?
Me: No!
Thieving landlord: Who is this?
Me: Jessica Mulder.
Thieving landlord: Oh, hi Jessica. How are you?
Me: NOT good! How are you?! (baffled)
Thieving landlord: Uh…not good either. Hey, can I call you back in twenty minutes?
Me: What?! Will you?! No! I’ve been–

And then you hung up.

I, of course, tried to call you back about 37 times to no avail. You are still an asshole, but who the fuck is Debbie?

This is not over.

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — I was in court, where were you?

August 22, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

I went to court today but you didn’t show up. That was shitty of you. It was also REALLY stupid because if you aren’t there to defend yourself you automatically lose. Did you know that?

While I was there I met another girl who is also suing you for the same thing. Guess this isn’t your first time, you’re an even bigger d-bag than I thought! Now that I think of it, I should’ve got her number so we could help each other sue you, its a shame…but like they say, hindsight is 20/20.

I spoke with an arbiter; she said she’s going to send me a judgment with the court’s decision in about a week. Like I said though, you’re pretty much going to lose. Keep an eye out for that mail, I’ll write you too and let you know what happens.

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — F U, pay me.

August 29, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

Got the judgment in the mail. I won! That means you lost though, sorry about that :-/

Not only that but they added on extra money that you owe me for interest and fees, pretty cool right? I thought so too.

Apparently you have 30 days to pay me now or you’ll have “legal consequences.” That doesn’t sound fun, so you should probably just do it.

I texted you a picture of the judgment in case yours got lost in the mail or your hands are broken so you can’t open mail or something. I also called and left a message for you to listen to just in case your eyes have been gouged out for some reason and you can’t read it.

Hope to hear from you soon…while you’re holding money…that you’re handing to me.

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — What’s App, bitch?

October 20, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

It’s been 188 days since you absconded with my security deposit and fell off the face of the planet.

I saw you on What’s App today. It said you were “last seen” at 9:08 p.m. two days ago. Then we talked, it was nice. Here’s a recap in case you forgot already:

Me: Dear asshole, it appears you are indeed alive as you were on here a couple days ago. I knew you were anyway, but I like the reminder. That being said, it’s been over a year, what kind of person are you? How do you sleep at night? I’m going to get my money. It’s up to you how hard you’re going to make it. See you soon!
Thieving landlord: Who is this? I think you have the wrong person.
Me: Is this XXXX XXXXX?
Thieving landlord: Well, who is this?
Me: Yeah you probably owe a lot of people money. It’s Jessica Mulder–I guess now that you know, there’s your cue to stop responding and fall off the planet again, bc you’re cool like that.

You then stopped responding, as expected. I like these little semi-conversations. They really do refuel my energy to continue trying to get my money back.

I now understand why you were so confused at first; it’s only been about 6 months since you screwed me over, not a year. It’s just been so time consuming and stressful and caused such a hit on my finances that I guess it seems like way longer. But please don’t get me wrong even though it’s only been 6 months, you’re still an asshole.

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — At the courthouse again; you sure do suck a lot.

October 31, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

Happy Halloween! What are you going as this year? A douche bag again? You really need to get more creative.

It’s been well over the required 30 days since you’ve been notified that you lost the case and legally had to give me my money; you don’t seem to care in the slightest.

You know what I was thinking? If you were planning on stealing my money, why weren’t you smart enough to at least make it seem like I didn’t deserve getting it back? Like, say that I ruined the apartment or something and you needed to keep the deposit to repair it? I mean, if I was a thieving asshole, I’d at least be smart enough to cover my ass. It’s a shame you didn’t think to do that…and I’d say try it for next time, but I’ve warned several people in the building to not pay you the last month’s rent because they won’t be getting their security deposit back, and have plans in the works to make sure word gets around to everyone else too. Yikes, huh?

Anyway, I’ve been at the courthouse for four whole hours trying to get some bullshit documents that will hopefully help me get you to do what you’re supposed to do. I should be at work right now, so now you not only owe me money, but you’re costing me even more. Don’t worry, I’ll just put it on your tab.

Have a great Halloween!

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — I made a Facebook page about you.

November 16, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

Guess what?! Since the courthouse is doing their best to suck at helping me, I’ve started a Facebook page in your honor. I’m sure you’re flattered, who wouldn’t be? To spread the word about it a little more I made a flyer with a quick sketch I drew of you, I would have used a picture but no matter how hard I searched on the internet I just couldn’t find one. Did you know there are like 200 some odd XXXX XXXXX’s in NYC? None of them seem to be you though. I wonder if you have another name you use, or maybe XXXXX is your middle name or something.

Anyway, I drew your picture from memory so don’t be offended if it doesn’t look exactly like you. It’s funny though, because it kind of looks like one of those “Wanted” police sketches; sorry about that. But I mean, you pretty much are a criminal so I guess it isn’t that far fetched:

Note: Pic has since been blurred to protect the landlord’s identity.

What do you think? Looks good huh? Yeah I thought so too.

That’s all for now, I’ll let you know how the next court appointment goes. 3rd time’s a charm!

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — I Mailed You Something Fun.

November 18, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

Man, this is really turning out to be a load of bullshit in your favor. I’ve been to the courthouse THREE times and talked to the City Marshall’s office just as many to figure out how to get my money back. They’re all giving me the runaround, it’s like nobody gives a shit about my situation. Can you believe that? I guess that’s why you’re so apt to just keep peoples’ money, you must know that this is what happens and that people usually just give up. Don’t worry though, I’m not gonna do that.

Remember that flyer I made of you in that last letter I sent? The one that I put on the Facebook page? Well, get this, I printed out a bunch of them and today I mailed one to everyone in the building. I don’t have all their names so I just addressed it to “Soon to be ripped off Tenant.”

Don’t feel left out, I sent you one too; this way you can make a scrap book out of it along with all of those legal documents you’ve been ignoring. Then in the future you can flip through it to remember the time when you ripped off the wrong person and she did everything in her power to make sure you didn’t get away with it. Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Thieving Landlord — You finally called me, but then I lost you again.

December 12th, 2011

Dear Thieving Landlord,

On November 21st, everyone received their letters. To make sure you’d check your mailbox that day, I shot you a What’s App message:

Hey Buddy, you get my letter yet? I think you’re gonna like it a lot. If yours got lost in the mail, don’t worry, ask any of your neighbors, I sent one to everyone :)

Amazingly enough, you magically resurfaced and responded to my message! Apparently you were in Spain–how fancy!–but would be returning to the city the next day. We talked, you bargained something about a payment plan, apologized a lot, and then we decided I would talk to the courts/City Marshall and see the best way of going about it. What can I say, though I shouldn’t I can’t help but feel bad for you. It’s a curse.

Then you got home and saw my beautiful flyer…needless to say, you were NOT happy, and said that my FB efforts were “nasty.”

When we talked, you seemed pretty upset about the Facebook page, so I had to explain to you that “nasty” was what you did, not what I’m doing. I contacted you every way possible short of a carrier pigeon, and frankly, you didn’t give even one shit about it. You must understand, I am not doing this to you, you’re doing this to yourself. You disappeared for 7 months, how else was I supposed to get your attention? And though I’d love to take it down for you, I simply can’t do that until you pay me in full. I also cannot take it down and then put it back up if you disappear again, as you so adorably suggested. Silly man, that’s extra work for me and you have demonstrated that you can no longer be trusted. Therefore, the page stays until you pay.

Just as I told you during our conversation, it’s like when a judge decides not to sentence you to jail time but instead to wear a sandwich board that reads “I am a thief” or some other similar infraction, while you walk back and forth in front of the area where the people you’ve wronged reside/hang out. You have to wear your sandwich board until your sentence is complete, and your sentence isn’t complete until I’ve been paid in full. Makes sense, right? Yeah, I thought so too.

When we talked, I gave you two options:

1. Pay me in full now.

2. I follow through with my case with the City Marshall’s office until they force you to do so, which is WAY worse than option 1 because you not only have to pay me, but you have to pay them a percentage of what you owe me, plus the inevitable mandatory fees.

I did tell you that I wouldn’t write any more posts as long as you do what you’re supposed to/keep in touch, but…it’s been a couple weeks…you still haven’t paid me and you’ve stopped responding to my messages. Ah, well then, the show must go on!

Sincerely,

Jessica

Dear Formerly-Thieving Landlord — You May Now Remove Your Sandwich Board

December 16th, 2011

Dear Formerly-Thieving Landlord,

It’s been a harsh run for you and me, buddy. Thankfully, it ended today. I think we can both agree that we’re happy it’s over. After 8 months of dealing with the court system due to your disappearance, it seems the winner in avenues of “best ways to achieve justice” is social media!

Our ass backwards court system, I soon found out, would not have helped me at all even if I continued with their process. I didn’t tell you this before, for obvious reasons, but every subpoena of funds I got back from banks returned with either no information in careless I-don’t-feel-like-doing-my-job-today stamp form or information that looked like it had been written by someone of kindergarten age falsely claiming to have no information about you! I know it was false and that they did in fact have your account information, because when you paid me, we went to that exact bank! Not only that but you had not one but TWO accounts there (wow), how did they miss that?!

NYC and banks in general, what the fuck. How does that happen? This is your system? Really?!

Anyway, thanks for finally making things right. Don’t worry, the Facebook page has been cleaned of anything including your name/company and is already in the process of being deleted which can take up to 14 days. In the meantime, your name has been deleted from all mentions in my letters as well.

Though I’m glad this is over and am more than happy to take your name out of it so that you can make good with the world again, I think it’s important for the moral of the story to remain online and here’s why:

There will be a lot more ripped off tenants/people in general in the future. Not necessarily by you, but by other people who know that the court system sucks and people will basically give up because it will wear them out with technicalities and garbage, ass-backwards protocol.

So, if I can leave anyone in need of help with anything it’s this: When the system in place fails you (which it probably will), don’t give up. Fuck ’em, and make your own system. Trust me…it works.

Sweet victory
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