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Below are the 13 most recent journal entries recorded in Anarchist Landlords Community's LiveJournal:

Friday, February 20th, 2009
8:01 am
insisting housemate leave today
I kind of hate to, she may well end up in a shelter.  But I also feel like letting her stay and drink (silently) is enabling her.  She hasn't paid in months.  Quits the jobs she acquires and is evasive about reality.   Unfortunately I like her otherwise.  But I have also begun to resent that I have to be responsible for things, she can just hole up.  I don't want to feel like a social worker or an enforcer in my own home.  I find worrying about whether she's (marginally) o.k. or getting better or worse is unacceptably adding to my own stresses.  I have enough people who depend on me for something; I do not want to take on one who isn't helping themselves.
But i do hate to be the bad guy.  (I wouldn't have let it go on so long otherwise.)  If she cooked (she has foodstamps), took out the garbage, swept the stairs, raked leaves.  Gone out and tutored kids with worse lives then she ever had.  Something. 
Why should I try harder to make something workable if she isn't? 
As one of my more blunt friends said about a previous housemate: "this is NOT assisted living."
Nonetheless, I hate the situation.

And yes, if you have any stable, adult people who have their lives together you can refer them to me.  Especially activists or gardeners.  But maybe not until I've recovered for a few months.  I'm normally quite adaptable and flexible.
Thursday, February 19th, 2009
10:47 pm
a legal thought problem
This is a purely hypothetical situation, of course, and this post is intended only to satisfy my own curiosity. Obviously.


Philadelphia's revised code pertaining to Business Privilege Licenses states that, if three or fewer units in a property are rented out for residential purposes, AND the property is also the primary residence of the owner, the owner is not required to obtain a Business Privilege License for rental income.

Furthermore, if a property is used entirely for residential purposes, Use and Occupancy tax does not apply. Furthermore, if a building (or portions thereof) is rented to multiple tenants, Use and Occupancy tax is only assessed on the portions of the building rented for the sole use of a given tenant or tenants; common areas such as hallways, bathrooms, basements, exterior areas, and other shared or utility spaces are explicitly excluded. If business activities are carried out using equipment in a common space, without reserving a portion of said space for the exclusive use of the business owner, U&O does not apply. (The example given is very dated: If a vendor places a cigarette vending machine in a hotel lobby and walks through the space to use the machine, it is not taxable. If a vendor sets up a small kiosk in a hotel lobby and reserves that space to sell cigarettes, it is taxable.)

In order to obtain a Certificate of Rental Suitability, one must provide Housing Inspection License OR the BRT's "official address" for the property. (Stop me if i'm wrong, but doesn't every property have an official address? This makes me think that "Official Address" has some special nonsensical legal meaning.)

In order to obtain a Housing Inspection License, one must supply L&I with proof of a current BPL.

For the purposes of this hypothetical argument, suppose i live in a large house. The owners of this house have exclusive use of one room. Three rooms are rented out to unrelated tenants; those individuals or couples each have exclusive use of a room. The other five rooms, the bathrooms and hallways, and the basement and exterior of the property are common or utility spaces, as defined by the section of code covering Use and Occupancy taxes on rental property. Two housemates have cottage industries, but these are run out of common space and rely on equipment which is available for use of all residents.

Since no area of the property is reserved specifically for business endeavors, and those areas which are reserved for specific individuals are purely residential, U&O taxes are not an issue. And since the property is for all intents and purposes purely residential, and it is owner-occupied, and three units are rented, the owner is not required to obtain a BPL.

Since the property owner is not required to obtain a BPL, and cannot obtain an HIL without a BPL, and needs an HIL to obtain a Certificate, does this property owner actually need a Certificate? If so, is this the case in which a "BRT Official Address" (assuming that an "Official Address" is what it sounds like) is sufficient? And since, in November 2008, Mayor Nutter suspended the 2006 law requiring the Certificate, and this law will apparently remain suspended for the foreseeable future, and it was only ever enforceable if someone went whining to the city in the first place, does any of it even really matter?

Only marginally related, and rather less hypothetical: what do you do if, say, you did a bunch of member-credit hours one year at Mariposa and received an I9 and the City noticed so you had to get a BPL so you could pay taxes on your store credit, and didn't know any better so you got the permanent BPL instead of the annual one, and now you don't want the BPL anymore because you haven't earned a taxable amount of member credit hours and you really very much do not want to have to file every year for the rest of your life saying you didn't use your Philadelphia BPL that year, how do you get rid of it? The BPL, i mean, not the store credit or Philadelphia or the BRT or your life. Because there used to be a piece of paper you could file saying you weren't doing business anymore and could your BPL please be canceled, but the City got rid of that in 2006.

Stupid L&I. Stupid BRT. Stupid city.

Umm... i keep meaning to post an upbeat shared housing story, because someone asked a while ago. And this ain't it, babe. No, no, no, this ain't it.
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
2:41 pm
potentialy helpful skill?
I'm somewhat fanatic about gardening.  I'm happy to give design advice or make suggestions.  (I'm much less useful with a hammer.) 
I am a bit stronger in the knowledge department (book-learning) than in hands on.  Many people are more adept than me with growing vegetables.  On the other hand, not that many actually know more about different kinds of plants. 

I'm currently drooling (again) over a catalogue of weird fruits most people haven't heard of.  I'm also particularly into things that flower in the winter (since any color is even more refreshing then) or have really interesting bark.  I'm also into plants with fragrances.
Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
12:11 pm
Lowering rent?
The economy sucks, I have a steady and probably very safe job in an entrenched institution. My tenants, while they have paid the rent and then some for internet service that I offered for free, on time or early every month, have some situations that make their finances kind of tough for the next few months. Then there's the thing about the economy being in the shitter.

So I think I want to lower the rent. This is one of those situations where you find yourself in the strange position to make a small decision based on your own common sense, within a larger context that doesn't make sense. Blah blah, housing market, credit crunch, jobs, yadda yadda, and basically, if everyone is feeling the squeeze, it makes sense for those of us who will probably ride it out safely, to do our part to try to keep the economic foundation stable. Furthermore, my tenants are great and I want to keep them though I don't think I'm in danger of losing them, and they spend a lot of their disposable income right in the neighborhood. That benefits everyone.

Do you know of any gotchas to lowering the rent, assuming you can afford it?

Oh, one other thing, I was talking to a tax person the other day who said that Philly (PA?) has done away with $1 home sales. I wanted to start to rent under an LLC, but he said that to do that, I'd have to sell the house to myself (as an LLC) at fair market value, and pay the taxes on it. Instead, he recommended insuring the crap out of the house and continuing to rent under my name. Anyone heard about this?
Thursday, June 12th, 2008
1:04 pm
of inconclusive domestic disputes
Well. That was fun.

I cornered the relevant housemate in the kitchen last night. Asked him if he had a minute. He asked what it was about.

"The AC."

"I don't want to hear it."

"Then we'll keep it short. [recap of my views.]"

"[recap of his views, his promise to pay, etc. Increasingly defensive.]"

[Interestingly, he claims to have been using the AC for its fan properties since the heat wave broke. Um...what about the dust? I didn't ask.]

"I'm still not OK with paying for your AC, which is what you're asking me to do until the money comes in. I need you either to agree to use the fan function only until then or to take it out."

We went around with this one for a bit. Eventually, we settled into a stubborn and unhappy silence. And then he left the room. I went after him, asking if he needed more time to think. He said, "No, I've given up on thinking." (I have no idea what that means.)

So...now what? I drafted an email, which I will send (if it still seems like I said things right) in a little while, saying that I need to hear from him soon, or that I will come into his room tomorrow after work to take the thing out. Which gives him the required twenty-four hours notice for me coming into his room for non-emergency purposes (something I have never really bothered with before, but which feels like a good idea in this situation).
Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
1:02 pm
Broke tenants and climate control
So one of my roommates/tenants is out of work. I know this. I know he has no money right now.

He owes me money -- I haven't been hitting him too hard for utilities, because I know he doesn't have it. This month, he also fell $25 short on the rent.

He wanted to put an AC in his room. He did this once before, and paid for the spike in the electric bill. I told him that this time, since he can't cover it, I wasn't comfortable with him doing it again.

Apparently I wasn't clear enough. Last night he borrowed an AC and put it in (note to people who don't know me well: I hate air-conditioning, for environmental and health reasons. I really don't like having it in my house at all, and I am surely not subsidizing it).

So earlier today I replied to his email on the subject by asking him to take the AC out until he has enough money to cover it.

(I should also note that he does not have a fan in his room, although he has been told to take one from the house stock of fans. He says he doesn't like how they blow dust around.)

I don't know quite what I'll do if he refuses. Go in there and take it out myself? Return it to its owners? This is the down side of living with one's friends in this setting -- I don't want to damage a friendship, but I also don't want to pay his way excessively. I don't mind helping people when they're having a hard time. I do mind when people try to take advantage.

It's one to add to the list of house policies, I suppose: thou shalt not have an air conditioner unless thou be free of debt and able to pay for the extra power used.
Wednesday, December 26th, 2007
6:08 pm
Rules and names
Question about the rules of this community: do we name names? There is an ex-member of our house who is, I hear, back in the neighborhood. I'd like to warn others not to rent to him (with detailed reasons). Do I post that here, or just suggest that folks email me?
Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
10:16 am
 How do you organize the search for/ decide on new housemates?  How does your role as the "landlord" differ from anyone elses role (if at all)?
Monday, October 15th, 2007
8:54 pm
house geek night
ok ok, I know, I just joined and I won't shut up, but just one more thing before I go back to my cave. Reading about the porch stuff and the leaking stuff and all that stuff reminded me of an idea that a friend of mine and I have been kind of wanting to get off the ground but we're so busy but it's worth putting on the table. For a few years, an open-ended group of us have gotten together once in a while to just shoot the shit and work on some random geeky project, from rfid to card readers to locksmithing to distilling to homemade cosmetics and crafts. A couple of us who have houses have wanted to do the same thing but with house projects, and also have kind of a housework co-op. The 2 salient ideas are to have a loose group that help each other do sustainability experiments like trying to build solar hot water heaters or Trombe walls out of trashpicked windows, and to have a loose group to help each other with home repairs. I help you with you porch this month, you help me do some pointing next month, that kind of thing.

So I just want to put it out there that (standard disclaimer zomglolkthnx) I'm always super busy but if you find you need an extra pair of hands, please ask, and maybe if I need help someday I'll ask. Currently I'm getting some windows replaced so I do have a stack of glass to use for solar experiments one of these days. Dave Onion and I built a simple solar chimney-style heater over at LAVA in a weekend a couple years ago and it actually worked. I'd be up for trying more stuff like that.

Has anyone used the new tool library? It seems like a great idea.
Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
2:00 pm
Is there a way to convey that major structural project (tear-off and replace porch floor, including a joist) really does mean major structural project? And that we'll need help means This project requires sustained effort from more than two people. Please commit to taking part or clearly say that you cannot?


Because apparently my co-owner and i did not adequately communicate this to our housemates/renters, and it led to Big Problems this weekend. Like, colossal blow-ups.

Porch looks good, though.
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
12:19 pm
property is theft
cross-cross-postedCollapse )

Yes, of course. Because patronizing locally owned businesses which provide wellness services or create spaces to get to know one's neighbors is the sole province of well-to-do white folks.

And obviously li'l ol' white homeowner me is the face of gentrification today. What with the choosing a mortgage-share structure that doesn't actually cover the mortgage, because it's that or make the house inaccessible to artists and farmers and activists. And with the working with my block to get a derelict house torn down before it fucking falls on someone. And the getting housemates to pick up the litter and the shit, and helping neighbors with their trash and sidewalks, and composting a block's worth of leaves every fall. And the keeping an eye on the street and talking to folks about suspicious goings on and encouraging them to look out for each other. And planting flowers, don't forget the flowers. Flowers are nice, and nice things = whitewashing West Philly. And i am starting classes at Penn this week because i want to be better at my job which is helping small local non-profits make ends meet, and my partner got a job at Penn after she burned out in the West Philly schools. Don't look! I sold out!

Yes. I give a flying fuck, and that means i am Teh Eee-vul.

Tell me why, if i am so white and wealthy and privileged and life is so easy for me, i can't get the city to fix the damage done my house during the demolition and i still have water seeping in at the unsealed spots and the joists are still rotten and now mold is growing because our excellent council person's office has been jerking us around for years? Shouldn't they all ask "how high" when i say "jump," because i am white and Penn-affiliated and i co-own a house?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
6:40 pm
Get Psyched
Subjects I'd like to post entries about or see discussion about:

-Going legal
-House finances
-Staying legal?
-Work/rent trade
-Politics of buying
-Politics of selling
-Leases, security deposits, things of that sort
-Picking new housemates
-Houses that are not legally truly collective but act like they are

My house (from getbusy.pbwiki.com):

Get Busy is a semi-collective, combined Victorian twin house in Cedar Park, West Philadelphia. As of September 2007, we will be 16 humans and 3 cats. Two of the humans own the building. We are between the ages of 22 and 30; working people, students, and grad students; vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores; cats and humans; food co-op members and staff; Wooden Shoe staff, librarians, scientists, musicians, artists (print, graffiti, etc), amateur carpenters, and gardeners. We are located on a quiet, tree-lined block that is very close to the 34 trolley line, the 64 bus, Mariposa Food Co-op, Satellite Cafe, Firehouse Bikes, and the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union.

Get Busy is committed to being non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic, and non-transphobic, to being friendly with our neighbors and involved in our block, and to generally being a safe, fun, and reasonably clean house to live in and call home.

We all share chores, utilities costs, a good deal of food, and the space in the house outside of our bedrooms, including the back yard and front garden. We cook together, garden together, homebrew together, etc, quite frequently but without much formal structure. We have occasional house meetings. Some non-owning housemates help with home repairs and improvements while others do not. We have house rules and leases and use a system of online spreadsheets to track house finances. One basic house rule is that the money that the two co-owners of Get Busy collect in rent each month cannot be used for our personal profit beyond paying the mortgages. Rather, it must be re-invested in the house.

Our house has two living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens, twelve bedrooms, five bathrooms, two washers and dryers, four full-sized fridges, limited basic cable, and wireless internet.
5:51 pm
this is no joke
I have such a headache from plumbing-related goings-on this morning.

I'm sad that the residents of the west side of my house feel that they live in a separate house. I am therefore much more their landlord than their housemate.

Later tonight I'll send out invites (which hopefully won't draw too much scorn).
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