Just Merveilleux

Life at № 42

Monitoring (One’s Own) Prejudices

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… If you recall …

The idea for the apartments was a creative/design exercise. How do we make something attractive that’s also affordable. Affordable enough for people living on a basic income.

Well, we’re a year into the endeavour. All together, four apartments are rented. We’re entering the second stage which is screening potential tenants for the next four (the ground floor project has been put off to next year.) And of course the inevitable happened. We’re (personally) dealing with people on basic incomes. In most cases on some variety of assistance. Single mothers abound. The other day we met one in her very early 20’s with three children. This has required at times physically restraining my left eyebrow as people describe their lives. My prejudices are evidently many. Many.

I’d love it not to be the case, but as I speak to people, line after line after line is running through my head. Bad lines. I can’t help it. Lines about birth control, about personal responsibility, about the future of children. And then I have to just wait until my mind shuts up. Back in the world where I’m not mentally lecturing people I have to accept that life is as it is. Their choices have been made; and so the best course of action they can  take is trying to find the best possible conditions to live in. Hopefully decent surroundings can play a role in improving people’s lives? It’s all very complicated this being alive business.

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45 comments on “Monitoring (One’s Own) Prejudices

  1. tildeb
    October 8, 2016

    Screening tenants well is absolutely key not just for yourself and Mike as landlords but for the other tenants as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a minefield. Combining wanting to be nice with making rational decisions- and also trying to not let myself get carried away by my prejudices is no easy task. It’s made me realize how deep prejudice goes even for those of us trying not to be prejudiced.

      Like

      • tildeb
        October 8, 2016

        Yeah, that’s what I mean. The test measuring how you did comes later, which always reminds of real life: first, you get the punishment and then you have to figure out the lesson. In the case of tenants, they’ll usually do a pretty good job selling you on their merits and forget to mention behaviours that make you shake your head in exasperation. Again, asking the right questions and leading the conversation to be revealing enough without alarming the prospective client is an art in its own right, so I have high hopes you will later pass the test on how you did. I’ve learned (having been a landlord for many years) to trust those half-hidden feelings about people we get. We get that sense for a reason – something your subconscious is picking up on but your conscious mind isn’t able to articulate – and too often our eyes and ears can be just as misled by our prejudices as we can be giving in to them. Good luck, mon ami.

        Liked by 1 person

    • john zande
      October 9, 2016

      Good point.

      Like

  2. Godless Cranium
    October 8, 2016

    I think it weird when people say they are non-judgmental. I think we all judge. It’s our nature.

    Hope you find some great tenants!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Cara
    October 8, 2016

    I judge the early twenties single mother of 3 and she, seeing that I’m a childless 39 year old woman, judges me right back. That’s life.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. kjennings952
    October 8, 2016

    Of course we judge, it’s our protective instinct to discern friend/foe. You are bringing people into your life so to speak and you want to know if they threaten you in any way, including perhaps your personal values.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. foolsmusings
    October 8, 2016

    Whenever I find myself unfairly judging a person, I like to step back and put myself in their shoes. You can learn a lot about people by how they react after having their shoes stolen.

    Liked by 11 people

  6. clubschadenfreude
    October 8, 2016

    it’s very hard to know if you are unfairly judging someone or fairly judging them. Judgement isn’t always bad, it just has to be considered carefully.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. silenceofmind
    October 8, 2016

    Decent surroundings do not play a role in tenant behavior.

    That is an urban myth told to by the government to stupid, gullible citizens.

    One of the first lessons landlords learn is that renters do not have the same sense of value for property that they do.

    Consequently, you will have to make an allotment of sufficient coin to fix and clean up after your tenants.

    And where can people who have lived off of other people’s money all their lives possibly develop the same sense of value as people who earn their wealth through hard work and worry?

    Therefore, the successful landlord becomes scrupulous about choosing his tenants.

    Like

    • clubschadenfreude
      October 9, 2016

      and of course no evidence for SOM’s claims, just ignorance and paranoia.

      Liked by 1 person

    • appletonavenue
      October 13, 2016

      I must say, having been both owner and renter; I have always left my place in the same or better condition than when I moved in. Not all people who rent do so because they are on “assistance”. Only people who have had to live in slums where landlords refuse to make repairs to things. Never having experienced anything in good condition, how can a person have a concept of how to keep something in good condition?

      I must say, SOM, you are a true gem among gems. Talk about judging people.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Esme upon the Cloud
    October 8, 2016

    “It’s all very complicated this being alive business.” – A truer word was never said.

    Many people judge without even realising it, so its to your credit that you’re aware you’re doing it. Some perfect tenants might be single, on the lowest income with children but pay the rent every month and keep the place spotless, some with good jobs and no childen or pets say, be late every time with payment and run off in the night eventually with your Rhododendron bus under their arm. (I’m seeing Trump grabbing your bush now, that can’t be good.) You can only go with your gut feeling and ideally the best references you can get. It is very hard getting somewhere nice to live in the UK, somewhere safe to live even if you receive benefits. Landlords descriminate without even meeting the prospective tenants. At least you’re meeting them! You’re not a bad lad Mr Pink, there’s good heart in there *raps on his chest with her knuckles*, it’ll work out ok. – *nods*

    – esme of Cloud fame

    Liked by 5 people

    • I’m trying my best, my dear Cloud inhabiting friend. I’ve made it a point to personally meet with every applicant and hear what they have to say. I’m hoping for collaborative relationships. Let’s all try to help each other!

      Liked by 3 people

  9. makagutu
    October 8, 2016

    Yes, the environment can modify behavior.
    It must be hardwork screening tenants

    Liked by 1 person

  10. acflory
    October 8, 2016

    My parents had tenants too, and some of the best were not very well off. I’ve also rented myself, with a child, two cats and two dogs. We painted half the house at our own cost, I created a garden where there was none and paid rent on time for ten years. The agent who took a chance on me was never given a reason to regret his gut decision. Go with your gut, Pinky.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. metan
    October 8, 2016

    I’m with Meeks, and the majority, go with your gut. By believing in a single mum and giving that family somewhere nice to live you might make a huge difference to their lives.

    Some renters are good, some renters are bad, merely owning a home doesn’t make you a good person, it’s only in SOM’s world that the virtues of hard work and worry make you a wealthy homeowner. In the real world those things might only just keep food on the table. And remember, some of those single mums were very recently better off financially, and lived in their own home…

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Arkenaten
    October 9, 2016

    If you haven’t come to some decision on what type of tenant you want before running ads then – and I hate to admit this – SOM could well be right.
    That a young woman with three kids makes enquiries suggests that your criteria is quite flexible?

    As an example. You probably know we have a large pond on the property and for this reason alone I would never ever have tenants with kids, even if access to the the pond was secure.

    Like

    • We’re extremely flexible. We’re talking about 2 to 3 bedroom apartments in the centre of town. That can suit a whole range of people 🙂

      Like

      • Arkenaten
        October 9, 2016

        Then you are in for an interesting round of interviews!
        Have fun, and best of luck.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hariod Brawn
    October 9, 2016

    Rentier capitalist pig!

    *tries and fails to outdo Som*

    😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Clare Flourish
    October 9, 2016

    As someone who has made bad choices, and might be looking for cheap accommodation- though not in France- I want to speak up for the feckless idiots. We are unlikely to do much harm. My friend worked with psychotic and schizophrenic people, and said they were far more likely to harm themselves than anyone else. I have rented for six years here and the landlord does not seem terribly worried.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ourfrenchoasis
    October 9, 2016

    The post was interesting, the comments from everyone are fascinating. Of course we judge, but then, like you I think, I then feel guilty for being judgemental and spend the day worrying about it and trying to make it right. I think the most important thing is to trust our own instincts.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. appletonavenue
    October 13, 2016

    (No offense intended.)
    That’s what often happens here as well. An old rather run-down building purchased. This building (in many cases) is already occupied, and the tenants must relocate, no expenses paid by building owner. The owner then improves the place. He makes all the upgrades: new lighting, new plumbing. It’s stunning with shining floors, and gleeming countertops and spa-like bathrooms. But the people who used to live in that run down building can’t afford to live there. It’s very hard to find affordable housing in many places in the US, and I imagine it’s no different in Europe.

    It seems to me judging others is a natural instinct, since it seems we all do it. It’s difficult not to look at a stranger through glasses colored by our own experiences. It takes a conscious effort to understand people who are different from outselves are just that: different. No better, no worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. theoccasionalman
    October 16, 2016

    (hug) I do this as a teacher, too.

    I’m glad that we met online instead of in real life.

    Like

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