Renter Etiquette Goes Down the Toilet


Ah, PCS time. What a thrill. Especially when you're PCSing for only 11 months and trying to rent your house. Most renters, understandably, don't want to sign a one-year lease. I can relate to that. Who wants to just get settled in and then be told to get out?

This PCS is, so far, more trying than all the others. This is the first duty station where we've owned a home, which means that this is the first time we've had to deal with potential renters traipsing through our house at all hours of the day and night. It's also the first time that we've had to deal with potential renters ignoring "renter etiquette."

We recently had a number of lighting projects completed. You see, for whatever odd reason, new homes in this area, minus the foyer, bathrooms and kitchen, simply don't come with overhead lighting. Apparently it's never occurred to builders around here that families might actually like to see their room, and all of its surroundings. Heaven forbid the woman of the house wants to pluck her eyebrows while sitting on her bed, or read on the sofa without 20 lamps beaming inadequate light in all the wrong directions. Who knew when you purchased a home in these parts that you would have to carve out money for a "lamp budget?"

Our lighting project began. Recessed lighting was installed in the kitchen and living room. Overhead lighting was installed in the family room and bedrooms, and some pendant lights were installed over the bar in the kitchen. It's a messy job. The ceiling looked like swiss cheese with all the holes that were cut to wire the lighting. Then there's the mud and sanding that has to happen in order to patch the holes. No matter what measures were taken to protect the floors and surfaces, a white, filmy residue blanketed the entire house.

So, there I was. My house was swarming with contractors, dust flying, various ceilings torn apart, wires sticking out of every nook and cranny, Lowe's and Home Depot bags piled high on the dining room table and kitchen counters, Max going crazy with all the chaos, things had been moved to the bedrooms in order to get them out of the line of fire and the house was in the worst shape it's been in since we moved in. I'm on the main level and I hear my husband shout,




Yes, I heard you.

Then I hear an unfamiliar voice, "He says you're going to kill him."

I stop dead in my tracks and try to figure out who this mysterious voice belongs to.

Why would he say that? I shout back.

Then I hear, "they want to see the house."

"He's right," I shout. "I am going to kill him."

Three people emerge up the stairs. Two faces I've never seen, and one face I sleep with each night. That face is usually quite handsome, but right now - not so much.

I crack a forced smile and make a mental note to deal with the usually-handsome face later.

Oh, um, well, it's really the worst possible time to see the house (although the next day I would have to retract that statement). We have a lot of work going on and it's a mess, but we'll be happy to show it to you anyway.

I begin explaining that underneath the white film, there really are lovely hardwood floors and that, despite the fact that you couldn't see the dining room table, there really is one and yes, we do have kitchen counter-tops. When we begin moving to the bedrooms I explain that these items generally belong downstairs and not in the bedroom and that yes, of course, our bedrooms are usually clutter-free. On and on go the explanations. I'm sure I overdid it.

Even when my house isn't on the market, it's always tidy. So, I think to myself, of all the days.....I also think to myself, "there's a phone number on the rental sign for a reason. People should write it down, call and make an appointment to see the house." It's proper etiquette.

But, noooooooooooooooooo.

The lighting project spans to a second day. On the second day, potential renters continue to ignore rental etiquette, this time with embarrassing results.

I hear a knock on the door thinking that it might be yet another contractor coming to help. l answer the door and a very nice British man says,

*British accent on.* "Hi, I know it's a wee bit cheesy to knock on your door, but I have my wife and son in the car (I look at the car and the wife waves at me) and we'd love to see your house." *British accent off.*

If I say no, he thinks I have something to hide (and it turned out I did, I just didn't know the extent of it) and if I say yes, my potential renters are treated to a tour of a home in distress. I say, "sure, come on in, but I have to warn you...."

As we make our way through the house, I give the same speech as I had the day before, but when we arrived at the master bathroom, I was, for once, speechless. You see, my husband decided to tackle a few plumbing projects in the master bathroom. The first thing we saw was the plunger standing right in the entrance as if it were the greeting committee. Next, I see my feminine products and toilet paper, which had been removed from another cabinet, strewn across the vanity. And when I say my feminine products, I mean all of them! To add insult to injury, there was my toilet, off the hinges and bolts with the plumbing exposed. Now, for anyone who has never seen such a sight, let me just remind you of the old saying about sausage, "nobody wants to see how sausage is made." Well, you don't ever want to see how plumbing really works, or see what the underside of a toilet looks like when torn apart for the first time in six years. Trust me. Ugh... What is it with me and toilets?

There was nothing I could say, I wanted to flush myself down the exposed plumbing and call it a day. I only wanted these people out of my house, but more importantly, out of my bathroom - stat! To add to my horror, the woman lingered in the bathroom stepping over plungers, tools and toilets to get a good look at the shower. Then she turned her attention to the tub.

Is that a jacuzzi tub?

"No." I quickly said, "only a soaking tub."

The lovely British couple had morphed into a pair of demons who wouldn't leave my bathroom. It's just not right when a stranger could now shop for my feminine products.

Again I think to myself, "you know, a phone call would have been nice."

I'm not that easily embarrassed, but my bathroom was, shall we say, not in peak form.

Unbelievably, the couple made an offer on the spot, though it was $100 less than what we're asking. Even so, and trust me on this one, if you're renting or selling your home, and, for whatever reason, your girlie things are exposed, never open the door.....

Whatever happened to renter etiquette?

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