Monthly Archives: April 2010
I've always been really conservative with money. I eat like a zoo animal, and I usually cook at home. I hate owning stuff, so I don't shop recreationally. Other than traveling, my expenditures are mostly survival-based. I don't have any debt, and I always pay my rent on time.
So I was a little surprised to get an eviction notice. On the same day my flight was scheduled to leave for the Middle East, a letter on frowny municipality stationary came through the door. It was to my landlord, and said that he owed the city 13,000 kroner in back rent (that's like $2,500). It also, in its matter of fact way, declared that he would be kicked out of the apartment within 10 days if he didn't pay. Considering that evicting him meant evicting me, and that I was going to be gone for two weeks, I was a bit concerned.
I called the property company, thinking it was just a misunderstanding. I'll tell them he doesn't live at this address, I thought. Kicking me out won't make them any more likely to get their money, I would explain. I pay my rent every month, so that would be … mean. I'm sure they'll hold off for a few weeks.
'Are you familiar with the property law in Denmark?' the repo-lady on the phone asked.
'Not intimately,' I said.
'In America, are you allowed to just move into any apartment you like, without paying rent?'
'Of course not,' I said.
'Well, that's not allowed in Denmark either. Which is why we're kicking you out.'
'But I've been paying my rent! I have a contract with the landlord.'
'Whatever deal exists between you and him is irrelevant. We have to remove him from the apartment.'
'But you're not removing him, you're removing me.'
'So I'm a victim of circumstances over which I have no control.' I said, adopting the sort of 'I'm fucked' Zen you get in airports during the holidays.
'Correct,' she said. 'Legally speaking, you're a squatter.'
'I'm leaving for two weeks. Is my stuff going to be removed from the apartment while I'm gone?'
'Technically,' she said, 'we'll be coming to remove it next week, when you're gone.'
I don't remember exactly what I said at that point, but it might have been 'You're a monster.'
There was a pause, and she broke character: 'In America, does the law always get applied in exactly the way it should?'
'Not really. We impeached a president for getting a blowjob once.'
'Administrative processes in Denmark can be … inefficient.' she said. I started to get it.
'So you're saying that even though officially I'm kicked out next week, it'll be longer than that before someone actually comes to take my stuff?'
'The process is inefficient. That's all I'm allowed to say.'
I hung up with 15 minutes to go before I had to leave for my flight. I left a Post-It on my laptop saying 'leave me somewhere dry' and locked the door behind me.
When I came back, everything was still there, including the Post-It, and the official GTFO letter hadn't even arrived yet.
I sent my landlord a text message so dense with contempt it may have had a gravitational pull, and moved out the next day.