And then there was the smell. Every day, CM would come home from work in desperate need of a shower. And then just...not shower. Within a year the bedroom, namely the mattress, had started to take on a distinct odor. I asked him a few times to clean and deodorize the room. His response was to complain that he had already thrown out all of his food and taken out the trash and done the laundry so he didn't know what the smell was. But the smell was just getting worse. I began to wonder if he was actually washing his body in the shower, because he seemed to still smell after he had taken his morning shower. Maybe his clothes smelled from being stored in the room. Either way, I'm surprised he never got complaints at his workplace from it. I certainly would notice if I were a customer of his.
Anyway, the next lease period, I raised the rent appropriately to bring it back up to average market value and to cover my time and labor cleaning up after him. I gave him a warning to take care of his hygiene or I would have to ask him to leave.
At some point, CM decided that spraying half a can of drugstore "axe man spice smell" deodorant/body spray on him every morning was a great solution to his body odor problems. Even though he was spraying it in the closed bathroom (which the can specifically says not to do), the fumes would fill the whole house and anyone in the living room or bedroom, especially my not even 1 year old son, would start coughing uncontrollably and need to go to the lanai for fresh air. When I confronted him about the fact that he was bringing harm to me and my children, he made some excuse about other ways of controlling body odor being "too expensive" (even though water is free and unlimited here) and complied for a few months or so before doing it again.
When I finally received the rent, I told him I would not be renewing the lease, and wrote up a set of move-out guidelines that clearly explained and outlined how to clean the room upon move out. As always, the guidelines were fair, reasonable and a bit generous. I simply asked that the room be free of all trash, personal belongings, and the surfaces wiped/sweeped/deodorized, which is considered standard for any rental property. I even gave him a grace period to have everything moved out and clean by November 3rd, remembering how he had overstayed previously.
We approached the closed door with dread.
Even though it was in my full legal capacity to do so, I never did mid-lease/between lease inspections of the room. We had not seen the actual state of the room save for a glimpse or two when he opened the door. Whenever we did get a glance, we only saw that the room was filled with furniture, boxes, trash bags, piles of clothes, and so much clutter that you could not see the floor. And the overpowering smell gave us a pretty clear warning that the room had been very poorly maintained.
Another clue as to the state of the room was the state of CM himself. Over the two years he stayed here, he was in increasingly poor health. He could barely walk. His legs were always swollen, red and blotchy and he had to wear compression bandages for some kind of vascular issues he had. If he was standing up in the kitchen for a few minutes, he would already be out of breath. After walking the 5 minutes (10-15 minutes for him) from the nearest bus stop after work, he would come in gasping for breath like he had just been running for miles. He could barely carry even small, light packages and bags, and seemed unable to bend down or squat. He barely slept between his loud choking snoring and getting up multiple times at night to use the bathroom, and always seemed tired and grumpy. And when he was in his room, he always seemed to be constantly coughing and sneezing.
Some say I should have been a bit more proactive in trying to help him improve his lifestyle and health, but any suggestion I made was taken as an attack, and I was "fat shaming" or "job shaming" or "poor shaming", no kind of advice or constructive criticism, and no matter how far down he went, nothing seemed to make him want to improve his situation. He even seemed resentful of me and my family and our healthy, active lifestyles. When he came out of his room and I was stretching/doing squats before my morning bike ride, cleaning the floor, eating a healthy meal with the kids, coming home with my son on my back and carrying 10-15lbs of groceries, etc., even just watching a TV show I like that happens to feature healthy food or exercise, he always would look away frowning or sigh and pout.
I was just keeping a small hope that since he is in his 30's now, maybe he would start taking responsibility for his life and start working on his physical and mental health, but in the end it seems like he chose to stay on his downward spiral.
What we saw in the room was not just shocking and disgusting, but also pretty sad.
(To be continued....)