I must confess, I had an off-week.  Not a whole lot of observing, no ponderings or musings… instead, a lot of enjoying.  Enjoying the holiday of Hanukkah, enjoying Brooklyn’s 5th birthday, and enjoying the completion of 10 years in the practice of law.

Sure, I could ramble some musings about what I have learned these past 10 years, or I could articulate the innocence that one sees in the laughter and smiles of 5 years olds, or I could expostulate on the might of the few against the mighty.  Or, I could simply select a passage from the book I am currently reading (yes, still the Dickens) and marvel at the way things were 140 years ago and how they can never be that way again.

The scene is simply put and unimportant.  A young woman has ventured into London for the first time and needs to find a place to stay.  She counsels with her attorney and together they set off to rent a room.  They meet a nice woman with a room to rent who, upon inquiry as to the condition of the room, gives them the scoop:

“If I was to tell you, sir, that to have nothink above you is to have a floor above you, I should put a deception upon you which I will not do.  No, sir.  Your slates WILL rattle loose at that elewation in windy weather, do your utmost, best or worst!  I defy you, sir, be you who you may, to keep your slates tight, try how you can… It is the wet, sir… but the time will come, and it is best that you should know it, when a dripping sop would be no name for you.”

So what was so funny about all of that?  Well, aside from the funny language and strange spellings, the truth of the matter is that in a book where all of the characters are a suspect in murder, this person is 100% HONEST!
When was the last time you rented or purchased a home and were told the absolute truth about it?  There is mold in the walls; at exactly 2:18 every morning the train comes through and blows its horn; the bonus room was added after the home was bought and without appropriate permits and is not up to code.

I have litigated these cases.  We saw a wave of them about 5 years ago and we will see another wave in the next few years.  When the economy is bad, homeowners will do anything to sell or rent you their home.  They need to make the deal, so they will tell you what you want to hear and withhold the information which they think may drive you away.  It is a characteristic we all have.  Don’t tell them the stuff you think will drive them away. 

And yet, 140 years ago, a minor character who had not appeared before page 235 and who presumably will never appear again, a character who was offering a room for rent, for which she expected to be compensated, without pretense or suspicion, put all of the cards on the table and essentially told the potential renters that they should stay away.

Man, how times have changed.  I always advise the three D’s:  disclose, Disclose, DISCLOSE!  I know it is just a story and this woman was fairly one-dimensional, but the attorney in me wonders whether this woman was previously embroiled in litigation because the room she rent was unsuitable for habitation and it wasn’t disclosed before signing the agreement and she simply decided it would be far simpler to open up completely and fully and let the chips fall where they may. 

Times, they certainly have changed.

Have a great week.


Twitter:  robcohen13 
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