Every pauper wishes to live like a prince in a castle, without paying castle prices – which is human nature in a society where all-pervasive television networks air unreality shows that suggest every American owns a house worth at least $500,000 and is filled with plush, modern furnishings.

The reality is that, though 3 out of 4 Americans own a house, only 37 percent own that house “free and clear.”

People want home ownership, but 17 percent of Americans live in apartments or condos. Some of those apartments are in Ray County.

Everyone wants to get the most for their money, whether buying a house or renting an apartment. But just as not everyone can afford a five-bedroom house with a pool built into the backyard, not everyone can afford to pay $1,500 per month for a three-bedroom apartment on The Plaza.

Instead, people “settle.”

If they cannot afford a 15-year mortgage and a payment of $5,000 per month for the house they really want in Overland Park, Kansas, they may settle for a 30-year mortgage and a payment of $900 per month for a three-bedroom ranch in Hardin.

Apartment renters, when considering the types of jobs they have, or the government subsidies they receive, may not be able to afford $1,500 for an apartment. Or $750. The situation can be difficult, but that is reality.

Also reality are the agreements that come with leasing an apartment. Those agreements include stipulations, such as paying rent on time, no animals, no “extra” live-in family members, no operating a day care facility in the apartment...

Leases also bind landlords. They are expected to maintain the property and to take action when alerted that people in neighboring apartments are noisy, contentious, selling drugs, or engaging in other quesionable or illegal activities.

In the landlord-tenant relationship, everything may go smoothly and usually does. Such relationships do not wind up on a TV news show – no ratings value.

But sometimes the relationship goes bad. There are various reasons for this, with one side or the other, and sometimes both, failing to live up to terms of the lease agreement.

One action the renter can take is to call a TV station and blame the landlord for problems. Doing so will get attention, but it is not a solution. A real solution is to talk with the landlord to see if problems can be fixed, and if that does not work, then move out. Or sue. Doing so sends a message every landlord understands and laments – a loss of income.

Landlords, too, have options, including evicting people who do not pay rent.

The landlord-leasee relationship can be made out as good guys vs. bad guys, which makes for great theater and gossip, but people who are disgusted by where they live, who think they can do better, have the legal right to leave.

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