The Mirror

Landlord: Journos Are The Tenants From Hell

Rare. That’s how often they thought about being good tenants at their Old Town Alexandria, Va. abode. They left the place a shambles in May. Holes in the walls. Walls painted their signature red that they didn’t bother to repaint before they fled to an office off D.C.’s famed K Street. An unpaid late fee. Unpaid utility bills.

Cox Media, which owns the Rare conservative media outlet, has some ‘splaining to do. Main question: Why’d they leave their landlord reeling with duties they should’ve done themselves before they left? Reckless renters. Oblivious occupiers. Deadbeat deserters. The squat-and-dash squad. Take your pick of disaster nicknames for Rare.

photo-8The trouble began when the website was supposed to pay their $2800 per month rent on the quaint townhouse in May. But by May 15, David Brandt, their landlord, hadn’t received it and got worried. “So I called them on May 15 and I said, ‘Aren’t you guys going to pay the rent?’” he said in a phone interview with The Mirror. “They said, oh, we forgot. We’re supposed to tell you we’re leaving. I was shocked they were leaving.”

They eventually paid the rent, but not the $280 late fee.

Brandt, who owns Brandt & Associates in Old Town, a tax and financial services firm, explained that Rare signed a four-year lease that included a clause stating they could only scram with a 30-day notice. The lease said Rare was to leave the townhouse in the condition they found it. They occupied the space for the better part of the past two years.

“They painted my walls red,” said Brandt. (Rare’s signature color is red, conveying the color of raw meat for how conservative they supposedly are. And let’s just say they’re more pink than red.) “Well, according to the lease these guys were supposed to bring it to the condition it was in, and my walls were not red.”

Knowing they were leaving, Brandt checked things out. “The door to the upstairs room was off and was put into the basement,” he said. “The area carpet to one of the rooms was removed, rolled up and put into the basement. …They didn’t bother to vacuum the floors.” What’s more, he found patched-in holes in the walls from where they hung five TV’s.

Brandt informed Rare he’d have to shell out money to put the door back on its hinges. “They said, ‘We’ll take care of it.’ All they did was move out. They left me no forwarding address.”

In the meantime, Brandt has seen Rare‘s unpaid utility bills and notices from collection agencies piling up — water, electric and gas. “They may have canceled, but they didn’t pay their final bills,” he said. (Note to readers: Pictured here is their $72.02 water bill).

All in all, Brandt has had to cough up $300 to reattach the door and paint his walls. So by Mirror calculations, Rare owns Brandt $580 — an amount he says he won’t fight legally because it’s not worth it.

Rare denies any wrongdoing whatsoever.

“If this passes for such a hot news story that you allow 82 minutes to respond (‘If you’d like to comment you can have until 4 p.m. It’s 2:38 p.m. now’) then I guess news is really slow at The Daily Caller,” replied Cox Media VP of Digital Media Leon Levitt, who oversees Rare.

“We abided by our lease and left the office in better condition than when we moved in (professionally cleaned, wired for cable and the internet…). This landlord is a good friend of a disgruntled former employee. Cox always pays its bills, it is possible something got delayed in processing. If Mr. Brandt feels we owe something please give him my email address and I will quickly investigate and make sure he is paid. And a question… who opened our U.S. mail instead of forwarding a bill?”

Quick questions for Levitt: Don’t you have the email of Mr. Brandt, the business professional with whom you had a legal contract? Also: You have a receipt for the cleaning crew you sent in there?

Oddly enough, Brandt says he’d have Rare back. As it happens, he was antsy to have tenants. “I can’t say they were bad tenants,” he said. “They paid their rent on time. The rent was paid by Cox. Direct deposit. It was paid on time every time. I have no problem with that part. The only problem I have is when they left. They left it in terrible condition.” [See a report on how to deal with bad tenants here.]

Next time around, the landlord said he’d do things differently. For starters, he’d require a security deposit, which he unfortunately didn’t require from them. “I would make different stipulations now that I know what kind of tenants they were,” he said. “I would want further protections, let’s put it that way.”

As tenants go, Brandt’s not the luckiest guy on the block. After Rare moved out, a Hillary Clinton PAC called Hillary 2016 moved in. A Democrat, Brandt allowed them to move in and gave them two months free rent. Why? “Out of the goodness of my heart,” he explained. “They didn’t have the money at the time.”

And apparently they still don’t. Brandt hasn’t seen August’s rent, although the Hillary dwellers insist they’ve raised funds and are coming over “tomorrow” (as in Friday) with the money.

Calling Judge Judy! This landlord needs you. Stat.

Here’s the request for comment we sent to Cox Media’s VP of Digital Media Leon Levitt in Atlanta…