"Thomas! Good to see you again. Have you decided to sell the house at last?"
Thomas shook the old real estate lawyer's hand. "Not yet, Mr. Sachen. But there is a legal document I was hoping you could help me with."
Sachen raised his eyebrows.
"I need an eviction notice. A proper one, one that would be hard to contest."
Sachen frowned. "I hadn't realised you'd become a landlord."
"I rented out a room in my parent's house. After they.... passed away last summer, I thought I could live there and just find a room-mate, use the rent to cover the utilities while I finished my MA, and save a bit besides."
"And it isn't working out."
"No." Thomas took a deep breath. "Anne came with great references, passed the credit check with flying colours. And she's pleasant enough to live with, personality-wise. But...."
"When she moved in, she asked if she could repaint her room. I said all right, so long as it was a light colour that could be painted over if need be when I finally sold the house. She painted the entire room, I mean not just the walls, but the ceiling and all the furniture as well. Everything in this beige colour. Then a week later she went over everything again and did it all in a pale blue-green."
Sachen grimaced. "You might be able to claim damages for the furniture when she finally moves out, but unless you had a very watertight landlord-tenant agreement, you're going to need more than that to evict her. What's this Anne's last name?"
"Tropy, like 'trophy' but without the H in it. She has this odd little joke about how it used to be trophy but degenerated."
Sachen pulled over a legal pad from one edge of his desk and started making notes. "And is this Anne a student as well?"
"No... at first I thought she was a grad student or professor since I did meet her at the university, but she says she 'is given losses', whatever that means, whenever an event involving the Second Law of Thermodynamics takes place. I've seen her mail — she gets cheques from all over the world. What is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, anyhow?"
"Not up on patent law myself," said Sachen. "All right, so you want to evict this woman because she repainted more of her room than was reasonably expected when she received your permission..."
"It's more than that!" said Thomas. "Way more! Mr. Sachen, every single appliance in the house has broken since she moved in! And the furnace, and the water heater, and the hardwood floor has warped in the dining room, and last night I came home and the porch awning had half fallen away from its anchors.... The whole place is falling apart, and it was in perfect condition before she moved in!"
Sachen made some more notes. "I helped your parents close the deal on that house thirty years ago. Sometimes new home owners feel like their property is falling down around their ears because they're not used to being responsible for repairs."
"But it's her, I know it is! She always acts so contrite when she tells me something else is broken, but it always feels like she's secretly laughing at me. It's hard to explain, but she really is a bitch. Everything else is just a veneer."
Sachen sighed and put down his pen. "I can't just write 'Anne Tropy's a bitch' in the Description field on an eviction notice, Thomas."
Thomas clenched his fists and started to say something, but caught himself and took several deep breaths. "I know," he said at last. "I just don't know what else to do. I charged her market rent and budgeted for some repairs, but it's gotten way out of control. And..."
"She says that even if I sell the house and use the proceeds to pay rent on an apartment, she'll always be with me."
"Interesting. Any other signs of stalking?"
"Pity, we could have had something there, but you need to show it's a pattern for it to stick legally. Would you take some advice, Thomas?"
"That's why I'm here, if you think an eviction notice is out of the question."
"I suggest," said Mr. Sachen, "that instead of fighting this Anne Tropy, you work with her. Encourage her to let you know when something is starting to break, rather than waiting until it's broken."
"I have to work with a destructive tenant?"
"A destructive tenant, or a tenant whose rent was seriously in arrears, that you could do something about. but you can't fight Anne Tropy."