Across the US and in many wealthy countries including Canada and New Zealand, real estate prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic. And while high prices have prohibited many from buying a home, those who’ve sold during this period have often raked in double or triple what they paid, even if they’d owned for just five to 10 years.

But while many walk away with heaps of cash, profiting off a system that leaves some rich and others struggling or houseless, one landlord decided to buck the trend.

Landlord sends check as a ‘share’ after home sale

In a Facebook post, Chris Robarge wrote that his old landlord contacted him out of the blue to get his new address. He was confused as to why the landlord from a place he stayed at after his divorce would send him something, until he opened the letter.

In it, there was a check for $2,500 and a note that explained what the money was for.

“I recently sold the house and the rent you paid each month contributed to paying off the mortgage,” the letter said. “I firmly believe the capitalist tradition of retaining money after the sale of a property is exploitative and antithetical to society. I wanted to return to you the portion of the rent you paid.”

The note further explained how the kind landlord calculated his expenses and reached the sum for each tenant.

“While the mortgage principal, especially in the first years of a mortgage, is a small fraction of those overall expenses, I wanted to return to you the portion of the rent you paid,” the landlord wrote.

It was a great house and I’m glad that I was able to share it with you. 

Paying it forward

The gesture left Robarge in shock.

“I have been sitting with this for more than a day and I am still completely beyond an actual way to describe what this act means to me,” he wrote on Facebook.

Since receiving the letter, he decided he’s not going to keep the money, but instead will pass it on to various organizations including Black and Pink Massachusetts, Worcester Free Fridge, OurStory Edutainment and to people in the street who need it.

“All that I can say is that there are people who talk about their values and there are people who actually live them, and the reason I wanted to share this is that I want to encourage us all to actually live our values. Do it off the clock, do it when no one is watching, do it always.”

If you can’t do what my former landlord did, let this inspire you to give whatever you can spare to someone or someplace that needs it.

Chris Robarge

Do something different

The commodification of housing is a train that’s long left the station and seemingly impossible to stop or even slow down. Sure, rising prices allow many to save for retirement, but others are left without a house to call their own.

However, this homeowner decided to say to hell with all that and offer some support to renters. Yes, what he gave isn’t much, but it was a meaningful gesture and seems to have started a pay it forward chain that will keep going and going. Hopefully, other landlords will take note.

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