Diatribe: When Someone Is Secretly Living In Your Basement.
Recently we stayed with friends in their historic New England home. They live in a beautiful old neighborhood in a stately home that has been lovingly maintained and restored for, literally, centuries. Over time, as utilities were installed and upgraded, the neighborhood became designated a historical district. As a result, the utility meters at their house are found in the basement. In order for electric company representatives to read the meter, for example, they need access to the basement. Consequently, like many homes in the neighborhood, their basement has an exterior access door that remains unlocked.
On the main floor of the house, underneath the staircase to the second floor, is a small door reminiscent of the closet in which the young Harry Potter spent his nights while living in his Aunt and Uncle’s house before beginning his time at Hogwarts. Behind this door is a staircase to the basement. This door has a fragile and tiny lock holding it closed.
I hadn’t given much thought to the situation until I learned of a group of students at Ohio State University who were living in an off-campus home near the school for about a month before they discovered someone had been living in their basement the whole time. The students joked about having a “ghost” in the house when they would hear noises and notice their kitchen cabinets, oven and microwave doors mysteriously left open.
Eventually, they decided to search the house and found a locked door down two flights of stairs in their basement. When they had their landlord open the door, they discovered a fully furnished bedroom with pictures of a man, his family and friends.
The squatter was removed from the premises and some of the housemates are, allegedly, planning to take legal action against the leasing agent who failed to change the locks and make sure the house was actually vacant before new tenants moved in.
I seriously hope my friends reevaluate their security arrangement before my next visit. Surely, there’s a method by which they could lock the exterior basement door using a keypad entry or, at the very least a more secure lock could be installed on the Harry Potter door. All the same, I’ll probably check the basement myself before getting a good night’s sleep.
Have you ever heard strange noises from a basement?
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