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Ordinal Rambles on the Subject of Land and Property

It seems to me that I have been seeing more and more complaints along the lines of the following in forums recently, regarding errant and sometimes utterly fraudulent land-lords and -ladies - which is when one thinks about it peculiar, as it is not as if the official forums are more used these days, far from it. I recall a time when they were immensely busy but, after the "accident" that befell them (of which we will not speak, and merely nod in mutual agreement and recollection and move forward) they became far less popular. In fact, only those with verified payment details are permitted to use them, which would exclude more of those renting than those having "bought" land.

Now, this is not any sort of criticism of the general practice of land renting of course; given that I rent property in three different Sims, as well as owning a smallish plot, that would be somewhat hypocritical of me. It does, though, occur to me that this may be a result of rapid growth, in three ways.

Firstly, there is the simple fact that one rarely hears praise of a landlordlady but instances of dissatisfaction will be complained about. As the number of residents increases there will be a noticeable increase in the number of complaints but not in the amount of praise (perhaps two threads per year instead of one). I think that the rise is disproportionate even on this basis but it is something to bear in mind.

Secondly, it takes time and experience for a landlordlady to become at all good at their job. Some will obviously never become "good", as they are crooks (well, they may perhaps be good at being crooks, but that is not really the sense in which I meant the word). But it takes some time to be aware of the market, the behaviour of tenants, the moments when one should show tolerance of mistakes and those when one must recognise them as fraud, that sort of thing. And rapid population expansion, when combined with the suggestion that land rental is a business opportunity and that one can and should take business opportunities within Second Life, will reasonably enough lead to more inexperienced landlordladies, and thus more confusion and dissatisfaction on the part of tenants.

(I am slightly suspicious, personally speaking, that an ideological concentration on individualistic profiteering as opposed to Commerce carried out to the mutual benefit of both parties may also influence the proportion of cheats and fraudsters, but really, I cannot honestly say that I have noticed the proportion of unprincipled and greedy residents increasing, so I will not put that forward as a reason.)

And thirdly, there is the matter of social circles. As I mentioned above, I rent property in three different sims - two sims in Caledon and one in New Babbage - but I am in the fortunate position of knowing the landlords in both cases well, and having in fact been there from the founding of both. My experience of renting is thus atypical; should I have an issue with the way something works I would be able to contact them personally to discuss it, and in fact talk to both regularly on all sorts of matters unconnected to property.

Now, the landowners in both cases are sound and reliable gents who are not the sort to evict someone on a whim or for the profit of a few Lindens anyway - I would not be friends with somebody who was - but even my choice of them as landlords comes from experience and connections. In the case of Caledon, I was not aware of Mr Shang beforehand - well, briefly, during the Tulip Hunt - but he was recommended to me via Professor Jefferson Gould, who clearly had trust in the man. Mr Sprocket, I have known for a considerable length of time.

The ability to pick landlordladies with this sort of proper background information is a privilege of age, to be frank. I am hardly the sort of Social Butterfly who has fingers, or probosces, in all sorts of social pies, or flowers; it is the fact that I grew up upon the Grid in a time when the social circle was considerably smaller that means that I Know People. I could hardly help but do so. I am privileged, I realise this.

The new resident has a lot more difficulty in this area than I ever did. They do not have access to proper information regarding all of the choices of landlordladies that they may encounter. The social circle of Second Life is far wider than before which makes it harder to meet the "right" folk. Furthermore there is no First Land any more, and whilst Mainland prices have been going down to sane levels recently, it was not so long ago that they were utterly ridiculous - these are things which encourage people to seek rental property.


Where is Ordinal going with this, one might well ask? Well, Ordinal is wondering whether we might not see a renaissance of mainland property ownership. Much as basing opinions on responses on the Forums is unreliable, it must be said that six months ago, everyone was saying "oh no, you want to find a nice landlordlady, don't buy mainland" and now they are a lot more guarded.

The fact is that one's property rights are always more secure when buying Mainland vs renting. (I utterly refuse to speak of "buying" from a private landlordlady - this is a legal fiction. Admittedly, Linden Laboratory is letting land to you rather than selling it, but "buying" from a landlordlady is merely being a sublet tenant - covenants mean absolutely nothing in terms of guarantees.) When buying Mainland one must accept the fact that the Lindens may throw one off for some odd reason, though this is almost unheard-of. When renting, one must accept the fact that the Lindens may throw one off, the landlordlady may not pay their tier and thus end up with you being thrown off regardless of how much you have paid them, or that they will throw you off for reasons entirely at their own discretion and without any possibility of you seeking redress, except perhaps if you are willing to launch an action in Court.

There are landowners whom one can recommend, but they tend to be older ones, and only have a limited amount of property to rent. Messrs Shang and Sprocket, as I have mentioned, I have personal experience of; there are others that I know by reputation - for instance, Mr Prokofy Neva, despite having many critics on account of his outspoken opinions, has in my knowledge never been criticised for his practice of the land rental business by even the fiercest opposition, and often praised. I am sure that readers will be able to suggest others.

But how is the New Resident to know? They will not know me, or my peers, or read this poor Journal. Most of the deals that they are offered or find via searching will be by people whom they will not be able to "google", particularly given the prohibition on "naming names" in the Official Forums and the lack of meaningful third-party ones. To be quite frank, if I became amnesiac I would be very pushed to reliably identify a reliable landlordlady.

The logical course of action would thus be to find some Mainland plot with a reasonable price, ideally in a PG sim (which does reduce the amount of bother in my experience) and take the chance that the next neighbours might be frightfully tasteless boors or sell to a land-cutter. I can see this becoming a more popular option. To be quite frank I welcome it, too - I have a fondness for the Mainland and the way that one must deal with one's neighbours no matter who they might be rather than live in a gated community, appealing to an Authority. I love the areas in which I live at the moment but it does sometimes make me feel rather detached.

HeadBurro Antfarm's picture
12 Dec200706:58
HeadBurro Antfarm (not verified)

I've always liked the idea of mainland... it seems so much more secure in a curious way. But when I bought (no, rented - you are quite right in your description of it being sub-let) land I couldn't afford mainland and the idea of more 'controlled' neighbours seemed appealing.

My landlord, one Doeko Cassidy, is a lovely chap and I'm not sure I would have been able to terraform my wee island quite so harshly as I have with another. Not every landlord answers a 'help, this XYZ thing is not working on my land' call from a renter and beam in only to find the lovely little desert island he left suddenly transformed into a steamy jungle complete with shipwreck, tropical storm and varied wandering critters without saying a word.

Maybe I'll look into mainland. Maybe I'll look at Prok. Wonder if he'll let me build a jungle :-D

hexx Triskaidekaphobia's picture
12 Dec200718:26
hexx Triskaidekaphobia (not verified)

Personally, on the rare occasion that someone asks my opinion on these matters, I always advise against 'buying' land on private islands. Firstly because of the whimsical nature of many island owners, but also because there are so few occasional passers-by on an island. The latter is a personal folly of mine, I admit: I enjoy meeting people and am quite fond of surprises.

I reside on the mainland. Surrounded by ugly builds, put there by people that actually believe they can make money by renting out shops and appartments, or opening up a dance hall. But since my parcel is big enough not to see them if I do not wish to do so, I can merrily tinker with building things and organise the occasional concert on a stage in the lagoon.

And, last but not least, indulge in my pyromania by blowing up fireworks.

Erbo Evans's picture
13 Dec200702:54
Erbo Evans (not verified)

I've certainly been fortunate to deal with several reputable "landlords" both in the past and on an ongoing basis. Mr. Cassidy, as Mr. Antfarm describes above, is a fair individual to my knowledge. I've also dealt favorably in the past with Mr. Steve Mahfouz, and continue to do ongoing business with Mr. Sirux Mahoney of the Fantasyland group, to our mutual benefit.

That said, the latest club venture of which I am a part is headquartered on Mainland land, which rather simplifies a number of issues. There is an abundance of Mainland land out there now, so, if one is interested in those sorts of pursuits, one should easily be able to find a suitable parcel. It's also flexible enough that my daughter and business partner was able to subdivide the parcel to create a rental home--and then to move her primary residence there when circumstances dictated that she do so. There is something to be said for the ability to do that.

Daman Tenk's picture
14 Dec200707:31
Daman Tenk (not verified)

In the past I've only encountered good landladies luckily ^^

But I'd personally advise against buying any land whatsoever in SL. Renting, no problem ... I never paid more than two weeks in advance anyway ... even IF my landlady would be a crook, she'd never steal more from me than those 2 weeks (and 2 weeks was the exception for when I expected to be busy in real life a lot, usually I'd pay 1 week in advance only).

"Buying" land from a landbaron is just asking for problems though. I've seen too many friends get fucked like that.

On the other hand, mainland is plain ugly, full of idiots, random trespassers, and so on. Some people may like that, I don't. Just give me the quiet and calmth of a nice gated community with likeminded people ^^

Currently my inworld girl owns mainland parcel ... only way it's liveable is by surrounding it completely with megaprims with a calm forest backdrop, and working with an access list.