Victorian London - Houses and Housing - Housing of the Poor - Landlords

  But perhaps there is nothing in London so exasperating as the Lodging-house keeper... This being starves you, freezes you, cheats you, waits upon you, steals from you, lies to you, flatters you, and backbites you; reads your private papers, has keys for all your boxes and drawers, and a complete inventory of all your effects. She chooses from your handker­chiefs, smoothes her hair with your brushes, scents it with your perfumes, ‘makes herself beautiful’ at your toilet. She examines your boots, and finds a pair which you ‘will never miss’, for her James. She brushes your trowsers, and takes care of any loose change. She waits at your table, counts the oranges, and thinks she will try one.
When you ask for that pie, she has given it to the dog—’I thought you were done with it, Sir.’ . . . She eats your bread, drinks your beer, tastes your wine; and charges you a shilling for a pinch of salt.... You sleep on ‘hobbles’, and are blotched in a curious manner. You hint to the servant that you have seen something as well as felt; but ‘nothing of that sort was ever in my house’. At last, when you find it quite impossible to satisfy the ever-increasing rapacity, you ‘think you will leave’. You are very forcibly reminded that you are bound to ‘a month’s notice, Sir’.

Ah-Chin-Le, Some Observations Upon the Civilization of the Western Barbarians, 1876.