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The Alleged House

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Look on the bright side! It's got a decent backyard.
"Ahh, home crap home!"
Walter Fielding, The Money Pit

So, a character just bought a new house. Maybe it's a Big Fancy House, or maybe it's something a bit more humble. The Real Estate Agent says it's a great deal. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

But then they move in, and suddenly things take a turn for the worse. The stairs squeak, then collapse. You try to take a shower, but only end up Covered in Mud. The faucet in the master bathroom won't stop dripping. The back door is being eaten by bugs. If it works at all, the stove in the kitchen chars everything cooked on it, and that's only the times when it doesn't go off in someone's face like an Improvised Incendiary Device. And it appears a family of skunks is living in the attic.

Uh oh. They've bought The Alleged House and been Lured into a Trap. Unfortunately, this trope is all too common in real life. May or may not also be an Old, Dark House, and god help you if it's also haunted. Compare The Alleged Car and The Alleged Computer for the automotive and computer equivalents. Contrast Cool House. If it's a Cool House hiding in alleged house clothing, see What a Piece of Junk and/or Not-So-Abandoned Building. Also compare Lonely Bachelor Pad. See also Horrible Housing, with which this can overlap; that trope is a crappy home being used to mark a character as poor.

If someone sold you one of these, he's likely a Shady Real Estate Agent.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Call of the Night: After Yamori demolishes her apartment building while fighting Susuki, Nazuna moves to a storage unit under a bridge. Nazuna's new "home" doesn't have electricity, running water or even a toilet. While she doesn't mind the reduced space, Yamori very much can't tolerate it, and strong-arms Nazuna into finding a proper home.

    Fan Works 
  • House of the Rising Sunflower: The lord's tower is in such a poor state that Sundance honestly would rather live in a barn than the noble residence. His replacement cottage is barely better, with his first night in it making him more miserable than he's ever been, and realizing that this is how his peasants have lived for years pushes housing improvements up his priorities list.
  • The Real Denton Affair: Frank lived in a run-down farmhouse, instead of a Gothic castle.
  • A Big Fancy House example is the Hôtel Camélia in The Legend of Royal Blue and La Sylphide. It's a hôtel particulier, a French mansion with a courtyard once owned by nobility. At the time of the story, however, its best days are long behind it. Walls are crumbling, stairs creak, the roof leaks, one phone line is shared with nine people, Gabriel sleeps in the old servant's quarters in the attic, and the camellia plants in the garden haven't bloomed in years. Small wonder Gabriel's grandfather won the whole kit and kaboodle in a stakes game.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: As in the episode Amending Fences, Moondancer lives in one when Twilight and the others find her. In this version, however, it's apparently in even worse shape, to the point where the door crumbles a bit when Twilight knocks on it and a piece of the roof falls off while Moondancer has the door open.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Are We There Yet?'s sequel film, Are We Done Yet?, is about the family moving into a new house and discovering it has numerous problems that need fixing and getting increasingly frustrated as they discover more problems. This is foreshadowed when their new neighbors come by to visit them when they first move in but refuse to step inside.
  • The plot of *batteries not included revolves around the villains trying to tear down the old apartment, but from the state of it, they may as well have just waited for it to fall down. Fortunately, the Fix-Its end up restoring it as good (or maybe better) than new.
  • The 'Burbs: The Klopeks' is every bit as derelict as those of old-school horror movies and stands out like a sore thumb with the other houses on the street. The only thing that the Klopeks seem to care about making sure is working right is the security system and the boiler on the basement. As a result, lots of physical comedy ensues when the protagonists try to sneak in at the climax.
  • George Washington Slept Here: The broken-down house that Connie buys definitely qualifies. It quickly becomes a money pit and leads to a pending foreclosure.
  • Ghostbusters: Egon Spengler describes the firehouse that becomes their headquarters as such (they still buy it, apparently at Ray's insistence because he likes the fire pole):
    Egon: I think this building should be condemned. There's serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members, the wiring is substandard, it's completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone.
  • In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo stay at the rundown Happiness Hotel. Its residents sure are happy, though, and they proudly describe their dilapidated home in song.
    Fozzie: If that's the Happiness Hotel, I'd hate to see what the sad one looks like.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Uncle Rob's townhouse is a dirty wreck, which is why it's being renovated. This works out in Kevin's favor, since he's able to use the building's problems in his traps.
  • It's a Wonderful Life: The house George and Mary have their honeymoon in is a fixer upper, to put it lightly.
  • Last Action Hero:
    • Danny and his mother live in a pretty normal-looking apartment in a very downbeat part of New York. The robber who gets in the Madigans' apartment thinks this trope is played straight, as in there is nothing in the apartment worth taking, and leaves.
    • In strict comparison to the house owned by his ex-wife, Jack's apartment is this. It's utterly Spartan with only a few items of furniture, Jack's closet with his reserve guns and lots of similar clothes (and assassins always trying to hide there so Jack spends a fortune constantly paying for replacement doors), and a nice view of the highway.
  • Loveling: Irene and Claus's house is dilapidated: the tap is broken; the entrance lock is broken, so they have to go through a window to go in; there is a big crack in a wall.
  • The characters Ma and Pa Kettle have two: The house they used to live in, which is the traditional broken down shack, and the house Pa wins in a sweepstakes, which while much more modern and clean, is quite prone to gadget malfunctions.
  • In The Money Pit, buying and attempting to repair one of these is central to the plot.
  • The Mansion the brothers inherit in MouseHunt is a rotting, seemingly worthless wreck that they only move into because they have no other option. It turns out to actually be incredibly valuable, but nonetheless is falling apart.
  • Sheriff Bill Daggett of Big Whiskey from Unforgiven built his own wood frame house on a lonely parcel away from town. While recounting the exploits of The Wild West to biographer W. Beauchamp, both men set out assorted vessels to catch all the rainwater that's leaking through the roof. One of the sheriff's own deputies put it succinctly; "You know, he don't have a straight angle in that whole god-damned porch or the whole house for that matter. He is the worst damn carpenter."
  • Truly, Madly, Deeply: Nina's new flat is agreed by all to be just dreadful. The plumbing is shot, and it's got an infestation of rats.
  • One Week: Thanks to snubbed former boyfriend Handy Hank performing some sabotage on the labeling of the crates and their own bumbling, the do-it-yourself house that Buster Keaton's character and his wife construct is one of these. A very windy rainstorm during the housewarming party turns it into a makeshift merry-go-round, for example.
  • Played for Laughs in The Jerk with Navin's family's home. It's a run-down shack that is barely a hairsbreadth over being declared Horrible Housing, but they still love it and when they strike it rich thanks to their son sending them money and some good investments, they make a "mansion" that is a perfect replica of the shack in all of its dilapidated "glory", only much bigger and with a few butlers.
  • In Angels with Dirty Faces, Rocky's apartment in the "old parish" is an old, rotten room. He tries to talk it up, but in the middle of talking, he sits on the bed and it collapses under him.

    Literature 
  • InCryptid: The Covenant bought the Parrish Place for Thomas Price to live in when they sent him to Buckley. They hadn't had it inspected beforehand, and when Thomas gets there it's falling apart. He spends much of his time repairing and redecorating. After he gets Trapped in Another World, his wife Alice retains ownership of the house and stays in it when she's not in Another Dimension looking for him, but it's still in terrible shape. Their granddaughter Verity and her boyfriend Dominic spend a night there, with Verity explaining that despite its reputation as the home of the mad murderer Abraham Parrish, it's not haunted (her own ghost Honorary Aunt can vouch for that).
  • In the memoir The Glass Castle the Walls family lives for a time in an extremely decrepit house, with rotting stairs, chipped paint, and faulty wiring.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire this is Harrenhal, an enormous castle that upon completion was almost immediately wrecked by dragon fire and has been dragging everyone who owns it into ruin ever since. On top of its melted main tower, centuries of disrepair, and rumored curse, it's simply too big to maintain properly with the resources of the lands it now rules. The only character to avoid misfortune from being Lord of Harrenhal (so far) is Littlefinger, who didn't go near the place and just used the title for leverage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Full House: Invoked in "A House Divided", where Michelle tries to prevent the house from being sold to a previous owner, which means she'll have to move out, by making everything go haywire for him.
  • Button House in the BBC series Ghosts (UK) and Woodstone Manor in the American remake are both rather dilapidated and severely haunted.
  • Green Acres: The Old Haney Place, which former big-city lawyer Oliver Douglas buys so he can become a farmer. A run-down old farmhouse with no inside phone (Oliver has to climb a telephone pole to make a call). Renovations take up much of the show's run and are never fully finished; the master bedroom closet, for example, doubles as a back door.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In "Home Wreckers", Ted goes house-hunting on a whim and finds one he likes, so he hires an inspector to look it over. After getting only halfway through, the inspector has already compiled a Long List of problems and recommends they all just get out of there before the place collapses on their heads. Too bad Ted already bought it. The episode's ending shows that he eventually fixed it up, and in fact it's the very place where his kids grew up and where they're now sitting as he tells the story.
  • Kenan & Kel: In the two-part episode "Bye Bye Kenan", Kenan's dad gets a new job as a forest ranger in Montana and Kenan and his family have to move away. The house they move into in Montana would make even the most ardent HGTV house-flipper throw up their hands and walk out: Flushing the toilet causes pipes in the living room to burst, bugs that are apparently big and strong enough to bend a golf club out of shape inhabit the bathroom, the front door falls off the hinges after being opened and closed a few times, and the stairs give way halfway up and send anyone ascending them faceplanting through them into the stair closet. Luckily for the Rockmores, they move out of the ramshackle house and back to Chicago by the end of the episode.

    Music 
  • Stuart Hamblen's "This Ole House" is all about one of these. The owner doesn't care because he's about to die and go to heaven.
  • "Handy" by "Weird Al" Yankovic is equal parts Kitschy Local Commercial and Boastful Rap from the perspective of a handyman who can apparently fix anything, and he demonstrates his talents on a house described to be in terrible disrepair — and the unlucky soul who lives there has to put up with each problem with the house as Al lists them (a stuck doorjamb, a rusted disposal, a termite infestation, a busted front window, an overflowing toilet, and a dishwasher that explodes when he tries to use it are just the start.)
  • "Room For Improvement" by The Stupendium is about a disreputable handyman who will turn your house into this when he's done with it through a combination of incompetence and intentional destruction.

    Other 
  • In China, there is the term "Tofu-dreg project" (豆腐渣工程), also known as "Tofu Buildings", which refers to buildings that are so poorly constructed (as a result of corruption and many corners cut so that only cheap materials are bought, not helped at all by rampant growth of urbanization) that walls can easily by dug with bare hands, and as well as a much shorter building lifespan.
  • Believe it or not The White House was this by the time of World War II. Decades of negligence, slipshod renovations, and additions of new services and even an entirely new floor left the building in such bad shape that U.S. President Harry Truman was advised that it was in danger of completely collapsing. The floors were swaying, the ceilings were sinking, support beams were described as being held up "by force of habit only", furniture like the First Lady's piano and the presidential bathtub were sinking into the floors, and the entire building was a firetrap. Finally, the decision was made to completely gut the White House's interior and rebuild it from scratch, while keeping the outside walls. Truman, his family and staff all vacated the White House in 1948 and stayed out for nearly four years. The renovations took a lot of time and money, but when they were done in 1952 the White House was a building fit for the leader of the world's most powerful country.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: There is a sketch where a lazy redneck is reciting a poem called "Life Sure Gets Tee-jus, Don't It?" Apparently unwilling or unable to work, he was poor to the point where he was out of food, had no presentable clothes, and his house was in terrible disrepair. In his own words: "Tinnote  roof leaks, chimney leans..." His house literally falls apart at the end of the sketch.

    Theater 
  • Barefoot in the Park: There are multiple quirks in the apartment, one which sees a lot of use for laughs (and drama) being that it doesn't have good insulation, which allows the New York winter cold to seep in.

    Video Games 
  • In Animal Crossing you can move into one of four small dingy houses with no furniture or utilities, which look like underground bunkers inside. One actually has a metal tread plate floor. Thankfully you can get your hands on furniture, wallpaper, and carpeting pretty easily, remodeling is an option, and the landlord cuts you a good deal.
  • Cragne Manor: The available houses in the shady, horrifying town of Backwater, as detailed in a real estate pamphlet, have such upsides as "Concrete-sealed basement, hardly any muttering!" and "Entire upstairs still mostly above water!"
  • Dot's Home: Grandma Mavis' house has wallpaper peeling off the walls, stains in the corners of the ceiling, a leaky roof on the second floor, and a dusty basement that's giving Carlos asthma attacks. This is because she was scammed into owning it by Murphy's grandfather when she and Karl made the deal with him in 1959.
  • You can buy one of these in Earthbound 1994. It isn't until after the purchase that you'll be able to see that it's one due to missing a wall.
  • Almost every form of post-war shelter qualifies in Fallout 4, naturally. They are all barely standing shacks that have been affected by a hundred-plus years of nuclear fallout, looting, and no maintenance.
  • House Flipper, as you might infer from the title, has countless examples for the player to renovate however they like and resell for a profit.
  • Many of the default houses in The Sims series are described this way. They generally come with the lowest tier items, which are prone to breakdowns and malfunctions. It's also possible to create your own if you don't know what you're doing, or are feeling a bit malevolent towards your sims.

    Web Comics 
  • In Champions of Far'aus, the Hyperia Pantheon house - which is technically the Hyperia pantheon temple - is falling apart when Daryl & Skye first get to the temple grounds, with neither being particularly impressed by its sad state, to say nothing of the shattered door frame, broken window, or the tree that had at some point grown through one corner of the building & out the roof before dying. While the group does start some work & add an outdoor extension later on, they do nothing to address the problems with the main house proper.
    • It should be noted that they did replace the front door while building the extension, but an off-panel mishap with the rams put them back at square one, and by the time the extension is seen completed, it’s clear no one bothered trying to fix the door again.
  • Nine to Nine: The affordable house Tor and Andrea bought. The place is picturesque, but the building is falling apart, yet is too sturdy to quickly demolish. Jan describes it in the style of Very False Advertising he encountered earlier:
    Cozy lake-front cabin, hardwood floors, 1 bed 1 bath, creeper damaged.

    Western Animation 
  • The latter half of the Arthur episode, "Grandpa Dave's Old Country Farm". Due to Grandpa Dave's inability to take care of the farm on his own, his house is falling apart. The hen house in particular deserves mention, as its roof fell in an untold amount of time ago and Dave has continually ignored fixing it.
  • In the Family Guy episode "To Love and Die in Dixie", the Griffins put in Witness Protection and relocated to an extremely rural town in Alabama, and upon seeing their new house for the first time, Lois blithely comments "If we fixed it up a bit, it could be a piece of crap." Peter falls through the floorboards twice (once immediately upon entering the house for the first time, again while exploring the upstairs), there's a smell that Brian describes as that of either bad meat or good cheese, a goopy jar in the basement with a human hand in it, and for some reason, Jeff Foxworthy is in the closet. Peter tries to turn on the TV to a racoon (believing it to be "some kind of nature show") only to get attacked by it, and in trying to use the bathroom — an outhouse — a bird crashes into it and tips it over while he's inside.
  • Futurama has a gag in "The Luck of the Fryish" where Fry discovers his original house the ruins of Old New York, massively wrecked, but otherwise still standing after a thousand years. However, it's revealed in flashback (both in this and in later episodes) that it was exactly as crappy-looking back in the 1990s as well.
  • Goofy tries to build his own house in the short film "Home Made Home." Through a variety of the usual mishaps, the finished product becomes this by virtue of Bizarrchitecture and collapsing during the housewarming party.
  • House of Mouse: The short "Mickey's Mechanical House" has Mickey Mouse putting up with things like clattering pipes and a creaky roof in his house, prompting him to move into a technologically-advanced abode. And then the mechanical house turns into one of these when Mickey accidentally destroys the master remote control, making all of its gadgetry run amok. Mickey decides to go back to his old house, deciding that there's no place like home... because creaky roofs and constant cold from seeping wind is better than being nearly crushed by moving floors.
  • Inspector Gadget: "Snakin' All Over" takes place at the dilapidated Firstpenny mansion. The gate comes off its hinges when Gadget touches it, the doorbell falls apart when he rings it, and a loose board in the front porch, when he steps on it, swings up and hits him in the nose.
    Gadget: You'd think, with all his money, old Mr. Firstpenny could have spent a few dollars on maintenance.
  • The Loud House: Although the house has been in the family since before the start of the series, the Loud family's house still fits this trope. The episode "Homespun" in particular makes it clear in how severe a state of disrepair it is.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The Simpson household, either from lack of maintenance or poor construction, is often shown with such unpleasantries as paper-thin walls or faulty plumbing and wiring. This seemingly explains how the family can afford such a large house with Homer's paycheque.
    • When Marge gets a job as a real estate agent in "Realty Bites", she doesn't do well because her employer expects her to lie through her teeth to trick people into buying terrible homes. And then she actually manages to sell a house to the Flanders family, which plays with this: it is a perfectly fine home in terms of structure, and it definitely is the family's dream home... the problem is that multiple people were murdered there. The Flanders family is still perfectly okay with it once they find out, but everybody else in the cast (especially Marge) feels nervous at the very concept and she can't stop feeling like she swindled them for not bringing the fact up sooner.
      Lionel Hutz: There's "the truth" [shakes head] and "the truth". [smiles wide] Let me show you. [shows pictures of homes for sale]
      Marge: It's awfully small.
      Lionel Hutz: I'd say it's awfully "cosy."
      Marge: That's dilapidated.
      Lionel Hutz: "Rustic."
      Marge: That house is on fire!
      Lionel Hutz: "Motivated seller."
    • The rebuilt Flanders home in "Hurricane Neddy". It starts with the main door's handle popping off, then it goes through one of the corridors having a painted dirt floor (because they ran out of tiles), the main electrical room having lousy shielding and so there is an absurd amount of static and then it goes straight to Alien Geometries territory. We don't get to see any other of the myriad problems there are inside... not that it matters, because Homer patting the door frame makes the whole building fall apart.
    • In "Homer's Enemy", the abandoned factory that Bart gets from the auction turns out to be utterly dilapidated — although he enjoys it because he gets to play with all of the unsafe gizmos. The subplot ends with the building falling apart literally overnight all by itself. In that same episode, Frank rants that he can't believe Homer has such an enormous house when his home is a one-room apartment sandwiched in between two bowling alleys.
      Bart: [after seeing the collapsed factory] Aw, geez! Millhouse, how could you let this happen? You were supposed to be the night watchman!
      Millhouse: I WAS watching. I saw the whole thing! First it started fallin' over, then it fell over!
      Bart: Wow. I wonder where all the rats are gonna go.
      [cue a massive stampede of rats, which run from the factory's rubble, across the street and into Moe's Tavern.]
      Moe: Okay, everybody tuck your pants into your socks!
  • Thanks to Dr. Seuss's art style, the house in Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? is an "alleged house" in multiple senses of the word, with more floor space devoted to the winding staircases than rooms and a balcony with a basketball hoop and no railings. But it's also in severe disrepair; the shutters creak, termites are eating the stairs, and when Pontoffel tries using that basketball hoop, the ball falls right through the floor. It's no wonder he wants to get away.

 
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Goldie's Previous House

Goldie's old home is condemned and quite clearly falling apart, but she denies this and convinces Ham to have the party there. It actually starts collapsing in the middle of the party.

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