Author Topic: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money  (Read 5331 times)

Wolf_Stache

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Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« on: February 13, 2014, 04:42:32 PM »
I posted a little about this in my journal, but I thought it deserved its own topic.

I currently am renting a house with my boyfriend. I've been renting it for three years now. Only signed a year lease, have been month to month since. When we moved in we had two cats. We now have 3 cats and a dog.

The house has some problems, but the landlord refuses to do any repairs except EMERGENCY items. In order to keep the house livable, we end up doing a lot of repairs ourselves, and the place actually is looking better than it did when we moved in.

What do I mean by problems?

The gutters fell off the house back in June 2013. They are still laying in the yard. No, I'm not kidding. Owner refuses to pay to have them reattached. We cannot do it because the house is three stories tall and we don't own a ladder

Not a single door in the house will stay closed/latched. Several of the doors are cracked in half or have a missing chunk out of the doorframe (looks like at some point every door was opened with a tire iron or broken down).

Approx 1/2 of the outlets and light switches in the house do not work

Only two of the burners on the stove work

Anyway, the house is HUGE, and to save some money I'd like to get a roommate. Per our lease we aren't supposed to have a roommate. But we also aren't supposed to have the dog.

I don't feel guilty about it for the reasons mentioned above. Boyfriend didn't mind us getting the dog, but doesn't think we should get a roommate because 'what if the landlord finds out?' In my mind, so what if they do?

I know having a dog & roommate without the landlord knowing isn't the best, but with all the problems in the house and knowing how much upkeep we have done ourselves, I don't/wouldn't feel guilty about it.

I've looked and looked for other apartments/houses to rent, but I can't find anywhere that will allow us to have both the cats and the dog. So moving isn't an option so far (unless anyone has house/apartment recommendations for downtown Seattle???)

What are your thoughts? Any arguements against? Any ideas on how to sway my boyfriend to accept a roommate? I don't quite get why he didn't care about the dog breaking the rules but does care about the roommate.

brandino29

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2014, 05:52:11 PM »
I'll avoid the roommate issue entirely but I do recommend you google to find Tenants' Rights information in your town/county/state.  Landlords have certain legal responsibilities to keep a house in a liveable, reasonable condition.  You may be able to get a lot of those problems fixed with a reminder of his obligations.

LanceBurkhart

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2014, 06:00:21 PM »
Agree. And I would imagine that Washington, being a liberal-leaning state, has strong protections in place for tenants. Many states impose an implied agreement between landlord and tenant that the premises will be kept in a habitable condition--safe and fit for human living. And you may be able to pay for certain kinds of repairs, and withhold the balance from your rent. And if the landlord terminated your tenancy, you could argue it was "retaliatory."

Even if you don't go that route, it will give you leverage to know your rights and options, and be able to use buzzwords like "implied warranty of habitability,"

http://washingtonlandlordtenant.info/washington-landlord-tenant-law/two-warranties-of-habitability/

I'm not a Washington lawyer so don't take my word for anything.

sheepstache

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2014, 06:13:07 PM »
I'm the last person who should give anyone advice about ethics.  But this reminds me of that joke.  Man and a woman are living together before marriage but to appease his puritanical mother, they claim to be sleeping in separate beds.  One night they have the mother over for dinner and a week later they realize they haven't seen the silver ladle since she was there.  The son contacts the mother and says, "Listen, I'm not saying you did or didn't take it, but we haven't seen the silver ladle since you were here."  The mother replies, "Listen, I'm not saying you two are or are not sleeping together, but if she were sleeping in her own bed, you'd know where the silver ladle was."

My main concern is that you say there are no other options in the area.  So if you get kicked out over this, which you have to consider the possibility, what will you do?

Tyler

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2014, 06:19:22 PM »
I apologize ahead of time if this comes across as harsh.  No offense intended at all.  But you did ask for different opinions. 

It sounds like you have a bad landlord.  However, to be honest I bet the landlord may not think you're so hot of a tenant either if he knew what you were up to.  Adding an illegal roommate does not in any way "even out" the landlord issues either practically or legally and will only compound your problems. 

The best course of action is to find a new place.  I understand that having four pets will make that quite a bit more difficult, but that (and signing a lease on a larger place than you need) was your choice and I personally think that doesn't excuse lying to your landlord just so you can stay.  So stop trying to justify breaking the terms of your lease and take responsibility for your living situation. 


horsepoor

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2014, 06:21:28 PM »
You are putting yourselves in the weaker position by getting a roommate without the LLs approval and could risk eviction making it harder to find a new place.  Same with the dog FWIW.

bikebum

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2014, 11:30:38 PM »
I think the previous comments make good points about why it could be bad for you. I wouldn't worry about the ethical part of it.

CanuckExpat

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2014, 11:45:08 PM »
I currently am renting a house with my boyfriend. I've been renting it for three years now. Only signed a year lease, have been month to month since. When we moved in we had two cats. We now have 3 cats and a dog.

The house has some problems, but the landlord refuses to do any repairs except EMERGENCY items. In order to keep the house livable, we end up doing a lot of repairs ourselves, and the place actually is looking better than it did when we moved in.
If your landlord won't make repairs, apparently you can go to court or arbitration, and you also have the option of hiring someone to do the repairs and then taking the cost out next months rent, if you've given the landlord notice and an estimate of the costs:
http://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/your-rights-as-a-tenant-in-washington#_Toc346017628

Quote
Anyway, the house is HUGE, and to save some money I'd like to get a roommate. Per our lease we aren't supposed to have a roommate. But we also aren't supposed to have the dog.

I don't feel guilty about it for the reasons mentioned above. Boyfriend didn't mind us getting the dog, but doesn't think we should get a roommate because 'what if the landlord finds out?' In my mind, so what if they do?

If you break a condition of the lease, the landlord can order you to remedy the situation, and if it is not done in 10 days, they can evict you: http://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/your-rights-as-a-tenant-in-washington#_Toc346017645

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2014, 08:11:19 AM »
I'll have to look into which of these repairs would fall under those tenant laws.

Landlord ended up coming over on Tuesday with the plumber to look into the water issue, which I didn't mention above. Water bill shows us using a truly insane amount of water, over 150 gallons a day, so we thought maybe there was a leak.

Anyway, boyfriend introduced landlord to the dog, and he said he didn't care. So there is that. I honestly didn't think he would, because he knew about the 3 cats when we moved in, and the dog is half the sizeof the cat.

CommonCents

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2014, 08:27:37 AM »
Yeah I agree with other posters.  I would weigh the risks of being kicked out and having to find a new place, against the benefit of breaking the lease.  Due to your inability to find a place with the animals, I probably wouldn't risk it myself.  Alternatively, talk to him and see if you can get the lease modified.  As note - if it's really rundown, you might have a hard time find someone who wants to stay there though.

sheepstache

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2014, 08:45:56 AM »
Alternatively, talk to him and see if you can get the lease modified.

Well now there is a crazy brilliant idea.  You could simply ask. 
Usually landlords don't want 8 people to a room or something crazy or they don't want airbnb (although if he says no, you might look into the legality of that in your area).  Or they certainly don't want someone renting a place and then renting it to someone different.  But if you'd originally shown up as a group of three, maybe he wouldn't have cared and so he wouldn't care now.  I'm guessing he'd prefer if you make it clear you're still taking responsibility for the condition of the house and payment of the full rent.  He sounds like the kind of guy who doesn't want to deal with two different leasees.  He also sounds like the kind of guy who pulled a generic lease agreement from the local stationery store and that's why there's a rule in it about no roommates.

Miss Growing Green

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2014, 09:37:58 AM »
One other thing to consider-

If this illegal roommate damages the place and leaves, you and your boyfriend may be the ones footing their bill, or, if they decide not to pay rent it will be hard for you to enforce it... just something to think about!

Greg

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2014, 09:54:39 AM »
Your landlord sounds pretty lousy.  But I know how that is.  I had a landlord that said the lobby carpet would be replaced soon after I moved in.  When I moved out 4 years later he was saying the same thing to the new tenants.

I agree you should ask.  I figure your landlord would rather say ok to a roommate that to have to deal with re-renting the place.  The others' concerns about liability for damage and so forth are valid.

Also, consider there may be other reasons your bf doesn't want a roommate, consider this.  For instance, privacy and how it will affect your relationship.  It could make it hard at first.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2014, 10:03:07 AM »
I agree with whoever said you should just ask. he didn't care about the dog, he probably won't care about a roommate, especially if the house is big.

he sounds kind of like our landlord, but even worse (or the place is just crappier). ours is HORRID about getting repairs done unless they're truly emergency (the water heater did get replaced promptly), but the upside is that they're also super laid back about everything else. they originally said my boyfriend would have to fill out an application when he moved in with me, but when I went in to re-sign the lease for a second year they said, "eh, just write his name on there." they also said we'd have to pay a pet deposit for our dog (which arrived with the boyfriend) but when he actually got there they were just like, "meh, don't worry about it."

I would ask. otherwise you are going from a shitty situation to a possibly worse situation.

Also, consider there may be other reasons your bf doesn't want a roommate, consider this.  For instance, privacy and how it will affect your relationship.  It could make it hard at first.

also a good point.

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2014, 10:50:09 AM »
Good points all.

Actually originally it was going to be four of us in this house (two couples) but the other couple we were going to rent with bailed literally at the last minute. We had to move out of where we were (black mold, I was waking up every night unable to breathe, etc) so we went ahead and got it with just the two of us.

As for us not being able to find another roommate because the place is run down... you'd be surprised. I've had three different people asking me about renting a room...and no, I wasn't adverstising or anything. Just friends or friends of friends looking for a place. Which is why this came up.

Melody

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Re: Renting - Question about ethics of saving money
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2014, 11:14:53 PM »
If you go head and not tell your landlord how will your room-mate feel if you all get kicked out for breaking the lease terms? If they've gotta move anyway because their own lease is ended, fine, but if you are encouraging someone to give a up a stable/legal home for a place where they could be kicked out any minute because your landlord finds out they are there, I'd feel a bit ethically dodgy (unless there was full disclosure about the situation).  So there are two sets of ethics at play - Landlord/tenant ethics and you/housemate ethics....