Author Topic: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force  (Read 5340 times)

WootWoot

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We rent a two-story house from a landlord who only once raised the rent in 17 years. The rent is so cheap, we never really seriously considered buying a house or moving elsewhere, as we would not find the same kind of deal.

The house is in an "OK" neighborhood, close to my job, supermarkets, etc. It's allowed us to live a simple lifestyle with one income. There are many benefits.

However, we're under two threats. One, the landlord has made noises about selling the house. They offered to sell it to us for a very low price, but...

Two, we have a neighbor directly behind us and unclear property lines. No one wants to pay for a survey (there are other two adjacent properties: one is vacant are bank-owned and the other is owned by a woman who is selling out to get away from said neighbor). This person has been a nuisance in our lives for 10 years. He damages property, but only when there are no witnesses. I can't go into further details, as this is now a legal matter, but recently he went over the top and we are now involved in a lawsuit.

I really want to move away from this jerk. I never thought buying the house was a good idea, as my spouse is disabled and can't do the kind of work this house needs (probably all new plumbing, new porches, possible new roof, complete kitchen redo). Of course, if the house is selling for less than its appraised value, we can borrow money against it, fix it up, and hope to sell it. But that seems like a helluva risk in a neighborhood that is OK now, but is probably not going to come up or be gentrified. It's in a crappy little coal mining town next to a major interstate as it is. And with this looney living in my backyard, only a slumlord will want to buy the property.

In the past, I did agree to move forward with the purchase. This was two years ago, maybe three? We went to a lawyer, with the makeshift contract the landlord gave us. The real estate attorney we consulted said changes had to be made to the sales agreement before we could move forward (plus the survey). We told the landlord and they never responded. So I let it drop.

I'm really scared about what is going to happen. I can barely afford to pay more in rent than what we're already paying. I'm not sure I want to be a home owner, b/c I'm pretty sure the house I could afford is not one I would want to own (with apologies to Groucho Marx). I do have some money for a down payment, but I was hoping to max out my 403(b) and then start an IRA and max that out. I make about $35K a year and have only $68K for retirement, and I'm 52.

(I realize I could post a case study, but I feel far too vulnerable and thin skinned for that right now).

So what do you do when your simple life might implode??

fishnfool

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2016, 04:31:47 PM »
Call on your group of biker friends to give the unfriendly neighbor a whup ass............or move!

merula

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2016, 04:34:38 PM »
I'm so sorry that you're in this situation. If I were in your shoes, I think I'd first decide what price you're willing to pay to be rid of the jerk. Would you stay in your current place at the current rent, even if you had to keep dealing with him? Does the lawsuit offer any possibility of respite?

Once you've considered that, if you decide you're OK with the status quo, I would tell the landlord that you'd love to stay as a tenant but aren't interested in buying the place. It might be that they're OK with the status quo, too, and while they'd prefer to sell, would rather keep you as a tenant.

If you decide you're not able to deal with the jerk anymore, then I think it's obvious you have to move. But I wouldn't buy, honestly. You're unlikely to see the real upside of property ownership in a kind of location you described. Can you ask your landlord if they know anyone else who has a place to rent? You might be able to get a similar deal from a referral. Otherwise, be the best damn tenant candidate you can be. Can you get a letter of recommendation from your current landlord?

You don't mention how big of a family you have, or if it's just you and your spouse. If you couldn't afford market rent on the same size place, can you downsize? I realize it's not ideal, and you would probably need to make a lifestyle adjustment to do it, but that's one way to keep your housing outlay flat. A side benefit is that a smaller place is generally easier to keep clean (I say as someone who recently upsized due to growing children...I miss the days when I could deep-clean the whole place in a morning.)

In your shoes, I'd move. Part of my recent move was getting away from jerk neighbors (though thankfully no property damage, just cattiness and poor judgment), and life is so much better without that stress.

Best of luck!

WootWoot

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2016, 04:41:02 PM »
merula--Ooops, sorry--no, we don't have any children. It's just the two of us.

Downsizing won't really help, although it is a goal of mine and I'm actively working on removing stuff from the house. You see, our rent is cheaper than even a one-bedroom apartment.

Not sure if the lawsuit will offer any respite. We'll see.

I do like the idea of asking our landlord if he knows of any other inexpensive places to rent.

TrMama

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2016, 04:44:32 PM »
Does the neighbour own or rent the property he lives in? If he rents,  you should be able to go to whichever state office deals with residential rentals and file a dispute to get the guy in line. I'm guessing you've already done that though. You could also complain to the landlord and threaten to leave if he doesn't help resolve the situation. However, this is risky since he may be happy to have you leave and/or he may not have the power to do anything.

If he owns, you have fewer options. The cheapest option is likely to pay for the survey yourself and then build a big, high, solid fence.

WootWoot

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2016, 04:59:30 PM »
The neighbor is a renter. I didn't know there was a state agency for that sort of complaint. I'll look into it.


frugaldrummer

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2016, 06:22:24 PM »
I don't know about in your state, but in mine, I once lived in a house in a very nice rich neighborhood.  The house across the street was converted to a rental and a drug dealer moved in.  Eventually the neighbors were able to band together and use some ordinance to force the landlord to evict him  (I don't remember what the ordinance actually said.)  The landlord was subject to considerable fines if he didn't comply.

Sibley

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2016, 11:21:44 AM »
OP, can you increase your income somehow? You or spouse get different job, etc? Money does give you options.

WootWoot

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2016, 11:43:42 AM »
The borough, thus far, has been pretty uncooperative in getting rid of this guy. They all *supposedly* hate the landlord but no one ever wants to get off their ass and do anything around our town. You can't even find the mayor half the time.

Regarding increasing my income: My spouse is disabled and I don't know if he's going back to work ever again. As for me, yes, I'd love to have a job that pays more. I'm looking around for one, but it ain't easy. During the recession, I lost my job and 1/3 of my income. I landed in a different field, thinking that I wanted to pursue a career (and a master's degree) in said field. Now I don't want to get the degree, and without it, you can't advance in this field.

But, I keep looking around.

WootWoot

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2016, 03:51:26 PM »
I wanted to make something clear: The town in which I live is just that, a small town. It's just part of a county. Buying a home in this county is not necessarily a bad thing. There are homes selling for a million in various places. There are many parts of the county that were built to house the miners and factory workers, and there are plenty of blue-collar workers. So it's not like a scene from "Roger & Me" or anything.

Home ownership=debt, which scares me.

bugbaby

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2016, 02:38:05 PM »
Has your spouse tried applying for disability benefits?

Cassie

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2016, 03:11:07 PM »
Yes he should apply for SSDI. Most people get turned down but you have to keep contesting and if they keep denying eventually it will go before a law judge to decide. He hires a vocational expert to help him make the decision and this expert is impartial.  It can take up to 2 years but if you win they back pay you.  I used to work in this area.  If he wins and wants to go back to work there are trial periods where you keep your benefits to see if it will work out. Or you can work p.t. and keep your earnings under a certain threshold and keep your benefits too.

syednaeemul

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2016, 04:58:08 PM »
If you can afford to do it, here's an option:

1. Agree to buy at the low price
2. Start looking for somewhere else to move
3. Move to new house
4. Rent out the house you're currently in, but increase the rent to market rates

WootWoot

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2016, 05:40:22 PM »
Thus far, my spouse has refused to apply for SSDI because he believes he is going to go back to work someday, while at the same time making no efforts whatsoever to find a job.

I kind of do not want to own property with him. I know owning a house requires putting work into it, and I'm not sure he is mentally or physically capable of doing so.

I'm having a rough time right now, going to therapy and trying to deal with all of the above.

RedwoodDreams

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2016, 06:30:19 PM »
Sorry for your predicament and stress.

On the SSDI front, here's my recent experience: I went out onto short term disability from work in Jan. of this year. After 6 months, I had to apply for LTD via Metlife. Part of the Metlife application process is being required to apply for SSDI, because if SSDI kicks in, Metlife gets to pay you less money.

I was so angry that I was being forced by Metlife to apply for SSDI--I didn't want to believe I was someone who needed it. I don't begrudge SSDI to anyone else, and I'm glad the safety net is there. I've just always worked and been so independent... so I felt embarrassed by the prospect. It didn't fit my self image.

But I went through the motions of applying because I had to. Months passed, and I was sent by SSA for different types of evaluations, and these also scared and jarred me because I had to go into social services agencies and sit in waiting rooms with truly desperate and struggling people. I did not want to accept my physical reality and illness. I wanted my old life back. I didn't want this to be my life.

But as the months passed, I started to accept where I was/am physically, and accepted that, hey, SSDI doesn't mean *forever*, it can be even a year or two...You can improve and go back to work...People do.

6 months pass, and SSA calls and tells me I'm approved. On the first try. It was relatively painless process, all done online, and I was very surprised not to have to put up more of a battle, because that's what you always hear. Years of work, appeals, judges, etc.

When they told me I was approved I was SO relieved. I realized I'd had this constant worry that Metlife would give me the boot off LTD, because they can, and then I'd really be out in the cold. This gives me and my family security for as long as it's needed. It's a huge deal. Let's hope I get better, but at least we won't be living in a van somewhere.

I guess what I'm saying is I can understand your spouse's reluctance to applying. On the other hand, the possible denial he's in is putting all the stress on you. Maybe you could talk to him about it in these terms: just try it; you don't have to accept it if it's granted; let's give ourselves the safety net in case it ends up being needed.

The other bonus of SSDI is eligibility for Medicare after 2 years.

One thing to know about SSDI is that you have to apply for it having had fairly recent work experience. I don't think you can go back and apply after you haven't worked for a few years... So watch out for this. If he applies and it takes two years to approve, and he feels better in the interim, you just withdraw your application.

Best of luck.

WootWoot

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2016, 06:32:21 PM »
Thanks for sharing your story, Redwood Dreams. He hasn't worked in several years and was self-employed before that, so I don't think he stands much of a chance...

Making Cookies

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2016, 03:43:25 PM »
If the lousy neighbor is renting - any chance you could approach their landlord and offer to rent out his place for $25 more per month? You might rely on a friend to do the inquiries so things don't get nastier when the nasty neighbor realizes what you are trying to do...

I heard of situation like this once where the nasty neighbor was suddenly renting from the guy (neighbor) he had been mean to. Guy got tired of nasty neighbor and quietly bought the place. And put the nasty neighbor out on his backside.

Any chance that the nasty neighbor is doing anything like selling pot or making meth? No people to trifle with in many cases but we had a neighbor selling pot/coke/??? from his apartment. We shared walls with the guy. Complained to the landlord who wouldn't do anything about it b/c he couldn't prove it. However we made a bigger stink about the guy's dog. No there was a situation that we could confirm. And said guy was gone... Police finally arrested him taking a drug shipment at a school where he worked!!! Took several years b/c they were mapping out his suppliers, contacts and customers. I had spoken to the police early into the situation when we realized what was going on (like living next to a drive through window at times).

Any chance your landlord would speak to his landlord? Your landlord protecting his own interests so he doesn't lose a good renter?

Have you considered just leaving the town in favor of a place with better pay and opportunities? Little places like you describe are really hard to get ahead in. Someone has to die or retire for an opportunity to open up - and everyone else is stuck with something less.

We live in a larger small town. More opportunities but still LCOL. Was easy to find employment but it took time to find good employment.

Interest Compound

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2016, 03:50:28 PM »
I make about $35K a year and have only $68K for retirement, and I'm 52.

(I realize I could post a case study, but I feel far too vulnerable and thin skinned for that right now).

My advice is to post a case study. Wait a few days, create a new (throwaway) username, and post everything. From what I quoted above, your current living situation might not be the most pressing issue.

RoostKing

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2016, 04:30:04 PM »
Thus far, my spouse has refused to apply for SSDI because he believes he is going to go back to work someday, while at the same time making no efforts whatsoever to find a job.

I kind of do not want to own property with him. I know owning a house requires putting work into it, and I'm not sure he is mentally or physically capable of doing so.

I'm having a rough time right now, going to therapy and trying to deal with all of the above.

Seems the partial answer is in your reply. Your spouse, because of pride wont do SSDI(So he can tell his friends he is going back to work) yet he wont actually look for work. Some things have to change it seems.

WootWoot

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Re: When your simple lifestyle is being threatened by an outside force
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2016, 06:10:27 PM »
Oh boy, do I wish the guy was dealing drugs. No, he's just plain nuts.

As far as our landlords speaking, my landlord couldn't care less if we stayed or not. They'll just sell the house if we leave. Last year, we complained about the tenant neighbor, and they rewarded us by raising our rent by 20%, as well as yelling at my spouse over the phone. It would be quite funny if I could buy the jerk's house but I'm afraid damage has been done to it (the jerk tried to rip off some of the siding, and the slumlord STILL didn't throw him out). It's beyond absurd.

I've thought many times of moving away, but as they say on Facebook, "it's complicated." My so-called career has been short-stalled and I am underemployed. The field I worked in before (journalism and PR) has changed so much, I don't know if anyone would hire me.

Yeah, things are a real mess right now. I'm in therapy and hoping to be able to solve some of my problems. And eventually I will do a case study, even if I do it under a different username.


If the lousy neighbor is renting - any chance you could approach their landlord and offer to rent out his place for $25 more per month? You might rely on a friend to do the inquiries so things don't get nastier when the nasty neighbor realizes what you are trying to do...

I heard of situation like this once where the nasty neighbor was suddenly renting from the guy (neighbor) he had been mean to. Guy got tired of nasty neighbor and quietly bought the place. And put the nasty neighbor out on his backside.

Any chance that the nasty neighbor is doing anything like selling pot or making meth? No people to trifle with in many cases but we had a neighbor selling pot/coke/??? from his apartment. We shared walls with the guy. Complained to the landlord who wouldn't do anything about it b/c he couldn't prove it. However we made a bigger stink about the guy's dog. No there was a situation that we could confirm. And said guy was gone... Police finally arrested him taking a drug shipment at a school where he worked!!! Took several years b/c they were mapping out his suppliers, contacts and customers. I had spoken to the police early into the situation when we realized what was going on (like living next to a drive through window at times).

Any chance your landlord would speak to his landlord? Your landlord protecting his own interests so he doesn't lose a good renter?

Have you considered just leaving the town in favor of a place with better pay and opportunities? Little places like you describe are really hard to get ahead in. Someone has to die or retire for an opportunity to open up - and everyone else is stuck with something less.

We live in a larger small town. More opportunities but still LCOL. Was easy to find employment but it took time to find good employment.