Author Topic: Various ways to be a crumby landlord  (Read 6150 times)

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« on: July 14, 2013, 04:31:21 PM »
My friend rents the "furnished" basement apartment of a lady's house.  He's been there about 1.5 years, initially on a 6 month lease but now it is month to month.  Here are just a few of things that have happened while he's been there:

She enters his space whenever she likes with no prior notice. 

Sometimes she switches out furnishings without consent or notice.  Most recently it was the nightstand, which really really upset him because she didn't mention she was going to do it and she went in when he wasn't home and took his personal belongs out of the stand and put them in the new stand, but they wouldn't fit because the substituted one is substantially smaller.  He was particularly upset because he had personal items in there (of the type that likely many people have in their nightstands.)

She has been doing renovations upstairs where she lived until recently, and this resulted in damage to his space.  She let the workers into his space routinely without notice.  They tore out his bathroom ceiling to work on her plumbing, leaving drywall dust all over everything he had in there (including his toothbrush) and also clogging his bathroom sink, which didn't get cleared for more than a week.  In the process of standing on his bathroom counter with muddy boots while they were tearing out the ceiling, they essentially broke it in half and it has had 3 giant cracks running the length of it ever since.  For awhile there was a giant hole in his ceiling covered in plywood, and now there is about a 4 foot by 8 foot piece of plywood where the door to go upstairs used to be.  Since it's a split level, this is essentially at the focal point of his living room.  Several times he's had to just leave because of so much hammering.

Since she has moved out in the spring, she has not cut the grass in the back yard.  This presents a problem because his door for entry is in the backyard and there is no path.  Currently it is about 18 inches high.  When she moved out he offered to cut the grass for $50/month off his rent (which I thought was ridiculously generous since it's about an acre and I doubt she'd be able to get anyone else to do it for less than $70 per week), but she declined.  She said she'd take care of it.  Instead, he had to borrow a weedwacker last week to clear the path to his door, which he decided to do after he found some ticks on him and poison ivy rashes from walking through the wilderness back there just to get to his door.

He is "not allowed" to receive mail at the address.  She told him this before he moved in.

She is now trying to rent the upstairs, but it's been vacant for 3 months.  She has told him that she will only rent it to a single man (which seems extremely odd to me and surely is against the law!)

I could go on and on.  Suffice it to say he is looking at moving out options.

Joet

  • Guest
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2013, 04:40:38 PM »
I read the whole thing

olivia

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 770
  • From Consumerism to Minimalism
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2013, 04:59:57 PM »
Why the fuck is he still living there?!!!  Seriously, even if it was free I wouldn't rent from someone like that. 

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2013, 05:16:12 PM »
^ I have asked him that.  I would have moved out as quickly as possible, without notice, following the night stand incident.  He doesn't have a good explanation for why he hasn't moved; mostly I think it's inertia.

iamsoners

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 178
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2013, 08:56:54 PM »
oooh, reminds me of my old basement apartment where the landlord lived upstairs.  I was home sick one day about a month after moving in and in the afternoon I heard him tromp down the stairs, open the door to the apartment, look around for 30 seconds, mutter the word "pigsty," drop the mail and tromp back upstairs.  Now to be fair, we were still unpacking and it was, in fact a pigsty, but that's none of his damn business. Unfortunately I was sick and thus hadn't really dressed or brushed my teeth for the day and was in no form to refute the pigsty allegations.  A few days later we emailed him, requesting that he leave the day's mail in an exterior box and he was incredulous, stating he would never, NEVER enter our apartment.  I always felt like I had to clean up the apartment before we went on vacation after that.

The situation later devolved significantly with the landlord playing the same Celiene Dion track on repeat at 100 decibels at three in the morning and getting in epic yelling matches with his significant other.  It's pretty awkward to call the cops on your landlord so that's a situation I'll avoid in the future.

In other landlord crumminess, our most recent landlord kept about $150 of our security deposit for ridiculous things like not cleaning out the window sills and leaves being in the yard (very hard to control when there's no fence between you and the neighbor who does 0 lawn work).  He was out of town when we originally took possession of the house and clearly hadn't seen the condition we received it in (which wasn't bad, just wasn't sparkling)--we definitely left it in better shape than we found it. In my opinion/experience, deposits are insurance against people who stop paying rent or people who trash the place, not triflings like that. Being 35 weeks pregnant and trying to renovate our new house, I was in no mood to argue but I think it's bad landlord karma--would be interested to know what the landlords among us think of that.

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2013, 02:56:53 AM »
That's too bad about your old landlord being crazy noisy.

This guy appears to be really neat - certainly his office at work is very neat - and I know he has a good job.  I'm going to guess he is as close to being a model tenant as you can get. 

Clearly she just takes advantage of his good nature.  When I give him crap about staying there in response to his complaints, he says his rent is pretty low and he doesn't pay utilities except for internet.  Based upon his rent and my familiarity with real estate in the area, I explained to him that he could likely buy something twice as nice and not pay more even including the extra expenses of ownership.  So, like many people, he is suddenly trying to save up a down payment for a mortgage (he only needs about $10K total.)  I'm surprised how many people just have zero savings even with good jobs, so buying was out of the question for him in his mind I guess.

She's asking what I estimate is 50% more than the market will bear for the upstairs now; it will stay vacant until she clues in. 

ScottEric

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 62
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2013, 06:13:37 AM »
In my opinion/experience, deposits are insurance against people who stop paying rent or people who trash the place, not triflings like that. Being 35 weeks pregnant and trying to renovate our new house, I was in no mood to argue but I think it's bad landlord karma--would be interested to know what the landlords among us think of that.

I've seen it used both ways, some landlords use it as a "cleaning deposit" taking money off for even tiny trifles or just for actual inconveniences.  I kinda wish I had a security deposit for my last renter, we spent $80 in dump fees alone carting all the junk they left behind out of the place. 

My first apartment had some very specific cleaning deductions, gummy marks on wall, stains on carpet, paint chips from poster putty.  Mostly I think they did it to pay for a cleaning crew and to encourage us to be super great about cleaning when we left since they were renting to students.


Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2013, 06:49:47 AM »
^Yes, in my experience most landlords are honest about returning the deposit if property is reasonably clean and undamaged.  I wonder if my friend in the OP even paid a deposit?  Probably not as his landlord seems pretty slack and clueless.

I've only had one bad experience with deposits:  although they didn't call it a cleaning fee, the last apartment I lived in took all of my $250 deposit except $30.  I left nothing behind, cleaned, and had not caused any damage.  I did not have any roommates and even came back and vacuumed after the movers left.  There were so many angry online posts about them unfairly keeping deposits that I assume they were always just doing it, so suddenly I was happy that
1)  I had a half rate deposit because I worked for a "preferred employer" and
2)  they even mailed me back $30, since it sounded like they usually just kept it all.

Their inspection was done in my absence, which they said was necessary because I moved on a Saturday.  Don't most people?  They did have staff in the office that day, so why couldn't they do a walk through with me?  It was all things like $50 for cleaning the stove (I did cook a lot but I cleaned the stove before I left; I had no photo of it, so no way to prove it.)  As it was a big complex owned by an out of state corporation with probably hundreds of identical units, I decided they could just have the property manager show up at court with any photo of any dirty stove even date stamped since so many people move out every month.  Dishonest?  Yes.  Worth my time?  No.

For me, it was the first and only time to not get the complete deposit back on an apt.  I was mad for a few minutes, but decided to just chalk it up to lessons learned.  This is probably what they count on when they keep people's money.

As a landlord, take date stamped before photos of every angle of every room and then take after photos if not returning a full deposit.  As a tenant, if the post move walkthrough won't be in person, then take date stamped photos before you leave.  What a pain!! Photos probably were worth $220 for the 15 minutes it would have taken me. 

DocCyane

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 390
  • Location: USA
  • Keep going. You're doing just fine.
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2013, 06:55:57 AM »
For as much as I hate living in an apartment complex, at least the leasing office folks aren't personally invested in coming into my home and snooping around. I've heard too many horror stories from friends who rent houses about how the landlord came through unannounced or sent in crew after crew to do repairs while enjoying the spoils of their rent. And then the house was sold out from under them once it was all fixed for the market.

Where I live now, they give back your full deposit after you renew for a third year. It was nice to see my check come back. It was $1400.

anastrophe

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 561
  • Location: New England
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2013, 07:45:49 AM »
A couple months ago my neighbor's fire alarm was chirping that low battery chirp. The walls are thin and it was making me crazy. They were away for the weekend. I mentioned it to my landlord to see if he could call them, but instead he just went into their apartment and changed the battery. I still can't decide if that was reasonable or heinous. Is he slinking around my apartment fixing things when I'm not home? I sure hope not. But I was grateful...

hoodedfalcon

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 441
  • Location: Deep and Dirty
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2013, 08:00:29 AM »
So many people don't even look at the landlord-tenant laws in their state, and landlords know this and take advantage of folks, or the landlords themselves don't even know the law. It's nuts. 

In my state, what can be deducted from the security deposit is pretty clearly outlined. If a landlord withholds a security deposit for reasons not outlined in the law, they can be brought to court and if they lose will have to pay the tenant 3 times the amount they wrongfully withheld. The laws also cover when a landlord can enter an apartment. Of course, this isn't written out in the lease, so you probably wouldn't know...and knowing is half the battle!

Though I am not one now, I was a landlord for three years. I had two sets of tenants during that time. The last tenant left me a list of the damage to the house and how she had tried to fix it all before she left - for instance, she had a wooden basket and the stain from that stained the bathroom floor. In another room, she scratched the wood floor while moving furniture.  I was so impressed with her being up-front about it that I didn't withhold anything from her security deposit.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2013, 11:17:19 AM by hoodedfalcon »

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2013, 10:47:16 AM »
Quote
he just went into their apartment and changed the battery. I still can't decide if that was reasonable or heinous.

I think entering when any kind of alarm is sounding (even just a chirp, if neighbors have complained) is reasonable.  That's why the alarms exist, after all.

Quote
If a landlord withholds a security deposit for reasons not outlined in the law, they can be brought to court and if they lose will have to pay the tenant 3 times the amount they wrongfully withheld.

About to look up the security deposit laws in my state.  Thanks!

Edited to say that indeed, the landlord did not follow my state's laws.  Oh well, water under the bridge . . .
« Last Edit: July 15, 2013, 10:55:12 AM by Zamboni »

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4859
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2013, 11:03:04 AM »
The last time we rented, the guy kept the whole deposit for supposed damage that we had documented (with photos and a signed walk-through) was present on move-on. However, he's from one of the "good families" in this area (as is my husband, different family). In the end, we needed to avoid community ill-will more than we needed $550, and we knew we were never renting again, so we let it go and considered our $550 an investment in peace over the duration of our lives.

TLV

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 492
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Bellevue, WA
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2013, 11:16:12 AM »
The landlords themselves don't even know the law. It's nuts. 

This is certainly true of our current landlord. Nothing he's done has been deceitful, malicious, or even harmful to us, but there are several things he could get sued over - having a non-refundable cleaning fee as part of the security deposit (State law says all nonrefundable fees have to be separate line items and not called deposits), asking about things he shouldn't (e.g. religion) when showing the property, outright stating that he prefers families to singles, etc.

I've considered writing a letter to tip him off to the potential trouble he's exposing himself to, but I don't think I could do it tactfully enough to be taken the right way.

Nudelkopf

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 899
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Australia
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2013, 03:26:03 AM »
Ugh, my landlady used to let herself in.. Once when I was home alone & in the shower (~7pm). Very creepy. Her husband would also let himself in to "do repairs", and he'd go through our cupboards in the kitchen, and take our food out and leave it on the floor? What? Why? I don't know either. Outside being landlords, they're a very, very, very weird family.

jambongris

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 241
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2013, 05:58:34 AM »
However, he's from one of the "good families" in this area (as is my husband, different family). In the end, we needed to avoid community ill-will more than we needed $550, and we knew we were never renting again, so we let it go and considered our $550 an investment in peace over the duration of our lives.

Who or what are these "good families" you write of?

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4859
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2013, 06:13:32 AM »
However, he's from one of the "good families" in this area (as is my husband, different family). In the end, we needed to avoid community ill-will more than we needed $550, and we knew we were never renting again, so we let it go and considered our $550 an investment in peace over the duration of our lives.

Who or what are these "good families" you write of?

Sorry, my sarcasm quotations aren't working properly above (around the "good families"). But in this small rural community (as in most), there are several families who have been here for generations, who "everybody knows," and who are considered "good people" by the community as a whole. Were we to mess with community perceptions there (as would happen if a member of one of these families took a member of another to court), it wouldn't really have helped us in getting along in the community -- keep in mind that literally everyone knows everyone. It also wouldn't have helped that his family "outranks" my husband's in the local pecking order -- odds were we would have lost the claim anyway. Not definitely; this landlord is a bit of the black sheep of his family, but still fairly likely. It just wasn't worth years or decades of blowback for $550, not with my husband wanting to teach in the local school (which he is now doing).

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2013, 06:50:19 AM »
^My brother has moved to such a community, so I know exactly what you are talking about.  Part of the reason he was accepted quickly and his new business flourished is that his wife's family has been there a long time.  Without the goodwill of the families who have lived there a long time, his business would go bankrupt.  Therefore, he does his best to be diplomatic whenever there is a local fracas, such as the recent one among volunteers of the local community theater for which he donates construction work and zoning expertise.  Talk about not taking sides! 

Also, honesty is the ONLY policy that will work, so I can see how someone who was even moderately shady would become a black sheep in a small community.

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4859
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2013, 07:49:19 AM »
^My brother has moved to such a community, so I know exactly what you are talking about.  Part of the reason he was accepted quickly and his new business flourished is that his wife's family has been there a long time.  Without the goodwill of the families who have lived there a long time, his business would go bankrupt.  Therefore, he does his best to be diplomatic whenever there is a local fracas, such as the recent one among volunteers of the local community theater for which he donates construction work and zoning expertise.  Talk about not taking sides! 

Also, honesty is the ONLY policy that will work, so I can see how someone who was even moderately shady would become a black sheep in a small community.

Oh, yes, honesty is absolutely required. Not only does everyone know everyone, but they know everything as well.

You're also right about the reason why your brother is accepted. I get along quite well, but only because of my last name. If I'd not married into a known family, well, I won't say no chance because I can think of one shining local exception, but it would be more difficult. My last name has smoothed literally thousands of interactions over the last few years, and I don't go to town more than two or three times a month!

And sorry, all. Didn't mean to derail the thread. That black sheep landlord of ours was crummy.

AlmostIndependent

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 521
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Anchorage, AK
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2013, 01:55:22 PM »
Why the fuck is he still living there?!!!  Seriously, even if it was free I wouldn't rent from someone like that.

+1

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11221
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Various ways to be a crumby landlord
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2013, 02:02:47 PM »
Why the fuck is he still living there?!!!  Seriously, even if it was free I wouldn't rent from someone like that.

+2