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  1. #1
    zen_bliss is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Default long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    you all often amaze me with your simple and elegant responses to situations and it's often easier to be clearheaded when you're on the outside, so help! this has been grinding my gears for some time and i have to do something about it!

    i've been in the same apt for 6 years with minimal interaction with our landlord. he is a happy bumbler, so i figure, we keep a low profile we don't bother him, he doesn't bother us. the building is pretty run down and he breaks stuff everytime he tries to 'fix' it, so i prefer to take care of stuff in our unit myself, unless it is too complicated or expensive. here is a prime example: in march, i asked him (in writing) to replace a rotted soap dish in the shower (i had recaulked the moldy tub myself rather than endure his disruption) and replace our broken garbage disposal and to come on tuesday or wed because i was having hte place cleaned wed. he showed up on thursday, took from 10am-3:30pm and broke a pipe in the bathroom (yes, i said shower dish, not sink drain) that flooded the bathroom and ran through to my velvet couch on the first floor, leaving an unbelievable gross mess which he didn't even try to clean up other than blotting with towels. i came to the conclusion that i should have just shelled out the $150 and done it myself, 8 months pregnant. just a few weeks before he claimed there was a bad plumbing leak and i had to move EVERYTHING out of a very packed closet for him to get to it, only for him to say, an hour later, he mismeasured and it was NOT coming from my apt. a month earlier he claimed he needed to come in for a water leak 'inspection'. this is a lot of sudden attention after going 6 years with him coming in maybe a total of 5 times.

    otherwise, everyone in the building likes us and they are delighted wtih our new baby. there have been 2 kiddos raised in this bldg now 5 and 3, and another one coming in august! moving isn't an option right now. it's a rent control apt in a great part of the city and a good value even with the disrepair here n there.

    since december of 2001, i have had a 'please do not knock, leave us a note or leave deliveries here' sign on my door. one of my dogs was sick and needed to be kept quiet back then. and i decided that i never want to deal with uninvited disturbances anyway, so i've had it up ever since. i'll admit, this is my Thing.

    the current incarnation of the sign says "please do not disturb us. we have a newborn baby and get little sleep. we have barking watchdogs. kindly leave deliveries on this table. we appreciate your understanding" even with all the shipments, there has not been a single knock, even by our obtuse mailman who never heeded the request before. people 'get' babies.

    except, suddenly, the landlord has been knocking EVERY FEW DAYS. i am catnapping with her or feeding or pumping or diapering and i see red when it happens because i can't even just go and say GO AWAY if nothing else. can the sign be any clearer?the second time, I took her off and went out there in just my nursing bra and yelled across the courtyard, "I AM BREASTFEEDING. unless the building is on FIRE, you don't ever have a legitimate need to knock on my door. you can leave a note." I htought that might be shocking enough to be memorable. and he is STILL doing it, but hasn't left a note!

    i should add, i had to change the lock on the door over a year ago because he has a bad habit of going into tentants apts when he thinks they aren't home. this has happened to at least 5 current tenants. once my next door neighbor did not answer a knock, and the landlord walked in on him having sex! we reminded him that nobody is obligated to answer the door and that he has to give 24 hour written notice to enter. when i said, you know, i do have sex wtih my husband, and if you walked in we would make you VERY sorry about it. he actually said "you, I wouldn't mind seeing naked." he always says these inappropriate things, like during the most recent visit a sexual quote about a 'stiff member' from a book we had in our bathroom. and told me once 2 tenants in other buildings are suing him for sexual harassment, which he finds absurd. keep in mind he's more a benign twit with alzheimer's than threatening. i think he goes into the apts because he is a bit of a voyeur. he discusses other tenants' living habits, apartments, etc which is also inappropriate.

    anyway, i want this moron to go back to just leaving me alone, and i don't want to overblow my response which i fear could create MORE attention rather than less. as i see it, i have 2 options: i could write a not so confrontational short note reminding him that our privacy is important to us and 'i invite you to leave us a written note with your needs and concerns which we will respond to when we are able' blah blah nicey nice kind of thing which is my standard MO but often doesn't get the job done. on the other hand, i consider writing a long letter (coldly factual, not emotional) documenting the full history of his failure to make safety or plumbing repairs in a timely manner (the point being that there is not and has never been an 'emergency' repair done here, he cites 'emergency' for every time there is a conflict about busting into someone's apt), inappropriate sexual comments, as well as the heightened 'need' to access my apartment in the months since i have become pregnant (to suggest that i am being harassed), and cc'ing a copy to the city rent control board, which would protect me to a degree if it escalates because this is a pro-tenant city. i do hate to do this, but...

    thoughts, oh objective tribunal?


  2. #2
    liya Guest

    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    k heres the way to go...if you dont have a board of tenants in your bulding(which all buildings should have, at least here, laws are totally diff where you live) you shoudl definatly write a letter to your city rent control board and also go to the police offices in your area to see what you can do about it..Either file a harrasment complaint or tell them you fear for your privacy since he is abusing his power as a tenant to snoop and pry on ppls live..You should however get letters from the neighbohrs that have been affected by him(at least 2 r 3, here in PR its 3) to back up your story just incase the police or the board doesnt believe you.... Dont feel sorry about anything the scum has to go...He has certain codes he has to conform with and right now he is crossing the line big time and you know it. You have to do everything possible for your safety and for the safety of your baby, since you have no idea who this jerk is or even what hes capable of doing...I would have a smart remark to give you but this is certainly no laughing matter since your safety and privacy are at risk and in any state those are things of constitutional value..You could also document his failiures to fix your stuff correctly but it would be better to just go ahead and place in the other complaints since those are of utmost importance right now..There might be some drawbacks to placing him under investigation since he could already have other sets of keyes copied to get into the builging and the aptms but I would be totally freaked to live in a building where such a man(if we can even refer to him as that)is. Certainly no restraining order will do much since what can you do, throw the paper in his face so it attacks him..I tell you peoples choices for landlords these days are HORRIBLE!!!

    Im soo sooo sorry :( you have to go through this...some people are just down right NASTY!!!!!Email me and let me know how it goes ok..i hope this helps some and im crossing my fingers so that jerk can be removed...Another note in the door would just give him more attention and thats exactly what he wants...other wise just a simple: " Dear MR LANDLORD: As you stand in my door ready to knock, think of these words...F@#$@#$ OFF and be on your merry way"...Man this gets me pissed x(

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    Zen-

    Do you have a Tenant Advocate for your city? We have one here and he was full of advice when I was going through similar issues with an old landlord. Here in NJ if something isn't repaired (and repaired PROPERLY) within a reasonable amount of time - say one week, you can legally have the work done by an outside repairman and deduct the bill from your rent.

    I would make sure that he doesn't have keys - might not be a bad idea to make a trip to Home Depot for a new lock.

    DEFINITELY document everything. If nothing else, it will help you get your security back down the line if the guy turns into a prick when you decide to move out.

    Is he the owner or just the building manager?

    As far as the knocking thing goes, what about having your husband/SO say something to him? If he's knocking with an intent of coming in for a so-called inspection, I would say, "Sorry - inconvenient time. Come back at such and such an hour tomorrow" and just close the door. Have you also thought about leaving a little erasable memo board attached to your door (a la dorm room) so that he has no excuse (I didn't have a pen) about not leaving a note?

    Sorry he's such a creep....

    -m
    Wife to Jonathan
    Mom to Sophia 12/02 and Amelia 12/04

  4. #4
    zen_bliss is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    that is an excellent point... i'd never considered going in for a meeting with a tenant advocate to just discuss and strategize, i was thinking only that i would have to do something in writing. see, it is helpful to have a new set of eyes on something that has been simmering for so long! thanks for being a kind and supportive ear. i felt dumb right after i posted that.... it's so convoluted and frustrating that it's nice to try to sort it out. i'm not usually such a wussy but i don't want to endanger the peace of our home situation!

    to fill in the blanks: he's the owner but does not live on premises. he really is not a malicious person though his wife is... we think he putters around here to get away from her, LOL.

    there has always been a building philosophy of being flexible going both ways. all tenants, including myself, have altered their apts somewhat, which is nice to be able to do. it's a trade-off for paying significantly less than market that for the most part everybody is happy with until there is a serious blowup. i;ve been taking photos to document everything over the years because he has wrangled with several tenants and flat out lied in arbitration set up through the city. (side story -- i put in a wood laminate floor myself instead of the crap 'new' carpet they trumpeted with old padding, YUK... and found stains in the concrete subfloor... funny, they had failed to mention that the previous tenant was murdered in the living room... you betcha i have photos of the subfloor on file!)

    we've never personally had trouble and he has even said how much he likes me that i never complain. tenants literally scream at him regularly. it does seem to work better than friendly reminders because he literally forgets what he is doing in the middle of doing it. i feel sad for him and have asked him many times why he doesn't hire a professional handyman and enjoy his retirement (i guess him at late 60s). i just dislike rancor, going out and yelling in my bra was more theatrics hoping it would get the point across. (note i didn't believe all those posts that said you lose your modesty after childbirth but it is absolutely TRUE!!)

    as for DH... he has an incredible ability to tune everything out and has a real lawyerly cut n dry approach to things which is great at shutting stuff down, but unfortunately he was not here when i was assailed by the animal control guy (that was another post) nor is he here during the day for this nonsense.



  5. #5
    ddmarsh Guest

    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    Zen - I can't imagine you can't handle anything that comes your way! One thing that occurs to me is that maybe simply explaining *why* you have the sign and *why* babies need not be distured is important. He sounds like quite the ninny and he really may simply not understand it in a very basic way and perhaps just saying the reason that the sign is up is because a, b, and c and this is really important to us, please abide by it may go a long way. It's often very helpful to approach someone when it is not "in the heat of the moment" - when you can have more of a discussion as opposed to a run-in/dispute.

    BTW, I would pay alot of money to have seen you standing there in your bra letting him have it!!

    Debbie
    Mommy to 3 boys, 1 girl

  6. #6
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    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    Zen,

    I'm so sorry that you have to deal with what sounds like a very strange man. As much as he seems harmless and all, he does sound like he has certain needs that at the moment you seem to be filling. I think you are correct in your assessment that he is somewhat of a voyeur. It is too much a coincidence that after six years of just being an occasional presence, he now all of a sudden is knocking several times a day on your door. What the heck could be so important that he repeatedly ignores your very clear wishes regarding privacy? Unfortunately, perhaps the very thing he wants is to have you come out in your nursing bra every time! In other words, maybe making a scene is ultimately the reaction he wants (as he seems to respond to the yelling/screaming of people better than just normal interactions). He may have also found, consciously or unconsciously, that his inappropriate comments is a way to get a response from people, people to notice him, etc. He may have some obsessive compulsive tendencies, with you and your newborn being his current new obsession. Like you said, he doesn't sound dangerous, but remember it is your right to privacy and comfort levels that are being violated here.

    I think the suggestion of speaking with an advocate is an excellent one. Documenting everything like you are is essential in the case it ever escalates, God forbid! Change the locks and leave a clear, personalized note to him on the door again telling him not to disturb you. If he still knocks, calmly open the door (with your shirt on ;) ) and point out the sign. If he continues, try your best to completely ignore him. He sounds like a toddler that might stop once he realizes that it isn't getting the response he wants. Again, I'm so sorry you have to deal with such a bizarre person!

  7. #7
    Melanie is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    Ugh! I'd get a privacy lock on the door and add/reword the note more strongly. Perhaps right him a short & to the point letter asking him not to knock EVER.
    Boy - 10 years, Girl - 6 Years Old!, (What am I still doing here?! LOL) Dog - Eternal Puppy , Me - Done .

  8. #8
    bethwl Guest

    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    I definitely agree with finding a tenant advocate or calling some sort of tenants' complaint board in your city. But beyond that, when you fix something out of your own pocket in your apartment, you have the right to withhold that amount of money from the next rent check. Just another option for you if you don't mind fixing things and want to keep him out of your place. I think technically you're probably supposed to ask him to do it first and if he doesn't do it in a timely fashion, then you can fix it and withhold rent, but seeing how he has damaged your belongings and broken items worse in the past, I'd think you have a strong case for just not asking for repairs and then withhold the money it takes for you to fix it yourself.

    -Beth

  9. #9
    momathome is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    My goodness, Zen, WOW!!! Any chance you can find another place to live? Knowing that this man can, and has, entered the apartment at will makes me sick! Definitely try and get some sort of complaint on the record. You have a new baby - you don't need to put up with this crap! Good luck!
    -Lauren

  10. #10
    jal is offline Gold level (500+ posts)
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    Default RE: long rant ! my landlord is bothering me... what would you do?

    I would second the idea of providing means for someone to leave you a note even if they don't have anything with them. While a white board sounds like a good idea, I would also provide paper and pen with a note saying to slip a message under the door, in-case the note is on a personal subject.

    I think it's also a good idea to either ignore him and perhaps he will go away, OR......

    ... get a can of "noise" (you know, those horns people take to ball games). Next time he knocks, open the door, startle him with the horn in his face, scream "READ THE SIGN" and slam the door in his face.

    My only other thought (which takes things to more of the "next level") is to leave the lock so he can unlock it, ignore him the next time he knocks, and if he comes in anyway (assuming he hasn't given the 24hr notice), hit him with a can of mace claiming you mistook him for an intruder.

    Good Luck, and please let us know how things turn out.

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