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Help me deal with my landlord and/or provide a sanity check.
January 27, 2014 8:02 AM   Subscribe

[NYC-filter] I'm renting from a residential landlord for the first time, and the experience is really different than the past. He is sending awful and anxiety-inducing letters/text messages about things that it's my understanding are landlord problems/normal rental situations. Please help me figure out how to respond to him, let me know what the objective view of the situation is, and help me with basic residential tenant rights in NYC.

I've previously rented from property management companies/in apartment buildings; this is, as stated, my first residential rental. We are a pretty quiet family and don't usually entertain, though we do have a elementary-school kid. We make enough income to well afford the apartment and pay rent on time. However, we are replacing a somewhat reclusive elderly couple. We are essentially renting the upper floor of a two-family house built in the 1940s. It's beautiful construction, but I don't think much updating has been done on it. One of the main problems is, I think, that there's not much insulation or what have you between most of the floors. Sounds can be carried, and more importantly, we have noticed that water leaks.

Things that are uncertain where fault/responsibility lies: There have occasionally been leaks coming either from our kitchen or bathroom to the downstairs apartment, usually due to plumbing - either a toilet overflowed, or the dishwasher wasn't draining right and somehow sent water downstairs. There has been two leaks due to bath splashing - one when the kid was washing the cat in the bathtub, and the other when she was sick. In each case it has been cleaned/mopped up within minutes, so I feel like this is a floor problem, not a us-being-careless problem, and that it should be repaired. However, when I raised this, I was told that there wasn't a problem and we were just being irresponsible.

Things I think are crazy: Our neighbors have complained of noise, but we don't entertain, and never play the music or TV loud. The only thing I can think of is that we keep later hours than they do - because we both get home from work late, we're up until eleven or twelve routinely, walking around, eating dinner in the dining room, etc. They are, however, as said, pretty thin floors - we, at least, can't hear normal conversation, but we can hear it when they fight, or when their dog barks. When they complain, they always complain directly to the landlord - except for one time when the male of the couple went outside and screamed profanity at our windows rather than coming to the door. That time, we did have two people over, but just talking. Our landlord has said that they said they called in a noise complaint, but the police never came and knocked on our door and I don't know if that really happened or not.

Where the landlord comes in: Each time they've complained of a leak, (Possibly 4-5 times over a year and a half) or a noise issue (3-4 times that I'm aware of) he has either texted, called, emailed, or sent a letter (usually multiple forms) with some form of talk about how this is our fault, and we're being irresponsible. Each time it's been in an email or a letter, he has mentioned the word "eviction" - like, "If this keeps up, you will be evicted." In the last letter, he assumed a cause that was not the case - tub overflow - and said that the tenants downstairs have rights. But as I understand it, so do we!

Intangibles: I don't have anything to quantifiably point to, but a lot of this feels like racism. The borough that we are renting in is a very race-stratified borough, and we live on what is possibly (except for us) an all-white block in a small section of all-white area, which is kind of close to another area that is more mixed, but lower income. The landlord insisted on meeting me in person before agreeing to rent the apartment, but instead of interviewing me or asking questions, it mostly seemed to consist of looking at me and then agreeing. (I am Hispanic, but can pass, if necessary) And a lot of the trouble with our downstairs neighbors particularly over noise, seemed to come when we started inviting our nonwhite friends over. This might just be us borrowing trouble, but I have the uneasy feeling that this is partially what is going on. This seems reinforced when it seems that there's a sense that the downstairs neighbors are the "good tenants" while we are the "bad tenants."

Intellectually, I'm pretty sure that we would probably prevail in a housing court case, given how much effort it takes to evict people who are straight up not paying their rent at all, but given the rental situation in NYC, from what I understand, even going to housing court at all means you will usually not be able to find someone else to rent from. I also suffer from PTSD, which means that the very sight of the word "eviction" freaks me out because it speaks of housing instability.

I'm willing to hire a lawyer if I have to, but would rather fix this/understand what to do at a level that preserves the peace and is less stressful. Please help, and also please let me know where/if I'm being irrational.
posted by corb to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Regarding the noise issue, I've been both the upstairs and the downstairs neighbor in this situation, and I can tell you that ordinary household noise (walking around, setting something down) can sound amazingly loud to the unit downstairs, particularly if you keep different hours. There's not much that you can do about it. You can take off your shoes indoors, and you can buy "noise-cancelling" pads for throw rugs, but if you have someone unreasonable downstairs, it can get ugly. (And to be fair, as the downstairs neighbor, the noise feels intrusive and can be a constant source of stress) We sold our last place (second floor) due to an ongoing, incredibly stressful battle with our downstairs neighbors regarding noise. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it. (in this situation we were all from the same racial/ethnic groups, for what it's worth).

If you have more reasonable people downstairs (which is not a given!), would you consider a face-to-face discussion, with your landlord, where you talk about what the lease says with regard to noise (there is sometimes a carpeting requirement), how this is impacting everyone, and what you'd be willing to try, and what you cannot change? Sometimes people just need to be heard. I'd be clear, though, that some amount of household noise is inevitable, and you cannot promise silence.
posted by chocotaco at 8:16 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


i will yield to new york counsel to address the intricacies of new york landlord-tenant law, however...

it is unacceptable for any landlord who is not also your friend to send you text messages. all communications should be by letters for your file. block him on your phone and sternly advise him that he is extelecommunicated.
posted by bruce at 8:19 AM on January 27 [10 favorites]


I know a lot of folks are going to say "just move," corb, and an obnoxious landlord is certainly high on the list of reasons to do so, but have you tried to set up a meeting with both the landlord and the downstairs neighbors? Maybe at a local coffee shop that would be neutral ground? Even if it doesn't work, it might look good in the event you do have to go legal.

There are so many issues here (the bath-splashing vs the landlord's unwillingness to even consider the possibility of leaky plumbing, the neighbors' perhaps unrealistic expectations of quiet time and what counts as "noise", your willingness to overlook their barking dog and screamed profanities, the possibility of racism, etc) that an attempt at a respectful sit-down over coffee seems like a step that might at least dampen the antagonism for a little while.

(Long enough for you to find another place, even.)
posted by mediareport at 8:24 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


This seems so upsetting. I'm sorry that you're having to deal with threatening letters and angry yelling.

I do suggest that you do a few things:

1. Be extra careful about plumbing/water--keep a few towels on the floor right next to the bathtub
2. Put down cheap, thick carpets
3. Move when it is convenient
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:41 AM on January 27


Ugh. We straight up left the city in part because of a situation like this. Go shoeless inside, get some rugs down. Do not let your kid bathe the cat without help. Seconding the taco above, in old small buildings noise goes through floors very easily, I think with added bass.

That being said, remind the landlord in a letter that he must communicate civilly, and try to be warm to the nutters downstairs.

Also, get out of there.
posted by vrakatar at 8:49 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I can confirm one thing: landlord/tenant cases are easily-accessible public record. As in, anyone can give a document retrieval company a person's name and for about $30 can get the landlord/tenant court records back in a day.

This is a minimal amount of information, and there's info services landlords can get that provide a dossier on potential tenants (background check, credit check, litigation search, etc.) I believe that landlords are, legally, required to tell if you if they use any information retrieved in such a manner to decide against choosing you as a tenant, but as the courts are the only way to enforce that right, it's a vicious circle.

Long story short, housing court is the nuclear option in NYC.
posted by griphus at 9:05 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I should add: we are, in fact, determined to move when our lease is up (partially due to other information), but that's not for several months.

I don't think a sit-down would help, or really, be possible: the landlord does not live in our borough, and both my husband and myself work during the week. Probably more importantly, I'm personally physically afraid to confront the downstairs neighbors directly. I found out recently that he has served prison time for an impulsive violent assault on a woman that involved breaking her bones. (Which is another reason I find it weird that we of all people are viewed as the bad tenants)

Really, this is just a red hot mess, and we know it: I think most helpful to me (in order) would be:

1) What are acceptable personal boundaries with regards to the landlords behavior, particularly with regards to the latest email, and how can I press that?
This is the most pressing, I don't know what a reasonable way to respond would be that points out that we are engaging in normal behavior and this response is not okay.

2) Is this normal behavior for residential landlords overall? Are they weirder, or more personal, or more prone to threaten, or more discriminatory? Right now I only have one datapoint.

3) What do I do to make our life easier for the next several months until I can move? We already go shoeless, and have rugs, and have mats down in the bathroom (though we could definitely add rolled up towels just to avoid this crazy), but I'm living in a state of anxiety wondering what the one, totally minor thing that we are going to do that's going to unleash hell on us will be.
posted by corb at 9:25 AM on January 27


When you say "residential rental", do you mean that the landlord lives on the premises, or do you just mean renting a home vs. owning?

Everyone I've known who has shared the premises with their landlord has not had super great things to report. Not always bad, but there seem to always be boundary issues that have to be negotiated.

1. The plumbing thing. Nope. I would be already reading up on tenants' rights when it comes to habitable dwellings and plumbing, because what you describe is not normal and is not due to your irresponsibility. That said, it might be easier to break the lease than to force your landlord to make necessary repairs.

2. Neighbor noise. This one's on you, and AFAIK it is not your landlord's responsibility to soundproof. Here's the deal with apartment neighbor noise issues. After 11pm should be quiet hours. Loud music, raucous parties, and other things that are a matter of noise pollution are out of the question.

With more mundane "everyday life" noises, it's a little more complicated, but you should at least be considerate about it and try to keep things down late at night. I once had neighbors who I swear were nocturnal and used to vacuum or sit down for a big loud family meal after 11pm, and it drove me CRAZY. It was technically not illegal, but I hated them for it and definitely made it known that their behavior was obnoxious. Do that stuff during the day/evening, please.

If it's stuff like "I heard you walking around" or "I heard your kid playing" before 9-10 PM is not a big deal, though, and you can feel free to ignore those complaints and just be aware that you have psycho neighbors. I, too, once had to go through the transition of sharing a wall with elderly shut-ins and then getting a young family with dogs, and it's rough, but no, at the end of the day hearing the occasional TV or footsteps or dog claws on hardwood is not something you call the cops over.

In NYC police pretty much routinely do not actually respond to noise complaints. Especially if it's the noise of someone talking quietly with two guests, which is not really "noise complaint" territory anyway.

3. Racism. Oy, and yeah, I have a strong feeling that you're right about this. Especially if your family is of a race/ethnicity stereotyped as being "loud". Which probably exacerbates your neighbors' feelings that you are loud, even if they're not frothing white supremacists or anything.

The upshot of all this?

Just fucking move out. Seriously. Life is too short. You can either stay out your lease, or look into what breaking it would mean. Feel free to talk to a tenant's rights group or an attorney, but I would probably be asking more questions about whether you're allowed to break a lease in a building with obviously faulty plumbing and fewer questions about what you can force your landlord to do. Because it's really not worth the headache of getting the landlord to fix the plumbing in a living situation that is this toxic.
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I say just carry on living your life. The chances of your landlord bringing you to housing court for nonpecuniary issues like this are, in my experience, very slim. Especially if your lease is up soon. They'll just wait and not offer to renew if they really want you out.

This is not normal for decent residential landlords, but refusal to make any improvements to the property is normal for residential slumlords.

Don't confront anyone. Just ignore. If it gets to a point where they want to evict you, just say you'll leave asap if they let you out of your lease without penalty, and then move. They get you out, you don't have the housing court mark on your record, and they save legal costs/time. Keep in mind, based on what you've said, you will probably not get your security deposit back without a fight.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:33 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


it is unacceptable for any landlord who is not also your friend to send you text messages. all communications should be by letters for your file. block him on your phone and sternly advise him that he is extelecommunicated.

Text messages are a bit weird, but not unheard of. Verbal phone calls to landlords when you rent from an individual and not a management company are pretty typical. Official stuff is always in writing, of course, but yes, it's considered perfectly OK in NYC for you to call or text your landlord about a minor issue, or for your landlord to call or text that the meter reader is coming by later, or he's sending the plumber around on Wednesday, or whatever.

Usually more contentious and legally binding things happen in writing, though, yes.

Re noise complaints, I've never had the landlord as a go-between in that particular circumstance, usually because the landlord does not live onsite and it's not like they're actually hearing the noise. This could be VERY different in corb's case if her landlord lives on the property or very nearby.
posted by Sara C. at 9:39 AM on January 27


1. The landlord's approach: I know it's nearly impossible, but I think you have to go cold at the core on this one. Just repeat your most generic, neutral, non-fighty mantra (whatever you come up with ...) over and over to him. I personally (and I've been here) would not acknowledge his communication style or manner or approach or channel if you are planning to decamp within a few months. Go on to auto-pilot.

2. "Normal" behavor: Eh, who cares? Residential landlords come in as many different stripes as there are people. Just keep your distance, and do what you are doing.

3. Make life easier: Stop reacting. Be fake pleasant. Go deaf at the word "eviction" -- it takes a long time to evict a tenant, it's a knee-jerk, dumb-guy's threat. Be respectful, be quiet, if you want to limit stress, limit house parties/guests, keep your kid drier, everything you are already doing. And as difficult as it will be, unless you really want to go nuclear, I would release the racism rumblings, if you don't want to crusade it. You might have the energy and passion for that -- it would be totally understandable -- but you might not, with a young family. Play the long game, and make tracks.

Good luck. My own situation is kinda sucky too, I totally sympathize.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:47 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I should add: we are, in fact, determined to move when our lease is up (partially due to other information), but that's not for several months.

Yes, but if the landlord wants you out, call them up and negotiate a mutually-agreeable end date to your lease that is much, much earlier.

I mean, breaking bones? Your downstairs neighbor is violent and hates you. Moving is a good idea and it sounds like no one would mind.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:01 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


though we could definitely add rolled up towels just to avoid this crazy

Yes, do this. To keep them from mildew, go ahead and unroll them and hang them somewhere with good ventilation if they get wet.

You really have my sympathy. Living in a constant anxiety in your living quarters is really awful. Hang in there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:05 AM on January 27


2) Is this normal behavior for residential landlords overall? Are they weirder, or more personal, or more prone to threaten, or more discriminatory? Right now I only have one datapoint.

Your landlord's behavior doesn't sound "normal" exactly (or easy to live with, no need to explain freaking out about eviction threats -- my blood pressure went up just thinking about it). However, in my experience, an individual, "hands on" owner/landlord *is* more likely to be weird, penny-pinching, and boundary-pushing than any given professional management company or corporate landlord. I've seen behavior comparable to your landlord's from the POV of a resident, the landlord's employee, and as the friend of the property owner. That doesn't make it OK, and it's not normal per se, but it's also not just this one guy.

3) What do I do to make our life easier for the next several months until I can move? We already go shoeless, and have rugs, and have mats down in the bathroom (though we could definitely add rolled up towels just to avoid this crazy), but I'm living in a state of anxiety wondering what the one, totally minor thing that we are going to do that's going to unleash hell on us will be.

I would do rolled-up towels around the bathtub and a bucket under any exposed pipe (like under the kitchen sink/disposal). I'd also ask about re-caulking and/or re-grouting the bathroom, because I suspect that's where a lot of the leaks are coming from. Since it's so cheap and easy, you might also want to get those rubberized sink protector screens to put in the bottom of your kitchen sink -- that'll help with the noise if you do dishes or cook dinner later in the evening.

To a certain extent, though, you've got to just wait it out. It's to the landlord's financial benefit to keep you to the end of your lease, so I don't think you should take the eviction threats seriously (as aggravating as they are). However, unless he really, truly wants you out of there, I'd expect it to be pretty tough to get him to agree to an earlier end date.

If things get really bad, there is probably a housing/tenants rights organization run by the city/state -- in Los Angeles, it's the Department of Environmental Health. If things take a real turn for the worse, you can go to them about your landlord not doing basic repairs (like plumbing), harassing you with eviction threats, etc, and they'll probably launch an investigation (or at least that's how it works in Los Angeles, YMMV). I wouldn't take that step unless things go way past the point of no return, like if your landlord actively starts trying to evict you/force you out -- even if the organization ends up siding with you, you aren't likely to be able to live in that apartment peaceably afterward, so the point of going to that organization and getting your claims vindicated would really be so that your record stays clear of evictions or maybe so that you can move out early without having to pay the fee for breaking the lease, not so you can get your landlord and neighbors to behave better.
posted by rue72 at 10:08 AM on January 27


You are in a yukky situation.

Email your landlord and propose to him,

Dear Landlord,

Our family has enjoyed living in your unit. It appears that our normal living upsets our neighbors in the unit below us. I know this must put you in an awkward position, as we all have leases. We would be willing to look for another place and move out early, if there were no penalties for breaking the lease.

As you know, New York rentals can be tricky, so we'd need some flexibility, but we can begin our search now, and provide a 45 day notice once we've secured a new home.

If you'd prefer, we can live out our lease through date, we just wanted to provide you with an option that might give our family and you a way of allieviating some tension in the building.

Please let us know what you think, via email so we know how to proceed.

Corb


You never know, you may win the jackpost and your landlord will happily let you out of your lease.

On the upside, it will take WAY longer than 7 months to evict you, so...there's that.

Avoid the jerky downstairs neighbors. If they're menacing, I wouldn't mess with it either.

Hang in there!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:08 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


1) Unless the landlord is threatening you with bodily harm, in writing, there are no real "boundaries." As others have said, you need to just not engage with the nastiness. You are writing "we"--so maybe the other half of the "we" can open, read, and deal with those letters, assuming that person isn't suffering from PSTD? I am sorry to say but yours is not the worst landlord in NYC. My friend once lived in a place where the landlord wouldn't turn on the heat in the freezing cold of winter when she was home from the hospital with a sick newborn baby. Some landlords are evil. Small consolation, I know.

2) I've had fantastic and terrible landlords. Sounds within the bounds of normal.

3) It does sound terrible. It sounds like you are doing everything possible to be considerate. Maybe you could tell landlord and neighbors that you are planning to move? Maybe even say, "I understand that xx upsets you, but as you know we are doing whatever we can to be respectful neighbors and we disagree about xxx. However, I'm sure it will please you to know that we will be moving when our lease is up on xxx."
posted by tk at 12:22 PM on January 27


Ugh, this brings back memories.

One thing I did when dealing with a similar problem (though in that case landlord and neighbor were the same, and she wanted me to stop using toliet paper because it was somehow damaging the pipes. Yes.) was contact my local tenant's rights org and outline my exact problems, making sure I wrote down where exactly in the city laws it said that it was a landlord's responsibility to ____. In your case, look for stuff about plumbing, leaks, etc; insulation from sound probably isn't a tenant's rights issue. I then sent a cloyingly respectful note outlining what I had discovered, laying out what action was required on my landlord's behalf, then ended with something similar to Ruthless's offer to move out before my lease ended if it could be done without penalty. Three months later, I was in a better place. Even before I knew I was moving, writing the letter made me feel in control again and that was a big anxiety reducer. It's your house! You should feel like you have power there!

It might help to double check also that your apartment meets all security requirements for rentals (deadbolts, proper window fastenings, whatever). If nothing else, you know you have a potentially violent neighbor. Also, security risks are a red flag that landlords have to deal with as soon as they're brought up, and if you make it more trouble than it's worth to keep you they might be even more likely to let you move penalty free.
posted by theweasel at 12:45 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Maybe you could tell landlord and neighbors that you are planning to move? Maybe even say, "I understand that xx upsets you, but as you know we are doing whatever we can to be respectful neighbors and we disagree about xxx. However, I'm sure it will please you to know that we will be moving when our lease is up on xxx."

I wouldn't say that, specifically because of tk's first point that some people are major jerks.

If your neighbors know they've got you on the run, they're likely to become even pushier and more demanding because they'll think they have the upper hand. Similarly, once you say you're planning to move out, if you request anything from your landlord (even greater civility), there's just no way that you're going to get it. The only real pull you have with your landlord is that rent check that you give him every month, so if you say, "oh, and I'm going to stop that rent check ASAP," he's got no reason to play ball with you.

If anything, I'd go in the opposite direction: "oh, we absolutely love it here, we want to be here forever, we would never want to rock the boat, etc etc etc." Saying things like that would probably stick in your craw, so it's not something I'd actually recommend, but, to be pragmatic, cloyingly sweet/respectful toward the landlord is actually more the direction you'll want to tilt toward.

On preview, what theweasel said.
posted by rue72 at 12:47 PM on January 27


Your landlord's behavior doesn't sound "normal" exactly (or easy to live with, no need to explain freaking out about eviction threats -- my blood pressure went up just thinking about it). However, in my experience, an individual, "hands on" owner/landlord *is* more likely to be weird, penny-pinching, and boundary-pushing than any given professional management company or corporate landlord.

This was my experience the one time I made the mistake of renting from a person rather than a corporation. I broke my lease and moved.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:33 PM on January 27


There are many resources for help in NYC but given your work schedules you could do worse than to start with NYLAG's general legal services helpline. I believe you leave a message during the designated times and someone will get back to you, eventually resulting in a free telephone consult with a lawyer (at least that's how it worked for matrimonial issues).

I think you'll feel better once you have a handle on the legal situation.

For practical matters, and TINLA and IANYL, I would be inclined not to tip your hand either way. Your LL is looking after himself, your job is to look after you.

My ideas:
- Let your LL know that you will only be reading and responding to e-mails and letters from them. You can shunt them to a filter that forwards to a friend (or your husband if he's not upset by them), and they can let you know if there's anything truly urgent, and otherwise deal with them at your leisure. And block them from your phone. The texts are only stressing you out.
- *After* speaking to a lawyer, send your landlord a letter (by certified mail), that outlines the situation as you see it so far. The conflicts/mishaps that have happened, the steps you've taken to resolve problems, the hours you are quiet/active, etc. Basically create a paper trail. Show that you're serious and know your rights.
- If you want, indicate that you are open to considering moving out before the end of your lease and your landlord can suggest terms for that that might make the move make sense to you. This is basically put up or shut up. Who knows, they may pay you to move out, and if that's what you want anyway, everyone wins.
- Find a good safe place to vent. It's obnoxious, it probably is racist, and it's the last thing you need. This sucks. Take care of yourself.

Good luck!
posted by Salamandrous at 3:54 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I really feel your pain. Feeling out of control in your living situation can really mess with your mental and physical well-being (which it sounds like you know about already). You all are going to get through this!

1) What are acceptable personal boundaries with regards to the landlords behavior, particularly with regards to the latest email, and how can I press that?
Mentally take the pressure off yourself to respond immediately or fight back (landlord can't evict that quickly or at all). Seek expert advice and educate yourself about your tenants rights (salamandrous seems to be right on the money) and go from there deciding if it helps your case to respond at all or you can do better by rising above and ignoring until the lease is up.

2) Is this normal behavior for residential landlords overall? Are they weirder, or more personal, or more prone to threaten, or more discriminatory? Yes to all. I have only rented from individual, owner landlords (5 or 6 now, maybe) and they have all been some degree of inappropriate and only looking out for their own interests/assuming I was screwing them, except for our latest which by pure luck is a normal person. I hate renting. Your situation does sound like a particularly bad one in my experience (not NYC) but totally within the realm of possibility.

3) What do I do to make our life easier for the next several months until I can move? Focus on the future and the good parts of planning for your move, how great you're going to feel leaving these assholes in the dust. Get the legal advice and reassure yourself that they can't realistically "unleash hell on you" except by continuing their whining and harassment. If the neighbor is ever yelling or threatening again, call the police. Take deep breaths, find some simple phrase to say when you're feeling stressed or attacked to remind yourself these people do not control your life, they can't make you engage with their craziness. Google around for short and sweet anxiety reducing exercises you can do a few times a day. You could even meditate, anything to give yourself a little mental relief from the stress. If possible, go out as a family when you can to get away from the "walking on eggshells" feeling.
posted by dahliachewswell at 4:30 PM on January 27


I'm personally physically afraid to confront the downstairs neighbors directly.

That's awful, and I'll retract my suggestion for a meeting, although a coffee shop might help with any threatening behavior.

I'm still not quite clear on what you mean by "residential landlord," given that the landlord doesn't actually live on the property. Is it correct to assume you mean a person who owns the building you're in, and doesn't employ a management company? Because from what I've learned, that kind of landlord - one who doesn't live in the building but owns it and doesn't contract out the management to a third party - is often more responsive than an absentee corporation that hires another corporation to deal with the tenants.

But I suppose that leaves more room for personal quirks, and your landlord is definitely exhibiting some shitty examples of those. So, no. Not typical. Although I will say that one thing that *is* typical of just about every landlord I've dealt with is that they're usually very nice up until the point you actually need them to do something to fix the apartment, and then you often have to shove them just a tiny bit to get them over their "I'm not investing any more money in this property" hump. The better ones don't resist too much, but they all usually resist a little.

More imporantly, I like Salamandrous' suggestion of a certified letter, but don't think talking to a lawyer is necessary first. Sending a $3 certified letter is just the right response here - casual, but demonstrating that you're serious about being heard. That small increase in officialness, far short of lawyering up, is often just enough to make a landlord pay better attention. Worth trying, anyway.

[Outline] the situation as you see it so far. The conflicts/mishaps that have happened, the steps you've taken to resolve problems, the hours you are quiet/active, etc. Basically create a paper trail. Show that you're serious and know your rights.

Yep. I've only had to do it once, but it worked: polite written communication sent by certified mail lets landlords know that you have concerns you'd like to work out, aren't going to be easily pushed aside, and would prefer to handle things casually even as you defend yourself. A letter also lets you spend the time to organize your thoughts most effectively, including any thoughts you might want to share about ridiculous eviction threats. Good luck, corb.
posted by mediareport at 7:58 PM on January 27


I want you to photograph the old pipes and ESPECIALLY the seal between the tub and floor.

I know for a fact deferred maintenance is causing your plumbing problems.

You don't want those costs coming out of your deposit. Definitely document and think about sending a letter to your landlord with the pics to cover your ass if you're not going to move early.

Take the pics anyway, in case you have to got to small claims to get your deposit back.
posted by jbenben at 11:13 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Thanks everyone for your help and advice! The problem has not gone away and has actually escalated, but I do appreciate all of you helping to keep me on an even keel when this happened and offering advice.
posted by corb at 1:15 PM on April 25


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