Help me get my landlord to stop saying inappropriate things to me.
May 25, 2009 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Help me get my landlord to stop saying inappropriate things to me.

I am a young woman who lives in a house that has been converted into a few apartments. My landlord lives in one of those apartments. He is generally very nice, and goes out of his way to help me with things, but he is making me increasingly uncomfortable. He'll make random comments about my body or appearance, like, "I've noticed you're showing a lot of leg lately," or, "I'm so lucky that such attractive young women rent my apartments." He usually says these things not as part of a conversation, but as the only thing he says to me when passing me in the house or on the street. He also tells me totally off-the-wall, inappropriate stories. Once he told me an extended story about a friend of his who watched a photoshoot of a naked woman, in which my landlord managed to insert the fact that he's circumcised. It was completely unrelated to anything, and I could not figure out why he was telling me. He also enters my apartment without notice (sometimes without knocking). I feel unsafe here, and I often feel like I have to sneak around to avoid being harassed.

He's retired, so he's around the house or yard most of the time. He's probably in his late 50s, maybe early 60s, so not old enough to have dementia.

I've been here for a year and will be moving in another couple of months, so I'm debating whether it's even worth it to say something. I feel like he needs to be made aware that what he's doing is inappropriate, regardless of whether it continues to affect me or not. I'm pretty bad at confrontation, especially when I'm going to have to see the person on an ongoing basis, but I also know that I need to stand up for myself.

So, my questions are:
1) Am I overreacting?
2) Should I just suck it up and deal with it, or should I say something?
3) If I should say something, how can I phrase it to maximize the chance that the next couple months are not hugely uncomfortable?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (54 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
anonymous: "He also enters my apartment without notice (sometimes without knocking)."

My God. I find this scary, on your behalf. I'm hoping that, at least, you mean that he walks in when you're there -- and hopefully you don't mean that he sits in your apartment, waiting for you. Seriously though, what's the chance that you could move to another building? The entering completely exceeds "standard creepy old man" territory, I think.
posted by demagogue at 12:45 PM on May 25, 2009

You're not overreacting. He's sexually harassing you. A landlord can enter an apartment with good reason, but it's a right that's generally used very sparingly. If he just comes in at will, he's abusing his rightsas a landlord. Call the police.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:48 PM on May 25, 2009 [16 favorites]

I mean call the police if he keeps entering, especially if you're present (which it seems you are, as you mention he's not knocking). That's stalkery behavior and you have the right to live without that anxiety.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:49 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

1) Am I overreacting?


He also enters my apartment without notice (sometimes without knocking). I feel unsafe here, and I often feel like I have to sneak around to avoid being harassed.

If a man is harassing you sexually and he enters your apartment w/o permission or knocking, then you are unsafe.

2) Should I just suck it up and deal with it, or should I say something?

Do say something. But consider trying to move out now, if at all possible.

3) If I should say something, how can I phrase it to maximize the chance that the next couple months are not hugely uncomfortable?

They are uncomfortable already. The next time he says something about your appearance, screw up your face into an angry pose, and say this: "Look, Mr. , I feel creepy around you. Stay away from me. And I want to know in advance if you plan to come into my apartment. Or else I'm calling the police. Got it? [*]"

[*] isn't there a law that landlords need to give you notice before coming in?

And install a separate deadbolt lock or chain or something, so that when you're home you can lock it and he cannot come in.

posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 12:51 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

1) No, if anything you're far under-reacting. He may be senile or he may be disturbed but he ain't normal.
1) Yes but understand that he may not listen and be prepared to move out immediately. I am sure that if any of your friends knew about this they'd be more than happy to help you move asap.
3) It's only going to be uncomfortable if you leave it open to him continuing to try and harrass you. If you cut him off firmly enough and in a final enough manner he will probably just pout and ignore you.

Or move right now and post a big fat warning on craiglist about the creep. That's probably what I'd do.
posted by fshgrl at 12:53 PM on May 25, 2009

I do not think you are overreacting. I think you are underreacting.

I would suggest that you find a tenant's rights association in you area and talk to them about your options. This sounds like a situation that could easily escalate, would make any reasonable adult uncomfortable, and is completely unacceptable.
posted by Ms. Saint at 12:54 PM on May 25, 2009

I missed the part about him coming into your apartment when you're there. That is really disturbing, I'd probably move right away or put a deadbolt on it for the remainder of my time there.
posted by fshgrl at 12:55 PM on May 25, 2009

Entering your apartment without notice may also be against the terms of your lease. There's an outside chance this guy is a clueless dunderhead living in some other century and more of a chance that he's enjoying getting a rise out of you and pushing boundaries of what's acceptable. Standard AskMe line here is to suggest reading The Gift of Fear, but I'd also just basically make it a point from now on to

- tell him "that's not appropriate please don't talk to me that way" when he's being creepy [don't have to be shrill, the flatter you can deliver this line the better]
- tell him "please do not enter my apartment without giving me ______ notice" (based on whatever the law is where you live) and start using an additional lock that he can't open from the outside when you are home (even a hook/eye would get the point across that he's really not supposed to be doing this and that you have a right to your own space)

It might help to talk to the other women in the housing complex to see if this is an issue with them so that you can approach this as a unified front. In short, my guess is that he's a button pusher and not an aggressive person [once he crosses that line, he's in danger of getting arrested and my experience with guys who like to make women uncomfortable is that they tend to be cowards] so I'd just refuse to engage, assert that his behavior is inappropriate, do not argue and just ignore him and don't let him in your apartment, period, unless he's made arrangements the way he is legally obligated to. I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by jessamyn at 12:55 PM on May 25, 2009 [15 favorites]

First and foremost, find out what the laws are about landlord entry into apartments. In most places, landlords or maintenance people need to give a day or more notice before entering a tenant's apartment unless there's an emergency. Once you have found these laws, let him know that you are aware of the law and that he is not permitted to enter without notice. If he breaks the law, move.

Second, about the comments, he'll keep talking to you this way until you make it clear that it's unacceptable. Each and every time that he makes a comment that makes you uncomfortable, say "please don't speak to me that way." If he starts to tell an inappropriate story, tell him that you're not interested and walk away. Make clear to him that you're not going to be a target. He may play it off and say, "I was just making conversation," or "Don't be so sensitive." Don't let him convince you that this is your fault. He's behaving badly, and he's the one who should be uncomfortable.

You may want to read The Gift of Fear, which gives a lot of good tips for stopping unwanted attention.
posted by decathecting at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

Or, ya know, exactly what Jessamyn said...
posted by decathecting at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2009

Overreacting? Hell no. Maybe he's a nice guy that means well and isn't aware that his comments are inappropriate, but from what you say, he sounds like a major creep. And in any case, his comments are making you feel uncomfortable, so creep or not, he's going too far.

I'm hardly a lawyer, but I'm going to second what the others said: I'm pretty sure that it's completely illegal for him to let himself into your apartment unless there are extenuating circumstances (e.g., a pipe bursting and flooding the building). His comments sound a bit like sexual harassment, so him letting himself into your apartment makes it seem extra-sketchy to me.

Answering #3 isn't something I'm an expert at, since I tend to avoid confrontation, and I'm a guy (so I don't have to deal with this sort of thing much). But I might try something like a polite, "When you say things like that, it makes me feel uncomfortable." I don't think you'd necessarily be wrong to yell and threaten to call the police, but starting with a polite request may help avoid a blowup.

But you're definitely not overreacting, and you definitely shouldn't have to grin and bear it.
posted by fogster at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2009

What a nightmare! I'm assuming that your landlord is not the owner. If this is the case, then I would recommend that you contact the building owners immediately and tell them what's going on and that you need them to rectify the situation NOW. They need to know that their manager is a sexual predator. I would also demand that they find another place for you to stay for the remainder of your lease. Also, the next time the guy comes into your apartment, call the police. You need to document what is going on with this guy, and they may be able to help you file a restraining order on him.

Finally, until this is fixed, I recommend that you get a travel lock for your door so that he can't get in while you are there.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:03 PM on May 25, 2009

1) Am I overreacting?

It's not a question of over or under reacting. It's a question of responding appropriately when this sort of behavior first comes to your attention.

Your chief problem is that you've tacitly allowed this guy room to make lewd comments in your presence. If you had straight up said, "Gezz, man. Can you layoff the perverted stories when you're around me?" the first or second time this happened you'd be in a much better position right now. Instead, you've sheepishly let this guy act in an inappropriate way.

2) Should I just suck it up and deal with it, or should I say something?

What's the point in getting upset about it now? Yeah, it grosses you out, but what's different about responding to it now, than when it first started?

I'm not saying you shouldn't say anything, but you should think about your motivations before hand.

3) If I should say something, how can I phrase it to maximize the chance that the next couple months are not hugely uncomfortable?

Ask yourself this: what is going to be more uncomfortable, putting up with this guy's antics, or speaking up for yourself?

Personally I think the guy is probably your run of the mill late-middle-aged perv. The best way to respond would probably be to patronizingly say something along the lines of, "You know what? That's not appropriate, would you mind not saying shit like that to me anymore?" And then just leave it at that.

He also enters my apartment without notice (sometimes without knocking).

It's safe to assume he's gone through your underwear drawer a time or two. The next time he wants to come in, straight up tell him that he can't without notice. Landlords can enter your residence anytime, but only in emergencies, any other time and they have to give notice.

Yeah, the guy is perv / asshole / whatever. I don't think you're a rape victim waiting to happen though...

Stand up to the guy, call him on his bullshit, and tell him to stay the fuck out of your apt.
posted by wfrgms at 1:03 PM on May 25, 2009

If someone enters your home without knocking, even if it's your landlord, it is illegal (trespassing). It is especially egregious if you're at home at the time. Your landlord has to give you notice whenever he plans to enter your apartment, except in extreme cases of emergency (fire, etc.)

The sexual comments are an additional creepy/unsafe factor. My husband, a police officer, suggests that you have the police give him a little "talking-to" about his trespassing (call their non-emergency number and explain the situation, especially stressing that you feel unsafe). Please do this even if you are planning on moving soon; you might be helping to prevent this from happening to his future tenants.
posted by amyms at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2009 [9 favorites]

elaboration on the lease thing... In many states, you can string the mofo up under landlord tenant law for entering like that, whether or not it's specifically mentioned in your lease -- I mention this in particular because it's often quite an efficient little court intervention, with damages set by statute, and soaking the bastard for a quick grand or so in statutory damages might shut him up right quick. (disclaimer: I am probably not a lawyer in your state, not legal advice, yadda yadda) One good course would be to talk to your local legal aid services office -- even if you're not poor enough to be eligible for their services, they are always the local experts in landlord-tenant law, and often have handouts that make your rights eminently clear...
posted by paultopia at 1:09 PM on May 25, 2009

Regardless of whether you continue to live there I would immediately do the following, either in person or in writing depending on your level of comfort.

"_____(Name), I have written and talked to my attorney/solicitor and advised him/her that I am extremly uncomfortable with you making comments of a personal or sexual nature to me. I also told him/her that I am aware you have been entering my apartment without making an appointment, without my permission and for no known reason. I expect you to stop these behaviors/actions. If you fail to stop immediately I will ask him/her to take appropriate action"

Do not engage in any discussion regarding these issues--be polite but unequivocally firm. If he asks what actions your attorney would take tell him that is entirely up to your attorney. If he apologizes accept the apology but do not chit chat. This is business and you should be business like and to the point.

This does not sound like a particularly safe situation and it is certainly uncomfortable for you. His behavior is inappropriate and not something I ( age 67 and fond of women) would ever feel comfortable doing or saying. The odds are that you will be safe but feeling unsafe can be unsettling and very fatiguing.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:09 PM on May 25, 2009

wfrgms, I have a feeling (if this is anything like situations I've been in), that he's he type of guy that tends to escalate his behavior. So maybe the first few comments were not so bad, and anonymous was like, "Oh, no big deal, he probably won't do it again," but now it's escalated and she has tacitly let it go on for so long that now she doesn't know what to do. Plus, since he's the landlord, it's harder to stand up to him, especially if she's nonconfrontational. Women get shit like this all the time and they end up laughing it off so that they're not biting someone's head off every five minutes.

Anonymous, I don't think you're overreacting. I know you don't like confrontations, but I think you're going to have to in this situation. Good luck.
posted by emilyd22222 at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2009 [4 favorites]

Entering your apartment without notice is against the law, whether your lease says anything about it or not. It is your space while you're renting it, and he may not enter without notice.

Stop worrying about being "uncomfortable" (I assume that means you don't want him to think you're mean or something) and start setting some boundaries. How?

1) Do not smile at him or duck your head when he says inappropriate things. Stare back at him and say, "Please don't ever say anything like that to me again." Polite words, but implacable glare.

2) Call your local landlord-tenant rights organization, and find out the details about the type of notice required before a landlord may enter an apartment. Then, tell him he may not enter your apartment without notice. As in, "You may not enter my apartment without notice again." NOT "Look, I know you mean well, but I was talking to blah blah blah...."

Again, stop worrying about making people uncomfortable. This is your home, your space, your boundaries.
posted by palliser at 1:11 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's not a question of over or under reacting. It's a question of responding appropriately when this sort of behavior first comes to your attention.

Your chief problem is that you've tacitly allowed this guy room to make lewd comments in your presence. If you had straight up said, "Gezz, man. Can you layoff the perverted stories when you're around me?" the first or second time this happened you'd be in a much better position right now. Instead, you've sheepishly let this guy act in an inappropriate way.

Her chief problem is that her landlord has no idea about the boundaries of appropriate behavior. There is no need to start blaming her for not responding firmly the first time a lewd remark is made. It's not easy to decide what's just a one-off inappropriate remark: Women who take offence easily risk being labeled humorless.
Also your remark about her being a "rape victim waiting to happen" seems insensitive at best. You are minimizing the impact of feeling uncomfortable in your own home.
posted by peacheater at 1:17 PM on May 25, 2009 [19 favorites]

That should be "her not being a "rape victim waiting to happen""
posted by peacheater at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2009

Ask him to install a deadbolt. If he won't, check your local tenant's rights laws to see if you can force him to. You should have one even if you don't have a creepy landlord. You may check with a tenant's rights orgs anyway to see if his treatment of you violates any of your rights legally. You will probably have to ask him to stop before you'll be able to take any action to compel him to stop.
posted by ishotjr at 1:41 PM on May 25, 2009

If you had straight up said, "Gezz, man. Can you layoff the perverted stories when you're around me?" the first or second time this happened you'd be in a much better position right now.

This is not only blame-the-victim, it's terrible advice. Creepy dudes see that kind of friendly pseudo-resistance as encouragement. You're not going to get a positive reaction that also includes him stopping the inappropriate behavior. It's going to be either, "Man, what a bitch," but he will then leave you alone, or "Yep, she's a cutie!" and he will continue to deliver State of the Crotch Addresses.
posted by palliser at 1:41 PM on May 25, 2009 [14 favorites]

Her chief problem is that her landlord has no idea about the boundaries of appropriate behavior.

Agreed, clearly, and I feel for the person being put in such an unpleasant and potentially unsafe situation. But, poster, there is an important secondary problem here, which is that you have been far too meek in allowing this to go on. There's lots of good advice above, but there's a deeper lesson in this for you as well: stand up for yourself more quickly in these situations in the future, which includes knowing your rights as a tenant as well as defining appropriate boundaries in business relationships.
posted by mediareport at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2009

If some guy, who manages to drop into conversation little tidbits about his genitalia, where just letting himself into my home without permission, I would get the fuck out and pronto. In the meantime, install a deadbolt and get a baseball bat. Your gonna need it when he lets himself in around midnight.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2009

He also tells me totally off-the-wall, inappropriate stories. Once he told me an extended story about a friend of his who watched a photoshoot of a naked woman, in which my landlord managed to insert the fact that he's circumcised. It was completely unrelated to anything, and I could not figure out why he was telling me.

Forgive the bluntness, but I think this needs to be explained:
He finds you attractive, wants to fuck you and feels this is the way to go about doing it. He may consider this flirting and he probably doesn't think he's doing anything wrong per se, but you need to understand and know what is probably going on in his mind.

He probably isn't dangerous, but he's totally crossing boundaries and as others have said, you are not overreacting, you're underreacting. Others have made good suggestions, to which I'll add talking to some female friends or acquaintances. They've probably dealt with a similar predator type and can offer support and advice and possibly just be there for backup and moral support for when you confront him.

Since you say you're bad at confrontation, don't be hard on yourself if things don't go exactly right or the way you want the first time you do it. It's an learning experience and you'll get better at it in time. The important thing to realize is that you don't have to put with this shit, you have a right to your own space, you don't have to put with this shit, this guy is totally wrong, you don't have to put with this shit, you are not overreacting and you don't have to put with this shit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:56 PM on May 25, 2009

Her chief problem is that her landlord has no idea about the boundaries of appropriate behavior.

...I think I know what you're getting at but but that's not really the case. Her landlord knows he's crossing the line. He's a bully. And a pervert. Most bullies will start out by "feeling out" your response to very minor, borderline verbal aggression and ratchet it up gradually, knowing that no one instance it enough to warrant a complaint or a charge or a total screaming flip-out.

Do you have a brother (or some big guy friend) that can explain to him that you don't appreciate his stories or his company? Don't worry about his feelings -he's not worried about yours.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:58 PM on May 25, 2009

Would it be paranoid to advise checking your heating ducts or other out of the way places for cameras? I mean when I first heard pervert always coming and checking on things, I first thought he was swapping out batteries and flash cards. I think it would be prudent to at least do a rudimentary search.

I also think having the police give him a brisk rogering about the impromptu visits is also a good idea. This is usually one of those situations I find that the police can be very, very effective.
posted by geoff. at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2009 [6 favorites]

I'm with Geoff. Also, it might be a good time to make friends with some of the other "good looking young women" at the apartments. See if they have had similar situations. I would also install some sort of lock you can use when you are at home. Call the police, ask what local laws he is breaking. He's creepy, you are NOT over reacting!!!!
posted by 6:1 at 2:51 PM on May 25, 2009

I think you're under-reacting. I don't think he's likely to be physically dangerous. When he makes rude comments of any sort, give him a shocked, pissed off glare, and walk away briskly. He'll say "I'm just kidding." Say "It's not funny. It's offensive and creepy." Repeat. Don't chat with him. When he says "You never talk to me," say "You say offensive creepy things."

Install a deadbolt. Do not give him a key.

If it's really illegal for him to enter your apt., and there's any chance you could get $$ damages, document it, and sue him.

You don't ever have to put up with this crap. When you tolerate it, he'll keep it up, and do it to others. He's weak and pathetic, and if you are strong, he'll fold like a cheap suit. You deserve to be treated with respect in your home.
posted by theora55 at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote that you're underreacting.

It doesn't matter whether or not he knows his behavior is inappropriate. If he does know, he's being an asshole. If he doesn't know, you should definitely tell him.
posted by desjardins at 3:06 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don't worry about his feelings -he's not worried about yours.

That line is brilliant. [Most] Women are trained by society to be polite and consider everyone else's feelings before considering their own. One of the best lessons a woman can learn is that she must stand up for herself, others' feelings be damned. This guy is a creep and you aren't wrong for wanting him to stop; you are not overreacting. Don't be concerned about making him feel bad; tell him in a way that leaves no doubt that you want his offensive behavior to stop.

As for entering your apartment at any time: change the lock. You have only a couple of months till you leave; during that time, promise to get him a set of keys to the deadbolt, but keep 'forgetting' to do so. Just give him keys when you finally move out.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 3:10 PM on May 25, 2009

He's clearly coming on to you. He secretly harbors a wish that you'll find him attractive. Yes, He's an asshole. That's unsavory, but it's something that you have to be able to deal with. Just saying "Bam, you're inappropriate" will (unfortunately) put you in a tough position.

Don't suck it up. Tell him you feel unsafe and you'd like a lock with a chain on the door. This will instantly stop his random entry.
posted by filmgeek at 3:14 PM on May 25, 2009

It might be uncomfortable to speak up for yourself, but speaking up now will give you practice at speaking your mind and setting boundaries for yourself in the future. You sound like you are relatively young, and learning to let other people know what behaviors are unacceptable around you will serve you well all of your life. This will not be the first time you come across someone who does things you are not comfortable with. You may as well start learning how to respond to this now, it will pay off with less uncomfortableness in the future. decathecting and jessamyn have some good suggestions on dealing with this.

Also, check the landlord-tenant law for your state. In many states it's illegal for your landlord to just walk in. In many states, your lease cannot override this.
posted by yohko at 3:59 PM on May 25, 2009

If you decide to stay in the apartment (and I wouldn't) you should hide a camera to see what he is doing in there. If you have a laptop with a video camera that would work. I would bet dollars to donuts he has a camera stashed in your place.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:22 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Document document document
posted by small_ruminant at 4:23 PM on May 25, 2009

You probably can't change the locks without giving them a copy of the key, but can you install a chain lock to put on when you are home? At least that will stop him from barging in on you.
posted by radioamy at 4:39 PM on May 25, 2009

I'm sorry, but this situation is extremely disturbing. Get out of it. Maybe you will lose money by having to pay double rent for a few months, maybe you will lose a lot of peace of mind by throwing yourself into upheaval before you were planning to, but I really think you need to get out of it. I don't think staying is worth it. Perhaps you can put your stuff in storage temporarily and squat with friends? Return to parents? Go anywhere?

I personally would avoid confrontation with this man.
posted by sickinthehead at 4:49 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with the recommendations to install your own lock or chain. I would also check the apartment for cameras and peepholes. Really.

Do not smile, do not apologize, and simply refuse to accept his comments in any way until you get out of there. I wouldn't use rage, either, since that would probably just stir him up more. I'd just refuse to listen the minute the conversation got personal, say flatly, "That's not appropriate" and calmly walk away. If you can respond with a total lack of emotion, that will probably be the most effective. If he protests and tries to keep the "conversation" going, just keep walking and saying, "That's not appropriate." You don't need to explain your feelings, justify anything, or apologize in any way.

I also don't think you should include "please" in any of your communications with him about this, because clearly he gets off on the power difference between you and your "please" would just underline it.
posted by PatoPata at 5:07 PM on May 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing the camera/peephole thing - that popped into my mind immediately, before reading any of the answers here. Not to add to your discomfort, but best to be aware of the very real possibility. Get out as soon as is possible for you, and yes, install your own lock of some sort tomorrow. If you can find any evidence of his spying in some way, inform the police pronto. Bathroom or bedroom windows or vents are the most likely spots, I'd guess. If you have accoustic ceiling tiles (easily moved around), check for holes there.
posted by fish tick at 5:16 PM on May 25, 2009

When you rent your unit, it is yours to occupy. The landlord must give you notice before entering, and has very specific limitations on when they can contact you.

I rented a unit from a landlord on the property, and the owners also entered my unit while I was not there---which I found out about only because someone else told me. I had an attorney contact the owners and they changed their behavior fast.

Seconding the deadbolt. And if you can, have a friend stay with you until you can change your living arrangement. Don't be alone with the guy. And you don't owe him politeness at this point. At all.
posted by effluvia at 6:32 PM on May 25, 2009

Don't worry about his feelings -he's not worried about yours.

Repeated for emphasis.

Read The Gift of Fear and move as soon as possible.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:38 PM on May 25, 2009

Wow. This guy is extremely creepy. I think you should document all of the times he behaved inappropriately and that you should report the times he entered your apartment without reason to the police. At the very least, the police then will have a record of his inappropriate behavior.

I also suggest writing a review of the apartment complex on the internet, so other women might not end up in a dangerous situation like yours. If I was looking for an apartment, I would be grateful to be warned about a perverted landlord.
posted by parakeetdog at 8:20 PM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

These last few comments are really good advice. Document things that happened and precise dates if you can, and from now on. What a shitty situation. Trust your instincts. He is being completely inappropriate and creepy.

If your instincts say you feel unsafe, I would get out of there. If you can actually get your stuff and everything and move out, I'd do that, don't even pay rent for those last few months once you're gone. Get friends to help you move and don't be there moving by yourself. It's horrible to be living someplace where you don't feel safe.

Definitely write that review warning other women.
posted by citron at 10:18 PM on May 25, 2009

Get. Out. Now.

All the contributions in this thread about documentation and law are great, but they are beside the point. It does you no good if you're 100% right and dead. You're still 100% dead.
posted by quarantine at 11:04 PM on May 25, 2009

Wow, I could have written this post in the past, only in my case the situation became intolerable after I had lived there only a month or so, and my landlord was also calling me and harassing me at my job. I was very, very upset by it and am still completely and utterly furious. I really cannot overstate how violated it made me feel: it's one of those things I think I will never, ever get over. Here is what I did:

--After the third or fourth inappropriate comment, I completely lost it and started SCREAMING at the landlord. As in "LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE! I'M NOT TAKING YOUR SHIT ANYMORE!!! THAT IS INAPPROPRIATE!!" I mean, really screaming at the top of my lungs. A third party was there to witness this; I'm not sure I would have done it otherwise.

--I went and hired a lawyer.

--In my state, there are virtually no resources for victims of sexual harassment by landlords. The lawyer basically told me I could ask the landlord if I could break the lease, but sexual harassment is a workplace issue and does not apply to landlord/tenant here. (It may in other states.)

--I found another apartment (where I would be renting from a huge company, not an individual) to move into, put down a deposit, signed a new lease, and hired movers.

--I asked my parents for help. I refused to ever speak to the landlord again. I moved my cats to their house because I was afraid he would hurt them. I stayed with my parents or friends as much as I could until the move date. The day the movers were coming, my parents came over, waited until the landlord was out in the yard, and told him I was prepared to pay three months rent to break the lease and move out. He accepted this offer. A few weeks later my parents (not me) did the final walkthrough so that he couldn't claim I damaged the apartment. He wanted me to sign some sort of lease dissolution in his presence, which I refused--I said I would sign it, but I never wanted to see him again. I ended up getting it notarized so I wouldn't have to see or speak to him.

So my advice would be to find a new apartment and move, right now. Even if you have to pay rent until the end of your lease, just get out.

I hate my former landlord so, so much. Every time I read the obituaries I hope his name is on the list.
posted by Violet Hour at 12:50 AM on May 26, 2009

The landlord must give you notice before entering, and has very specific limitations on when they can contact you.

This depends very much on the state. In my state, there is no legal requirement that landlords contact tenants before entering apartments.
posted by Violet Hour at 12:53 AM on May 26, 2009

OP, unfortunately, conflict and difficult conversations (where you need to tell someone something you think they don't want to hear, and/or they have some power over you) are often not enjoyable, not comfortable, not at all. And since there is nothing you can do about how he is going to respond, you don't have a great deal of say over the level of uncomfortableness he might try to cause.

Great phrasing has been mentioned above, but even if you stand up, look them straight in the eye, and evenly and firmly say, "I am not comfortable with you-or anyone- entering my apartment unannounced. It is unacceptable, and it needs to stop." following your breath, why continuing o look look levelly at them....well, you're still probably going to feel uncomfortable, and might feel some danger, particularly if you're by yourself.

And this person might avoid your eye contact, may hem and haw, may get menacing, may run out, may calmly respond that they understand and apologize, or some other response. The problem is that this person has betrayed your trust, and there is no reason to trust that he isn't coming into your place when you're not there. It's hard to see how he would regain that trust. That seriously uncomfy - lack of tranquility and privacy in your home.

Only you can decide how and what you want to say. Consider what's going on in your life and if this is a battle you want to address, right now. The answer might be yes, or no. If not, don't beat yourself up about it. Heck, part of my job involves helping others engage in difficult conversations, but personally if a friend said they had 2-3 months on a lease and an asshole landlord, asked to sleep on my couch and offered to chip in a little bit of rent because they didn't want to get into it with someone kind of pervy guy, I'd open my door to them.

You choose, sometimes to take up he fight, sometimes not to waste additionally energy on messed up shit. You might be conflict avoidant, but it isn't necessarily the case that you need to 'get over that' right now and figure out how to verbally address the issue at hand, particularly if you find it stresful. Moving is stressful, and maybe that's where you want to put your energy right now.

I guess I'm saying just accept and support yourself whatever you choose to do.
posted by anitanita at 3:09 AM on May 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and you aren't under or over reacting. You have reacted, this entire time, as you saw fit. In this case, choosing a time honored practice to not address something, but also not to escalate it either, giving him the opportunity to get the hint by your lack of response to his actions means he should desist. It's like when people change the topic rather than get into an argument.

Sometimes this works. Sometimes it works over time. When it doesn't, I think it's reasonable to either remove yourself or state that his actions make you uncomfortable and ask him to desist. If he hears this and does anything other than desist, remove yourself from the situation, or consider bringing in a third party/more punitive action. (other than friends, family, who hopefully you've been telling this to) It helps for the Landlord to see other people around your place. Don't keep this to yourself!
posted by anitanita at 3:19 AM on May 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

[Bunch of stuff removed. If you can't comment without being an aggro jerk or linking to racist macro images, do not comment.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:16 AM on May 26, 2009

Overreacting?! No. Um, no. NOOOOOOOO. The guy is acting like a predator. Stop putting up with it. Don't apologize or let him tell you that you're humorless. Install a lock. Yes, even though you'll only be there for a few more months.
posted by desuetude at 6:38 AM on May 26, 2009

I would first make a police report for the record (e.g. sexual harrassment, stalking, violations of landlord regulations -whatever terminology applies). Next, I would move. Your police report will already establish your reasons for violating the lease. If he raises a stink or escalates his behavior as a response, you can go ahead and act on the report (restraining order, etc) so you can move peacefully. Yes, it's a pain in the neck, but criminal behavior tends to have multiple consequences for victims. You could always warn him that you've made thhe police report and suggest that if he leaves you alone so that you can break the lease without incident, you won't go through with a lawsuit.

By the way, you may want to find out if any other young women in your building are having problems with him so that you can get together for a class action lawsuit if necessary. No other woman should have to go through what you are going through.

The main advice though is look out for yourself: don't wait for the end of your lease to escape that creep.
posted by Piscean at 7:21 AM on May 26, 2009

Does this man have the technical knowledge to install a spycam? Or, have one installed? That would be the next step in the violating boundaries sort of thing, as far as I am concerned. If so, a bit of paranoid searching around the apartment is called for.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2009

In New York State (where I am), as in many other jurisdictions, and landlord may never* enter a tenant's unit without their explicit permission and presence. If he does, it's treated as any other case of breaking and entering - a felony.

I'd suggest that you get out of there, and don't look back. He's crossed a super-creepy line.

As for fighting back, it's likely never going to be worth the trouble. But, you might want to step up your move-out schedule if you can.

* (For the sake of completeness, NYS law requires a landlord to evacuate his/her entire property during a fire or civil evacuation, keying into units if necessary. They may not enter without permission other than in that case.)
posted by Citrus at 10:30 AM on May 26, 2009

The spycams were my immediate reaction to this post as well, btw. If you are going to go searching around your apartment for them, I HIGHLY recommend making sure you have someone over there with you at the time, and try to do it when the landlord is away.

You don't want him to see you searching obviously.
posted by sickinthehead at 2:25 PM on May 26, 2009

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