Help me deal with this pervert landlord.
February 6, 2012 12:50 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep living in a great guest house in a great location when I have to deal with a landlord who I saw masturbating (apparently while watching me) through his bedroom window.

Sorry, this is a little bit gross.

My boyfriend and I recently moved into this awesome guest house in the Pacific Palisades. We've been there 2 weeks now. It's the best location for our jobs, the air is fresh, the rent is amazingly cheap, it's quiet. No complaints. Except... My boyfriend left for the weekend, only about 24 hours, and when I got up in the morning, went about my business, I noticed the 84 yo, widowed landlord standing at his bedroom window which looks out on the backyard. There is a small gap in his blinds, 3 ish inches, where I imagine he has been in the habit of keeping an eye on his guest house/backyard.

I had never seen him in the window before that morning, so it never worried me. But, when I went back into my house and peeked through the blinds to see if he was still there, I realized he was unclothed and masturbating. Had he not been a somewhat frail 84 yo man, i probably would have called the police. Instead, I called his daughter, who had warned me the week before that he could sometimes be a little perverted if his meds weren't adjusted right. Now, it seems, I know what she meant. She was very apologetic, said she would get it under control. Later that day, he closed the gap in his blinds, but only about half way - there is still about an inch gap, but now I can't even see if he is in there watching me or not.

I am about to give the daughter another call to ask her to tell him to close the blinds all the way. I personally don't want to have any contact with the man after this event. I don't think that will be too hard to do as he generally stays out of the backyard and has no reason to interact with us. My bf and I decided we would get a PO box just to avoid him further.

So, my question is: are we crazy to stay at this place after this event? We really don't want to move, because we've moved about 4 times in the last few months and we are physically, emotionally and financially exhausted from it. Also, apart from the landlord, the place is perfect. My other question is: what can I do to make sure he leaves me alone? Do I have any legal rights in this situation? Who should I call? Can/should I get a restraining order?

Any thoughts/advice welcome. Thanks for reading.
posted by chimeling to Grab Bag (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know, my first thought is to put up some kind of blinds or curtains of your own, to prevent others from looking into your house. Maybe I'm missing something here though. I mean, yes it's a shitty thing to have happen to you and yes, it you shouldn't have to deal with it but really, he's a mentally ill 84 year old, so keep that in mind.
posted by some loser at 12:55 PM on February 6, 2012 [24 favorites]

I don't think you're unreasonable to choose to stay in your apartment. It should be your decision - with your boyfriend's input, but mostly yours, I think.

I agree with the above comment that some kind of curtains - maybe something that lets the light through to some degree, so you can keep them closed all the time - might be a good solution. I think it would be very reasonable of you to request that the daughter pay for the curtains. She sounds like she's aware of her father's mental issues, so she might be quite amenable to that solution.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You could put up window film if you don't want the expense or bulk of curtains. You'd still get all of the light, though it will limit your view. I wonder if you could suggest that the daughter/landlord put up some sort of screen so that he can't see into your space anymore? As in, rig up some kind of panel against the wall of the house so that he can still get light and air, but not a view of your life. That seems like the easiest solution, since you don't have control over his medication or behavior.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

what can I do to make sure he leaves me alone

In what way is he not leaving you alone? He was in his own bedroom with the blinds mostly closed. You were looking into his home through a small gap in his blinds. You are assuming he was watching you whilst masturbating (although from your account you didn't actually see him masturbating until you were back inside your house and peeking through your own blinds).
Even if he were masturbating to you going about your daily business, how is he actually harming you? He's a mentally ill, frail, old man. He's closed the blinds so you wont see him doing it anymore, just forget about it and move on... and stop peeking through your blinds into other people's homes.

Personally I think you'd be crazy to consider moving over something so trivial, especially from somewhere that's cheap and perfect.
posted by missmagenta at 1:10 PM on February 6, 2012 [19 favorites]

Gonna agree with missmagenta on this one. If you don't want people looking in your window, improve your curtains. Meanwhile don't peep in on people through their windows while they masturbate. It's kind of rude.
posted by TheCoug at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2012 [11 favorites]

when I went back into my house and peeked through the blinds to see if he was still there, I realized he was unclothed and masturbating.

You were peeking through the blinds. So presumably, they were closed. So he couldn't see you. So if he was masturbating, you can't know if it had anything to do with you at all. Even if he could see you, you can't know that. Maybe he's just an old man who enjoys being naked and masturbating occasionally. If you find that gross, stop looking into his windows. He's allowed to do what he wants in his own house, and you can't guess what he's thinking about when he does it.

I think you would be silly to move.
posted by amro at 1:17 PM on February 6, 2012

You've been apprised of the situation and you know it's medication-related. This isn't about you.

I am about to give the daughter another call to ask her to tell him to close the blinds all the way.

Don't do that, it would be out of line. A little compassion for this man would be in order. If you won't be comfortable with allowing him to live his life in his house, then you should move.
posted by sageleaf at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sounds like the daughter is going to fix this. Presumably, the two of you are saving her family some money by renting the guest house. I assume she's handling the financial end of her fathers life.

Indicate concern, instead of horror, and the two of you could probably live there until the guy dies and the property gets sold.

And welcome to Metafilter!
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:43 PM on February 6, 2012


It's unreasonable of you to expect him to keep his blinds pulled down all the time for your comfort. It's equally unreasonable for you to have to pussy foot around your living area avoiding this person and hoping you don't run into him. He's mentally ill so such requests are probably going to lead to bigger drama. It's improbable you can get a restraining order based on this incident, and even if you could how would you continue to live on the property under the circumstances?

You may not want to move but given how strongly you feel about it, moving is probably the best option for your, and his, peace-of-mind.
posted by gadha at 1:52 PM on February 6, 2012

I'd install window film and get better curtains. The PO Box sounds like overkill to me, but they're super convenient anyways.
posted by spunweb at 1:54 PM on February 6, 2012

I'd reframe this incident as "mentally ill old man has a mental problem" instead of "old man assaulted you".

(Also: it's kinda icky, but over the course of your life you'll probably have many men masturbate to thoughts or photos of you, and it doesn't bother you because you're not there and you don't see it. This time you saw it, but he didn't do anything to you, and it doesn't sound like he will.)

Just reframe this from being a problem about you ("i've been visually assaulted") to a problem about him ("my landlord is mentally ill and is struggling to live with it") and you'll probably find it much easier to stay.
posted by Kololo at 2:28 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You're not crazy to stay. I think you'd be crazy to move. Unless there's some sort of other big red flag about this guy's behavior, I don't quite understand where all of your suspicions are coming from.

It's not clear from your message whether you just saw him masturbating or you specifically saw him looking at you. But either way, I don't know that it follows that he keeps a gap in his blinds specifically for habitual spying on the residents of his rental house. Him being "a little perverted" according to his daughter could just mean that he's an at-home nudist or even an exhibitionist, not a stalker. Are you suggesting that he purposefully waited until your boyfriend went out of town before deciding to masturbate near the window? Maybe within the last two weeks, you just haven't happened to look out the window at the time that he happened to be masturbating in front of it?

I understand that it was a shock and came off as creepy, and that you want to make sure that your right to privacy is upheld. But I don't understand why you would even want someone else to hold legal rights over whether you can be naked in your own bedroom.

(And I really don't get the PO Box thing. What does this have to do with the mail?)
posted by desuetude at 3:13 PM on February 6, 2012

How far apart are the windows? How is his 84-year old eyesight? Thinking about that might help you feel more comfortable.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:15 PM on February 6, 2012

Hmmmm. I don't know whether you should move or not but I want to support you in feeling creeped out by this. I mean, even if he was just watching you, that would feel invasive and creepy. No one likes to feel invaded in their own home.

If you stay, I think working on some kind of privacy screening would be ideal. A row of large potted plants? A table with an umbrella placed just so? Plus window screening.

And, I dunno, let some time pass and see how you feel. It's good that his daughter is open and willing to work with you. If there wasn't that kind of person involved, I'd say move. But, see if she can help you make the space more private.

Good luck -- it IS creepy even though it may ultimately be harmless.
posted by amanda at 3:23 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some clarification:

I have blinds on all of my windows. I can close them and he can't see in.

His bedroom window faces the backyard. I have two sliding glass doors that face the backyard. Our windows are about 20 ft away from eachother. Pretty close. He has a 3 inch gap in his blinds.

He was standing literally inches from his window, in front of the 3 inch gap in his blinds. He most certainly was watching me, he has good physical senses for someone so old. Surprisingly good. Anyway, I first noticed him in the window while I was spending about a half hour outside working on my car which is on the driveway even closer to his window. I peeked through my blinds because I had noticed he had been watching me for a while and there was something sinister about his presence. That's when I realized he was naked and masturbating. I was uncomfortable going outside after that, but I had to leave. When I did, he sort of made an effort to move away from the window, but I could clearly see him and see what he was doing. As I walked down the driveway, he moved back. When I came back 20 minutes later, he appeared in the window again while I was still outside. That's when I called the daughter. I saw him masturbating half a dozen times that morning both within my own home and in the backyard.

I don't think it's unreasonable of me at all to request him to close his blinds. I don't want to walk out of my house in the morning and worry whether he is watching me through that little slit and masturbating.
posted by chimeling at 3:31 PM on February 6, 2012

It sounds like this might be a deal breaker for you, and that's reasonable. If you and the daughter can't come up with some measures that make you feel comfortable living there, then all the benefits of living there might not be enough to justify staying. This isn't about punishing him or getting him in trouble for something he may not be able to control, but that doesn't make you have to accept what's going on.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 3:46 PM on February 6, 2012

It's not unreasonable of you to ask, but it's just as reasonable for him to not close them. He's doing this inside his own house, I'm not a lawyer, but I doubt you have any legal rights, here. If you're uncomfortable, move. If not, you'll likely have to deal with it.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:47 PM on February 6, 2012

You sound like you've internalised this as a Thing that will happen every time you are outside the house, have your blinds open, or he has his blinds open, so why would you want to stay? IANAL but I doubt you have much of a legal leg to stand on, here, that wouldn't have some unpleasant result for someone. Sure, you can ask that he keep the blinds closed, but he doesn't have to do it, nor does it sound remotely enforceable.

Have you actually given the daughter a chance to see if she can help? It sounds like you called her and are now wanting to call her again, but she hasn't been by or had a chance to do anything.
posted by sm1tten at 3:58 PM on February 6, 2012

Oh yeah, and to clarify: i completely agree that you are justified in asking the daughter to try and resolve the issue (it IS an issue, no doubt about it), i just don't think its an issue that should make you feel like you need to move. I'll think that some combination of 'solving the problem' (getting his meds settled, keeping his blinds permanently closed, something!) and 'getting used to it' will allow you to feel like it's worth staying.
posted by Kololo at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2012

I peeked through my blinds because I had noticed he had been watching me for a while and there was something sinister about his presence.

He's eighty-four by your reckoning, what the hell could be sinister about that? What could he possibly do to you? Sinister is base, evil or wicked. Dude is EIGHTY-FOUR. Good chance he's beyond his physical (and mental) capacity to act upon base, evil or wicked thoughts or deeds. Sounds like his daughter did her level best to alert you to the trade-off you might get with your good deal. Bless your lucky stars for good rent in a good location and keep your blinds closed.
posted by msali at 5:48 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

The daughter already knows he needs his meds. I hope she can work with you to make this okay.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:01 PM on February 6, 2012

Yeah, I'll second the folks who are saying wait before calling the daughter again: you really haven't given her a chance to do anything yet --- what, was she supposed to drop everything to run right over? Don't think so. Also, I don't see any connection between an 84-year-old dude playing with himself inside his own home and your mail.

Please don't take this wrong, because I do understand why this upset you --- there IS a diference between a guy (no matter how old) masturbating in his bedroom and a guy masturbating while watching you --- but you say you've "moved 4 times in the last few months": are you perhaps a bit extra-sensitive about what your neighbors are doing? (I apologize if these moves were caused by, for example, a house fire or other emergency.)
posted by easily confused at 6:27 PM on February 6, 2012

I'd move. It sucks, but you won't ever feel safe there, from what you're saying. I wouldn't either.
posted by editrixx at 6:43 PM on February 6, 2012

He was standing literally inches from his window, in front of the 3 inch gap in his blinds.

If that's the case then I can't figure out how you could tell that he's naked and masturbating. How could you see anything more than part of his face? Or are these vertical blinds?
posted by amro at 6:50 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

How much time have you spent around old people and how much do you know about dementia?

I think you should educate yourself more about what's going on with him.

I can only guess but based on my experience with old people, there are certain forms of dementia that sort of cut right through all learned filters of appropriateness and can sometimes lead impulsive sexual behavior.

My thinking is that if you get more familiar with it, you'll feel less threatened. He may be 84 but in some ways, like impulse control and filters, he may actually have the capacity of a three year old. As long as he stays physically not your problem, you may not feel any more unsafe from him than you would from an inappropriate small child.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:28 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't see how it went from "apparently" watching you to "most certainly" watching you, especially if he leaves the window when you go outside. That sounds like just the opposite.

Regardless, the solution to the problem is a table or desk in front of the window. If daughter put something like that in front of the window, that will keep him away from the window. In order to take advantage of a view through a 3 inch gap, a person would need to get close to the gap. A desk would keep him far enough away that he wouldn't have any real view.
posted by BurnChao at 12:33 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's no doubt this is a distasteful situation. Folks are passing this off as dementia or mental illness, but we really have no way of knowing what the old guy's medication is for. My grandfather was totally compis mentis at 84, and a confirmed, though harmless, lecher.

On the other hand, given the caveats you've supplied here, it seems like your discomfort is greater than any actual danger you might be experiencing. Further, you seem to be under the impression that you should be able to control this old guy's personal thoughts and actions in his own home. (What would you have wanted the police to do, had you called them? Would you call the cops if you looked through his blinds and saw him having gay sex?)

You write: My boyfriend and I recently moved into this awesome guest house in the Pacific Palisades. We've been there 2 weeks now. It's the best location for our jobs, the air is fresh, the rent is amazingly cheap, it's quiet. No complaints.

This makes it seem like you're getting this place below market rate. You may now know why. As you decide about moving, you might consider how much discomfort you're willing to put up with for how little rent. Maybe the next place has an intrusive landlord who wants to be your best friend.
posted by OmieWise at 5:02 AM on February 7, 2012

I understand your feelings of weirdness. It's highly unlikely that he could pose a physical threat. However, that does not mean it can't make you feel very uncomfortable... I would talk it through with the daughter who might be able to offer reassurance that he does not pose such a threat (being sensitive to how uncomfortable this may be for her, and painful too). Then you have to make a decision about what you can live with- because as others have pointed out, it's unlikely that you can control it entirely. I would not think less of you for staying or going- both are perfectly understandable in my view.
posted by jojobobo at 12:47 PM on February 7, 2012

yeuch!! I can imagine why this makes you feel creeped out and gross!
However I wouldn't give up on the place just yet. I think it would be wise to wait a few weeks to allow the adjusted medication to kick in, and also to monitor if the old guy only does this when your bf's away, or indiscriminately. If he just does it whenever, then it probably is a mental health issue, but if he is systematically targeting times when your bf's not there it could be more of a worry....

As regards legal rights you could always call a local community legal centre and ask if they can give you some advice - maybe a volunteer service or drop in clinic? There must be laws on sexual harrassment/ indecent exposure - you could see if any of them would apply to your case. It would also be worth looking at your rental contract - can you break the contract without penalties, how much notice do you need to give before moving out etc.
posted by EatMyHat at 1:05 PM on February 7, 2012

Just another thought .... does this guy have a key to your part of the property? Perhaps you could ask the daughter to ensure any keys they have to your guesthouse are kept by her, where he can't access them.
posted by EatMyHat at 1:11 PM on February 7, 2012

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