Frightened of my landlord
March 28, 2012 7:23 PM   Subscribe

I just had a frightening confrontation with my landlord and I don't feel safe. What now?

Background: I (thirtysomething female) rent an apartment in an otherwise single-family private house. I have no lease and at my landlords' (a married couple, man and woman) request, I have always paid the rent in cash (I strongly suspect that this is an illegal apartment, neither up to code nor reported on the landlord's taxes). I've lived here for two years. I've been in a semi-live-in relationship for about six months, with my boyfriend spending a month or two at a time living with me and then a month or so at his home hours away. My landlord - the female half of the couple, with whom I've dealt almost exclusively - expressed some discomfort with an extra person living in my apartment in the past few months due to increased utilities, etc, and we recently agreed that I would start looking for a new place to live and, in the meantime, would add a small sum to my monthly rent during months when my boyfriend was here.

Current events: My boyfriend took my dog out into the yard about two hours ago. I heard voices after a few minutes, and walked out of the apartment into the yard to see what was happening. I found my (male) landlord standing in the yard, demanding to know when my boyfriend would be leaving. I jumped in and explained that he would be leaving in a few days, in fact. This was something boyfriend and I had already figured out, and I was happy to be able to give the landlord a concrete and positive answer.

The landlord replied that he had better stay gone, and that the next time he saw my boyfriend's car in the driveway he would have it towed, then launched into a series of increasingly frenzied accusations - I had lied to them for years about being a single tenant, I had no rights to any visitors, I was living in squalor (I'm not a good housekeeper, but I assure you there are no bugs or rats or rotting food or anything in my apartment. Mostly there's dust, clutter and dog hair, and I was planning to bring in a thorough cleaning service this month prior to the apartment being shown to prospective renters) and ruining their side of the house by some sort of dust osmosis.

The accusations were followed by orders, assertions, and threats: I am to never allow my boyfriend onto the property again. I have no rights as a tenant, certainly no rights to have visitors, and no right to keep house as I see fit. The next time he sees two cars in his driveway, he will have them towed.

To my own inner amazement, I managed to stay calm throughout this tirade, asserting calmly in response that I did have rights as a tenant, whether the apartment was leased or legal or not, and that while I had already agreed to move out in the next few months, I would be more than happy to accelerate my apartment hunt, but that the fact was that I would be having my boyfriend visit sometimes, as the wife landlord and I had already agreed.

His response to that was that if I don't comply with all his orders, he will cut off my electricity, enter my apartment, and remove my appliances. He was yelling, visibly angry, and obviously ready to threaten me into submission, though he made no physical move toward me. He stated that now I'd shown my "true colors", now he "knew what I was doing", and that now he "knew how to deal with me". Cutting off electricity or prohibiting visitors are both, as far as I know, extremely illegal things for a landlord to do in my state, New York. At that point, I (again, calmly, somehow) stated that as I had told him, I would be moving out soon, was happy to compromise with them as much as possible with things like supplementing the rent, and that we seemed fated to disagree on these other matters, and I removed myself from the situation - went back inside the apartment, locked the door, and then gave in the shaking and fear I'd been suppressing.

The full-out rage with which the male landlord confronted me has, frankly, terrified me. I am not the sort of person who's prone to feeling threatened or endangered, and I've still been shaking and crying now for close to two hours. I do not feel safe alone in this apartment with that man living upstairs. He has free access to my apartment through a connecting door (locked on his side, no lock available on mine), though to my knowledge they have not ever used that door without first asking my permission. My boyfriend is here tonight and tomorrow, but is leaving on Friday, and his staying to protect me here would only exacerbate the situation, considering that the landlord wants him gone even more than me.

My boyfriend and I have been talking over what we can do since it happened, and we've called the police, who came out and were very kind, took my statement, and told me that there's nothing they can do at this point since no actual actions have been taken against me. I am under no illusions that the police can really fix this - the most their being seen here can do is make the landlord think twice about harming me or my belongings, and in the sort of rage he was in I'm not sure he'll take that into consideration, and it might enrage him farther; they're only really able to take action if/when he does do something against me or my belongings - but I'm just too shaken to think clearly about other options. I need to be gone from this apartment, preferably yesterday, obviously - but I have a apartment full of stuff, including multiple computers, televisions, furniture, clothes, and a large dog who would hurry to lick silly anyone who broke in, and I have no way to remove it all in one fell swoop and, in any case, nowhere to put it all if I did get it out. My parents live within driving distance, but don't have the capability to help me physically move, though they are providing emotional support and my mother has offered to speak to a lawyer she knows tomorrow morning for me. In the worst possible case, I can move in with them short-term, but that would make commuting to my job extremely difficult, and they have nowhere to put an apartment's worth of belongings, either. I have some emergency money to draw on, but it is indeed emergency money and would drain me financially.

Help. I don't know what my options are, and I'm too shaken to be able to think them all out rationally. I have never been in (what I perceive as) physical danger like this before, and I don't know the best steps to take or what resources are available for renters' emergencies such as this.
posted by This sockpuppet asks awkward questions to Law & Government (44 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you're worried about your safety, screw the commute and go stay with your parents while you find another place to live. Take your valuables with you and get the rest on the weekend. Make sure the landlords know you're coming back for your stuff so they don't dump it (I would talk to the wife if you can--she seems more reasonable). Put this in writing and keep a copy of the letter.

I think this is probably worth splurging on a month's rent of storage for the stuff you can't take with you.

I'm really sorry you're going through this.
posted by elizeh at 7:29 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is an emergency, so use that emergency money. Get a POD delivered tomorrow and have your boyfriend call up some friends and have a moving party. Get some pizzas delivered to feed the crew and shower them with thanks - people are happy to help in these types of situations. Store the POD at your parents and crash with them for a while. Sure, the commute will suck but you'd rather be safe, right?

You are strong and capable (you handled yourself wonderfully in the face of The Crazy) and CAN do this. Plus, it sounds like you've got some good support there with you. Be strong. Good luck!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2012 [9 favorites]

Your situation has just gotten abusive.

I would move as quickly as possible, even to something temporary. You don't have something in writing to protect your rights, which signals to me that your landlord doesn't want you to have them.

Can you use some of your money to pay for movers and get a storage locker?

The lawyer sounds like a good move.
posted by alphanerd at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moving out immediately does sound like the best plan, but...

Get a POD delivered tomorrow

That can't happen. I've moved twice with them in the past, and they definitely need several weeks lead time. This is especially true if you have to put it on the public street--they want to see the permit for that before they'll deliver the pod.
posted by Netzapper at 7:40 PM on March 28, 2012

When this is all over, promise me you will report this illegal apartment to the city - PLEASE.

The next tenant does not deserve to be in danger. Besides their crazy, do you know why this unit is illegal? Because it is likely a fire hazard, etc. like, in an emergency, someone could die in there.

Seriously. Report their asses.
posted by jbenben at 7:41 PM on March 28, 2012 [44 favorites]

A threatening call from a lawyer might do the trick...
posted by imagineerit at 7:42 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

OH and while he may not have the ability (legally) to prohibit visitors, I think it's within his right to tow any car on his property. You don't have a lease, so you don't have parking rights. As far as I know, apartments are not required to provide a parking spot in most places, or if they are not necessarily more than 1 per tenant. If that is the case you should find a place nearby your boyfriend can park his car and you would have to go get him, well unless he lives very close. I've done something similar when I have friends visit because my apartment complex has very few visitor parking spots and they would be towed if they parked in the other spots.
posted by imagineerit at 7:46 PM on March 28, 2012

If it's not feasible to get a pod delivered tomorrow, you may be able to rent a U-haul, have your friends help you pack up, and get a small storage unit for your stuff until you find a new apartment, and be out of that place by the afternoon.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:52 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can get a small U-Haul truck and a storage space (to hold the bulk of your stuff while you search for a new place) for not a ton of money. (Also movers for the big stuff, if you don't have friends who could help.) This means that if you decide you want to, you could be moved out of there in a day or two. Pack up everything but the clothes (and computer or other essentials) you need for 2 weeks, put it in storage. Stay with your folks for a couple of weeks, find a new apartment. It would be a bit of a pain, but would get you out of there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:52 PM on March 28, 2012

I have some security-paranoid friends who use a "stick" with a cup on one end to wedge under the doorknob. It works on a regular door, with a regular doorknob. Get one of these. I have no idea what it's called, but your best bet is to call either a few hardware stores, or a locksmith and ask what these are called. This works without making any actual physical changes to the door. This style of protective device only works if the linking door opens in on your domain, and not out. It's not expensive.

If the door opens in, and you can afford it, the only other thing I can suggest is a security camera focused on that door. It can be a cheap webcam, hooked up to your computer. It would be more expensive, but it would provide you with peace of mind, and proof for the police if the landlord enters without your consent (I have no idea what the legalities are).

As for the apartment not being legal and up to code, I can't advise you on that. Do you have a written lease?

I sympathize, as I've had a landlord enter my unit without consent, and to prevent certain friends who visited me (they were ex-tenants who left their unit trashed, so I sympathized with the landlord, but they were also my friends). My solution was to move out as soon as possible, but you're already lining that up.

I hate to say it, but because you're already set to move out, I would suggest you not have your boyfriend stay over. If you were stuck there long-term you'd have to find a better solution, through a lawyer, but right now the cheapest and least emotional-energy-sucking solution is to keep your head down for a short while.

Also, hire a cleaning service like you planned. One person's clean is not another person's version of clean. For what it's worth, I don't think this will escalate to physical attacks unless your boyfriend tries to get involved, in which case all my bets are off. I understand that having a landlord try to control your social life, and possibly going into your apartment when you're not around is threatening enough, but try to keep perspective. It sounds like they're trying to "protect" their property, not harm you physically.

Best of luck.
posted by thelastcamel at 7:53 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend is here tonight and tomorrow, but is leaving on Friday, and his staying to protect me here would only exacerbate the situation,

Is that really true? If you really wanted to stay in your apartment and not move to your parent's place (which I sympathize with) then I think having him or another guy stay with you (and mind the apartment while you're at work, probably) would be the best option.

Can you talk to the wife? Would she hopefully be horrified at what her husband was doing and act to pull him back?
posted by jacalata at 7:58 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding going to UHaul tomorrow and getting a truck, bribing everyone you know whose capable of packing/carrying a box with pizza and beer, and pack up your stuff. Keep it in the UHaul until you can get a storage space - which should be same-day anyway, but you'll be exhausted and drained from just getting your crap out in one day; figure out where to put it the next day.

I'd also shove a large piece of furniture in front of that shared door, just for your my piece of mind. Also don't be afraid to call the cops if/when you feel physically threatened. And this is my paranoia talking, but i'd also not leave my dog home alone unattended. My pets are as important to me as people - in this case defenceless people.
posted by cgg at 8:01 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Looking up info for a random city in what I think is your area:

UHaul (or similar companies') trucks will be $20-30 to rent plus around 80 cents/mile.

Self-storage seems to run around $100/month for smallish units, more for medium-size units. (If you can get a friend who's clever with the tetris, I've found you can often get a hell of a lot into a smallish unit.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2012

Check your memail.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:08 PM on March 28, 2012

Response by poster: I've just spoken to my parents and been told that while they'll help me out with the lawyer and emotional support, I can't bring myself or my stuff to their house, even temporarily (they both feel that I'm overreacting and are horrified at the thought of stuff being moved back into their space).

The door that connects my apartment to my landlord's part of the house opens into their space, so I'm not sure if there's any way to block it opening from my side. I've shoved a heavy dog food container in front of it, but that won't keep the door from opening - the best it could do is trip someone who didn't see it and was trying to come through the door.

Since it's pretty much unanimous so far in here that I need to get the hell out, these are options I'm trying to see if are feasible:
*Go out tomorrow morning and rent a storage locker (I know there is a storage place within a few miles; I don't know whether same-day rental is doable, since I've never rented a storage locker before)
*Put out an appeal on Facebook asking for friends with trucks and/or strong backs to help me move stuff into the locker. This seems somehow overkill though, like something people only do in movies, and I'm afraid of being viewed as a drama queen. I also don't have any real idea of how many friends would/could respond.
*Rather than sending him home on Friday, finding my boyfriend a room at a nearby hotel so he can be within easy distance of me if I'm in trouble, but he (and his car) are out of the landlord's hair. This could get very expensive, but might make both of us sleep easier, and I could even stay there with him if we decide that's safer.
*Needless to say, finding a new apartment ASAP. I've already started emailing some places from Craigslist, but even with my working hardcore at that, it's usually a few exchanged emails (on the other person's schedule) before we can arrange a viewing, at best. Working flat-out, with a renter who's desperate to move me in, I could *maybe* be in a new place sometime next week - IF I could find movers on such short notice.
posted by This sockpuppet asks awkward questions at 8:12 PM on March 28, 2012

I think the best thing you did was keep your cool and phone the police. Provided your landlord hasn't all of a sudden become mentally unbalanced, just having the cops out to take your statement should provide a mental 'check' on his behaviour.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 8:29 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Take a deep sounds like some issues have been building up on your landlord's side and he handled it very, very poorly. My hunch is things are not any better at his house right now than they are at yours. Take a breather....have a beer or whatever and let it rest till tomorrow or until you have a new apartment that you can move into. Don't talk with either of them and get your boyfriend's car out of the driveway. You want to move and they want you to move, everybody wins if it goes smoothly.
posted by cairnoflore at 8:30 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Deep breath.
Probably your landlord won't do anything. Probably it's fine.
Did he seem drunk or was there some other obvious triggering thing? It's weird that he suddenly snapped like that. Did your bf agree with your read on the situation or have any other insights about why he suddenly escalated?

Regardless, it seems like a good idea to get moving. Reframe this as just a good impetus to get your search into high gear. Not drama queen. You're just moving on an accelerated timeline.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:35 PM on March 28, 2012

Not Facebook. Personal calls. I know it's late, but anyone who is likely to be available tomorrow will understand the severity of the situation if you call tonight.

Facebook gives the ability to do what Randy Pausch called 'I deleted it first.' Which is to say, everyone will assume that someone else is stepping in to help.

Make a list of three people most likely to be around tomorrow. Call them now. Note on a a paper who is coming and what time. It's ok to stagger arrivals. Move on to the next three people. Keep going until you have at least 4, but preferably 6. Speed is your friend in such situations.

If you exhaust the list of people likely to be around tomorrow, go to the people you are emotionally closest to who might be able/willing to get out of their day time commitments.

When I had to move quickly in the. In the not too distant past, nobody was available the next day (a Monday) but I could get 6 friends for that Wednesday. So. It might be a Saturday move for you. Have that arranged before you rent the truck, because keeping them longer is expensive. Have the storage arranged ASAP.

And please, direct your parents to this thread. This is serious, dangerous potential you're dealing with here. Compare it to standing under a poorly supported anvil. Sure. The anvil probably is not going to fall tonight, but our knowledge of gravity suggests it will fall.

Where do they want you to be sleeping?
posted by bilabial at 8:38 PM on March 28, 2012 [13 favorites]

Your boyfriend's car needs to be anywhere but their driveway. Within sight on a public street in a legal parking area is fine. Just get it the hell off of his property.

If your folks want to help by calling in a favor with a lawyer, the lawyer needs to talk to you, not your mother. Otherwise it's pointless.

A one-bedroom-apartment's worth of stuff will fit in a much smaller storage space than you think. And yes, same-day is usually available.

Packing: You need boxes, newspaper, big contractor bags (for clothes and such) and ideally, a few friends (weak backs area fine) to help you get this done.

Rent a U-haul. For moving, you need 2-3 people with strong backs, ideally. More isn't really helpful.
posted by desuetude at 8:42 PM on March 28, 2012

More weak backs. An be helpful to fireman line items and boxes out of the house. Also, a pair can pack the kitchen while another pair packs the bedroom and someone else runs down the street to buy tape or more boxes.

The sixth person will ideally be good at telling terrible off color jokes. And dismantling furniture. People 2 and 4 might have to go pick up kids from daycare or report to 4pm waitressing jobs.

But yes, you can do all of the moving with 2 or 3 people who have most of the day free.

When I left a domestic violence situation, the police came and watched me move everything out. Might be worth checking of your local department does that in crazy landlord cases.

As for the cleaning services....I say if your friends are helping with moving on Saturday, hire a bonded licensed company to come on Friday. Get a recipes. Take pictures. And maybe pay extra to have the company help you pack. Worth the peace of mind.
posted by bilabial at 8:52 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Once you are out, send them a 1099-MISC for last year's rent payments and file it with the IRS. You may have to pay a small fine for filing it late.
posted by slidell at 8:54 PM on March 28, 2012 [29 favorites]

I don't have any more or better specific advice than what has been given. Just... relax, this sucks, but, well, let me tell you a story. Maybe it will help :

One of my exes (jenny) had a crazy landlady. Jenny came home from work one day to find her belongings scattered among the snowbanks in the front yard, the locks changed, and note on the door stating that the landlady would not tolerate jenny having boys spend the night.

Jenny crashed with me for a while, and found her own place. Anyway, long story short - she took the landlady to court and took her to the cleaners. Judge threw in fees and penalties Jenny hadn't considered.

The landlady refused to pay, and so Jenny got garnishments instated against the landlady. And every few weeks when a check would arrive from one source or another, Jenny made sure to send a very polite thank you letter to the landlady via registered mail.

So - while I am sure you are freaking out right now, just remember that you have rights and they have obligations and you can use those to make those people's lives somewhat more difficult than they had been.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:00 PM on March 28, 2012 [21 favorites]

If you can get a day off from work on Friday, you could absolutely have you and all of your stuff moved out of the apartment and into a cheap extended-stay motel (you) and a storage locker (the stuff) by Saturday.

You know how sometimes people say, "No one talks to me that way!" or "You can't treat me like that!" Obviously, they don't mean if someone does talk to them that way, a bomb goes off. I think in your case, it should mean, "If you talk to me that way on Wednesday, I will be packed up and gone by Saturday and you won't see a dime in rent from me in April or ever again."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:01 PM on March 28, 2012

Can you afford to hire one of those companies that comes and packs everything in your apartment, delivers it to new location (storage) and then cleans apartment fully? I think they're $$$ but could be worth it. That and leave immediately to your folks - no lease means you don't have to pay any rent anymore? Then follow up accordingly with IRS or as you choose?
posted by Under the Sea at 9:19 PM on March 28, 2012

Response by poster: I'm heading to bed soon (the crying really wipes you out), but for those of you worrying, the current game plan (if everything goes well) is:
1) Find storage unit tomorrow morning
2) See if storage unit place offers or knows of any movers on short notice
3) See if the entire contents of my apartment can fit in said storage unit
4) Sometime over Friday and Saturday, hopefully get all my possessions into storage unit in one manner or another
5) Be out of the apartment by Sunday, thus not having to shell out for April
6) Nab a room at a residence inn of some sort for the next week or so. My parents have agreed to take in my dog for as long as I need them to (apparently creatures who don't come with my independence, hundreds of books, four computers, and night-owl habit are less objectionable houseguests :) )
7) Leave key under the mat and email my landlord that, as requested, I'm moved out and good riddance
8) Start calling realtors, haunting craigslist, and generally pounding the pavement to find somewhere less crazy to live

I'll try to keep everyone updated on how this works out.
posted by This sockpuppet asks awkward questions at 9:39 PM on March 28, 2012 [14 favorites]

If you are in NYC, the Union Square Best Buy is open all night during the week--as is the 5th ave Apple store, so you can get your computer data backed up.
posted by brujita at 9:56 PM on March 28, 2012

I think you need to consider the upper-hand you have in regards to the impression that they are trying to keep this apartment off the books. Have you paid a deposit that you feel you might get back? If not, then I doubt they will want to take you to court for, say, not cleaning after you move out.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:12 PM on March 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

Yeah, I wouldn't give them extra money by having to pay for a professional cleaning service, since in this instance, I believe your deposit is gone gone gone unless you want to take these folks to small claims court.

They sound broke to me. It's even possible the husband blew up at you today BECAUSE HE KNOWS YOU ARE LEAVING AND HE KNOWS WHEN THE TIME COMES, HE WON'T HAVE YOUR DEPOSIT TO GIVE BACK.

The more I think about it, the more I think his blow-up was informed by this worry.

That's OK. He's going to lose heaps of future income once you report the illegal apartment to the city!

And I do love the idea of calling the IRS, too.

(I am normally really nice, but I have NO sympathy for shitty landlords who steal and put people in danger. This guy is a criminal, and you are not wrong for reporting his crimes to the proper authorities. In fact, it would be unethical for you to fail to report him. You're lucky this is all that happened to you. Please don't ever live in an illegal apartment again. It's never safe, and NEVER a good value on any front.)
posted by jbenben at 11:34 PM on March 28, 2012 [10 favorites]

What jbenben says. He wouldn't be renting out a space the way he is unless he really needed the money. If you were in his shoes, would you?

Go to the post office and have your mail forwarded to either a P.O. box or to your parents' house.

Also, 1099 his ass!
posted by SillyShepherd at 12:54 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

This guy is a scumbag who deserves a full brunt of a lawsuit. I would get something in the mail on an attorney's letterhead at once. He is the one who should be panicked and scared at this point.
posted by lohmannn at 5:04 AM on March 29, 2012

Agree with Jbenben and lohmann. After you've moved out (and don't pay for a cleaner, these people don't deserve it, and you probably can kiss your deposit goodbye no matter what) report their asses all over town. Report them to the city housing department, report them to the IRS, call in a lawyer - anyone who can legitimately have them running scared. Shitty landlords get to keep renting out shady, hazardous illegal dwelling units because people are afraid to speak up and report them (or think it's too much of a bother or "no-one will do anything). Not only can you teach the landlord a lesson about maltreating tenants, reporting him to the IRS and the city zoning or housing department might save someone who this scumbag rents to next, from dying in a house fire or gas leak. Report, report, report.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:12 AM on March 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

If you're having trouble rounding up people to help you with a move on such short notice, and you don't mind outing yourself, if you tell us what city you're in (and maybe ping Jessamyn to delete the comment in a few days' time so it isn't there for posterity) I think you'd be amazed what this community can do in situations like this. Just from reading this question, I'm mad enough at your landlord that if you're in Boston, I'll be there on Saturday morning to carry boxes and glare angrily at the guy.
posted by Mayor West at 7:16 AM on March 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

This guy seems like a nutter. Maybe not a dangerous one, but that can be hard to tell, and if it proves to be so, it's too late ... so moving out seems like a good idea, and as Lady Macbeth said, if it has to be done , it is best done quickly (or something like that).

If you feel the need for more security, try securing a board across the communicating doorway, fastened to the door handle (it has one?) so that the door is prevented from opening very far, or best case, not at all.

Forget the vengence suggestions floating above, at least for the moment - concentrate your energies on getting out, and getting a new place. Then, and only then (and only if you feel the need) you can think about settling the score with him. And if you do, be sure of your facts.

People here are getting their knickers in a knot over the state of the apartment, but I don't see much about that in the OP's posts. They may not be paying taxes on the rent, and it may not be licenced, but those are not capital offences (unless he also wears a hoodie?), and don't warrant the jump to 'dangerous', 'hazardous' ... I lived safely and comfortably in an 'illegal' house for 30+ years with nary a problem.

That is not to say I condone cheating on your taxes, or his obnoxious and intimidatory behaviour - I don't. But let's not get carried away and blame this turd for all the ills of the world.
posted by GeeEmm at 7:23 AM on March 29, 2012

The landlord blew up at you because he's scared of you, thus his over the top threats. Since I don't know where you live, I can't say what your rights are, but undoubtedly, you have some.
If your parents are willing to help with a lawyer, don't make any decisions until you've spoken to one (which you should do immediately).
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:13 AM on March 29, 2012

Response by poster: I live in upper Westchester county, NY (near, but not in, Peekskill), Mayor West. As much as I'd love to have your backup glares, I think that's probably a bit too far a drive from Boston.

I just returned from renting a storage unit from the place down the road from me, which turns out to be staffed by fantastic and helpful people. The climate-controlled unit is large enough to fit an apartment full of furniture and belongings, and the storage company offers free use of a truck to move things.

Boyfriend and I hashed out some more details over lunch, and we think what we're going to do is line up an actual mover for Saturday, to move the heavy furniture that we have no hope of moving even with a free truck and friends helping, and then spend tonight and tomorrow morning boxing up everything I own. We've booked the free storage unit truck for tomorrow at noon and will do our best to transport over all the non-furniture stuff that we can lift and carry from noon until the truck has to be returned at six, to minimize the amount of stuff we have to pay movers to move.

I've already had one Mefite memail me with an offer of help, as well at Mayor West's comment up-thread, so I'll add that we could use extra hands Friday afternoon and possibly Saturday (Saturday would depend on the mover situation, which we haven't sorted yet), and if anyone is in the area, able, and feeling helpful (I know that the middle of a workday is not a great time for this, but it's what we're stuck with), please memail me and I can give better location details. Needless to say, snacks, drinks, and everlasting appreciation would be forthcoming.

Urgh, I feel kind of slimy offering to accept help this way. Mods, if this comes across as weird or inappropriate in any way please feel free to remove my last paragraph, or delete this comment and let me re-post it without that paragraph.
posted by This sockpuppet asks awkward questions at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2012

Short term apartment lease (similar to what corporations rent out for employees)

You need to get out of there in those circumstances. You'll probably have to take off of work. What a freak who says "no visitors".
posted by stormpooper at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2012

With respect, GeeEmm's comment is really off-base.

Suggestions about reporting this illegal apartment are not about vengeance, it's about saving the next potential tenant the risk and headache.

As per my professional experience in this area, I have yet to see an illegal dwelling unit free of significant code violations. The code exists to keep people safe. If this unit were free from code violations, it would be regularly inspected and certified as legal. If it were safe, it would be legal.

Safety concerns include: mold, electrical, carbon monoxide poisoning via the heating system or connection to a garage where cars are stored, and safe egress in case of fire. The first 3 hazards are invisible to the naked eye, so the OP probably has no way of knowing if these conditions are safe and to code.

Check the news. People are seriously injured or perish in unsafe living conditions all the time. Sadly. And it's because folks don't know to report these types of situations. I know from experience that the reason this unit is unsafe is BECAUSE it is illegal and unregistered. Hazardous building code violations and unregistered/illegal apartments go together like hands and gloves. Really.

Also, the OP made no mention of their security deposit, but it's gone unless the OP is keen for small claims court. That's another no-brainer in situations like this.


OP, I hope your move goes smoothly! Please keep us updated!!
posted by jbenben at 10:39 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Your state's attorney general's office will be able to give you information on your rights as a tenant, and will tell you if there's a tenant's advocate in your area. You should get your deposit back and be compensated for lost rental availability. Your landlord may have 'criminally threatened' you; call the police station and ask for a review. You have a right to have guests; with no lease, the landlord has little backing for demanding your bf leave. Take pictures of the place so that there can be no accusation of damage or cleaning charges. Apartments usually have to be 'swept clean' with no crud on floors, no caked on dirt, etc., but reasonable wear and tear is okay.
posted by theora55 at 11:52 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Per your immediate moving needs, liquor stores are the best places to get free, sturdy boxes with handles. Grocery stores often have some too, if you get there at the right time. For hanging clothes, you can just twist tie together several hanger's worth of clothes on the rod and then tie a garbage bag around them to protect them, and then lift them off together. Pack things inside other things (wrapped glasses inside pots, wrapped knicknacks inside cups) to save on boxes.

(apologies if you are already a moving whiz and know all this)

And yes, spend your pay-for-a-cleaner money on your move. If they weren't acting crazy, you wouldn't be scrambling to get a place and paying more.

And even if your parents don't understand, you're doing the right thing to protect yourself.

I and my friends have more than a few shitty landlord stories...someday this one will be yours to tell over drinks.
posted by emjaybee at 6:34 PM on March 29, 2012

Response by poster: Your daily update:

Landlord's wife called me last night, but I didn't answer and she didn't leave any substantive voicemail. I will be quite happy if I can get out of here without having to deal with either of them again other than a "the key's under the mat, bye" email.

Boyfriend and I borrowed the moving truck the storage unit place lends out to renters and moved a bunch of my furniture and books today. We've got the truck until noon tomorrow, and will hopefully have everything into the unit within that time other than the heaviest of my furniture. A moving company is coming tomorrow night to handle the biggest stuff - not exactly cheap, but on the other hand, no way was I carrying a queen-sized bed out of my apartment without movers.

Boyfriend is busy looking up some hotels we could stay at for a few days. We're hoping to get me into a furnished short-term apartment sometime in the next week, which I can then use as a home base for a real hunt for a new home. My parents did an about-face and offered to let me stay with them when they realized I was dead serious about getting the hell out of here, but at this point I value my sanity (which crumbles under the stress of sharing space with my parents) more than the couple hundred dollars it will cost me to stay elsewhere for a week or so.
posted by This sockpuppet asks awkward questions at 2:34 PM on March 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

Very glad to hear things are coming along so well! I know it sucks right now but I'm guessing in retrospect you'll be so glad you moved decisively rather than continuing to live there with a knot in your stomach.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:51 PM on March 30, 2012

Response by poster: Ok, final update, at least for now: Female landlord tracked me down on Friday night and apologized for her husband - apparently he had a terrible day at the office, other home-owning drama was going down that didn't involve me, and he snapped. She said that they both feel terrible about the things he said, and he wanted to apologize to me personally but she told him she should talk to me first. When I told her my plan was to be out by Monday, she begged me to cancel the movers and not rush out to a hotel and said that I could stay in the apartment rent-free for April while I look for a new place. She was flabbergasted when I told her that I wasn't reacting like this because I was angry at them, but because I was scared shitless.

I still intend to be out ASAP - he can feel terrible all he wants, but anyone who snaps like that will snap again - but I'm going to do it at a bit less of a breakneck, and hopefully a less costly, pace. Boyfriend and I parked his car at my parents' house and came back to my apartment to regroup and start up the apartment hunt. Boyfriend is staying for at least this week (another concession from the landlords as part of their apology is that he's welcome here as long as I want) while I start up the housing hunt. I spoke to a realtor yesterday and he's going to see what he can find in the way of property in my price range in the next week or so (buying was something that had been floating around in the back of my mind anyway, and now's as good a time to look as any). If nothing pops up, I'll start looking for rentals.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and help. I didn't get a lot of support for this in real life - most of my family thought I was being a silly dramawhore - so it was very important for me to have this thread as a "no, you're NOT crazy" touchstone whenever one of them told me to just suck it up.
posted by This sockpuppet asks awkward questions at 8:19 AM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Glad to hear things have improved somewhat. I would still be moving out, in your shoes, as what has been said, and how it was said, cannot be erased, and I would be on tenterhooks for the next one. That bloke has a lot of suppressed anger looking for an opportunity to get out, and I would not like to be married to anyone like that, or even around them.

Good luck with the house hunt!
posted by GeeEmm at 4:34 PM on April 2, 2012

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