Landlord does not want tenant to have the carpets professionally cleaned
April 26, 2013 7:14 AM   Subscribe

She is willing to pay for it. We (her friends, who are staging an intervention of sorts) feel landlord is being ridiculous. I'm asking on her behalf because 1) I'm taking this sooo personally because I don't think the situation is fair; This to me is no longer about a mouse, it's about a control freak landlord, but anyway. and 2) I also don't think it can wait for her to sign up on AskMeFi and wait the one week it takes for her to ask it herself. Way forward?

My friend moved into an apartment six months ago. She seems to love it. A little over a week ago, she saw a mouse. She is not an animal person at all - and even if she was, it's a mouse, ew! - and this freaked her out. She called her landlord, who then said she would get traps. The question was, "Who will remove the traps when the mice die in there?" Eventually, they found traps where she wouldn't have to see the mouse and soon, the mouse was caught.

My friend wanted to get Orkin to check out the place and see if there were any holes in the apartment. Her landlord refused, stating that it was just one mouse. She also wanted to get the carpets professionally cleaned. This apartment was renovated recently and while it's not all that in my view, it's reasonably clean and quite honestly better than many I've seen. The landlord vetoed Orkin and the carpet cleaning. Per my friend, who decided to get pots of peppermint plants to deter any mice, the landlord said there is slab under the carpets and she doesn't want a mold situation. The landlord suggested a carpet cleaner who supposedly "don't move furniture." What the heck is the point of that, mice run along walls so they would need to get behind there, wouldn't they? (please advise if wrong.) My friend is willing to pay to get the apartment cleaned; all she needs is the landlord's approval. All her coworkers, me included, have said "Just get a rug doctor," but she says her principles will not let her go behind her landlord's back now that she knows the landlord would rather not have the carpets shampooed.

To me, this is absolutely ridiculous. The landlord seems to be pressuring her to sign a lease termination agreement and move. My friend, who is single (ie unmarried but recently started seeing someone), would have to get a new apartment, movers, etc, within 30 days which can be quite difficult out here.

She looked at the lease termination agreement and sent it to me this morning. Guess what one requirement on the termination agreement was? "Carpets vacuumed and SHAMPOOED - $75."

Is it me or is this ridiculous? I have told my friend to either just get a rug doctor or get a lawyer to mediate so that her landlord can let her clean the apartment and let the landlord pay any court fees. My friend is reasonably clean - we say her living spaces always smell like good food and a hospital. She's busy and she sent me a picture of the apartment and it is far, FAR from favorable conditions for a mouse.

Anyway. What are your thoughts on the way forward? Is my friend's request to hav ethe carpets cleaned at her own expense as complicated as the landlord is making it seem? Why do I get the feeling a lawyer would change the situation drastically? How does this work, legally?

**Update** Text from my friend: "I asked her about the shampooed carpet requirement. She said 'you have to vacuum not shampoo, I attached amended copy." [of the agreement]

Fishy much?
posted by lilacp to Human Relations (76 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't see what cleaning the carpet is going to do for a mouse infestation? If there are mice it's because there's a source of food, not because of dirty carpets.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [32 favorites]


The way forward is that your friend should respect the landlord's wishes. There's no rational need for her to get the rugs shampooed and it's not worth losing the apartment over.
posted by alms at 7:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


IANYL (landlord) - so, I'm a landlord, and when my tenants contact me it is so that I can do something for them. It would make sense for your friend to contact your landlord if they wanted the landlord to pay for Orkin/carpet washing/whatever they thought was their landlords responsibility. I can't imagine my tenants contacting me to ask if they could hire someone to clean their house. I am not sure what your friend wants here - she can call whatever landlord/tenant board exists in your area and get them to send a letter to the landlord saying she's allowed to wash her carpets (at least, that is how it would work here).

In the future, your friend could avoid drama and just hire who she wants to help her with household duties that aren't changing the house or violating the lease (no construction, painting, etc. without permission).

Likely, the landlord is worked up because your friend's actions add up to this: A) trying to prove there is a serious infestation problem so that she can B) break her lease. If the landlord were to accept these requests, it would mean that the landlord acknowledges there is a problem of this magnitude, which is likely why they are hesitant. There are not many other reasons, from the landlord's POV, that your friend would have involved the landlord to this extant.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 7:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [32 favorites]


Never get your landlord's attention if you can help it. Getting a lawyer sounds like an expensive pain in the ass. At this point it seems most productive to try to dial down the urgency and stress. A few mice are annoying but not dangerous and cleaning carpets isn't going to keep them out anyway. Try to relax about it and focus on something else.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


but she says her principles will not let her go behind her landlord's back now that she knows the landlord would rather not have the carpets shampooed.

Your friend is doing this to herself. If she wants the carpets cleaned, she can have them cleaned unless the lease somehow forbids it. If she wants to enable her landlord's neuroses, that's her choice. "Pressure" to move out is not eviction, and it doesn't sound like the landlord has any basis on which to evict her anyhow.
posted by jon1270 at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Slow down. This is a massive overreaction to a single mouse.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [54 favorites]


Also, you do her no favors by encouraging her to be upset about this and/or escalate the conflict with her landlord, who sounds cheap but not like a horrible scammer or slumlord. Let it go.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Listen to yourself for a second. You're considering getting a lawyer involved so that your friend can, of her own accord, get her carpets cleaned because she saw a mouse. There are a lot of layers of overreaction going on here.

Tell your friend to just get her carpets cleaned if she wants, and pay for it. End of story.
posted by mkultra at 7:32 AM on April 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


How did the lease termination agreement come into the picture? Did the landlord present it as a reaction to the Orkin and cleaning requests?
posted by mullacc at 7:33 AM on April 26, 2013


Shampooing a carpet is a terrible thing. One should only Stanley Steam a carpet. If there is a slab, the landlord may have a point. Plus, those are her carpets and if she doesn't want a half-assed Rug Doctor on them, that's her perrogative.

Why your friend feels the need...that baffles me. Shampooing the carpets? Why?

If your friend doesn't want to terminate the lease, then she needs to abide by her landlord's wishes.

When I lived in an apartment, I had my own pest control lady spray monthly for me. Mostly it was to keep her on the payroll until my house was built, but also, I knew that she used the good stuff. I never asked permission, but I did pay myself.

It would be a lot cheaper than moving for your friend to call Orkin herself to satisfy her concern about potential ways a mouse could have come in. (It happens, I had a mousie once, he ate my flour and corn meal. Then we got kitties. No more mousie.)

Either your friend plays by her landlord's rules, or if she wants to skirt them, she pays for the privilage.

I wouldn't Rug Doctor the carpets once she's been explicitly told not to. If she was given the name of a person who will do the rugs to the landlady's satisfaction, use that person. They'll move the furniture if you ask. IMHO, cleaning the rugs is completely crazypants.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:33 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Get some glue traps, catch the mouse/mice, put them in the garbage.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:33 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You do not need you landlord's position to clean your own carpets.

This is regardless of the fact that there's no reason for your friend to spend her hard-earned money having the carpets professionally cleaned because she saw a mouse.

All landlords are control freaks. That's why they enjoy be landlords while others cash out of the business-- it feeds into their control freak personality.
posted by deanc at 7:35 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear lord, if it was necessary to have a carpet professionally cleaned every time you had a single mouse, people I know who live in big old houses might have to be doing it on a weekly basis sometimes. This is a serious overreaction.
posted by Sequence at 7:35 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I can understand the concern about the mouse, but I'm really not seeing how the carpet cleaning comes into things. I would table the Orkin issue unless you see a second mouse, then re-raise it. As for the carpets - just get a good vacuum cleaner and some rug shampoo and be done with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


How did the lease termination agreement come into the picture? Did the landlord present it as a reaction to the Orkin and cleaning requests?

I think it went something like:
Tennant: I want the carpets shampooed.
Landlord: The carpets cannot be shampooed, it would damage them/get them moldy.
Tennant: AHHH but in the contract it says that if I terminate the lease I have to shampoo the carpets!
Landlord: Oh, that was a mistake, it should just say vacuum *sends an amended contract*
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:41 AM on April 26, 2013


Okay.. I'm the dramatic one, my friend is not. forgive the thread sitting, but

1) from my experience, one mouse = many mice.

2) landlord says there are no holes in the apartment so there is no mouse infestation, but one mouse is enough of a contaminant for the apartment to be cleaned. apparently she just walked in, glanced around and said there was no way a mouse could get in there. she told my friend to put her bananas in a canister because they were the cause of the mice. really?

3) landlord mentioned at some point that carpets were never to be shampooed. my friend broke a light fixture last month. she couldn't find it anywhere so she asked the landlord where she could buy a replacement. landlord suggested lowes. three of us were supposed to go to lowes to get that and other things eg a sink and chandelier for my house. next thing friend knew, the landlord had come over with two light fixtures. the landlord wants to know everything that goes on and wants to be the one to fix it.

4) tenant is black, landlord is white (yup, i know, clutching at straws, but hey, someone brought it up and we thought, "hmmm...").

5) LANDLORD continually says "it seems like you're not happy here." per my friend, she was explaining a situation to the landlord and the landlord randomly piped up, "so this is not working out, huh?" my friend asked, "what do you mean this is not working out?" landlord said, "it seems like you want to move etc etc..." NOTHING has happened! the mouse is the most dramatic of all situations. it's like every time she comes to work, she says her landlord was there the night before, doing something REALLY simple because she insisted my friend couldn't do it herself or get someone to do it.

6) carpet cleaner would not be a problem if LANDLORD had not said friend could NOT clean carpets...

7) @jon1270, the lease doesn't forbid it, but the landlord does... so do you agree with me that she should just get a rug doctor?
posted by lilacp at 7:42 AM on April 26, 2013


1) What has the number of mice got to do with the carpet? Why do mice mean you need to clean the carpet?

2) Food attracts mice, so keeping food in sealed containers should be common sense if you think there are mice.

3) You appear to be complaining that the landlord shows up and fixes things for you without you having to buy the replacement item and fix it yourself.

5) It really does seem like your friend isn't happy there. And if I was your friend's landlord I'd try and encourage her to move out too.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:47 AM on April 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


from my experience, one mouse = many mice.

My experience too. But since the landlord is digging in his heels, wait and play the game a bit. Prove the landlord wrong by pointing at the second mouse.

landlord says there are no holes in the apartment so there is no mouse infestation, but one mouse is enough of a contaminant for the apartment to be cleaned. apparently she just walked in, glanced around and said there was no way a mouse could get in there. she told my friend to put her bananas in a canister because they were the cause of the mice. really?

Again, play the game a bit. Don't put the bananas in the canister if you don't want, or do it when you know the landlord's coming by and then take them out again. Whatever.

landlord mentioned at some point that carpets were never to be shampooed. my friend broke a light fixture last week. she couldn't find it anywhere so she asked the landlord where she could buy a replacement. landlord suggested lowes. three of us were supposed to go to lowes to get that and other things eg a sink and chandelier for my house. next thing friend knew, the landlord had come over with two light fixtures. the landlord wants to know everything that goes on and wants to be the one to fix it.

This actually isn't weird - the light fixture thing may indeed be on you. I recently had a big-ass fluourescent bulb burn out in my bathroom and called the super, and he gently explained that he'd get it this time, but technically I was supposed to get them myself - they were at the Tru-Value up the street. I totally didn't know it was a thing I could go get myself like a regular bulb, so next time the bulb burned out I did. But yeah, it's not outrageous being asked to get new bulbs and light fixtures.

As for you having to get a sink - uh, why were you getting a sink?

tenant is black, landlord is white (yup, i know, clutching at straws, but hey, someone brought it up and we thought, "hmmm...").

Unclutch this straw until you get more evidence this is A Thing.

LANDLORD continually says "it seems like you're not happy here." per my friend, she was explaining a situation to the landlord and the landlord randomly piped up, "so this is not working out, huh?" my friend asked, "what do you mean this is not working out?" landlord said, "it seems like you want to move etc etc..."

Um, you're actually the one who sounds unhappy with this place. You started this askme by saying your friend loved it, but then you've mentioned a bunch of complaints.

I'm just gonna ask - all these things that have been going wrong with the apartment - have you been the one urging your friend to complain to the landlord about them, or have they done that on their own? Because I'm starting to suspect that you may be exacerbating the problem by talking your friend into complaining to the landlord about things that actually are not your business to be complaining about because you don't live there. It's sweet you're concerned about your friend's well-being, but maybe you are getting a bit over-involved and causing them more problems.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:52 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I will say that I used to live in an apartment with mice and while they landlord was friendly and attentive to the problem, the problem was not being solved, so I moved out. I have no regrets about this, and I did not bother to shampoo any of my carpets because of it (mice generally move along the edge of the wall, anyway).

I'm the dramatic one, my friend is not.

How does your friend feel about all of this, then? Are you asking this question for her benefit, so she can get some answers, or so that you can feel more in control of this situation by turning it into a drama moment?
posted by deanc at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I think you should have minded your own business and not put your friend in a position where they may have to start looking for a new apartment. One mouse does not equal an infestation, cleaning carpets will not eradicate an infestation if there is one, and landlord in question can ask tenants not to do something in their property and define that "don't" in the lease even if you think it's stupid.

You're being a nosy, interfering friend and you're likely ruining your friend's love for her apt just because you don't like it. Get over it and butt out.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [28 favorites]


but one mouse is enough of a contaminant for the apartment to be cleaned.

That's an overreaction. No harm will come from leaving the carpet unwashed. There is nothing that one mouse would have done that would require shampooing the carpet.
posted by alms at 7:58 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Even if there were a mouse infestation (and one - caught! - mouse certainly doesn't mean an infestation) shampooing the carpets would do nothing to mitigate it. Nothing.

Vacuum the carpets as you normally would and let the shampooing thing go, it is absolutely a useless hill to die on. Or rather, stop badgering your friend into having issues with an apartment she apparently loves. A mouse is not the end of the world and shampooing will NOT help in any way, shape or form, so why turn it into a battle of wills?
posted by lydhre at 7:59 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


@jon1270, the lease doesn't forbid it, but the landlord does... so do you agree with me that she should just get a rug doctor?

I'm saying she can get the carpets cleaned if she wants to, not that she should. But then, IANAL and I haven't read the lease.

next thing friend knew, the landlord had come over with two light fixtures. the landlord wants to know everything that goes on and wants to be the one to fix it.

It's not unreasonable for the landlord to want to make sure things that get fixed are fixed properly. Many tenants who attempt to fix things have no idea what they're doing. This landlord is not in any way required to trust your friend's ability to install a new light fixture.

This may vary from state to state, but I doubt your landlord has the right to enter the apartment without X hours' warning, outside of emergencies. If your friend wants to assert more control, she can figure out what the law is and insist that it's followed.
posted by jon1270 at 8:01 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


These birds of a feather, my friend asked for my thoughts. I am asking this for her benefit and I will forward this link to her. She needs to sign the termination agreement by May 1 and askmefi requires a one-week period before asking a question so it was kind of urgent.

EmpressCallipygos, I think you're confused. I'm not the tenant. The sink and chandelier are for my house.
posted by lilacp at 8:01 AM on April 26, 2013


Tell the landlord you will be getting two large unneutered male cats to control the mice, unless its also forbidden in the lease.

Orkin and shampooing will follow in days. Any experienced landlord knows that cat smell lasts a long time.
posted by spitbull at 8:01 AM on April 26, 2013


I'm not the tenant. The sink and chandelier are for my house.

Then why was it a problem getting a fixture for your friend in the same trip as you were getting the sink and the chandelier for you? In fact, that sounds downright convenient ("Oh, hey friend, I'm going to Lowe's myself for a sink, do you want a ride since you have to get a fixture? We can share a car!")

You're right that I'm confused - I'm confused why you're making "my friend had to go to the hardware store for a light fixture" into a problem when you were already going to the hardware store for something unrelated anyway. I'm also confused why you've been getting so invested in your friend's house when you AREN'T a tenant, and claim your friend "loves" her place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:05 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


When we had our mouse it was one mouse, singular. No infestation.

As for why YOU are so invested in your friend's relationship with her landlord and her apartment...WHY?

None of what you've written explains any of this, and if I were your friend's landlord, I too would be trying to get her to move out because the whole thing is lunatic.

Yes! I'm a control freak. It's my property, it's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, I don't want any half-assed repairs, or carpet shampooing or anything else going on in there that compromises the value of the property.

If I had a tenant who was pitching this much of a fit over things, who felt that one mouse has contaminated her apartment to the extent that it needed to be deep cleaned, I too would be concerned and working to get said tenant out of the apartment on my terms, before said tenant started withholding rent, or started going to the building-code department, etc.

What does your friend really want? If she wants to stay, she should stay. If she wants clean carpets, then she should get the landlady's recommended carpet cleaner. If she wants Orkin to inspect, your friend should pay for it.

If she wants to leave, she can sign the termination agreement and move.

These are all HER decisions.

If it were me, if I liked the place that much, I'd stay and play by my landlady's rules. If I thought I could do as well or better, I'd write off the moving costs and move. Because clearly this is only going to get worse.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:06 AM on April 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


3) landlord mentioned at some point that carpets were never to be shampooed. my friend broke a light fixture last month. she couldn't find it anywhere so she asked the landlord where she could buy a replacement. landlord suggested lowes. three of us were supposed to go to lowes to get that and other things eg a sink and chandelier for my house. next thing friend knew, the landlord had come over with two light fixtures. the landlord wants to know everything that goes on and wants to be the one to fix it.

This is not evidence that the landlord is a control freak. Fixtures (i.e. anything attached to the property, including light fixtures) are part of the real estate, so of course the landlord wants to be the one to fix it. I am scratching my head at the idea that it's a bad thing for the landlord to take care of the property instead of asking the tenant to pay for fixes that are the landlord's responsibility.
posted by payoto at 8:07 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


1) from my experience, one mouse = many mice.

Yes. Generally. But.

I had two mice this winter. They took up roost in my house when I was gone for a week spanning Christmas, and they made themselves nice and cozy eating their way into a bag of dog food. When I got back in town, my dog found them pretty quickly, and I went into HIGH ALERT mode because fucking gross, I do not want to live with mice.

Called the landlord, landlord set traps and placed poison in dog-can't-get-to areas, I set my own traps, I thoroughly cleaned my house (I don't have carpets, but I mopped like crazy), overhauled my entire dog food management system, etc, etc. I never saw another mouse again. I still, months later, check vigilantly for pooplets or any other signs of mouse activity but there have been none.

So it is fully possible that there are no more mice.
posted by phunniemee at 8:10 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


lilacp your profile doesn't say where you are. Rental law varies greatly between regions but here in BC unless your friend agreed in a lease to refrain from having the carpets cleaned their landlord probably couldn't stop it. If they had agreed to that restriction then barring permission from the landlord (and I'd get it in writing) they could be evicted for breaking their lease if they did do it. Rationality of the landlord's requirement doesn't really enter into it.

Also it wouldn't be legal to require shampooing on move out (though I see you've retracted that requirement).
posted by Mitheral at 8:24 AM on April 26, 2013


Phunniemee, thanks! You say you thoroughly cleaned your house, but had no carpets. My friend is just trying to do the same, but she has carpets. Any ideas as to how this can be done with carpets?

Honestly, I would vacuum everything, and scrub a bit with a clorox wipe anywhere where there were pooplets or mouse cruft. A carpet shampooing seems like overkill to me.
posted by phunniemee at 8:35 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


An answer you were given to a previous question applies here too - "Stay out of it."
posted by valeries at 8:38 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think investing more time in being upset about this landlord is good for your friend. In all relationships that are not by choice (they're not friends) it is best to be relatively tolerant and forgiving unless and until you can remove yourself from the relationship. Conversely, focusing on things you dislike, characterizing them negatively, and taking small things personally are all to be avoided because they make your time there more miserable.

The landlord has personal flaws, as do we all. Maybe they're a little controlling. Okay.The best way to deal with controlling, interfering people is to keep things to yourself. If your friend stops calling the landlord, the landlord will have fewer opportunities to nose around and interfere.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Comment removed. lilacp, I can understand if you're feeling frustrated at not getting the answers or types of answers you want, but it's not okay to berate answerers in here. Please rephrase with just the constructive bits, you are free to ignore entirely stuff that you don't find helpful or don't want to engage with.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:49 AM on April 26, 2013


This is a massive overreaction to seeing a single mouse over the course of six months. If your friend loves this apartment otherwise, as you say she does, she can look for mouse-sized holes with a flashlight herself and plug any holes she finds with steel wool. She can clean her own carpet; it doesn't need to be shampooed. If her place smells like "good food and a hospital" it sounds like it's a very clean place as it is.

This situation as you've described it is not something to break a lease over. This is not something to get a lawyer over. I think your friend should stay in the place and let this issue die unless she starts seeing more mice, at which point it is fair to ask for an exterminator to check the place out. And I'm saying this as someone who was appalled to find a roach infestation in my apartment after I moved in, and I dealt with it both via my landlord as well as doing things on my own to take care of it. It is infinitely better now.
posted by wondermouse at 8:55 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


get a lawyer to mediate so that her landlord can let her clean the apartment and let the landlord pay any court fees.

This is just... I guess I'll describe it is as a vastly disproportionate overreaction to a very small situation. If I were the landlord in this situation I kinda think I'd be pressuring the tenant to terminate the lease, too, just to save me the worry of having to deal with frivolous lawsuits.

LANDLORD continually says "it seems like you're not happy here." per my friend, she was explaining a situation to the landlord and the landlord randomly piped up, "so this is not working out, huh?"

If your friend has a lot of "situations" of this sort, this is a pretty reasonable thing for the landlord to say.

It's a mouse. One mouse. Mice are not actually that big a deal; you don't want them nesting in the walls and chewing on the wiring, but one or two running through the room is not the end of the world. Your friend should vacuum any poop, seal up her food to avoid attracting more (which is a good idea in any case), and get on with her life. And you should stop riling your friend up into these wild overreactions-to-small-things.
posted by ook at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


You asked several questions in your post, I'm going to pick three of them.

"What are your thoughts on the way forward?"

For you, butt out. From your description it sounds like you are making the problem worse. You said you're asking for your friend, but you are blending your feelings in and it's impossible to determine where your questions end and your friend's questions begin. In my opinion you are stirring a pot that is not yours to stir, and you are narrowing the possible outcomes between two other parties down to "bad" and "worse."

If your friend really does love the place and wants to stay she needs to convince the landlady, and she can best do that without you getting her riled up. Also, she really really needs to educate herself on the landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities in her jurisdiction. There's a lot she can learn for free instead of hiring lawyers who very well might happily take the consult fee and tell her "Sorry, no case here."

"Why do I get the feeling a lawyer would change the situation drastically?"

Because you're meddling in a situation where getting lawyers involved would not cost YOU any money, and where the outcome of doing that would not affect YOU except it would likely make your friend even less happy, and because you don't actually understand the laws and other rules governing the landlord/tenant relationship. Was the lawyer thing your idea? I'll guess it was. Stop. This is not your personal fanfic, this is someone's life. There are real consequences here, and you appear to be fanning the flames of a situation that you are not directly a party to. This is a phenomenally bad way to behave.

"Fishy much?"

No, not at all. The landlady has determined that the cost of having a vacant apartment until a new tenant can be found is less of a problem than continuing to rent to your friend. Whether you agree or think the landlady is nuts is irrelevant. I'm speculating of course, but from the landlady's point of view she has a tenant who wants to clean the carpet in a way the landlady believes will cause harm (mold), who breaks light fixtures, and for other unspecified reasons is not happy despite you saying she seems to love it. It is in no way unethical for the landlord to offer an early lease termination agreement, especially if it will provide resolution to a dispute. She's not trying to evict your friend, she's not being passive-aggressive, she's trying to provide an out for a tenant who in her view, is not happy with the arrangement. She's trying to protect her property value and her rental income as well as manage her stress level.

If the landlady has not violated any rules that apply in your jurisdiction, then getting lawyers involved will only prolong the stress of your friend's tenancy with no clear positive outcome for any party. It isn't clear from your post (and comments) that the landlady has illegally entered the dwelling. She showed up with light fixtures, but she could have just come to the door with them, you don't say except that she "showed up". You say " it's like every time she comes to work, she says her landlord was there the night before..." but that doesn't mean she entered illegally, she could have showed up at the door and your friend let her in. And "its like every time..." is obviously hyperbolic, and given the multiple overreactions evident in your post it's pretty easy to think you're exaggerating.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:03 AM on April 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


It has seriously never, ever occurred to me to have my carpets professionally cleaned when I've seen mice in my apartment. I live in an area where mice and cockroaches are part of the deal; we don't have them all the time, but a couple of times a year we see some critters and take the (what we thought were) appropriate steps to take care of them and clean up. I don't see why a carpet cleaning would be necessary.

By the way, here's another thing I've never considered: "The question was, "Who will remove the traps when the mice die in there?" IME, the answer is "the tenant, obviously." I've never heard of a landlord who will hold a tenant's hand through basic, though unpleasant, tasks like this.

I also don't get the objection to the owner of the property wanting to purchase the light fixture that is going to be installed on their property. If the landlord says she'd prefer not to have the carpets cleaned because of a potential mold problem... that sounds reasonable to me. You seem to be interpreting a lot of things as "control freak," when they seem to be more like "person who has an investment into a property wanting to take care of that property to the best of their ability." Is that your take here? That the landlord is just denying this request because she wants to feel in control?

My advice is to stay out of it, and stop looking for "fishy" behaviors on the part of the landlord. She hardly sounds like a slum lord.
posted by coupdefoudre at 9:08 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The thing that jumped out at me from the question was, the landlord is willing to let her out of the lease? HURRAY! The worst landlords never do that; they hold you hostage until the very last minute. Consider yourselves lucky that option is on the table. I might be willing to take it if I was miserable and felt things wouldn't get better.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:12 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


@Cortex, it's okay for people to berate me in their answers, but not for me to respond in kind?

Again,

1) This is the BIGGEST situation my friend has had. The second-biggest was the light fixture. The third biggest was taking out a filter from a Rennai heater, which is really simple and can be done by a two year old.

2) Can we please focus on MY FRIEND's SITUATION, not on ME as the poster whose phraseology you may or may not like. My friend saw a mouse in her house. She wanted to get pest control, but settled for peppermint. She would like to clean the house, because she is a clean freak and has had allergy/health issues in the past, which I should probably have pointed out at the beginning. Her landlord does not want her to clean the carpet herself. She is willing to pay for cleaning. The landlord will not hear of it. What is the reasonable way forward?

a) Clean the carpets herself?
b) Get someone to clean them professionally, so that there's less of a risk of " mold" ?
c) Get someone, such as a lawyer, to mediate, so that she is allowed to clean?
d) Get my friend to ask the question here herself in a tone that might be more appealing than mine?
posted by lilacp at 9:14 AM on April 26, 2013


The third biggest was taking out a filter from a Rennai heater, which is really simple and can be done by a two year old.

I am confused -- if this is so simple why was it a situation for the landlord to deal with?
posted by ook at 9:18 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Never mind. I was thinking something like 'space heater', not house fixture. Sorry.)
posted by ook at 9:19 AM on April 26, 2013


e) thoroughly vacuum the carpet and move on.
posted by lydhre at 9:19 AM on April 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


OOK - because the landlord would not let her touch it. All these things have been spread out over 6 months. This is not the "difficult tenant" situation people are trying to make it out to be.
posted by lilacp at 9:19 AM on April 26, 2013


The landlord's concerns about shampooing the carpet seem reasonable to me.

Shampooing doesn't solve the problem and potentially creates a new problem (the risk of damage is greater than zero; the risk that it will eliminate the mice is zero).

On the one hand, maybe your friend just wants to shampoo the carpet because she wants the place clean now that the mice (mouse) are gone, but on the other hand if you're right and there are more mice then shampooing does nothing. It does nothing anyway, apart from potentially causing property damage, but it won't even give her peace of mind. If she sees another mouse, is she going to want to shampoo the place again?

Not sure what she thought would happen when she asked the landlord about the light fixture, but why tell your landlord about a problem with the apartment unless you want them to solve it? I asked my landlord where I could get a vacuum (I was new to the area) and he bought me a vacuum. I thought this was really nice of him. He saved me buying a vacuum.
posted by 4bulafia at 9:19 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


@Cortex, it's okay for people to berate me in their answers, but not for me to respond in kind?

It's okay for you to not like what someone's posted in an answer, and you can flag those or drop us a line at the contact form if you want to give us a heads up as mods about it or discuss how the thread is going. But no, berating someone because you don't like their answer or their tone is not an okay thing to do in here, and arguing with a moderator in the middle of a thread really isn't either. If you want to discuss this further, please reach me via the contact form; beyond that, please focus on being constructive in here.

posted by cortex at 9:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The landlord isn't even preventing your friend from having her carpets cleaned (which sounds like a massive overreaction, anyway). She is just insisting that if your friend chooses to have the carpets cleaned, she use a cleaner that the landlord trusts.

Carpet is on a slab, the slab may or may not be sealed, thus the landlord knows there is a potential mold situation and doesn't want some tenant to hire some company she doesn't trust, or have a tenant screw it up with a rug doctor.

I see nothing fishy about a landlord who will clean out mousetraps for a tenant, replaces a broken fixture that the tenant admits she broke herself, and doesn't seem to be interested in taking reasonable precautions against mice (like not leaving fruit out on a counter). And, she is willing to let her out of the lease because she seems unhappy in her apartment. It really seems like your friend has a decent landlord.

I'm taking this sooo personally because I don't think the situation is fair

Stop doing this.
posted by inertia at 9:22 AM on April 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


She would like to clean the house, because she is a clean freak and has had allergy/health issues in the past, which I should probably have pointed out at the beginning. Her landlord does not want her to clean the carpet herself. She is willing to pay for cleaning. The landlord will not hear of it. What is the reasonable way forward?

If allergies are the concern, and the landlord will not permit deepcleaning of the carpets, I would get an air filter and call it a day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2013


If your friend is willing to pay for carpet cleaning, why doesn't she pay for Orkin to come out and do an inspection (don't let them bust into walls or do any damage) and look for mice? Don't even ask the landlord, just ask for the inspection. If they come back with issues, she can go to the landlord about treatment options or moving. Plus the Orkin or pest control folks will have a better idea about what to do for cleaning after an infestation, if one actually exists.
posted by adorap0621 at 9:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding the filter: some tenants lack the experience or knowledge to do the most basic of building upkeep, and landlords can't always know who knows how to do what. You don't make it clear, but if your friend contacted the landlord to have the filter changed when she could do it herself, why did she contact the landlord? And if the landlord simply volunteered to do it as regular maintenance, how is this a "situation"?

Regardless, the best way forward is to show your friend this thread (if you must) and let her handle her own affairs.

Also, for what it's worth: we don't know the allergy/health issues of your friend, but I'm guessing that cleaning with a quality HEPA-filter vacuum would leave the place much more sanitary than the chemicals that a shampooing will leave behind.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:26 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


My friend saw a mouse in her house. She wanted to get pest control, but settled for peppermint. She would like to clean the house, because she is a clean freak and has had allergy/health issues in the past, which I should probably have pointed out at the beginning. Her landlord does not want her to clean the carpet herself. She is willing to pay for cleaning. The landlord will not hear of it. What is the reasonable way forward?

The reasonable way forward is for her to vacuum the rugs herself and consider them clean. It is reasonable for her to NOT shampoo the carpet, since that will not do anything productive. It is reasonable for her to search for holes herself and plug them herself. Steel wool is cheaper and probably more effective than peppermint plants.

Being a clean freak doesn't mean your landlord has to shampoo your rugs because you saw a mouse, and it doesn't mean you should shampoo your rugs after your landlord tells you that might cause mold problems. Personally I think a mold problem would be grosser and more hazardous to one's health than one caught mouse.
posted by wondermouse at 9:27 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Your friend HAS been offered an opportunity to have her carpets cleaned, by a person the landlady trusts.

If your friend doesn't like her situation, she can move out.

Those are her two options. She needs to decide which one she can live with and go with it.

The landlord is perfectly within her rights to want her property cared for in a particular way.

Now, as for you. You are creating DRAMAZ where none exist. This is a simple thing between the landlady and her tenant. You are neither of these people.

You asked us for our opinions, we've given them to you. Please pass the information onto your friend.

Your updates are making you sound like a freak who can't let anything go, and I'm sure that's not what you want to impart.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:29 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay

3) landlord insists that every single problem be reported to her. I've told my friend to just stop telling her every small thing that goes on even though (as I understand it) this might be part of the lease. The filter is similar to the lint things in a dryer. Pull out, dust off, return.

4) My friend was willing to pay for Orkin. The landlord refused.

5) is steam cleaning the same as shampooing? I might have terms mixed up. My friend wanted to use a professional company and I think they steam clean. The landlord's lease termination agreement says shampoo.

6)Friend just called trusted carpet cleaner. They say they don't move furniture, they would not recommend their own services for a situation where there has been a mouse.
posted by lilacp at 9:35 AM on April 26, 2013


She would like to clean the house, because she is a clean freak and has had allergy/health issues in the past, which I should probably have pointed out at the beginning

You know, if you are a clean freak and have allergy issues, the best solution is not to live in run-down apartments with mice and control freak landlords. I realize that this is the equivalent of saying, more or less, "don't be poor," but another way of looking at it is that being a clean freak and being paranoid about hyper-cleanliness is a privilege you can only indulge in when you own your own space and/or can afford a place where the owners keep the apartment building in tip-top shape. Your friend has to make sacrifices: she might need to make certain financial sacrifices to move to an apartment more in keeping with her lifestyle.

Crazy landlord is crazy. Every dollar the landlord spends on upkeep is one less dollar that he has in his pocket, so the landlord will obviously try to spend as few of those dollars as possible.

I'm taking this sooo personally because I don't think the situation is fair;

Life is not fair. It is even less fair when you live in a space that you don't own, because landlords are control freaks and miserly. The nice thing about apartments is that you can move out and find a better one. It does sometimes take a few tries to find a good landlord.
posted by deanc at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


If your friend can't live with her landlord's restrictions, she should move. It's not her property.

The upside to renting is that someone else is responsible for maintenance of the property. The downside is, since you're not responsible, you're not in charge of how things are maintained.
posted by amro at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2013


"I've told my friend to just stop telling her every small thing that goes on even though (as I understand it) this might be part of the lease."

Why are you making this your problem?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:46 AM on April 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


No, steam cleaning and shampooing are not the same thing. Steam cleaning can take up to 24 hours to dry. If the landlord doesn't want this done because the carpet is on a concrete slab, it's probably because there is the potential for there to be excess moisture under the carpet, leading to the growth of mold, which is a hell of a lot worse than a single caught mouse.

Not only is this not your problem, you don't even appear to have all the facts straight. Let it go.
posted by inertia at 9:48 AM on April 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


lilacp, I would respectfully submit that the questions you asked have been answered. The situation is clear enough, and people have given their considered responses. It's up to you whether you pass this advice onto your friend or not. You're welcome to post further clarifications, but I'm not sure that will change the advice you're getting.
posted by alms at 9:48 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


We (her friends, who are staging an intervention of sorts)

There are others involved...?

If there is indeed a group of pals who are overwrought that one of their group lives in an apartment that once harboured a mouse and which has not been sterilised since, and that is deeply problematic for the tenant, and landlord-tenant relations have broken down, surely the energies of the group are best invested in helping to re-house her. "My friend, who is single (ie unmarried but recently started seeing someone), would have to get a new apartment, movers, etc, within 30 days which can be quite difficult out here." Boyfriend + group staging invention should be enough to negate the hassles of a move if the work is spread out amongst the crew.
posted by kmennie at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Can we please focus on MY FRIEND's SITUATION, not on ME as the poster whose phraseology you may or may not like.

I get this, but with respect: your friend's situation involves having you and other friends "stage an intervention" over this, and say things like "why do I get the feeling a lawyer would change the situation drastically". These are things that materially affect her situation, in that they seem to be escalating it into landlord/tenant hostility when there's no reason it should go there.

If your friend was the one posting here, I would be telling her:

a) shampooing the carpets is an overreaction which won't help re: mice and might well, per the landlord, create more problems. You have no reason to fight the landlord on this; vacuum and/or go with her suggested cleaner.

b) do not listen to the friends telling you that this is evidence of a control freak landlord, because this does not control freakery make

c) really don't listen to the friends telling you to get a lawyer, if this is somewhere you want to continue living. Move out if you have to, but be really, really sure that you have to first, and certainly don't do it because your friends are indignant on your behalf. You like the place, your landlord is a bit annoying but not totally unreasonable, and trust me, there are way worse out there. (I have had landlords who 'replaced' a filthy carpet by getting someone to come round and nail a new one over the top, and landlords whose control freakery extended to demanding the right to let themselves in and take showers when they pleased and literally YELLING at us for having 'non-matching' bed linen in the spare room. Do not let a single mouse drive you out of apace you like with a decent landlord.)
posted by Catseye at 9:52 AM on April 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


Maybe it will help if I elaborate regarding my own situation with mice: I found a mouse and reported it to the landlord. The landlord attempted to fill some holes, and there were more mice. I made sure never to leave food out in the kitchen while I set up traps and kept a running tally of "kills".

The landlord made some more attempts at fixing things, but was not willing to do what was required (which would have been a building-wide inspection for holes and massive extermination response). He was a nice guy but just not capable of meeting my needs of living in a mice-free living space, so I moved out. I suggest your friend do the same, possibly going to a professionally managed building, and into a unit will all hardwood floors and no exposed brick, which will be better for her allergies.
posted by deanc at 10:11 AM on April 26, 2013


I once saw a mouse run through my apartment. I told my landlord, she said they would fill holes. I'm not even sure if they did, but I never saw a mouse again.

As everyone else has said upthread, shampooing is a huge overreaction to this little problem.
posted by alligatorman at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Catseye pretty much nails it here, as does Ruthless Bunny upthread:

What does your friend really want? If she wants to stay, she should stay. If she wants clean carpets, then she should get the landlady's recommended carpet cleaner. If she wants Orkin to inspect, your friend should pay for it.

If she wants to leave, she can sign the termination agreement and move.

These are all HER decisions.


At the risk of sounding like I'm making an appeal-to-authority argument, I am a lawyer licensed to practice in California. (Insert standard disclaimers -- IANYL, TINLA -- here.) While I don't specialize in landlord-tenant law, I have worked on landlord-tenant cases. I have written demand letters to landlords who played hardball about returning security deposits to their former tenants. You could say that my livelihood depends on conflict.

Yet if a prospective client came to me, and told me that they had a situation like your friend's situation (in the apartment for six months, generally love it, slightly control-freaky but otherwise okay landlord, a mouse sighting a week ago, friends are now staging interventions and lease termination agreements are being batted around), I would likely advise that client that my involvement will not make things better, and I would invite them to either try to work things out with the landlord without the assistance of my friends, or find another lawyer.
posted by bakerina at 10:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mold is a serious health/allergy issue, and can be expensive or impossible to get rid of. If there's reason to think that shampooing the carpet might create a mold problem, you should avoid it for your own health and not just because your landlord says so.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:24 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


- A FLOOR STEAMER WILL SANITIZE THE CARPET, your friend can borrow one from a friend.

Now that that is out of the way...

This whole thing is ridiculous. One mouse does not equal an infestation and I have never ever ever ever had that experience (that one mouse=mice) except for once an apt in lower manhattan which needed lots of renovation. Seriously. So stop panicking.

- Does the landlord give notice before showing up at your friend's apt?

- Does your jurisdiction require monthly pest control if tenant requests it? Check the law!

This is all such a non-issue, or rather, most of it is personal instead of business. Any business items are governed by the law and a quick Google or a few phone calls will help your friend clarify her rights.

One mouse is nothing to freak out about. A simple floor steamer will sanitize carpets, although I would NEVER bother to do this for one mouse!

If the landlord is showing up without notice (the law likely requires notice - check on this!) then your friend has a problem. If the landlord refused pest control and the law requires it, then your friend has a problem.

Neither of these two problems require a lawyer or moving out.

If your friend has signed up for a metafilter account, they can Memail me directly anytime. IANAL (lawyer or landlord.) Well, I was a landlord once. And I had a RE license for a long time, too.

What jurisdiction is all this happening in?
posted by jbenben at 10:30 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine the lease or any law saying your friend can't pay for a service where she lives that isn't impacting the house (i.e., a visual inspection for mice). If an inspector come back and say "You have X, Y, and Z issues, here's an estimate" then great, your friend can present the estimates to the landlord and if they won't get done to friend's satisfaction, she can leave. If they don't find anything, then your friend has peace of mind. She shouldn't ask about it ahead of time and if things come back clean, then she can just stay quiet about it. Everyone else is focusing on the cleaning and have good advice. If she's actually worried that there is more than one mouse scampering around then cleaning, no matter how, isn't going to fix it. Get to the root and find out if there really is anything to be concerned about.
posted by adorap0621 at 10:39 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify - I don't mean a "carpet steamer" I mean a "floor steamer" - mine is made by HAAN and was about $100.

I guess technically it's called a steam mop? I think "mop" is a bit of an exaggeration, since very very little steam/water is generated. However, the heat is sufficient to sanitize, and that's all that is required here..

Hope that helps.
posted by jbenben at 10:42 AM on April 26, 2013


I don't know why this point is bothering me so much, except I really don't like it when people withhold relevant information and then parcel it out in dribs and drabs when they don't get the feedback they want. But I think it warrants pointing out that the OP has not explicitly stated that the landlady is actually entering the dwelling when she shows up.

IANAL, but in every jurisdiction I've lived in the rule is that landlords cannot enter the dwelling without advance notice (usually 24 hours) except in the case of emergencies or to make necessary repairs (if the failure to make such repairs compromises the dwelling or endangers inhabitants - broken pipes and such).

Landlords can show up on a tenant's doorstep any old time they want, just like anyone else. If they ask to come in a tenant can let them or not as the rules in the specific jurisdiction dictate. But "showing up" is not the same as "coming in", and we don't know (and the OP may not actually know) that the landlady has been coming in inappropriately. Unless the landlady has been entering the dwelling or unless her showing up rises to the level of harassment, it is merely an annoyance and is a distraction from the real issues IMO.

And this really just illustrates the point that we don't know what the OP know or doesn't know, we don't know what the OP thinks she knows but doesn't actually know, we don't know how forthcoming the friend has been with the OP or how forthcoming the OP has been here, we don't know what's in the lease or what has actually transpired betwen the friend and the landlady, and that all adds up to a really weak basis to be giving any advice other than "Stay out of your friend's relationship with her landlady!!!"
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:52 AM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


under_petticoat, LOL. i apologize. the landlord never enters the dwelling without permission. how would it help if you knew or didn't know that? the question is about cleaning the carpet.

jbenben, i am handing my friend over to you. she said she'll sign up and contact you.
posted by lilacp at 11:07 AM on April 26, 2013


lilacp, it helps to have facts when giving advice.

You included the landlady showing up in a litany of supposed offenses she has committed presumably to bolster your case that she's a control freak. You seem to be shading the information you give in order to influence the direction of the advice you get and only adding more info when challenged. It's not a very good strategy in general, and especially not around here.

Just like on Fantasy Island, imprecision leads to unintended (and often undesired) consequences. On AskMeFi you need to ask the questions you want answers to. One of your questions was about cleaning the carpet. Many were not. If you can't be more precise and forthcoming it's going to be difficult for you to get precise and relevant advice.

Also, the name is under_petticoat_rule.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:20 AM on April 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


This question has received way more responses than it should have.

Your friend should use a modicum of common sense when deciding what issues she will contact the landlord for. The landlord cannot insist that they be called for every little thing. One mouse is not an infestation. If the problem recurs, she can call the Orkin herself and pay for it and let the landlord know the results. The landlord cannot stop your friend from paying for this service. If Orkin makes recommendations that the landlord should pay for, that is another and separate issue.

It is not typical to shampoo carpets because of one mouse unless you suspect plague or hanta virus, both of which are quite rare. Mice look for food and even a small amount of googling will let you know that all food should be stored in secure containers or the fridge if you see mice or mice turds. She can keep no-touch traps down to see if other mice get in. A thorough vacuuming is all that is necessary. If your friend has allergies and the landlord is concerned about shampooing and mold, your friend should heed the advice since mold is often a huge trigger for allergies.

Let your friend decide how to proceed but I would not encourage overreacting as indicated in your question. Escalating to an attorney for these incredibly small issues is pound foolish and builds ill will. If your friend feels that strongly about these issues, she should probably move, instead of paying for an attorney. Pests happen, even to clean people, respond reasonably.
posted by shoesietart at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


@shoesietart, THANK YOU
posted by lilacp at 11:59 AM on April 26, 2013


My friend was willing to pay for Orkin. The landlord refused.

Hi, i generally respond to these types of questions because i/my family have a lot of experience with landlord tenant law issues, and as landlords.

This is likely completely fucking illegal and bullshit ass covering by a dickhead landlord. Focus on this.

Everything else here is chaff, this is the wheat. The landlord is not allowed to say "well you don't get to verify that" when you report to them that there might be pest issues.

I would need to know where your friend was located to even begin looking up local landlord tenant act/law stuff for your area, but this is usually one of the cornerstones of local law on this stuff. One of the biggest "anti slurmlord law" issues they tackled was of course places infested with pests.

You need to find out if they even have a leg to stand on with trying to disallow you from having orkin come and look, because i'm really betting that they don't, and just don't want to pay for any issues orkin may find. Their attitude about "there's no holes here!" is CLASSIC slumlord bullshit.

This thread really hit home for me too, because i just moved out of a place barely over a year ago that had serious issues with mice, and it started out exactly like your story right down to the landlord telling us there's no way mice could be getting in, we must be leaving food out, telling us we couldn't call any orkin type companies/saying she wouldn't pay no matter what.

Pests happen, even to clean people

This is something very important to consider as well. It really pisses me off that the default response is always "well this wouldn't be an issue if you didn't do X". No, sometimes the apartment/house/rental space just fucking sucks and the landlord is fully aware that there's issues with pest ingress.

All that said, She should pack up and move. Everything i've read so far made me wince. Take the termination as a fucking blessing. This will be a terrible landlord to have if they're trying to get out of calling orkin. The issues that you've had are the tip of the iceberg. I would bet pretty much anything that this is going to become a miserable situation at this point. This is very much one of those "being right doesn't get you a cookie" situations. Even if you armtwist the landlord in to having the pest control company come in, and fix the problem, now they hate you and you'll have to deal with their heel dragging bullshit every time you have any sort of problem.

This is not fun, and will just add an extra layer of stress to her life that could easily be avoided. Dear god do i wish my shitty landlord(s, several in the past) had offered me a chance to walk on the lease like this the first time their shittiness reared its ugly head.
posted by emptythought at 3:09 PM on April 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


EmptyThought, words cannot express the gratitude I feel for your answer. My friend emailed the landlord. She told the landlord she'll no longer be reporting anything that's not an emergency, and that she will find a solution to the carpet that does not violate the lease. She's called Orkin and I believe is either about to email, or has emailed, jbenben. She sent the landlord an email that pretty much said = in different words = "Forget your crap. I'm a busy person, I pay my rent on time, I keep your place in good condition, and I want a clean apartment. Lease isn't expired and doesn't say no carpet cleaning. I'm staying put and there's nothing you can do about it." And I'm SO GLAD she's done that. The apartment isn't a luxury condo but definitely doesn't suck, and I don't think her landlord is a slumlord, but mice are gross, and if the people on here would live with their dirt and the urine trail they leave behind, well... my friend wouldn't, and neither would I. So, Orkin and carpet cleaning it is. Thank you to everyone who suggested or hinted toward examining the lease. Thank you all for responding. Always a party here at AskMeFi... I found it difficult to understand where some of you were coming from, but people go through stuff and this is a nice venting space, so I do appreciate your time and am glad these questions offered you the opportunity to do it! Have a good weekend -
posted by lilacp at 6:43 PM on April 26, 2013


My only problem with a service like Orkin (not Orkin themselves, just any chain service!!) is they might come up with all kinds of bullshit to scare the tenant/owner and inflate the bill.

This is why I've only dealt with service providers I've gotten personal recommendations for.

I have comparable experience to emptythought and I think this sounds very less than ideal, but I don't think this sounds like a slumloard situation yet (let me tell you about the time I did not pay rent for 2 years in SoHo...:))

I DO think the landlord sounds inexperienced and unsure of how to be a good property owner.

I think a mastery of the law in your jurisdiction and a little diplomacy will go a long long way towards clearing things up.

OP, I really wish your friend had gotten in touch with me before sending what may be perceived as a drama bomb email.

There is NO visual inspection for mice that Orkin or the like can perform that your friend can't do on her own first, then call in a professional if she finds good reason and needs back-up evidence.


YES, pest controlis the cornerstone of good landlord tenant legislation, and is pretty much universal in most places I'm familiar with.

Like I said, this landlord sounds new and inexperienced, not greedy or uncaring.

I really hope y'all can smooth things over and get this resolved amicably. Moving is expensive. This landlord just sounds a little too hands-on and annoying.

I think the situation was workable.

Here's hoping the email works out and doesn't create a hostile relationship. Even idiots (the landlord) deserve a chance before shit goes nuclear!

(Also, there is a Japanese thing about choosing actions that give the party in the wrong a graceful exit out of a conflict, that philosophy should come into play in a ideal world:))
posted by jbenben at 10:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Update:

There WERE mice. More than one. Apparently a few of the window screens needed repair, and that was the problem. My friend liked to leave her windows open at night and when she was away I think. Something like that but the mice got in through the window. Basement apartment. I suppose it could happen.
Apartment was cleaned professionally at landlord's expense. Got to pay reduced rent to compensate for.. emotional distress, I suppose. I'm kidding. She'd bought some stuff to take care of the mice, I don't remember what. They negotiated something and everybody's a happy camper.
All is well for now. Friend and landlord are back on talking terms and friend got reduced rent.
Thanks, all
posted by lilacp at 9:24 PM on May 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


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