Construction ruckus - how do I help my cat cope?
August 27, 2014 11:44 AM   Subscribe

My landlord insists that I be out of the house during daytime bathroom renovation. This will terrify my aged, timid house cat. Any suggestions?

TL;DR summary: Landlord refuses to let me be here during the day while renovating. My frail housebound cat will be terrified. What do I do?


I've rented from Landlord for 16 years. My precious girl has lived here with me her entire life, strictly indoors.

She's now 15 and in failing health. Because I don't socialize much, she's scared of everyone who is Not Me and loud external noises (trucks, fireworks). When it's just us, she's Queen of the Castle.

The problem - yesterday, Landlord informed me that he is gutting and renovating the house's bathroom. Majorly. He'll rip out the tub, redo walls and floors, eliminate a window, reroute plumbing and install a shower. (I suspect he's preparing to sell the house.)

He announced that he was starting immediately, that very morning, while I was at work. (He called me at the office, there was no advance notice at all.)

I was not comfortable with this - at the very least, I wanted to remove my personal belongings from the bathroom and tidy up! I was also worried about kitty. With difficulty, I got him to delay until today, saying I'd take off work and let him in.

This morning, he was visibly unhappy to see me. He asked if I was staying. I said yes. He abruptly announced that he was leaving, he couldn't work while I was here. He'd return on Friday and start demolition while I was at work. (He didn't provide an explanation beyond that.)

This was very odd - it's a smaller house but my presence would in no way interfere. He'd never see me, I would not be underfoot. I told him go ahead, don't mind me, do what you have to do! I'd use a nearby public bathroom if I needed the facilities. He refused. (He doesn't expect me to move out during the project; he's fine if I sleep here and stated plumbing will be functional at all times.)

His weirdness aside, I'm so worried about what to do with kitty during days of demolition and construction while I'm at work. Any suggestions?

I'm going to have to shut her in my bedroom when I leave; okay but it's right next to the bathroom. The noise, the power tools, the smashing and bashing and strange people in and out all day - this is going to terrify her, and it breaks my heart.

- I work 30 minutes away, 9 AM - 6 PM. My office is No Pets Allowed.

- I've never boarded her or taken her anywhere (except the vet) and being such a homebody, would this be even more traumatic for her than remaining at home during the chaos?

- I've no family nearby; are there people willing to day-sit an elderly, unsociable cat?

- There are some pet-friendly hotels in town -- maybe I should get us a room? But for how long? There's no way renovation will be done in one day, I think this is going to drag on awhile. Also, do I leave her alone in the hotel while I'm at work? (Yowling)

What else can I do? Maybe take a half-day on Friday and come home early, against Landlord's wishes? If this drags on, I'm going to be missing a lot of work. Insist that he do the renovations during nights and weekends, when I'm home? Can I do that?

Your advice / experience desperately needed. Thanks from both of us!
posted by falldownpaul to Pets & Animals (56 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the legalities of this, but I would absolutely insist on staying home with the cat while the demo was taking place, if nothing else. Sit in the bedroom with her and distract her.

There is no practical reason for your landlord to refuse this, so I would stand firm. If he asks you to leave, say "that won't be possible".

Talk to your local tenant's rights association, absolutely, but I would not leave my aged cat home alone during the renovation.
posted by lydhre at 11:48 AM on August 27, 2014 [18 favorites]

IALL, albeit NYLL, but your lease should have something to say about the landlord giving adequate notice to enter the rental. And, um, he shouldn't just be able to kick you out of it, either. As I was about to say, before I checked preview :), contact the tenant's rights association for guidance. Refusing to work while you're there makes absolutely no sense.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2014 [10 favorites]

(And you're right: this is not a one-day renovation. It took several days just to replace the tub and surround in my bathroom--stuff has to dry, etc.)
posted by thomas j wise at 11:51 AM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, he's being unreasonable and I would agree with others above that you look into your rights/lease.

Also tbh I would also definitely be concerned that he plans to do this entire renovation himself (unless he is already a contractor?) and further, doesn't want anyone to see him doing it.
posted by elizardbits at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2014 [29 favorites]

Your landlord is being ridiculously unreasonable about this, which you know. What an ass! The above advice is good. Stand your ground if you can. But if you can't (ie, you have to work and you suspect the landlord is going to come into the house while you're at work), get your cat out of there.

Having subjected my cat (not ailing, not old, but very timid and anxious) to similar construction, I would advise you not to leave your cat on the premises while your landlord is working. In my opinion, your best option is to board her. However stressful that is, it's going to be less stressful than strangers in her living space making lots of awful noise and scaring the living daylights out of your kitty. Definitely call the place where you would board her and talk to them.

My kitty, who I didn't want to move, stayed in the house, got an awful UTI from being too anxious to use the litter box, ended up at the emergency vet, and on and on. The whole fiasco ended with surgery, a $6000+ vet bill, a week at the vet, and another month of him confined in a large dog crate to convalesce.

Board your cat.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 11:54 AM on August 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

I am team Board Your Cat. With any luck you have one of those cat-only places in your area, the ones that play bird videos all day and every cat has a little playroom. They're not the cheapest option but I think your landlord is being super-sketch about this and your cat is not safe there.

But also check your rights. I do not believe your landlord ever has the right to forbid you from being in your own residence.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:58 AM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Board your cat --- and she's gorgeous, by the way!

And not only does it sound awful odd that he thinks he can reno an entire bathroom in one day (hah!), both the demand that you vacate the premises while he does so and the total lack of written notice hit my bullshit meters.
posted by easily confused at 12:01 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I don't feel like your sweet precious lovely queen of the castle is going to be safe there with just the landlord. She certainly won't be emotionally safe. I have a similar scardey-cat goofball and I can't even imagine how traumatizing this would be for her.

Boarding is stressful, but it's much less stressful than being in an apartment where someone who may or may not know what they are doing is hacking apart a bathroom.

Is it even possible to do that kind of renovation without losing some of the use of the plumbing, even for a day or two? This sounds like it was really poorly planned by your landlord. No one who knows what they are doing starts a major house renovation without prior planning.

I would call a tenant's rights organization and see if they can help you. The cat is an issue, but I'm not sure it's the biggest issue here. Your landlord may be violating his lease with this behavior. I have no idea, but call a lawyer who specializes in tenancy issues or a tenant's rights organization to get more information about how to handle this.
posted by sockermom at 12:03 PM on August 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm skeptical that the bathroom will truly be usable during the renovation. Even if the toilet is working, how are you going to be able to shower during a renovation of the bathtub? I would ask that your LL put you and kitty up in a kitty-friendly hotel for the duration of the project. The whole thing sounds super sketchy.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:04 PM on August 27, 2014 [18 favorites]

As a contractor and landlord, I am nearly positive as to why he does not want you to see him work - there is only one reason why any contractor would not want someone see them do work: they are planning to do the work in an improper and unsafe manner.

There is a great temptation for landlord's to cut corners. And, any reputable contractor would not care who watched their work.

He is renovating the bathroom, installing a new tub, replacing sheet-rock? Is he a contractor? Is there a permit posted on your door for this work?

All you have to do is ask questions about permits, and the work will stop immediately. The building department would love to hear from you. And, if he is trying to hide his work, then maybe the building department should be involved.
posted by Flood at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2014 [61 favorites]

Can you take some vacation time now? If so, the hotel and sitting with your cat would at least be peaceful. If not, nthing boarding. As long as the construction is going to happen, and it will, it's probably best to remove her from the noise.

If I were you, I'd not bother with trying to stay in this house at all, and instead focus my attention on lining up something else, because your hunch that he wants to sell is correct, and it seems he wants to do it very soon. Even if you can stay, I don't see why you would want to at this point, because some weirdness has set in.
posted by sageleaf at 12:07 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

No matter what ends up happening, try using a Feliway diffuser for your cat. Whether you're locking her in your bedroom, or the two of you are going to a hotel room, or whatever. (Doesn't work on all cats, but worked great on mine in a variety of high-stress situations.) The diffuser is more effective than the spray.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Absolutely do not leave your cat alone with your landlord. I agree with Flood about permits. There's definitely something sketchy going on here.
posted by patheral at 12:13 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Every contractor I've hired has had no problem with me in the house. It's *very* strange that your landlord insists you be gone. It would make me very nervous as there's no reason why I should be gone. You don't have to be gone if you don't want to. His preference that you be gone is not enforceable.

Additionally, do you have more than one bathroom? This renovation will take awhile, even if he has a professional team of workers and all items have been purchased and are ready for installation. You will not have use of the bathroom for some days. That's really not acceptable if you're still trying to live there. If you don't have another full bathroom to use and it's critical that the landlord do this now, he should put you up in a hotel while the bathroom is not usable. If he's doing this himself and is not a professional contractor and doesn't have at least one other worker with him, this could really drag on for weeks. He needs to be more transparent about what's happening.
posted by quince at 12:13 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do you have a neighbor who will let your kitty stay with her for the day (who doesn't already have a cat)? Maybe someone who loves cats, but for whom cleaning the litter box every day is just too much trouble? Some kind of sanctuary nearby, where you can maybe move a familiar chair into the room, sit with her for a while, bring her for a short visit before leaving her there all the time?

This is a serious issue; if your cat gets really upset, you could end up with a UTI or crystals in her urine or other health problems (some cats do just stop peeing if they get stressed), which will cost you money. Alternatively, some cats, subject to unusual stresses, will become destructive to property either by clawing/digging or improperly elimating outside the litter box.

It's because you are a responsible pet owner that your pet is a joy and hasn't caused damage; you protecting her is protecting the landlord, too.
posted by amtho at 12:14 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

i am team stand and fight. your relationship with the landlord is governed by your lease and the statutes in your jurisdiction, and i would be surprised if they allow him to temporarily evict you immediately without notice. if i am right, you would have the right to use reasonable force to remove him from your leasehold, just as if he were a stranger, and if he presented the slightest counterforce, you would have the right to escalate.

i wonder if he has building permits for this?

it wouldn't hurt to drop in there as a surprise during work. take a video!

it sounds like you will need a lawyer for this, wouldn't hurt to find the best tenant's counsel in your jurisdiction right now.
posted by bruce at 12:14 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

he's fine if I sleep here and stated plumbing will be functional at all times

Just so you know... this is false. He doesn't mean for it to be false, but there is absolutely a 0% chance that you will be able to bathe daily during this renovation. Something will happen, something will not get reconnected properly, or grout will need to dry, or a bunch of other problems. If he's retiling the floor it's possible you'll have a toilet to use at the end of each day but I wouldn't count on that either. Be prepared for this, speak to him about exactly his plan, and make sure you know each day what is happening. And have a backup plan for when it goes wrong.
posted by brainmouse at 12:17 PM on August 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Responding to your questions about Landlord's construction skills and credentials - your suspicions are right on the money.

He tries, but Landlord is not a gifted handyman. He's always struck me as bumbling, rather than shady, but he has no DIY skills. Every home repair he's attempted here has been slap-dash and poorly executed, using salvage-lot parts and rummage sale finds.

He mentioned having someone help him carry out the old iron tub but indicated he's doing the rest himself.

There are no building permits posted.

Thanks, all. You're the best.
posted by falldownpaul at 12:23 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is so utterly bizarre that its red flags are sprouting red flags.

This guy is completely shitting all over your sixteen year rental relationship. He is up to something shady. Shaaaaaaaa-dyyyyyy. I don't know what, perhaps it's as simple as the doing work without a permit thing, but everything about this seems wrong and bad.

No notice to enter and do work? Ugh.
The pluming will be fully functional? Yeah right.
You can't be in the house, not at all, not even to let him in? What.

I don't know what to tell you, but do whatever is in your power to have him stop this right now. If he is going to be so precious about this bathroom work, which you are almost certainly right he's doing in prep to sell the house, he can do it when your lease is up.
posted by phunniemee at 12:26 PM on August 27, 2014 [11 favorites]

Oh dear, if he's not experienced, a total bathroom renovation is not even close to a beginner's project. This could really stretch for weeks and weeks and be an unmitigated disaster. He must put you up in a hotel for the duration if he insists on doing it now. I'd try to compel him to do it after you've moved out. I'd probably also start looking for a new place.
posted by quince at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

What. The. Heck. Is he adding a hidden camera in the bathroom (not really kidding)? Unless you are absolutely in love with this place, I'd start looking for a new apartment.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:30 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wait, what--he's a terrible handyman?! NOPE NOPE NOPE. Not only will this take forever, but also there's a not-insignificant chance that he may cause serious structural damage to the house. Wayward water has a habit of doing that.

It may not be possible to salvage your relationship with this guy, because if he won't listen to reason (USE A PROFESSIONAL) and insists on violating LL-tenant law (WHY ARE YOU SUDDENLY APPEARING IN MY APARTMENT), then your options are all going to be pretty confrontational. ("Oh, look, it's the local codes enforcement officer. I wonder how he got here?") The others are right that he probably wants to sell the house. Decamping forthwith might be the best option. If decamping forthwith isn't really possible (I can see that you might not want to do that with an elderly cat), then check w/the tenant's rights association about making him pony up for a hotel when (not if) he makes the plumbing go kaflooey. (It may magically become cheaper for him to get a pro once he realizes how much it will cost to house you.)
posted by thomas j wise at 12:46 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

1. Do you have a second bathroom in your place? Sounds like you don't. Even assuming you don't discourage the landlord from ripping up your bathroom (which isn't a bad idea), your place may not be fit for occupation while the work is going on, and your landlord would be obliged to put you up at a hotel. Which he should want to do, now that I think about it, because if he doesn't want you around when he's doing the work, he sure as hell won't want you taking pictures of his work after he's done for the day. (Unless he finishes everything in one day. Which he won't.)

2. Do you have a lease? I cannot imagine it gives the landlord the right to bar you from your place with no notice. Even if you don't, he probably can't, although the details of this will vary from state to state and city to city.
posted by adamrice at 12:47 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

...or hiding stuff in the wall...
posted by amtho at 12:47 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

That sounds illegal. Say no. Then get a lawyer if you have to to tell him.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:51 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nope, Nope, Nope.

You're going to stand up to him.

"Landlord, I am not granting you permission to tear out my bathroom. I've already contacted the building/code enforcement folks and they say there aren't any permits on file and I don't trust your skills. I have no confidence that you will leave me with a usable bathroom and I don't want to leave a place that I am legally renting from you. If however, you agree to pull permits and to put me and Princess Lilypad up in a nice hotel during the construction, I'll be perfectly happy with that arrangement."

This is sketchadoodle in the EXTREME!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:20 PM on August 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

Responding to your questions about a second bathroom - nope, this is the only bathroom.

His stated plan is to remove the toilet during renovation but to re-install before I "get home from work". He really seems to think this will all be done in one day.

My plan for bathing: there is a functioning shower stall free-standing in the middle of the creepy, unfinished basement. It's what I've been using for the last 16 years, the tub on the first floor never worked.

I've always assumed that he installed this shower - it's exactly his style of handiwork - so at least he has some plumbing "experience"?
posted by falldownpaul at 1:26 PM on August 27, 2014

Is the apt rent controlled or anything? It sounds to me like he's trying to force you out of the apartment by being a nuisance / making the place uninhabitable. Tenant Association / Lawyer Up / Start making arrangements on somewhere else to live now in the likely case your apartment is uninhabitable.
posted by TheAdamist at 1:29 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

So in my state, it's explicit that the landlord would require some sort of court order to do this without your permission. He owns the property, meaning he's legally entitled to rent, but you are paying rent, meaning you have significant rights. So basically you need to consult some kind of tenant's rights attorney and at the very least have a letter drafted.
posted by kavasa at 1:32 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe he could give you $100 off rent for every day you don't have a working toilet, and an additional $100 for every day you don't have a working bathtub/shower?
posted by amtho at 1:44 PM on August 27, 2014

He's wildly unrealistic on his time. I had a contractor redo a similar bath a few years ago, back to studs, replace, but not move fixtures. It took ten days to finish (just the tiling, tub surround then floor, took four days to complete). The toilet was usable in a week, but then another couple of days to paint. This was done with a crew of subs---typically 1-3 people working as needed. There was someone doing something all the time, roughly 8 hrs a day.

There is no way any single person could do even a "remove and replace" job in a single work day.
posted by bonehead at 2:12 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nothing the city building inspector, ASAP.

My dad's a carpenter -- by all reports, most inspectors are good guys, and WANT to keep bad things like this from happening. Also, for what it's worth, even though he knows HOW, my dad hired someone else to put in their new toilet. It isn't as simple as it looks and it's easy for things to go wrong.

As for speedy replies, I've seen neighbors call inspectors on each other and even here in the "good luck getting a cop to show up" city of Cleveland, they'll come right out. Good luck!
posted by at 2:15 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Where are you? People can give you more accurate advice about tenants rights, etc., if you post your city.

If you go for the motel/hotel option:

1) Your landlord should pay since he's the one insisting that you be out of your home

2) I've stayed in a motel with my elderly cat and he was fine. He just wandered around and yowled for an hour or two when we first got there (so check in early, before other people want to sleep!) but settled down after I gave him lots of love and reassurance and treats.

3) Cats sleep 16-to-20 hours/day so you shouldn't have to worry about her yowling all day in the hotel room while you're at work.

4) Remember to leave the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign on the door while you're out of the room so the maid doesn't let the cat out!

5) I found the best option for the litter box was to set it on top of a large plastic garbage bag in the bathroom and then put a litter-catching mat on the threshold between the bathroom and room. It's easier to sweep up a little litter on a tile floor than to deal with it getting tracked all over the room.

6) I rearranged the room furniture so that my cat had an easy ascent to the window and a nice napping spot there so he could look outside and see what was going on.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:32 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

If he's planning to 'reroute plumbing', then more likely than not he'll have to shut off all water to the entire house, which means that basement shower will be SOL.

If he's planning to 'redo walls and floor', I believe floor tiling is something that would have to be finished and the tile grout set, all before he can start to install the tub/shower & toilet.

And he wants to 'eliminate a window'?!? We're talking serious construction here, what with removing the window, building the outer wall, insulating it, and dry-walling the inside, and that doesn't even count any kind of exterior siding that'll be needed. This whole project is not a one man/one day project, even if that one man was an experienced professional!

One more concern, besides your kitty and the lack of plumbing and the short notice from LL and the failure to get building permits and all the rest: if a window is ripped out, how about your home security? Is there likely to be a big ol' hole in your wall for days, inviting the neighborhood burglars?
posted by easily confused at 2:53 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your landlord is being a butthole. I sympathize.

Years ago I had to take my cat to a hotel due to similar landlord rudeness, and it was kind of a disaster. My skitty spent the whole night having a freakout. He ended up hiding under the bed, and in the morning I had to get a broom from the front desk so I could put it under the bed to gently sweep him outta there. (The bed was too low for me to get under it.) He was a superb cat and pretty low-drama generally, but that night was a memorable ordeal.

If it is at all possible, I'd say take the days off (or hey, the weekend is coming up) and keep the cat in the bedroom with you, with her litterbox. The clunks and thomps from the bathroom will probably make her jumpy, but if you're there to pet and reassure her I think she shouldn't be too freaked out.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:25 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

In these circumstances I don't know what I'd suspect more - that he's doing the work without permits, or that he's trying to hide a body in your walls.

Regardless of what you do (and I vote you don't let this guy touch your bathroom until he can prove he's got a real contractor and permits) --

NEVER ever ever ever ever EVER trust a contractor (or someone who THINKS he's a contractor) not to let your cat out when you're not home.

It doesn't matter if you have a lock on your bedroom door and you're the only one with a key - they will find a way to get in and they will let your cat out of the house.

I am not simply speaking anecdotally. This is an actual, recognized natural LAW. They teach it in schools now.
posted by kythuen at 3:54 PM on August 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

If he ends up go ahead with this, take precautionary measures and make sure anything you care about is up off the floor. From your description of his plumbing skills, accidental flooding may be a distinct possibility!
posted by platinum at 3:55 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I would flat out absolutely insist on your right to be present during this renovation, to make sure your cat is okay. When he says he wants you to be out of the house, you just say, no way, no no NO.

I mean, think about it -- what can he do if you just say no? Call the police to evict you? Really, Just Say No.

I also agree with everyone who has suggested you contact the building department, or whoever is in charge of permits for this kind of work in your city.

I don't agree with the suggestion that you stay in a hotel, unless you can be in the hotel room with your cat the entire time. Do you really want to worry about a cleaning person accidentally letting your cat escape from the hotel room? And although some cats might be fine in a hotel, not all are.
posted by merejane at 4:36 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, also: what an absolutely beautiful cat!
posted by merejane at 4:38 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have cats with sort of special social needs too, and though I've never had to board them, if I did, I would go about it the same way I found an awesome vet and awesome groomer: call a bunch of them, say a few sentences explaining your cat and situation, ask a few questions, and go by the tone of voice of whoever you talk to.

Facilities like vets and kennels have the tremendous advantage of having dealt with every imaginable type of animal. The ones run by smart, kind people have found ways to accommodate nervous / scared / elderly animals and their worried owners. Those facilities, on the whole, have a nice person answering the phone who will listen to you and say, "Oh the poor thing, of course you don't want her staying in a scary noisy house, here's what we can do for her." Anybody who doesn't say something to this effect, you can skip.

I know this is not very scientific, but it works. You'll be able to hear it when you're talking to someone who understands. Your cat probably isn't going to LOVE being boarded no matter what, but a good facility will not leave her traumatized.

p.s. what a gorgeous furry queen!
posted by jessicapierce at 5:18 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

After 16 years, why is he suddenly demanding to renovate the bathroom RIGHT NOW when you haven't asked him to? This makes no sense at all unless, as suggested, he is trying to hide some kind of evidence - perhaps why he wants you out? This is really freaky and he obviously has no idea what he's doing. Take your gorgeous cat and move.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:07 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

UPDATE - if the mods will permit, so answers and advice won't be repeated:

I phoned Landlord. Wasn't home, but I expressed my concerns to his wife.

She got offended, told me I should be grateful for the new bathroom. She sent him back here to confront me in person. I apologized for offending Mrs. Landlord and tried to explain.

He refused to give me a schedule of his future renovation visits so I could plan ahead. He said he's a busy man and his availability varies day to day.

I asked him to call me prior to coming so I could see to my cat. He wouldn't commit to that, saying construction *wouldn't be noisy* and she'll be fine in the bedroom. I should just shut her in before I leave for work in case he stops by.

I replied that I don't want to confine her to the bedroom every day unless I know he's coming, and if I had notice I could take her to daycare on my way to work. He dismissed this, so I politely asked about permits.

He left, telling me he'd probably be over tomorrow morning to get started.
posted by falldownpaul at 6:22 PM on August 27, 2014

It's definitely time to make calls to your local tenants' rights board. This is ten kinds of not right.
posted by phunniemee at 6:28 PM on August 27, 2014 [12 favorites]

So, uh, he doesn't get to just dismiss the request for notice. He has the right to entry, yes, but not without notice. It will vary by your state, obviously, but this one is usually pretty basic. Please, please call a tenants' right association. I know you obviously don't want to get into anything adversarial with the guy, but good lord, I want to punch him just reading about this.

And maybe start looking for another place? One where you don't have to shower in the basement, for pity's sake. That is also absurd.
posted by instead of three wishes at 6:38 PM on August 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

Why are you being so deferential to him? This is not the way this process works. You need to be firm, and reject his idea of how the process is going to go.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:45 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

now you're taking shit from his wife too? he's too busy to give you a schedule?

change your locks, stat, this guy is gonna break in when you're not there, he's eagerly awaiting an opportunity. another option is to make it look like you've gone to work; park your car somewhere else. when he comes in through the door, you're standing behind it and you've got the drop on him.
posted by bruce at 7:15 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

As mentioned above, get on the internets and find the local City Building Inspector, and when you do, any possible construction ruckus should stop when they show up.

You'll probably also want to think about finding somewhere else to live, sooner or later.
posted by ovvl at 7:27 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

MOVE. That guy is nuts. But call the building inspectors, stat. And btw he won't like the fines he is gonna get for what he is about to do. And there WILL be fines.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:37 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I understand that confrontation is probably difficult for you. I think you need to get help from a friend or relative or find a tenant's rights lawyer.

You have done nothing wrong and do not have anything to apologize for.

At the very least, post a note on your door stating unequivocally that he does NOT have permission to enter your home. That way the note can do your confronting for you. If he calls, don't answer until you've found and spoken with an attorney. Local tenants' organizations should be able to help you find someone.
posted by kavasa at 7:40 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

To be clear, the "help from a friend or relative" is that you work out a script with them so they can do the confronting for you. You need someone who's not afraid to say "no" and won't back down. That's your short-term solution. Your mid-term solution is attorney/building inspectors. Your long term solution is moving.
posted by kavasa at 7:41 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm all for fighting the righteous fight, but this guy has a key to the OP's home, and the OP can't wait there every hour of every day in case landlord decides to show up unannounced. Maintaining cordial, or at least civil, relations is a very smart thing to do, at least as much as possible.

That said: it sounds like landlord thinks this is all about the cat. I know your points are valid w.r.t. the cat, but it might help if you made this more about potential issues with the plumbing, permits, possibility of an unexpected problem, etc.

Where are you located? Maybe someone knows the relevant regulations here.

Also, if you can arrange a call to him from your attorney, maybe that would help him listen more. Just a thought.
posted by amtho at 8:13 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

It sounds to me like he's trying to get you to move.

I would not be surprised AT. ALL. if he rips out your bathroom and then gets too busy to come back and replace it. No matter how right you are, from a legal standpoint, you are not going to be able to live there without a functioning bathroom.

It's up to you if you want to move now or move later, but one way or the other it doesn't sound like you and the landlord are going to be on great terms at the end of this fiasco.
posted by vignettist at 9:01 AM on August 28, 2014

I'm getting the feeling that the OP is renting a room or small suite of rooms within the landlord's actual residence and is not a tenant living in a regular apartment/townhouse/half of a two-family residence owned by the landlord. If so, there may not be an actual lease involved, and the OP may not even be able to "lock" the landlord out of their part of the house.

OP can you clarify the living situation, and also let us know what region of the world you are in? Landlord/tenant rights can vary not just from country to country but also from state to state within the US.
posted by elizardbits at 11:01 AM on August 28, 2014

@ elizardbits, I attempted to mail you some answers to your questions but your mail is disabled. Thanks for adding your insight, tho!
posted by falldownpaul at 4:28 PM on August 28, 2014

This is all very stressful for you and your gorgeous kitty. If you opt to stay in a pet friendly hotel, please stay with your kitty. Believe me, even though you give the desk instructions, there is no way to guarantee housekeeping will not open the door. Kitty may make a dash for it.
I would be extremely uncomfortable knowing a landlord felt he had the right to enter my living space just because I was at work. I hope you are able to work out a solution using the suggestions from knowledgeable folks above.
posted by crw at 5:55 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even if there isn't an actual lease involved, you still have tenant rights after living there sixteen years!

Please contact your local tenant / housing department ASAP. Your landlord is NOT being reasonable. If you update with your state if not city location, other people here can provide you with links.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:18 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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