Friend needs help with a peculiar rental situation.
April 19, 2017 3:52 PM   Subscribe

The short of it is: friend wants to rent apartment. Friend was given keys to the apartment without signing a lease and paying a dime toward rent or a deposit. Current landlord was supposed to fix several major issues in the apartment and then meet with friend to sign the lease/turn over a payment this week. Neither of those happened on the agreed upon dates. Landlord isn't returning texts or calls....what's the next step? Details below.

OK hivemind here is a weird one:

So from what I've been told is that my friend agreed to rent an apartment in a building that his cousin is planning on purchasing in a month or so (NOTE: PLANNING). It's not a bad apartment at all but it needs several major repairs (exposed pipes above doorway needing to be covered with dry wall, appliances need replacing, etc.) and to be cleaned. Friend was given the keys to the apartment by the current landlord (who apparently wants out of the role) without having signed a lease or paying a security deposit or rent. They then agreed upon a day to meet up after the repairs were finished completed (the beginning of this week) to take care of the the lease and security deposit/rent. That day came and the landlord didn't show and the repairs haven't been started. Friend has been texting and calling to no avail.

What is my friend's next course of action currently? I have never heard of a situation like this here keys are given to a tenant before any contracts are signed and it is extremely perplexing and distressing to my friend. He doesn't have to worry about a place to live currently, he has nothing in writing, and he isn't out any actual money, so he's ok, but I'm not sure the local tenant helpline would be able to help in this case. If he moves in anyway (which I have advised hm NOT TO DO) he's not protected from eviction and possible arrest as a squatter.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
posted by Young Kullervo to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
this is going to vary from place to place. can you give a location?
posted by koroshiya at 3:55 PM on April 19, 2017

Response by poster: Louisville, KY.
posted by Young Kullervo at 3:57 PM on April 19, 2017

Best answer: I would run far, far away. Any number of things could happen; the sale to the cousin could stall or never happen, etc. I would at a minimum find temp housing until the apartment situation is resolved. Nothing about this sounds healthy to me.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:05 PM on April 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I think the next step is to look for a different place to live.

There's no lease agreement, the apartment isn't in habitable condition, the landlord is being a flake, money hasn't changed hands, and the ownership of the property is up in the air. All of these are like a Burma Shave series of signs pointing to "Don't live here".

I'd look for a different place, and tell the cousin, "Hey, since this is still all up in the air, I'm going to look elsewhere. We can always revisit this next year after everything is settled." And frame it in such a way that friend doesn't want to put more on the cousin's plate.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:08 PM on April 19, 2017 [14 favorites]

Why is he still considering living in this apartment? There is roughly 0% chance the situation is going to improve from here. Friend should leave the keys under the mat, text the landlord their location and start searching for a different place.
posted by blackzinfandel at 4:21 PM on April 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Usually a landlord is on best behavior before you move in. It might be okay if the landlord had rescheduled or explained, but didn't clean/repair/replace anything, didn't show for the appointment, won't return calls or messages? This situation is only going to get worse if your friend moves in.
posted by wryly at 4:35 PM on April 19, 2017

Best answer: The landlord has likely defaulted on his loans or similar high stakes shenanigans.

Your friend needs to post the keys back to whatever legal address he has for landlord and send that certified/return receipt. Or via fedex. Or he throws the keys in the trash and lets the landlord know via email he will not be moving in.

Run. Run. Run. Put it in writing, and run!!!
posted by jbenben at 8:53 PM on April 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: As an update: Friend received a message from landlord stating his wife was hospitalized, apologized, and stated he would be working on the place this week. Even if I want to empathize, it still seems like an unstable situation. Hopefully he'll read this and consider your advice.
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:21 AM on April 21, 2017

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