How do I get my landlord to stop fixing stuff??
August 22, 2017 9:32 AM   Subscribe

My landlords are ALWAYS around. They are always working on the house, which is great, but makes me feel ill at ease in my home. Its always noisy, I feel uncomfortable in my home because someone can always be expected to be at a window, and I'm frustrated as important things that should have been fixed long ago, like the air conditioner and dish washer are still unusable. How do I talk to my landlords so that they fix the important things, and then let me live here without interruption?

This morning they're putting screens on the windows. Yesterday they were sanding the windows. A week before they were painting trim. And so on back for five months. It's driving me insane. I love my landlords. They're great people and I want to have a good relationship with them. I need the unending fixes to stop though. Help me stop the fixes. They're not getting ready to sell the house. I think they just like working on it.
posted by coldbabyshrimp to Human Relations (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Every time you see them, ask them to fix the air conditioner, literally every time. Your air conditioner doesn't work and it is summertime! Once it is fixed, ask about the dishwasher every time.
posted by soelo at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2017 [23 favorites]

Are The notifying you IN WRITING IN ADVANCE every time their workers come by? Because that's what I would start.

You are renting the house, so I'm pretty sure they can't just show up whenever they like. Consult your local Tennent's rights group and find out what they are required to give you as far as advance notice in writing each and every time they send workers to your home that you are paying rent on. Just because they are the landlord does not mean they have unlimited access.

Also, put the request for the important stuff in writing. List the important issues that have gone unanswered and ask when you can expect them to be addressed, date and time. Start a paper trail and keep copies of everything you send them and which thy send you.

Always talk to the landlord in writing. Your experience shows that they don't give a toss for verbal discussions. But written communication can be entered as evidence in court.

Put it in writing, get it in writing. Always and every time.

Best of luck.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:09 AM on August 22, 2017 [12 favorites]

Additional: if the air conditioner and dishwasher come as part of the rental agreement on the house, then thant's part of what you are paying rent for. Mention that in your letter, and that multiple times you've mentioned it verbally and gotten no response.

Landlords blow-off verbal shit all the time. Put it on paper, request a written response, keep copies of everything.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:13 AM on August 22, 2017 [6 favorites]

Are The notifying you IN WRITING IN ADVANCE every time their workers come by? Because that's what I would start. You are renting the house, so I'm pretty sure they can't just show up whenever they like.

A caveat: in most areas this only applies to actually entering your home, and not to external work.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:15 AM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]

They're painting window trim when major appliances are broken? Yeah, your assessment of them just liking to putter around with the house sounds spot on.

If you're wanting to keep it cordial, I might start off by catching them next time they're working on the house and casually asking what their long term plans are re: fixing up the house. It could be that these fixes are things that they had on their summer to-do list and they might even be almost finished by now. Yay!

But if they don't have a plan or a specific end date in sight, I don't think it would be unreasonable at all to email them and let them know that the constant sound of reno is a little less than relaxing and to ask if they would be willing to work with you and stick to a fixed repair schedule/not reno after 5pm/give you a heads up when they're coming around to work on a project/whatever would mean the least amount of overlap between your being home and them DIYing. If they're as great as they seem to be, this shouldn't be an issue, and they may even be a little embarrassed that they've inadvertently been intruding on your quiet time.

The appliances though, that's a whole other business. Whether it's a matter of calling a repair person to fix it or purchasing a new appliance, they need to do that ASAP. Especially the AC! I'd email them again to let them know that the appliances are both broken and ask when you might expect to see them repaired or replaced (you can soften this with a "I know you've both been very busy with the house lately..." if you like.)

I would also check and see if the lease mentions anything specific about repairs so if you don't get a response or get the sense they're not making this a top priority, you can circle back and mention it's been X weeks and the lease stipulates Y or whatever. You don't need to lead with that, but really, no AC in the summer is ridiculous.
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:31 AM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

It sounds like they are getting ready for winter?

In writing...

- Ask them for a schedule of upcoming exterior repairs.

- Ask them to fix the AC and Dishwasher ASAP.

- Thank them for being attentive to repairs external and inside, but DO tell them that having them around without notice, even if they are only outside, is untenable. Check with you local tenants rights org, but the phrase you want is "quiet enjoyment of your lease." Find the right words to tell them how super duper fucked up it is that they invade your privacy on the reg. Fuck that. Don't stand for it. Be polite and firm. And don't make excuses or explain yourself! They are being unreasonable. You're in the right here, find the correct way to express this to them.
posted by jbenben at 11:00 AM on August 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

Even though they are your landlords and have power over you, they are also legally obligated to treat you in a particular way. Moreover, don't underestimate your value as a decent tenant. If you pay your rent on time, keep the place decent, and aren't doing illegal things there, you're better than many other possible tenants. Most landlords don't want to go through the hassle of finding a new tenant, doing background and credit checks, getting the place ready, etc. You're a sure thing. So don't feel bad about demanding what is your right.

First, what does your lease say about notification to enter? I think that it is fairly standard that landlords give X # of hours of notice before coming over. Also check with your municipality to see if there is a law about this. There may be a tenants rights center or something nearby that can help you.
While you have the lease open, check what it says about the AC and the dishwasher. They may be on the hook to fix it. Lots of leases document the appliances.

For the AC and dishwasher, send them an email stating the facts. "Hi Bob and Janet. I wanted to touch base again about the air conditioning and the dishwasher. I first told you about the latch problem on the dishwasher on March 15, 2017 via text. I mentioned the air conditioner vent issue on April 11, 2017 via email. So now it has been 4 and 5 months on these issues with no resolution. I rented this house with the expectation of these things and the lease says that they will be functioning. At this point, I really want to know what the plan is." (At this point if it makes you feel better you can say "I have my older aunt visiting next month and I want to make sure she is comfortable." But you don't need to.) You gotta ask them directly and in writing. It isn't your problem/fault if they don't have the money to fix these things.
However, did you sign the lease and these things were broken and they said they'd fix them? If this happened, next time get it in writing that they're going to be fixed, with a date.

If this is an issue of wanting warning about them coming over, but you don't mind the frequency, I'd say to them - "Hey guys, just for my privacy and stuff, would it be possible for you all to give me a head's up - just a text - an hour or 2 before you're going to come over?" But again, check your lease and the local laws. Maybe they are supposed to give even more notice.

If this is an issue about the frequency of their visits, this is going to be a tougher call. I'd probably ask them "Hey guys, can you please let me know when the renovation project is supposed to be done? When I originally signed the lease I had no idea that there would be renovation going on this long. It is hard for me because of the noise and privacy. If I have a better sense of the end-date though, I can make some accommodations - like working at a cafe for a few weeks." This might be the first step in giving them the message that you're unhappy with the situation. If you signed the lease and they gave no indication that they were going to be doing these projects, this is not okay.
posted by k8t at 11:01 AM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sounds to me like they may be fixing the place up to sell it, and plan on buying new appliances as a last step before putting it on the market so don't want to bother fixing the old ones.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:57 PM on August 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

OH DIP! Showbiz_liz just nailed this and you need a rent reduction ASAP because they are using you. Also, get an agreement you can move out with only 2 weeks notice, because soon you will need to move and you don't want to be forced to move in 30 days, you want to take your time and find a nice house with a landlord you feel is professional and respectful towards your new lease agreement.
posted by jbenben at 10:33 PM on August 22, 2017

Also, living in a place while a landlord is trying to sell it is super duper disruptive - realtors and prospective buyers traipsing all over the place, expecting you to keep the place in presentable condition etc., so if that is the case I would try to move asap.
posted by peacheater at 1:58 AM on August 23, 2017

From the question: They're not getting ready to sell the house.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:26 AM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I want to clarify: They are not selling the house. They are NOT selling the house. If they were, I would just buy it.

This is very much a rental property for them. They own two other houses on my block and several others around the state. They just purchased this house last year and we are their first renters here. They are currently looking for another renter to rent the the downstairs apartment of my unit.

They are very nice *hands on* people who are generally considerate and great to have as landlords. They always text 24 hours in advance and let us know they're coming over. It's just very frequent.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 10:09 AM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

My sister in law has tenants who are not happy with how often she comes over to do the yard work and maintenance on the very large yard. They have no interest in the morning are and would be just fine if it dried up and disappeared, apparently. Things are kept friendly by having a schedule. Yard work is for 6 hours every Tuesday, and she stays away the rest of the time. Perhaps you can arrange a similar schedule and help,them consolidate their work?
posted by SLC Mom at 7:00 PM on August 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

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