Last week I posted about the trouble I was having with a predatory landlady. Today I can give you a quick update that it looks like we will be able to break our lease and move into a much nicer place. The happiest part of the tale is that we get our deposit back!
We have had help from a wonderful friend who found a fabulous new place for us (Thank you Amber!) and a strong letter full of facts. The landlady has 7 days to comply with fixing this place up or we move. We are crossing our fingers!
Since it took them 6 months to figure out what was wrong with our hot water heater (hooked up to the wrong voltage) I’m not holding my breath. She received notice on Friday and has made an appointment Tuesday to try and make repairs. Should be interesting!
I’ve included the letter I wrote (personal info removed of course) for the use of others. If you’re having trouble with a bullying landlord, look up your rights and WRITE! A friend recently reminded me that the pen is mightier than the sword and a little knowledge goes a long way. Please feel free to use this letter as a guide (inserting your own details) in your own predatory landlord battles:
I did go see the charities as you suggested but not for money. I visited
Legal Aid to get some advice considering knowledge of more value than a
handout. As a prior home owner I haven’t had much experience with rental issues
but now that I’m better informed I can address this unfortunate situation.
This letter is our notice that we will be vacating the premises of 123 Your
Street, Yourtown, Yourstate 12345 no later than 31 July 2012. This is due to
the unlivable conditions of the premises as well as other complaints. You have
tried to coerce me to commit fraud by requesting funds twice on the same
financial instrument. I also object to your demeaning comments, bullying and
harassment. I‘ll address each concern individually so we have a common
understanding of the complaints.
Unlivable Conditions of the Premises It is a landlord’s
obligation to maintain the premises. This includes the roof, floors, windows,
screens, and all other structural components in good repair and the plumbing
kept in reasonable working condition.
Our floors are sinking in places as well as the ceilings. There are no
screens in any of the windows making it impossible to protect ourselves from
insects or run the dilapidated air conditioners. There were feces and mucous
smeared on the bathroom walls when we moved in. There are holes in the outside
doors and walls that lead directly to the elements including one big enough for
cats to walk thru. The house was not properly grounded when we moved in causing
an electrical shock to be running thru the cable and a gas line shocking my
Our ceiling leaks again due to the recent storms, and we spent the first
month and a half of our term here with the living room ceiling caved in and
leaking in multiple places. The electricity is patched together and according
to the previous electricians is not up to code and has blown out our space
heater due to a surge. We now know that a major ongoing problem with the
electricity and hot water heater has been that the heater was hooked up to twice
the voltage it was designed for causing the frequent outages, surges and brown
outs we’ve been plagued with. According to the Yourstate Landlord/Tenant
Statutes you, as the landlord, are responsible for the following;
- Provide for extermination of rats, mice, roaches, ants and wood-destroying
We have verbally informed you that we have rats, roaches and a massive
infestation of mosquitos due to the garbage piled against the common area fence
as well as a lack of screens.
- Provide running water and hot water;
We spent the first month of our lease, February, with no hot water due to
electrical problems. The electrical problems continued with the result that we
were without hot water at least one week out of every month since. In addition
the drains frequently back up and we find it necessary to filter the water
coming directly from the taps due to flecks of black material in the water.
- Remove garbage from the premises;
There is a large pile of pest infested garbage in the back corner of the
property outside in the common area from previous tenants.
- Provide a smoke detection device;
There were no smoke detection devices when we moved in. There were also no
light bulbs, shower rods or any other household attachments. We’ve had to
purchase all safety detection devices in this trailer and I have my original
receipts. I have never been refunded for any of these items.
- Provide locks and keys;
The back door has no key and the knob doesn’t work at all. The door cannot
be secured and barely closes. The side door is held closed with a board propped
- Provide a working heating system;
When we hooked up the utilities, the natural gas attendant informed us to
never run our heater or “you are all going to die”. There were no space heaters
provided, despite the lease claiming we received them. The gas stove is also
faulty and has given my youngest son a minor burn due to the elements leaking
natural gas and the flames jumping from a burner being used to one in the off
- Provide clean and safe condition of common areas.
The grounds are littered with broken glass, wire and twisted metal. There is
a large pile of garbage and refuse in one corner of the lot.
Coercion to Commit Fraud When I paid my rent on time on
July 1st, 2012 I paid by money order and delivered it to you at your
locked box across town as requested. I accidentally wrote your last name as “My
Own” on the money order rather than “Yours”. At this point you only needed to
return the document to me so that I could exchange it for a new one.
Instead you decided to cross out the mistake and write your own last name and
sign your initials. You endorsed the back of the document with two different
account numbers. Then you reported to me that the banks wouldn’t accept it and
that I owed you $600 in additional funds to cover the now unredeemable money
order and a $75 fee for being late.
I stated to you that I had paid your rent on time and that it was thru your
tampering that the money order was now an issue. You insisted that I owe you
the funds in full as they were not in your hand and that I go “ask charities”
for the money. I was surprised that you actually carry a list of charities with
you to pass on to your tenants so I’m assuming this is a common directive you
give your tenants. I told you I would see what I could do.
On July 5th , 2012 you stopped by in person to demand I go in
person to the bank with you after I had already refused via text. I informed
you that I had already filed for a return of the funds on the tampered money
order as you requested. After making repeated demands that I get in your car to
visit banks you told me we would go to a commercial money lender and again
ordered me in your car. Again I refused, spelling out to you that if I asked
for funds twice on the same financial instrument then I would be guilty of
Demeaning comments, bullying and harassment The repeated
ordering of me to get in your car to cash a money order I had already paid to
you was unprofessional conduct. On July 5th you asked if I had any
money on hand and I informed you I did, but it was set aside to purchase
groceries for the week. You demanded I bring you those funds and feed my
children from six garbage cans you had just filled with skipped tenants’
household goods. You also told me to drag a piece of abandoned furniture in
front of our house to sell for you. Suggesting I get “one of” my charities and
telling my husband to “get work like the Mexicans” are demeaning comments.
Ordering me to sell furniture for you and get in your car against my will is
bullying. I actually have not approached any charities thus far aside from
Legal Aid and find the suggestion offensive.
In addition, I have asked you a number of times why you refuse to accept a
check or money order in the mail and you have told other tenants and me that the
only way you would accept rental payment is across town in your lock box
on 123 Another Street. For your tenants, many of which have limited means of
transportation, this is a major issue. Now that I have studied my lease I see
that it states I can pay my rent via mail and check as I’ve repeatedly
requested. I can only assume that your verbal demand that your tenants walk,
bike, bus or pay a taxi to pay your rent is a form of harassment.
As I stated earlier, we will be vacating these premises no later than July
31, 2012 and you may count our deposit as our payment for July 2012. The
premises will be left in better condition than when we originally took
possession of them. I have taken photographs and kept documentation of our
entire stay here.
According to Your State Tenant Law you do have 7 days to comply and repair
the condemnable conditions of this trailer. Since the repairs include
new subflooring, extensive roof and ceiling repairs, a new heater system,
rewiring the building to code, attaching screens to all the windows, replacing
two doors, new plumbing pipes as well as vermin extermination I think it’s
reasonable to assume that we will leave things as this letter states. If you
are coming in to make repairs you must give us proper notice as our right to
possession of this trailer is much the same as if we owned it while we are
renting. Since our payment did come into your possession on time we are
presently current in our rent.