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My husband and I signed a one year lease on a single-family dwelling in Sarasota, FL on 3/1/10. At the time of the lease signing, the landlord disclosed that he wanted to remain in possession of a section of the dwelling that is attached to the rear of the residence, with it's own entrance. He explained that he would be using it on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 9:00am to 2:00pm. (He is self-employed and uses the computer in the room at times.)
This is the exact wording in the lease contract in regard to this office: "Resident agrees for Owner to remain in possession and use of one room and one bathroom, located at the rear northwest corner of the Property and 3 storage sheds attached to exterior side walls of the house (Property), for owner's personal use, for the entire year."
The landlord has been on-property approximately 5 to 6 days per week. Some days he just wanders around picking weeds from his lawn, moving a stockpile of junk from one side of the patio to the other, etc., but basically just "hanging around" the property. When checking the chemicals in the screened-in pool, we have noticed that he is trying to look into our windows. Nearly every time we go outside to enjoy the patio and pool area the landlord suddenly appears out of nowhere.
It is evident to me that he thinks he has unlimited and unregulated access to the property. We have tried to negotiate with him through verbal discussion and emails. (Side note: he refuses to get a new mailing address for himself, therefore we must sort through the mail each day and put his mail in a metal box near the rear of the residence. We didn't know about this "provision" until after moving in.)
The situation is out of control. We are very frustrated and angry. He is interfering with our peaceful and uninterrupted enjoyment of this rental home. It seems the more we complain, the more he shows up on the property and he stays longer. He is becoming abusive in his emails to us when we write about our repair needs and repeated requests for privacy.
We do not have the money to be able to break our lease and move, but we are going out of our mind with his lack of consideration, his attitude that he is "above the law" and his "peeping tom" activities. We have considered filing a restraining order on him, but are unsure how that would affect the lease contract, etc. We have complained to the Florida Division of Consumer Services in the hope of gaining a mediator, but realistically this avenue may take a while, if it helps at all.
By Janae from Sarasota, FL
File a restraining order against him. If he complains tell him you will gladly move to another place if he receeds the contrat you have with him. Also send him a certified letter stating he is no longer allowed to use your address for his personal use. Make sure you make a copy of the letter and have it notorized.
In the letter give him a date at which time the mail will be sent back to sender allowing him time to file a change of address with the post office. If he complains about this tell him it is not in the contract that the Federal address for the house is to be shared. If he does anything to your mail it is a Federal offence. You can confront him saying you will press charges through the US Postal service or he can negate your contract. his choice.
The best time to initiate and confront him with these matters is right after you pay your rent. Then if he says, "OK get out of here now" you can reply "OK give me my rent back for this month or we stay till the end of the month."
You aren't dealing with a nice situation and there is no nice way to end it (or at least it doesn't sound like it). Warning, when you move out take pictures of the place or better yet take a video camera of it after you have removed all your posessions and clean the place up. If you don't he might come back with a reduced security deposite (or none at all) saying you did such and such damage that had to be repaired and such and such damage that had to be fixed to make the place livable again. If you have pets be prepared to prove there were no fleas requiring an exterminator service.
As a matter of fact, after you have moved everything out, taken pictures/video, etc. If you have a lawyer friend or even your pastor (someone with authority in a court room if it comes down to that) ask them to look your place over and sign a document saying they have done just that. It's called CYOA. Cover Your Own A
Thank you Suntyd. Your input is very helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to give us some sound advice.
I am a tenants rights advocate in Massachusetts. Most states have organizations that will help you for free learn what your rights are. Here is a link to housing rights information in Florida
and one for a housing rights handbook www.floridapirg.org/
Some communities also have specific laws especially around foreclosures. Good luck.
Contact the Att Generals office in your state. This is a freebie for information.
Another thing, go to the local postal office which delivers yours. Tell the postmaster you do not want HIS mail delivered to YOUR address/box. They need to tell him to get his own and make arrangements. All mail NOT for you is to be picked back up. He has to have a forward address done. What do the utility bills state when coming to your house? If he has access, then part of the monthly bill should be his.
Contact your local police department about the window peeking issues. They will guide you to the next steps.
He is making up rules as he goes along, breaking the rules to agreed to.
Could he be on the most wanted list trying to keep track of you? I would be so careful. Get the law/cops, etc involved.
In gen'l real estate law, creating a nuisance is, I believe, a cause for breaking your lease. I have had landlord problems myself in the past & I have used the Nolo Press's book for renters (I think that's the title) successfully. You might also be able to go to your local authorities for advice. Is there a housing dept. as there is in a city? If local laws are being broken, you have cause to break the lease. I don't know how you can get the landlord from being a peeping tom, (although there are laws against that & you might be able to scare him by reminding him of it!) You can find the Nolo Press on the internet. Good luck.
Make an appointment to talk to an attorney, most will not charge for the initial conference. It will let you know of your legal rights and give you a direction to go on. Call your state's Attorney General's office: they have attorneys on hand to answer legal questions. Call your police department; they can tell you if anything can be filed against your landlord (peeping toms can be arrested). File a complaint with the better business bureau; let future renters know what kind of a landlord he is.
The first thing that I thought about, is you need to really check out your home. Are there any hidden cameras, mics, 2-way mirrors, etc. He's spending way too much time there for some reason. I'd start documenting things so when you take his butt to court, he loses. Have others take note about how much time he spends there; their word will stand up more in court than yours. Take pictures, tape him, document his comings and goings, make him as uncomfortable as he makes you. You have a legal right to privacy when renting.
Quit dealing with him directly, he is winning. He is not going to change until someone with authority makes him change.
Hopefully you can get out of the lease. In fact, you could ask him in a sincere way if he would prefer to have other tenants and would he mutually break the lease with you. Our County has a Landlord/Tenant Affairs Office. Check with your County govt for the same.
Talk to your postman, I agree the mail is a sore point. Just say not at this address, if not in the lease. The postal service will hold all the mail at the post office to be picked up by them.
I would not be too hard on this guy because often it is a misunderstanding. Does he have a personal attachment to the property, for instance, and just "misses" it? Perhaps he has issues with you as tenants that he cannot express verbally. Again, Landlord / Tenant Office could help.
I don't see why you couldn't break your lease, consult a lawyer. What surprises me is that any one would even sign a lease like this in the first place. Not trying to be ugly, but when you read it why would you even consider going ahead with this rental, that should have been a red flag.
Wow there is some great advice here. I originate in Canada and as such do not live by state laws. Having said this I know amendments to contracts require new contracts being drawn up. If the original contract stipulated and I quote as per your original post "Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 9:00am to 2:00pm." Then anything beyond that must be renegotiated (contractual law) which would bring into question the peeping and general harassment being issued against you in libel form as in printable emails.
Are you filming him while he is wandering and spending great lengths of time and days on the property? Also film the peeping! I would film the peeping discreetly first before he realizes he's being taped, then began the other outdoor taping. You can feel free to let him see you do that and it may stop him all together! Documentation is everything! Be sure to get good shots of the area he is supposed to be confined to as well and his mail that's delivered to you. I would just mark his mail rufused, return to sender and send it all back from now on. That's what I do with my landlord's mail because he's had a year to change it!
I live in a apartment which I bought, but it is lease hold. It comes with a community garden which we all pay for. The community charges for the upkeep. We are in loggerheads with the managing agent of the apartments about what plants we can put in it. Do we have any rights on the gardens as we pay for the gardner?
Unfortunately, your problem is common for community gardens, walk ways, etc. Much depends upon how the actual original legal agreement is worded, for uses of the garden area (if there is one!) and if there have been later changes to the agreement.
The ultimate here goal is to find middle ground for all to agree and complete a current contract for current and future garden plans. Hopefully, you all can develop a contract that you can live with now and in the future.
1. If there is a current agreement or contract, is there specific language about the rights of the owner/tenant & management/owner? If so, both parties are bound by the specific language.
2. If there is a current agreement/contract and you want to change or update, all parties must decide upon any changes and additions to the contract. The updated current agreement or contract must be signed by all affected parties.
3. If there is no current agreement or contract, the best plan is to meet with all parties and come to an agreement for use of the garden area and any other areas you want to address. This may be difficult as you already have a conflict on garden plant choices.
4. If you cannot come to an agreement now, you may need to request legal intervention to solve the problem for all parties. Obviously, this can be expensive.
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I rent a mobile home. The landlord owns a construction company that has its office right next door. There is also a small block building on their property that is being used as a gym. There is a light, TV, and window unit A/C. There is also possibly a treadmill and a small fridge.
Just recently, we learned that the gym is "on our meter." Our bills have fluctuated since we moved in 10 months ago. But 3 times, including right now, we have gotten an electric bill exceeding $350. We do everything we can to reduce our energy usage, and I mean everything.
I brought this up to our landlord today, but he seems to think it doesn't use that much extra. What should I do?
By Karaoke Mama from Thonotosassa, FL
I can think of a couple things to try.
If you shut down all the power usage in your home then everything else being used should be the other structure. For a complete test flipping all the breakers except for the circuit going to the other structure should do it. Then, look at your meter and see how fast it is spinning.
A tool like Kill-A-Watt might also help. I've seen these at Costco, Home Depot, and online. The unit plugs into the wall like a power strip. You plug something into it and it tells you how much power is being drained. You'd need to use it on the different exercise equipment and then add in the lights to get a total of how much power is being used.
First I would contact the power company and explain the situation and ask them for guidance. The second call would be the the Attorney General of your state and ask to be contacted to the party that handles utility problems. Also contact your town hall and ask them for help. The last resort would be to stop paying the electric bill. That will get someone's attention. Also look for an attorney that handles these type of complaints. (06/24/2010)
What does your lease say about electric? If it's not stated that you also have to pay for his office and/or gym electricity then definitely pitch a fit to the electric company! And I mean "pitch a fit"! Do you know that "stealing utilities" is a crime punishable by fine and/or jail? I know because my dorky brother, whom I love deeply, hooked himself up to a neighbor's meter and got caught and because he couldn't pay the over $2,000.00 fine he had to sit in the pokey for 30 days! Like you, he lives in Florida. I mention where he lives so that you know Florida prosecutes for this crime. (06/25/2010)
Call your electric company and ask for your own meter. Call your state level and ask for the Tenant/Landlord Rules. We have such a brochure in SC. What your landlord is doing is illegal. He is stealing your electricity which is dishonest and he could be taken to court and fined for such tactics. (06/25/2010)
By Betty Gibson
First look at your lease. If it doesn't mention that you have to pay both bills, take him to small claims court. You will get every penny back. If you still want to rent from the creep, demand your own meter. I wouldn't stay there myself and even if you have a lease, this would be reason enough to break it. Don't do anything without consulting the electric company. (06/26/2010)
First, asking for your own meter when you are renting gives you the bill for it, an electric company will come out and change it at a high cost. Take this to the city council meeting after you have given notification to the city billing office. Tell them you want your billing for your actual house use, not the trailer park use. They then will have the responsibility to go after the landlord and kick A--. This is a creep. Go to social services and ask if they have anyone there to help you figure this out. If he is screwing you, he has done it to others. And it may have been government assisted money paid for it. Again, this will take it against him. Network to get the right legal people informed and on your side to help. You should not have to prove your use and payment of the bill. He has to do that. (06/28/2010)
By Grandma J
I moved from NC to LA about a month ago. My husband and I rented a home for the first time (we are young and in our 20s), so we had no experience with landlords. The whole month before we moved out, I could not get in contact with my landlord. I finally found his job number and he told me he was out of town when I called.
I told him I was leaving in 2 days and to please come inspect the house before I leave; he said he thought I had left a week prior. Now it's been a month and I just received a letter from him saying that he paid double my deposit, and sent me receipts with things he fixed that were messed up before we moved in. I don't know what to do.
By yessy from Shreveport, LA
Did you take photos of the house before you moved in and when you moved out? What we do is take photos of all the rooms, floors and ceilings when we move in and when we move out. To make sure there is no doubt about the date of when the photos were taken make sure there is a newspaper with prominent headlines displayed in the photos. Also keep the newspaper, at least the first page with the headlines, in your records. (12/02/2009)
The deposit is supposed to cover any damage beyond normal wear and tear! Ideally, you would have had a walk through with your landlord before leaving - but that was obviously impossible. Sad to say, it sounds as if he is trying to get YOU to pay for repairs/improvements that you are not liable for. You need to document the fact that the landlord was unavailable - and I do hope you gave him enough notice. Please scrutinize the bills and see what sort of thing he is trying to bill you for - if it is beyond normal wear and tear - you may have a case for not paying them.
Again, I do hope you left the house in a reasonable state - and it wasn't trashed in any way. Do you have pictures? That would help. If it comes to that, you can take this to small claims court. Although normally HE would be having a case against you. I think the burden of proof is on him to prove the degree of repairs. Check the www.nolopress.com on line to see about relevant law, and you might also want to contact your local municipal authorities. Perhaps he has tried to do this before! Good luck. (12/02/2009)
By pam munro
I agree with yarnlady and recommend the same. I would also suggest after you take the pictures to write everything down and have your landlord sign the list and the pictures. Without proof of the problems, a landlord has you on the move out. Sucks, but that's how most landlords are and there is really nothing you can do after the fact. Unless by some chance you have pictures or a video you took at a holiday like Christmas. A time very recognizable. And that would give you proof. You can present it to the landlord and negotiate. If the landlord resists, tell him you'll go to court. If he doesn't budge, go to court. Small claims court is probably the case, but do some internet research to make sure before you waste time and money. (12/02/2009)
Thanks for the advice. Let me add that I did take pictures of when I moved out, but not when I moved in. I did not leave the house a mess. We busted our butts cleaning that place, because I really expected (and really needed the money) him to give me at least most of the deposit. I gave him 2 1/2 month's notice; I am in the Air Force and had to move to my new location. He ignored my phone calls the whole month I was supposed to be moving out. (12/03/2009)
Sounds like the landlord is trying to scam you and has probably pulled the stunt before! You gave him lots of notice and he just conveniently is not there when he needs to inspect the house? Good luck to you. Hope you get your deposit back. (12/04/2009)
This kind of "stuff" really ticks me off. I'm 68 years old and I can't count the number of times people tried to rip off my kids when they were young. Through the years I've stepped in when my kids were being taken advantage of. These people think they can take advantage of the young and inexperienced. Yessy, if you have all the documentation, please take the "scum bug" to small claims courts. Act confident and tell him you are not responsible and he will NOT get more than a dime that he's worth. They can sense your insecurity and lack of experience. Don't avoid him; he probably doesn't know what pictures you have. Tell him you have proof and you'll see him in small claims court. You can see how irritated this makes me! (12/04/2009)
Is there a way you can show (cell phone history/records) the attempts you made to contact him? Suppose it couldn't hurt. (12/04/2009)
In most states, landlords are required to supply a complete checklist and do a walk through with you before moving in and moving out and give you a copy of both! Find out if that's required in North Carolina and if it is and he didn't do it upon the move in (we already know he didn't do it upon the move out), he won't have a leg to stand on in small claims court if he didn't follow the law!
Also, find out how many days are required for him to have supplied you with what he did give you. If he didn't do it in the amount of time stated by law, then that is also something that will help your case!
I was a landlord for about a dozen years and always did those check lists and took pictures before just in case the tenant did cause damage and I always suggested the tenant do the same upon moving in and out to protect themselves!
Because I know there are shyster landlords out there I know what it feels like to be ripped off and I wanted my tenants to know that they would not be ripped off by me, but to be smart in case something happened to me and someone else became their landlord before their tenancy terminated.
I am a tenant now and drove my current landlord crazy during the walk through by even making him make notes of scratches on the floor or countertops, a ding on the tub edge, a dent on the oven door, a couple of bent slats on the mini-blinds etc, etc, etc, ;-)
Good luck to you and let us know the outcome of this situation, okay?
And "Thank You and God Bless You" for your service to our country! (12/04/2009)
In the future, always send a registered letter. You will then have post office records of attempted delivery--proof you did notify him. (12/04/2009)
You should be able to find a website that states what the landlord's responsibilities are and what rights and responsibilities that you have as a tenant. I did a search for "landlord and tenant rights in North Carolina" and came up with several websites, but I am not sure which one would help you out. If that doesn't help, then perhaps you could find a legal clinic to assist you if you can't afford an attorney. Good luck! (12/04/2009)
All of those are good ideas, specifically taking photos when you move in. I am a landlord and photos protect everyone. I would even suggest taking photos when viewing a prospective rental home. That way the landlord can't dispute when the photos were taken because they were there! Sad to say, your two biggest mistakes were not sending a registered letter requesting a departure walk through and actually getting a departure walk through before you gave the keys back. Hopefully you won't get taken next time - no one should be treated like this, ever, but especially a proud service professional! (12/04/2009)
Unscrupulous landlords make my blood boil! We had to step in when we discovered our youngest sleeping in an unheated apartment with no running water because his shyster landlord "didn't have time" to go a couple of blocks to the water department. He learned from hard experience and is in process of learning another hard lesson.
There should be a Landlord-Tenant Relations or Mediation group in your town. If there is and you have proof of your experiences with this crook, you should be able to get at least your deposit back. If not, unfortunately, you may have to mark this experience down as a hard lesson learned. Take heed of the advice the others here have offered for next time, and best to you! (12/06/2009)
It doesn't seem like there is a lot you can do right now. If he has pictures/receipts of things he says he fixed, you won't have any luck suing him. Next time, take pictures when you move in and when you move out. (12/19/2009)