questionsany advice for dealing with a bad landlord?

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vote-for7vote-against

it's long I know, Sorry.

She also plans to show people the home, which is fine but she thinks we should keep our moving boxes and packingmaterials hidden (maybe in the attic?) and be ready to walk out for showings with less than a days notice. This just isn't feasible since we will be continuing to pack up and we have to take the dog with us.

Up til now she has been rather hands off, I've had to fix most of whats broken out of pocket, shes offered no help at all. But now that it affects her shes trying to micro manage our living for the next month so she can make the sell. (I think it's so she won't have to pay the mortgage herself). If she doesn't get the home sold, which I don't think will happen, I think she will take it out on us and try to keep our deposit (2 months rent) for BS stuff even though I've spent quite a bit of money keeping the place in good shape.

vote-for19vote-against

You're still there so do what you need to do. Most people understand that moving is a challenge. If the landlord chooses to try and show it now they'll just have to deal with the fact that you have stuff "in the way".

vote-for8vote-against

Yes, we've prtty much decided that we can't pack and make her happy but how do I keep from loosing my 2 months rent deposit? That's almost two of our new mortgage payments. Like I said I've put a lot of my own money into this townhome to keep it livable for my family and the idea of the landlord getting to keep it as hidden retaliation when she doesn't sell the home in time makes me crazy.

vote-for22vote-against

Re-read the lease agreement.
It should clearly stipulate what you agreed to and what she's allowed to do.
24 hours notice for showings is typical, but expecting you to have it "show like a model" is unreasonable.
Withholding the security deposit will likely lead to a small claims complaint, if it comes down to it.
Otherwise, she can FRO*.
eta: if you kept receipts for repairs, you may be entitled to reimbursement also, so hold that over her head if she balks on returning the deposit.
.
.
.
*eff, right off.

j5 j5
vote-for16vote-against

@nmchapma: Did you keep receipts or a log of what work you have done and how much spent on the place ?
If not, maybe worth the time to try and sit down and write some of it up and document the best you can.
Before you move, take many many pictures of your own to show that there is no damage to the unit.
Have a neutral party w/o cost -- a neighbor or ??? That will attest to the condition and not charge you to do so.
Otherwise, you are paying them to say it is ok.
In other words, do whatever you can think of to cover your backside.

As for the packing. Good luck ! I think most folks realize that when someone is moving there will be a certain amt of boxes, etc.. and not discount the place for it.

Perhaps you have some generic photos of the place before boxes --- maybe you took some after decorating to show out of town family or friends where you were living. If so, you could offer to share those with her. Maybe that would make her happy.

Congrats on you new home !!

vote-for6vote-against

It seems to me that it is still your place so the land lord has no right ot come in. Just say no! Mind you I have not read your lease so it may be diffrent, but most states protect the renter from the landlord entering. As far as your security deposit, check your lease and see when you shpould expect it back. If it does not say, send an email and ask to get it in writing. If the landlord holds the deposit (unjustly) you can go to small claims for the deposit, 6% intrest (average rate or return via the stock market)*, court cost, and time away from work and prep costs. I would not get pushy right away but the landlord should have stock photos to use from when it was a model and can wait til you move out. This sounds inconsiderate but you have no obligation to help the Land Lord rerent you place. It is yours till the lease is up, just don't let him/her in.

*Principles of Finance, Besley and Brigham

vote-for13vote-against

@nmchapma: You're paying to live there. Living includes all parts of life, including moving. It's your space. So clearly you know they have no argument. But really this is something they could have taken care of before you moved in. Your apartment was empty then. Sure, the pictures would be outdated, but the wear and tear of one year wouldn't really matter. Tell them to take pictures after they move out and to not lose track of them for next time.

The deposit is something that's always a way for a landlord to get sneaky. I always try to say when handing in my keys that I expect that I'll get my full deposit back (as there are no damages), but that if they discover a problem, I want an itemized list of charges against it.

In my experience, almost every time, someone's already moved into my old apartment before I ever get any of my deposit back anyway. Just getting them to "remember" at all is a real job.

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@ceagee: That's good advice, but I would suggest going one step further. I'd ask her to make an appointment for a walk-through on the day or day after you move out. The two of you walk through the house noting anything that she may think is damaged. Don't forget the yard and any outbuildings. You also show her the things you have repaired out of pocket. You write all this down as you go. When you have agreed that you have covered everything, you both sign and date it and get a copy. This is important because if it takes some time to sell, there could be vandalism and she could lay that on you. It wouldn't hurt to take some video as well. Do like a kidnapper and include a scan of the daily paper to establish what day you filmed. Also, just in case you do end up having to go to small claims court for the deposit, document everything you are doing to help facilitate her sale right now.

vote-for10vote-against

It is in our lease agreement that she can show the home to future tennants. It does not say how far in advance we have to be notified. I have read our rights as tennants and 24 hours notice is required. I don't care if she shows the home but I am not wiping down every surface or hiding boxes whenever she comes in. I can't find any rule stating how regularly she can make visits or show the home. If it approaches harrassment and I refuse to let her in, I'm sure she'll involve the police. I don't want it to come to that with so little time left. We've never had these problems before and I really don't know at what point I can say enough is enough.

I have kept my reciepts for the more major work I've done, but I haven't logged hours or anything like that.

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First, if the Lease does not require you to clean the house or hide boxes for the landlord to show the place, then don't. She can't force you to do something you haven't agreed to. But if she gives you 24 hours, it sounds like you must let her in. Don't refuse her if she does it properly, even if she does it a lot. It is not worth the headache.

Second, as to the security deposit, google your state law. In MA, for example, the landlord can deduct money from your deposit only in very limited circumstances (i.e. the landlord can only deduct if she gave you a list of all property damage prior to you moving in, if she deposited the money in an interest-bearing account, etc.). In MA, improper deduction can entitle you to immediate reimbursement of the entire deposit, and in some instances three-times that amount as a penalty!

Your Lease gives you rights and obligations. Do only what the Lease requires you to do, and know the law on what the landlord can and can't do.

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@nmchapma: The police may show up, but they won't be able to do anything other than tell the landlady that it's a civil matter. There's no criminal activity here at all.

This is a totally different situation than if you were trying to sell your own home; then it would be entirely to your benefit to do whatever your real estate agent asked. You're under NO obligation to do anything special to help the landlady re-lease the place.

Some cities have landlord-tenant offices designed for pretty much this sort of issue. It might be useful to check your community's resources, just in case there's help or advice available to you. Some local bar associations also offer half-hour consults with attorneys at very low prices; this might be an option for basic guidance on the lease requirements.

And as someone else mentioned, be sure to take lots of photos, including doors, windows, carpets, and the insides of closets and cupboards, just before you vacate.

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@nmchapma: You probably know this, but if she or prospective tenants are in your home, be sure to keep your valuables locked away. It may sound paranoid, but also be sure that any prescription medications (especially those that may have value on the street) are locked up also.

I once got to the point of packing away all my little tchotchkes after a small statue -- a gift from a deceased relative -- disappeared after one such showing.

vote-for9vote-against

Thanks eveyone for the great advise. We'll take pics and document everything, I'll keep letting her in unless it becomes a daily thing or she starts yelling. I'll also try to video and log everything I've fixed and replaced.

If she were just trying to fill the place with tennants again I'd say she wouldn't be such a pain but now that she's trying to sell it (very fast), she wants it to be perfect. She also seems upset that we weren't interested in purchasing it. I don't care, but it does seem to be yet another thorn... I'm researching my states tennant laws now.

vote-for10vote-against

I agree with moodrake. Take lots pics of the place after you've moved your stuff out to document the condition of the place when you left it. The walk through and sign off document on the condition by the landlord after you've removed and cleaned is another good idea. She could try and use the condition of the place after you left as an argument for keeping part of your deposit but if you've documented that everything is shipshape and had her sign off on that she wouldn't have a leg to stand on in small claims if she did try and keep your deposit.

vote-for7vote-against

i guess the only real question is.... what's she gonna do? if she wants your boxes put away, and you tell her no, then she shows up with people and boxes are there, what is she gonna do? she can't kick you out. she can't charge you more rent. she can complain, but you can just show her a finger (you can choose which one) and shrug your shoulders. moving is stressful enough as it is, dont let your landlord make it worse. just ignore her

vote-for11vote-against

Most cities have a Fair Housing Dept. Give them a call. From watching The People's Court, she has to give you 24 hours befoe she comes in. As for keeping stuff out of site, don't think you have to accommodate that.

Make sure you take photos of everything before you move out. Also, unless you had written authorization to make any improvements don't expect to get compensated for that and they could come after you if they don't like the changes ie if you painted walls blue, she can take money out of your security deposit to repaint.

Also, check to see what the laws are in your state about getting your security deposit back. Some states require a letter in writing explaining how much was held back and why within a certain amount of time. If you don't get that you can sometimes get double.

Good luck.

vote-for13vote-against

Unless it's written into your lease, you are under no obligation to "be ready to walk out for showings". Sellers are always advised to make themselves scarce during showings, to eliminate all clutter and to remove pets - even any evidence of the existence of said pets! However, you (and your dog) are not sellers, but tenants currently in legal possession of the premises. You must, at reasonable hours and with reasonable notice, allow your landlady to bring prospective buyers or renters in, but I would inform her that you reserve the right to be present during any future showings. Welcome them in, be polite and friendly, park yourselves comfortably in a corner of the living room and keep the dog near you on a short leash. Requiring you to vacate while strangers roam through your home is unreasonable and probably illegal.

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The Fair Housing office is usually funded through the Community Development Block Grant through HUD. Your city may have a CD Department, or it may be folded into a Planning or Housing Department. I work for the CD Department here, my good friend is our Fair Housing officer. I didn't bring it up because none of this seems to me to have crossed into being a Fair Housing issue. Those are usually about unfair evictions or discriminatory rental practices. Although the point about asking you to leave for the showings does kind of touch on that territory and is a very good point. You should not be asked to abandon your belongings so strangers can wander through your home.

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Also, and more importantly, congrats on the new house!

j5 j5
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I am a landlord and I have this clause in section 16 of my lease:

16. ACCESS BY LANDLORD. Landlord and Landlord's agents shall have the right at all reasonable times, and by all reasonable means, without notice, during the term of this Florida Lease Agreement and any renewal thereof to enter the Premises for the following purposes:
A. Inspect the Property for condition;
B. Make repairs;
C. Show the Property to prospective tenants, prospective purchasers, inspectors, fire marshals, lenders, appraisers, or insurance agents;
D. Exercise a contractual or statutory lien;
E. Leave written notice;
F. Seize nonexempt property after default.
Landlord may prominently display a “For Sale” or “For Lease” or similarly worded sign on the Property during the term of this Lease or any renewal period.

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@magic cave: That may or may not be true depending on the officer you talk to. Since it's your home per the lease, the landlord may be considered to be trespassing (which is criminal) if they show up outside of the agreed-to terms.

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Ive been both a tenant and a landlord. Obviously some things will vary by state and city, but most of the concepts, specifically your rights as a tenant, are immutable.

Are you leaving the lease early? If not, then they can't impose any sort of penalty on you. The apartment is YOURS until the end date defined on your lease. While landlords and tenants have to work together to make it easier on everyone, a few things to note. Your landlord cannot compel entry for ANY non emergency reason. showing the apartment is not an emergency.

She cannot require that you hide your stuff or make the apartment at all presentable for showing prior to your move-out date. What you do with your paid-for space until that time is your own business as long as you're not breaking the law or creating an emergency situation (fire, flood, gunshots, etc)

(continued)

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@cengland0: I like that you are clear and direct. I understand and would have very few questions.

Unfortunately our lease is not so clear. This section in our lease is two sentences and says they can put up a sign and that they can show people the home. it's really no more clear than that. NC state law says 24 hours so I'm going to go with that. Also does Florida not require you give certain notice before entering or at least bringing in others? My review of NC law says that certain things like that (or worse, such as the landlord not being responsible to fix the AC) cannot be exempt and these statements are not binding. We won't have this issue because our lease is rather vague and doesn't really include or exclude much at all.

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(cont'd) With that said, depending on state, you may be required to provide "reasonable access" (ie: pre-arranged or agreed upon, and not causing undue hardship (forced to take off from work, etc) to yourself) prior to the move-out date to allow for evaluation of any needed repairs, potential security deposit violations, and to show the apartment (again, this seems to vary slightly state by state) - BUT keep in mind that that in no way changes the above post, in that you can't be required to hide your stuff, clean it up or anything, prior to the move date. Regarding your deposits - there is a legal difference between first/last month pre-payment and security deposit. Which did you place? If both, then your last month's rent is already paid - don't pay it again. Your security deposit - in no way shape or form can they hold it hostage because you've made them unhappy and refused access. It is specifically to debit against for repairs, property damage, etc. (continued)

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(cont'd) Back to the "reasonable access" requirement in some areas - it's obviously a murky area that basically means "figure it out" - but in most municipalities it still heavily favors the tenant. You have the right of refusal, if you've provided reasonable access dates and they've been turned down. With my own tenants, i try my best to reach an amicable setup for showing the apartments, etc... and if they prefer not to, then so be it. I'm not in the business of putting people out just so i can make an extra couple of weeks rent, especially if you've been a good tenant... besides, that usually doesn't come into play, because unless it's been a short-term tenant, i typically repaint between tenants. That does not occur until after they move out, so i often have a few weeks of non tenancy. Some landlords aren't like that, and prefer to have someone lined up to move in the next day after move-out... that's within their rights, certainly, but it cannot violate your own.

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@omnichad: I was thinking about the landlady insisting on getting access per the lease clause. I'm inclined to think you're correct if she's already in the apartment and the wootizen wants her to leave.

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@goatcrapp: It was definitely a 2 month refundable deposit. I don't mind letting her in to see the place or to show buyers. I'm not happy she wants us to leave though.

I also forgot to mention that the reason I asked her not to come today was because it is our 2nd wedding anniversary and we cannot take the dog with us. I asked for a specific time so we could try to work around it. she responded with this "I am not scared of dogs. It will be ok. I need to get this done and do not want to reschedule with the realtor. It will be after work. I can tell you tomorrow when we leave Raleigh." Now this means she's planning to come to the house without us being there. The dog is kept in the second bedroom where she plans to take pictures. I have warned her. The dog is small but would certainly bite if approached in our home by a stranger without us there. I'm leaving a sign on the door that says just this. Am I liable if she gets bit?

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@nmchapma: My lease agreement was created by Florida lawyers so I hope it's legal to not require notice. It also seems if giving notice is standard practice, you can still negotiate different terms in your lease. As long as both the landlord and tenant agree on the terms of the lease and that no notice is needed, then it should be okay.

IANAL. In your case, since the terms have not been spelled out in the lease, I would venture to say that you would go with what your state says is the defaults when it's unclear or unwritten.

Just as an FYI, I have never, ever, under any circumstances, entered the property without notifying the tenant. Usually the tenant notifies me that there is a problem and I have to enter to fix their problem so they want me there. Clause #16 is just in case I want to sell the house in the future and the tenant is still living there. The lease would transfer to the new owner and the tenants can stay through the original terms but may not get renewed.

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@nmchapma: "she's trying to sell it (very fast), she wants it to be perfect"

IANAL, but for me, that would make it an entirely different ball game and might, in fact, obviate the lease clause entirely.

At any rate, it would cause me to look at the situation very differently and to think, if not say aloud, "Chuck this, Farley!" But that's just me, feeling cranky at the thought of having to move, let alone it under additional pressure from a landlady.

And congratulations on your new home!

vote-for7vote-against

lastly: even if you have something written into your lease stating otherwise, it still has to fall within the "reasonable" factor. Your lease might say they only need 2 hours notice, but if that is out of the realm of reasonable notification and providing reasonable access, then too bad for the LL. I can write into a lease that the tenant must perform ritual suicide if they are ever late a payment... but that doesn't make it enforceable, if it falls outside of the existing set of laws governing such things. Another favorite of mine is riders to a lease such as house rules - specifically "quiet hours" as defined in the house rules. Unless it was very well written, with no ambiguity, and valid reasons for exceeding local noise ordinance's reach (such as special needs tenants, documented health issues, etc) - it's unenforceable if it falls outside of standard noise ordinance.

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@cengland0: that's a perfect example of what i was stating. In my city for instance, as written, your section 16 would be not only unenforceable but could likely work against you if you ever got sued in housing court. (specifically because of the without notice wording. If that stated "with notice" as well as defining what constitutes notice, then it would be fine) - the only thing it would apply to here would be emergency situations. Could be perfectly fine where you are located, but here, that wording could get a landlord in a heap o' trouble.

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@cengland0: I don't see how that clause is even legal, because it's certainly out of line IMO.
I'm still commending you for never exercising it, but I'd be scratching that right out before signing anything.

Honestly, if that's a standard lease in FLA, I'd change the locks first day and change them back when done.

(FYI, I'm in NC also, so the 24 hours is what I've seen standard)

j5 j5
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@nmchapma: If you've specifically told her no, for that date, and have made suggestions of other dates, and she says she's going in anyways - tell her you will be calling the police. That specifically violates the reasonable access rights that you as a tenant have, regardless of you having a dog.

Be very firm with her - without trying to sound racist, she sounds like an asian landlord i used to have. very "my apartment, my rules" even though i was paying for the space, and legally it was mine without exclusion until my move out date. After being around the block a few times, culturally, certain people are simply like that and you have to get very firm and provide them with reminders that the law is on your side in this.

You absolutely have the right to demand to be there (in a non emergency situation) when ANYBODY enters your apartment. Forget about being liable for a dog bite, what if the dog gets out, and into the street? what if her photographer is a thief? your answer is NO

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@goatcrapp: I agree and that's why these leases are drafted by lawyers. The lease is designed to protect both the landlord and the tenant.

Regarding your noise example, I have that in mine too.

J. Keep all radios, television sets, stereos, phonographs, etc., turned down to a level of sound that does not annoy or interfere with neighbors or other nearby residents;

I suppose that is in there in case there are too many complaints from neighbors and I could use that as a breach of contract to start an eviction process. Unless there were police reports that officially documented the problem, I would consider noise to be unactionable.

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@cengland0: "i would consider noise to be unactionable" - bingo. without supporting complaints (be it to the police, department of buildings, etc) housing court would also consider it to be so.

Its one of those good neighbor rules. It's put in leases to remind tenants how they are expected to act, but many (most) house-rules that are outside of the scope of existing laws are completely unactionable. Unfortunately you can't force people to be good neighbors ;)

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@cengland0: It's been a long time since I had a lease, and I'd be really hard-pressed to sign one with a clause that lets the landlord in at any time without due notice for a mere inspection for the apartment's condition.

(Especially after an on-premises landlord casually let himself into our apartment one July afternoon many years ago to turn our AC off, which he insisted we do if whenever we left the place. He presumably didn't realize that I was off work that day and napping -- nekkid -- in direct line-of-sight from the front door. I shrieked loudly enough to raise the dead, he fled, and that night he slipped an eviction notice under our door. I was 21 and newly married, and we'd already decided he was a little too scary to keep renting there.)

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@nmchapma: I'd worry more about the dog getting loose and out of the house than I would about the dog biting someone, but I'm funny about such things. You may need to talk to a lawyer about whether the landlady can just demand access to your home (Note: YOUR HOME, while you are still living there), any time she wants. That seems to fall way within the "unreasonable" end of things.

vote-for7vote-against

@magic cave: Under what grounds could he evict you? Shady shady shady.

j5 j5
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@j5: This was an eight-unit privately owned apartment building. The landlord (and his wife!) were apparently not amused when my husband visited them that evening to warn, er, tell him not to ever barge into our apartment without notice.

The eviction notice was of course unlawful; it didn't even state a particular reason, just that we'd "violated the terms of the lease." He'd already made some odd, highly inappropriate comments to my husband about me, and we really just didn't feel particularly safe there. We decided things weren't likely to get any better if he wanted us out, so we moved.

Today, older and wiser, I'd handle it a lot differently.

vote-for8vote-against

@magic cave: I promise i'm not laughing at you or intending to insult :) but were it myself, i would be might y insulted if the landlord seeing me naked got me evicted. Am i that terrible to look at? :D :D I'm kidding of course. You were young and already halfway out the door, so at the time just leaving made sense, but had you made an issue of it with the police and housing court, you likely could have lived rent free for a long time, and gotten a limited scope restraining order (since he occupied the same dwelling, they wouldn't issue a "50 yards away" restraint, but rather restrict him from being in your home unless requested in writing, etc)
You nailed it on the head with saying HOME. many tenants and landlords alike don't realize that when you lease a space, unless it's specifically shared... that space is the renters HOME without exclusion. In castle states (my home is my castle) you would even have been within your rights hitting the LL with a bat, as a trespasser.

vote-for8vote-against

By the way i'm saying all of this as a landlord. I've had hellish landlords and try my hardest never to be like them in any way. I also get to deal with troubled and worried (and sometimes pre-emptively antagonistic) tenants because i live in a city with a LOT of terrible landlords. The number of sighs-of-relief i get when i handle things reasonably, and remembering that we're both just living in our homes... well it makes me angry, because it shouldn't be the exception... So as a LL i probably seem very anti-LL, and that would very much be the case. I'd also be the first telling someone to FRO (lol at that) if they were doing their damnedest to take advantage of an otherwise good LL. Obviously not the case with the OP, so OP - rake landlady over the coals - the law is very very much on your side (sometimes to the detriment of even good LL's when someone is intent on working the system - but i've been lucky so far)

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@goatcrapp: " So as a LL i probably seem very anti-LL"

As my former landlord said it best - All landlords are scum. He was a really great landlord, of course, but he was also my employer at the time.

vote-for5vote-against

I've had a few landlords in my days. My last one was tip top, couldn't ask for anyone better.
When I was renting this one house once though, the landlord was "dropping in" all the damned time for various reasons having nothing to do with anything except he was bored and wanted to do putter around the place.

j5 j5
vote-for7vote-against

@omnichad: all bosses are scum too, so you were in double jeopardy lol

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@goatcrapp: There were a couple of other issues at the time. (Aren't there always?) This was back in the late 60's, when tenant's-rights laws were mostly non-existent, and I was a few months shy of 21, which meant I was still legally a minor. AND my husband and I were not yet married; in those days, unmarried couples living together were on the cutting edge of social change and committing a crime in many jurisdictions. (I started out pretty young being a trouble-making rabble-rouser.)

When the landlord learned I had moved into my husband's apartment, his response was, "You lucky dog!" followed by some other creepy comments he apparently intended to be complimentary.

Had we known enough to want to challenge the eviction, it's likely we'd have lost as a result of social mores at the time. I just really wanted to get away from the old goat.

vote-for6vote-against

@magic cave: Well, she came by to take the pictures, my wife got home in time to rescue the dog. They went to the lake to take a long walk :-) I stayed with the landlord and realtor. They were'nt happy but I told them we lived here and this was the best it was going to get. After leaving I received a text message asking when we were planning to move out. I told them our closing date and that we'd be there until the last day of the lease. She then asked when they could come in to start painting. I have not replied to this yet because I'm outraged she thinks that would be okay. Where the hell would we put our stuff if we don't close until June 28th? I'm just looking for a calm and respectful way to tell her it isn't happening.

BTW not that it's related but My wife and I did still make it out for a late anniversary dinner :-)

vote-for8vote-against

I am a landlord, and am going to sell the property at some point. Look, your current landlord thinks that you should have to work very hard to make the house perfect (like you would if you were selling your own house) for showings, then she is delusional.

This is a current rental property. As a landlord you have two options for sale:
1) Wait until the current tenants leave, then paint, rehabilitate and show the property vacant.
2) Deal with showing the property in a "as is, how is" state.
Which is better is a matter of debate, but the "make the tenants show the house like it was their own" isn't really a third choice.

vote-for6vote-against

@nmchapma: happy late anniversary! And I would tell your landlord that a good day to start painting is the last day of the lease. Until that lease is up, it's practically your place.

Also, I believe that resolutions in ambiguity in a contract always benefits the party that did not draft the contract.