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Jude's avatar

Privacy issue (apartment) and I need some advice. Details inside?

Asked by Jude (31993 points ) December 10th, 2011

As some of you may know, I rent an apartment in a 4 apartment old home. There are two apartments upstairs and two downstairs. I live upstairs. A new tenant moved in a month ago, a female (she lives below me). There is one vacant apartment downstairs, and there is one fellow across the hall from me. The guy across the hall is a young guy (in his mid 20’s) and his g/f is over a lot. I am pretty sure that this guy has a key to all of the apartments, as the landlord lives out of town (is too lazy to come in), and he has this guy looking after the place. The tenant shovels, puts out garbage and does other yard work.

Anyhow, I have noticed that since the tenant across the hall has been taking care of the outside,stuff in my apartment has been moved around a bit when I came home (I’m usually away on weekends). My bottles of booze on the fridge moved, and a few other personal items have been moved. I came home one day and the door was unlocked. I always lock it.

When I first started renting, my girlfriend and I noticed that someone was doing something with the ceiling in the bathroom and didn’t put the piece back into place. Wires above the shower were exposed. When talking to my landlord a few weeks later, I told him that I really lovde my place. That “it’s really cozy”. He said to me, “yeah, and I love the way that you have it decorated and your modern furniture”. I said “Oh?”, and then stumbling over his words, he said “yeah, I had to take care of something in there”. He is supposed to tell me ahead of time that he is going in.

I asked him if he gave the tenant across the hall has a key and he said no. He wondered if there was anything wrong.

Maybe, I am paranoid, but, perhaps, he did give the tenant a key (in case that he needs to get in there) and he doesn’t want to tell me. The tenant with the key is a young guy (with an obnoxious g/f) and perhaps they went into my apartment and were looking around at stuff.

Stuff was obviously moved.

What do you think? What should I do?

(I’m not leaving my dildos out anymore, haha!)

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21 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think that you should get a couple of cameras that are motion-activated and train them on your apartment. (Entry hallway; bedroom or kitchen.) Then I think you should announce to the landlord and to the guy across the hall that you will be away for the weekend.

Then see what turns up on the camera after you get back. Then turn it over to the police.

Do you have a written lease that states that the landlord has to give you notice before going in (although I do believe that is the law).?

HungryGuy's avatar

It’s illegal for a landlord to enter an apartment (except for an emergency) without first notifying the tenant.

At first, I’d just send a friendly note to both the landlord and the building manager who lives next door asking them not to enter without notifying you first (it’s perfectly normal for a landlord to “hire” one of the other residents in the role of building manager).

If it continues, then you need to see a lawyer and file a complaint.

BTW, there’s lots of sites that sell hidden spy cameras.

TheIntern55's avatar

You need to bring this up with the landlord. Even if he lives out of town, he should still be able to fix this. Is anything missing?

Jude's avatar

“Do you have a written lease that states that the landlord has to give you notice before going in (although I do believe that is the law).?”

Yes, I do.

I set up a trap in front of the door, so, that if someone came in, they’d mess it up. I have it set up a certain way (facing in a certain direction). They’d have to put it back exactly so.

bongo's avatar

Maybe get a movement triggered video camera and turn it on when you leave the house. Im pretty sure you can get webcam style things for fairly cheap now. Then you will have video evidence of people entering your flat. Then tell the police.
Just realised I am repeating what @marinelife said!
It is illegal though and I personally would press charges. You should be able to feel safe in your own home. This means you can’t, I personally would want to move if someone was coming into my flat uninvited. Not much you can do until you get some proper video evidence to show….

zensky's avatar

My bottles of booze on the fridge moved, and a few other personal items have been moved. I came home one day and the door was unlocked. I always lock it.

When I first started renting, my girlfriend and I noticed that someone was doing something with the ceiling in the bathroom and didn’t put the piece back into place. Wires above the shower were exposed.

Sounds like he installed a camera.

jaytkay's avatar

Change the locks. $40 maybe? Give copies of the keys to a trusted friend for backup in case you lock yourself out.

geeky_mama's avatar

I agree with @zensky—I’d get myself a chair and look reallllly closely at those wires in the shower to make sure no camera was installed!

And then…although it’s a bit spendy… you could get something like this adorable teddy bear that has a hidden camera in it ..so that you can see if someone is coming into your apartment while you’re away.

Coloma's avatar

I like the hidden camera idea, but, a strip of scotch tape at the bottom of the outside of the door would work very well too.

Come home to a broken strip of tape and yep, you’ve got intruders.

Then, I’d change the locks without a word and see if the landlord makes a remark about it.

If he or the neighbor guy are not coming in unannounced they would have no reason to notice the locks had been changed. Busted!

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d do four things.
1) For less than $20 you can attach magnetic door jamb alarms to the door and windows. Here is a kit with 4 sensors. I don’t know the size of you or your partner but I am a small guy. I set these up so I could open my door about ¼ to ⅓ of the way slide in and close the door so i can then turn off the switch. Anyone “big” would not fit and would not know it was there.
2) I’d remove the smoke detector and replace it with my own for $6.88.
3) I would buy a trail camera for $50 and leave it set up in the room someplace. Look at any one of the sporting goods stores.
4) Last, and this is the most troubling. I would borrow an IR night vision camera from a friend and look around the apartment for a light source. Check out the bathroom. If you see an illumination source call the police right then. Don’t wait.

If you can’t find a source for the viewer, contact me. I will lend you mine for a short while. Honest. After all, I am your beard b*tch.

Coloma's avatar

The tape idea was used by a friend of mine who suspected her live-in boyfriend was snooping through her financial file cabinent. She has a lot of money and didn’t want him to know how well off she was, yet, for obvious reasons of sincerity.

He knew she was in process of selling a commercial building and thinks he was snooping to see what the asking price was.

Yep, the tape seal had been broken on several occasions. He denied it. Bye bye snoopy boyfriend. lol

jaytkay's avatar

I’d remove the smoke detector and replace it with my own for $6.88.

Seconded.

Last, and this is the most troubling. I would borrow an IR night vision camera from a friend and look around the apartment for a light source.

OK, that is paranoid, but I would do it.

zensky's avatar

Try something like this.

Put it behind a teddy bear if you want. Or use a smaller/cheaper camera – but the idea is to be able to watch from your iPhone.

Judi's avatar

You could also put a match or smething small in the hinge. They won’t notice it and if they open the door it will be gone.

YARNLADY's avatar

Any method you use to detect if the door was opened will not prove anyone is going inside. You need to change the locks, and/or install a motion sensitive camera.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I would change the locks. The only way they can point out to you that you have no right to do that is if they acknowledge that they’ve tried to enter illegally. If they’re afraid to say anything, you have utter privacy. It’s win/win. Give the landlord the new keys when you leave.

Judi's avatar

I don’t know what the rules are in your state, but changing the locks in California would be considered making an alteration without the landlords consent. In ordinary circumstances (where things are legit) The landlord has a right to enter in case of an emergency or with 24 hour written notice. If you change the locks, you deprive him of that right.
I would just hate to see YOU get in trouble for violating the lease by changing the locks without permission.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Judi Because the landlord must give notice before entering, changing the locks does NOT deprive him of the right to enter. In emergency, he has the right to break the lock, but every other time, he must have your permission to enter.

perspicacious's avatar

If you are in the USA your landlord may not go into your leased apartment. He has the right to get in for inspection and repairs or in case of emergency, but he must give notice and you must agree to when. He has NO RIGHT to possession of your apartment. I would ask the guy across the hall if has a key to my apartment. Regardless of what he replies I would be sure he knew that to go into an apartment is breaking and entering and possibly burglary. Tell the landlord the same thing. Don’t put up with this for ½ minute. This is my opinion, not legal advice.

Judi's avatar

@YARNLADY , Unless the rental agreement expressly prohibits unauthorized modifications. I have served people a 3 day notice for breach of the contract for changing the locks without permission.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Judi Yes, good advice. The renter should always read the provisions of the contract and carefully follow them.

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