General Question

wallabies's avatar

How would you handle this tenant-landlord issue?

Asked by wallabies (1068 points ) April 27th, 2012

I have been renting a room from someone, and was only able to give three days notice that I would be moving. I pay rent by the week, there is no written contract, and I did not put down a deposit. I never committed to a specific duration of time, but do believe she was under the impression that I’d be here for another 6 weeks. The landlord is asking me to pay an extra week of rent since I gave such short notice.

I would probably just pay it if this had been a positive rental experience, but it was one of the worst I’ve ever had. The landlord essentially exploits students in order to pay the bills and stay unemployed. My rent was supposed to include internet but never did. The room was just a partitioned off section of the living room. This would have been bearable but for the fact that the landlord + kids stay up blaring the TV, belching out laughter, or having screaming matches until 1 or 2 am regularly, and then I have to hear their alarm go off at 5.30 am. The kids, one of them not potty trained, regularly use my bathroom but I am now expected to clean it. When I moved in, I was told this was not my responsibility. The kitchen is always a mess of dirty dishes which makes it difficult to cook. I have been given a tiny bit of fridge space of which most has been overtaken by the landlord, even though they have a full size one to themselves. I have been asked to pay rent early on more than one occasion because the landlord cannot manage money. The landlord plans on putting two high school aged foreign students in the garage! Yet they will be paying enough to have their own room in a decent house in this area.

I am moving just a few doors away and they know where I’m moving to. I will be there for about another 2 months or more so it’s highly likely that I will run into them again.

I know three days is very short notice.

What is the best thing to do in this situation?

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27 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think you are lucky she is only asking for an extra week. In many jurisdictions without a lease you are considered a month to month tennant and would have to pay the whole month’s rent.

flo's avatar

If you didn’t discuss how long you were going to be there why did she expect 6 months?. Anyway if the rent was by the week, then 1 week notice is fine, since you gave her 3 days she should expect the balance, 4 days rent, I’m guessing.

wallabies's avatar

@WestRiverrat Where I am it is common to do rent by the week. I think the law technically says you are required to give 2 weeks notice here, unless there is some kind of breach, which I think I technically have a case for (since actual conditions were not as promised), however I’d rather not get into such a debate. I don’t think the landlord would pursue any action, and if they did whether or not they have a legit case seems questionable. I guess the problem is that the landlord feels entitled to the extra rent, and I really don’t think they deserve it.

@flo 6 more weeks not months. The landlord always asks me how long I will be in school, which is for 6 more weeks. So I say I will be here studying for 6 more weeks. What I was not saying, was this place sucks and I plan on moving somewhere else soon because the landlord lives with me. So I think the LL assumed that I’d be staying in their place for the entire time, which is not really an unreasonable assumption to make I suppose.

flo's avatar

@wallabies sorry 6 more “weeks” I meant. I guess you’re right about it not unreasonable assumption. Hope it works out.

bkcunningham's avatar

I wouldn’t pay another week’s rent on the issue of the Internet alone, but it sounds like you have several reasons to get out ASAP. It sounds like illegal living arrangements.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@wallabies Without a lease, you could have completely left this Landlord hanging by “midnight moving” (i.e. moving out in the middle of the night and said nothing). She’s lucky you’ve been paying weekly, in advance.

Since there is no written contract and the verbal agreement seems loose at best, I’d say give her the money for this week and be done with it.

If it were me, I’d leave a letter with all of the above (from your details) written on it. It doesn’t sound like you’ll be using this woman for rental history or anything else. Unless she did a credit check prior to move in, just go and be on your way.

flo's avatar

@wallabies she must know how unfair the arrangement has been for you, so it is likely she won’t pursue it anymore if you just point out the sleep problem, never mind the rest.

john65pennington's avatar

You did not receive the internet as promised. I think this more than makes up for the money she is asking from you.

Also, you have no written contract, so its hard to tell who is right and who is wrong here.

I would tell the landlord about the lack of internet, as promised, and this should settle your indifference.

She really does not have a leg to stand on, since thier is no written contract to back her.

Bellatrix's avatar

If there is no official rental agreement and your leaving won’t be reported to something like the Rental Bond Authority, I would just move. It sounds as though the agreement made between you and the landlord has been significantly breached and you have every right to move on and not pay more than you have offered. It might be worth writing a letter outlining the original agreement and how they have breached this agreement and that you intend to move out on xxx. As much so that you have a written record of the problems and your notification of these problems. I don’t think they can do anything though without a proper legal agreement.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would post your honest information for other students to read so they do not make the same mistake. Do not exaggerate or embellish. Be absolutely factual.

flo's avatar

@wallabies I suppose you concerned she will badmouth you to your next landlords? Let’s hope you have other references.

wallabies's avatar

@flo LL is kind of a nut so while I do think it would be clear to a reasonable person that the arrangement was less than acceptable, I am not sure that the LL sees it (why else would she maintain such behavior). I don’t care what she says; I am moving within the same complex and have already been accepted. My LL has had issues paying rent on time, and I think the property manager kind of knows my LL is not such a great person.

Sunny2's avatar

You have put up with a lot that you shouldn’t have had to. Your landlord should not be allowed to get away with it. Write a letter adapting what you have written here, with bullet points pointing out the conditions you endured. Give a copy to her and one to the property manager. Keep one for yourself. Do NOT pay anymore than you agreed to verbally. Don’t leave out that she’s thinking of renting the garage to students and how you know. That may be illegal. Garages are not considered housing as such.

wallabies's avatar

@Sunny2 I hope renting out a garage is illegal. It does not have adequate ventilation. In fact, it has no ventilation at all, unless the door is left open. The thing is, I am not sure that high school foreign students will be mature enough or speak enough English to realize and communicate this to the right people. The LL actually did once make a side comment that they hope the students don’t complain. I definitely feel for them, but that may be an issue beyond my control. It really makes me rethink the value of homestays when living abroad. There are definitely many positives that can come of it, but seeing how this person treats foreign students now makes me see how it can also go horribly wrong especially if it were a developing country where people might be more motivated by money. A homestay should be about cultural exchange and helping the student learn, but this person is just using them to avoid having to get a real job and does not care about their well being at all. If I were paying so much for a homestay experience I would be extremely disappointed. I was trying to keep peace and haven’t complained about anything thus far, but agree that I need to consider putting it in writing and sending it to both the LL and property manager.

bewailknot's avatar

I know where I live this type of partitioning and subletting, or renting a garage as a dwelling are all illegal. That does not mean people don’t do it. I would just move, but document your complaints about the breaches. As for the students, there is usually an organization that arranges this type of home stay. If you can find out what and contact it perhaps you can prevent this happening again. My area also has a tenant landlord ombudsman to help with disputes, maybe you area does too..

CWOTUS's avatar

They were in default first. You don’t owe any notice at all.

flo's avatar

@wallabies Some people just know how to act unreasonable. They use that act to get away with things. Anyway after reading the other answers, I’ve changed my mind, you owe her nothing.

wallabies's avatar

@flo Yes this person was very two faced. Put on a great front all friendly and nice, but I see through people too easily and when you get deeper it was pure selfishness, greed, laziness, and ignorance. A terrible combination.

Thanks everyone for the replies. I didn’t bring it up and LL didn’t pressure me. I just got out of there as fast as I could and haven’t heard anything so far.

flo's avatar

Good to hear it @wallabies.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Pay her the extra week and consider yourself lucky. You are an occupant (which is a little different from a tenant) and notice to leave is either 14 or 30 days in most states. In this case it doesn’t matter that you pay rent weekly, monthly, or yearly. I hope you will insist on a written agreement at the next place you rent.

flo's avatar

@wallabies please tell us what the laws are in your state.

wallabies's avatar

@flo It was not so straight forward because my situation seems to invoke a few exceptions.

14 days without grounds (no reason) under a periodic agreement

7 days for an unremedied breach

The same day for non-livability

flo's avatar

@wallabies Non-livability makes sense to me.

Why is @wallabies supposed to consider herself lucky @MollyMcGuire? She shouldn’t reward unfairness.

wallabies's avatar

Her local laws might be different?

I disagree however about having a formal lease. As a tenant, I think you have much more power when things are not formalized into a written contract. (even if the law does state that a verbal contract is binding to some extent, the likelihood and ease of formalizing a case against you would surely be more difficult with out written doc) If you are renting an entire unit, it might not be so bad to lock yourself into a 6 month lease. When you are just renting a space in someone else’s house however, there is a lot more that can go wrong. Trust me.

jca's avatar

@MollyMcGuire: I believe that without a lease, the landlord does not have to get any notice. That’s why a lease can protect the landlord as well as the tenant.

Bellatrix's avatar

In this case, and if @Wallabies was in Queensland (not sure when in Australia you are @Wallabies), I think they are better without a lease. If there was a formal lease they would have had to pay a bond, which would have been registered and the owner could have claimed they should not have their bond returned when they left the premises. Furthermore, the owner could also seek to have @Wallabies black listed which would make it difficult for them (not sure if you are male or female) to rent in future. That’s why I was asking if there was a formal rental agreement.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@jca That is completely incorrect. When you allow someone to “live” with you (having clothes there and getting mail at your address is enough), then they obtain rights because it is their home. I tell people this all of the time. Do not let your buddies move in while they get their crap together!! Yes, in this case the owner of the property will have to provide written notice. There is a difference in a tenant and an occupant. The OP is an occupant and everyone should know to have a written agreement when you move into/onto someone elses property or you allow someone to move into onto yours.

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