I Go Out Of Town, Landlord Crashes In My Bedroom

Z picked up and moved to a new city for work, and rented a room in a three-bedroom house with an out-of-town landlord. He found the rental on Craigslist. Not his dream home, but not so bad either. Until he came home from a conference and found that the landlord came to visit, and stayed in the house. With all three bedrooms rented out, where did she crash? Z’s room, of course, which she also rummaged through and rearranged the furniture.



So I move to a new area because of my job and start looking for housing. I find a shared housing situation on craigslist and speak to the owner for a while before deciding to check the place out.

The owner lives in [a different city] and the current tenant in the 3 bed/2 bath house shows me around. I didn’t really like it, but I had no choice, so I sign a lease and move my stuff in.

At this point 2 of the 3 rooms are taken. A week later a third room mate shows up and now the house is to capacity.

I leave for the weekend for a convention and when I come back the other 2 room mates tell me that the landlord came and stayed in the house, specifically in my room and in the space that I am renting.

The washer & dryer are in my bedroom (odd, I know) so I can’t just lock the room door. The landlord never mentioned that she was coming to either of us, let alone that she was staying.

I was shocked, disgusted, and appalled that she had no problem sleeping in the space I was renting, rummaging through my closet, and altering the layout of the room.

I confronted her about it, told her that this violation of my space and privacy is a deal breaker and that I would live out my time for the month then leave. I also demanded $250 deposit back, which she is now refusing to give.

I can’t trust this lady, let alone leave my stuff in this house while I am at work.

I called the cops non-emergency line and they told me that if she shows up I can call them to have her removed if the contract doesn’t stipulate she can have access to the premise, which it does not.

She tried to inform me that this was her house, that she was always going to be living here and that we were going to share space with her, so I asked “why are there 3 people living in a 3 bedroom house if you are also a tenant, and where did you plan on sleeping?”

Does consumerist have any tips as to where I can file an official complaint with this psycho woman!?

Z didn’t specify where this house is located, but it may be in California. If so, the state department of consumer affairs has a handy publication that spells out landlord-tenant relations, but does not specify what to do when you find that your landlord has spent the weekend snuggled up in your bed without permission. This section does give some leads for third parties that might be able to help, though.

Update:
Room-Borrowing Landlord Is Mentally Ill, Running A Scam, Or Both

Comments

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  1. missy070203 says:

    looks like it is time to bust out the nanny cam

  2. scoosdad says:

    This arrangement just seems wierd to me– three strangers each renting a different bedroom in the same house, and the owner doesn’t live there either. A bedroom you can’t lock because the common washer and dryer is in it? And she’s concerned about her stuff while she’s at work? I would be too.

    This sounds like the Big Brother house. I’d be looking for the cameras and microphones by now.

    • scoosdad says:

      He, not she. Sorry.

    • RandomHookup says:

      In many places, the law doesn’t like these kinds of arrangement. This is really a “boarding house” set-up. A “roommate” situation assumes the group acts collectively and have decided to live together as a group.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Well, it is weird. Thing is, in very crowded housing markets, you get all sorts of crazy like this, and usually at ridiculous high prices.

    • who? says:

      In expensive housing markets, it’s really common. People buy cheap houses, turn as many rooms as possible into bedrooms, and rent all the rooms out to either students or young people who just graduated and need a cheap place to live.

      I had a young friend who lived in a house where the dining room had been turned into a bedroom, and the living room had been cut in half, and half of the living room was a bedroom. The only rooms in the house that weren’t rented out as bedrooms were the kitchen, the bathrooms, and 1/2 of the living room. In normal circumstances it would have been a 3 bedroom house, but there were 7 tenants living there, each with their own bedroom.

  3. gitmo234 says:

    Sounds like my exgirlfriend.

  4. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    “I didn’t really like it, but I had no choice, so I sign a lease and move my stuff in.”

    I think I found your problem. You probably did have a choice, try searching beyond craigslist.

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      Also, you didn’t mention what state this is in, which is crucial information for anyone to be able to help you, since different states have different housing and renting laws.

  5. Cat says:

    Move out and file in small claims to get your deposit back, since she violated the terms of the lease.

    Or, stay there without paying rent long enough to negate the $250 deposit.

  6. Billl says:

    It’s called running an illegal boarding house and the local code enforcement office will make her life hell with one phone call….

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      Interesting. I like the thinking here.

    • longfeltwant says:

      I agree with this.

      Calling the cops was smart. Keep their number in your speed-dial.

      Additionally, call the people in your city or state who regulate rentals. Give them your landlord’s personal phone number.

      Finally, forget about the $250 for now. Immediately find a new place and move there. *Then* if you need the $250 badly enough, try to pry it out of her.

      PS you might also want to sweep your room for secret recording devices. You never know.

  7. eezy-peezy says:

    You could also suggest to the landlord that with access to her house, it would be easy to find a souvenir to replace the $250 deposit she won’t return.

    Or just report her to the housing dept. , or to HER landlord- I’m pretty sure what she is doing is illegal.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      bad idea, legally (and ethically)the fact that she owes you money does not give you the right to steal from her. All this threat would do is bring you down to her level and hurt your chances for any legal resolution.

      • chargernj says:

        In NJ and probably some other places there are situations where you can tell the landlord to apply your security to the rent owed.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Heck, if she’s really doing something illegal, just stay there rent-free until your $250 is recouped. Complains? Threaten to call the authories, such as housing authorities.

  8. Straspey says:

    The article does not mention specifically which state/city in which this is happening.

    Most states and localities have a set or regulations and statutes which govern all housing issues, including landlord-tenant disputes; as well as agencies whose job it is to oversee and enforce them.

    Here in New York City, for instance, it is actually against the law for a landlord to enter the home or apartment of a legal tenant without first receiving permission – and doing so can result in arrest for illegal entry into a private home.

    The OP should check with his local municipal and state governments to see if there is an agency which oversees and enforces the housing regulations for his/her area and find what – if any – redress he may have in this situation.

    • Stella says:

      That’s the case in California as well:

      “California law states that a landlord can enter a rental unit only for the following reasons:

      In an emergency.
      When the tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit.
      To make necessary or agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements.
      To show the rental unit to prospective tenants, purchasers, or lenders, to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit, or to conduct an initial inspection before the end of the tenancy (see Initial Inspection sidebar).
      If a court order permits the landlord to enter.116
      If the tenant has a waterbed, to inspect the installation of the waterbed when the installation has been completed, and periodically after that to assure that the installation meets the law’s requirements.117

      The landlord or the landlord’s agent must give the tenant reasonable advance notice in writing before entering the unit, and can enter only during normal business hours (generally, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays). The notice must state the date, approximate time and purpose of entry. 118 However, advance written notice is not required under any of the following circumstances:

      To respond to an emergency.
      The tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit.
      The tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.
      The tenant and landlord have agreed that the landlord will make repairs or supply services, and have agreed orally that the landlord may enter to make the repairs or supply the services. The agreement must include the date and approximate time of entry, which must be within one week of the oral agreement.119

      The landlord or agent may use any one of the following methods to give the tenant written notice of intent to enter the unit. The landlord or agent may:

      Personally deliver the notice to the tenant; or
      Leave the notice at the rental unit with a person of suitable age and discretion (for example, a roommate or a teenage member of the tenant’s household); or
      Leave the notice on, near or under the unit’s usual entry door in such a way that it is likely to be found; or
      Mail the notice to the tenant.120

      The law considers 24 hours’ advance written notice to be reasonable in most situations.

      If the notice is mailed to the tenant, mailing at least six days before the intended entry is presumed to be reasonable, in most situations.121 The tenant can consent to shorter notice and to entry at times other than during normal business hours.

      Special rules apply if the purpose of the entry is to show the rental to a purchaser. In that case, the landlord or the landlord’s agent may give the tenant notice orally, either in person or by telephone. The law considers 24 hours’ notice to be reasonable in most situations. However, before oral notice can be given, the landlord or agent must first have notified the tenant in writing that the rental is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally to arrange to show it. This written notice must be given to the tenant within 120 days of the oral notice. The oral notice must state the date, approximate time and purpose of entry.122 The landlord or agent may enter only during normal business hours, unless the tenant consents to entry at a different time123 When the landlord or agent enters the rental, he or she must leave written evidence of entry, such as a business card.124

      The landlord cannot abuse the right of access allowed by these rules, or use this right of access to harass (repeatedly disturb) the tenant.125 Also, the law prohibits a landlord from significantly and intentionally violating these access rules to attempt to influence the tenant to move from the rental unit. 126

      If your landlord violates these access rules, talk to the landlord about your concerns. If that is not successful in stopping the landlord’s misconduct, send the landlord a formal letter asking the landlord to strictly observe the access rules stated above. If the landlord continues to violate these rules, you can talk to an attorney or a legal aid organization, or file suit in small claims court to recover damages that you have suffered due to the landlord’s misconduct. If the landlord’s violation of these rules was significant and intentional, and the landlord’s purpose was to influence you to move from the rental unit, you can sue the landlord in small claims court for a civil penalty of up to $2,000 for each violation.127″

      BTW, HUD has links to tenant rights in each state: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/rental_assistance/tenantrights

    • Kestris says:

      Same in Virginia as well. 24 hour notice and permission must be obtained.

  9. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Get out of there asap! Now. No fooling – this could turn into a situation that involves your safety. Your landlord in nuts. Just get out. You may never recover a deposit, but considering your safety, it’s a cheap price.

    • novajersh says:

      Agreed. The deposit is only $250 so it could be worse. Sometimes it is better to cut your losses.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      THIS! Get out NOW, and figure it out later! Nothing good will come of you staying there. The landlord clearly has boundary issues, so there’s no telling what she’s capable of doing.

  10. daynight says:

    I notice that this is a male tenant and a female landlord sleeping in his bed. In olden days it was the divine right of kings to sleep with any married woman. (It was considered an honor to have his baby.) Is she trying to reinstate some sort of feudal system in the modern day? She apparently did not restrict her sleeping in his bed to time when he is away, after all.

  11. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Abscond. Immediately, if not sooner.

    You can worry about legal issues once you’re safely away from the (potentially) crazy person.

  12. SagarikaLumos says:

    Am I the only one imagining the landlady from Kingpin?

  13. incident man stole my avatar says:

    Call Judge Judy… I can’t wait to watch how this plays out

    • brinks says:

      That is EXACTLY what I was thinking. Judy would rip the landlord apart. Yay!

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        LOL I’m watching her rip someone a new one right now. When I got laid off, I thought “Well, at least I can watch JJ until I find another job!”

  14. rpm773 says:

    so I asked, “why are there 3 people living in a 3 bedroom house if you are also a tenant, and where did you plan on sleeping?”

    And that’s when steam started to fill up the room and the Skinimax music started playing…

  15. Gorbachev says:

    New York City property law is stacked so much in favor of a tenant that you have all the power here.

    Find another place to rent, sign the lease a month in advance and do not pay your last month’s rent. You’ll come out ahead.

    • Gorbachev says:

      new city != new york city

      Sounds like New York, though, with 3 strangers voluntarily living under the same roof.

  16. Herman X says:

    This happened to me with my landlord more than once during the early 1990’s.

    For whatever reason, my landlord decided that my rented basement apartment was his personal “man cave” and stayed there on several occasions during my absence. Said pretty much the same thing as the article about how it was his house, how he lived here as a full-time resident…blah blah blah. AND, he told me I wouldn’t be able to prove it anyway so basically, too bad!

    The police didn’t do anything, said I could have him removed if I caught him there but he only did it while I was away. I got VERY annoyed and angry. I mean, the dude was sleeping in my bed, eating my food, watching my tv and using – wait for it – my record player!

    There was a time before webcams but had that been an option back then I would have went that route. Instead, I found a way which did finally stop him and that was by doing several things:

    I added wet cat food to the hamburger meat.
    Mixed the absolute hottest pepper sauce I could find to the bottled soda and fruit juices.
    Would leave the milk out, a full day or two before my departure then put it back in the fridge.
    Set the clock radio by my bed to go off at 2:30am full blast, then set two more like that in various hidden parts of the bedroom to do the same on future occasions.
    Would call my “home” phone from wherever I was at random late-night intervals while I was away.
    Left absolute filthy clothes and underwear on the bed and under the covers (changed them when I got home)
    Was handy enough to disable my thermostat for the basement and kept the room heat off (This was Cleveland, Ohio in the winter!)
    Disconnected the cable line to the TV and hid the remote.
    Did other annoying things like that..

    I am absolutely positive he ate and drank the yummy foods I had prepared but he never mentioned it. The weekend visits to my apartment abruptly ended after two courses of this treatment, and I did eventually move.

    He told me he would not be refunding the security deposit due to “damage with the room” I sent him a bill for food and rent during his “visits” which he said he would not pay. So, during a time when HE was away, I moved out and did not pay the last months rent. Left him a note to sue me if he wished but I would be discussing his actions in great detail at the court and would invite his wife to the hearings. He never sued, and life rolled on.

    Ahhhh good times, good times…

  17. ancientone567 says:

    Poor lady sounds like she has a mental illness and is very confused. Just get your money back anyway you see fit and go.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      Or she could just be a bossy, manipulative jerk, plain and simple. Either way, moving is a good idea.

  18. Conformist138 says:

    Keep records. Get statements. Seriously, if you wanna go after her you may have to prove she violated your tenant rights and that can be difficult in these situations.

    I shared a house with a woman (who was also the owner) who came in my rooms while I was gone or asleep, even going so far as to crawl through a window when I’d locked the doors (she tried getting in the window again, but I had doweled it tightly enough she couldn’t get the window fan out). She literally drove me to the edge of maddness- I kept feeling like I was insane because that happens when you live with insanity. She once started going nuts on the porch telling me she wasn’t gonna kill herself (wha-?) but if the cops show up, I should lie about where she was.

    All that, and she ended up suing me for alleged damage (which was even more crazy bullshit) and won. She won because I was naive and just escaped the house thinking I would never have to deal with her again. She hired an agency to represent her while I was forced to go alone (she could hire a collections agency, but I can’t have a lawyer for small claims). It was my word against hers and she had someone coaching and leading her through her testimony. I sounded insane because the things she did were insane and she just sat in court and acted like she’d done nothing.

    So, again, document everything- written statements, recorded conversations, everything you can or you may face paying the very person who chased you away.

  19. falnfenix says:

    my world just got smaller. lolclubsi.

  20. ArizonaGeek says:

    There are lawyers that deal with tenants v landlords. About 15 years ago I had to hire one because I had problem neighbors in a duplex and the landlord would refund my deposit when I left, so for about $100 the lawyer sent a really nice “Give my clients their money and no one gets hurt” letter and that did the trick. Now for $250 spending $100 may or may not be worth it but the prices may have dropped. I’d at least check it out and make a few phone calls and see what the prices are.

  21. shepd says:

    Keep a record of the landlord’s use of your space (your flatmates should be able to help you out there). You are not only owed your security desposit, but you are also owed rent for each day the landlord is using your space, as you do not have use of it. Sue in small claims, you will have your money back within a couple of months, along with your rent (personally, I would sue for the entire month’s rent for any month he was present in your space for and let the judge decide if you get less–chances are the Judge will be equally disgusted with the behavior and give you the full month back, but he can’t give you any more than you ask for).

    Or, instead of small claims, find your local equivalent of a landlord tenant board. They will be able to do something about this, however, you may find that they are slower and more expensive than small claims, and they are only going to follow the letter of the law, you won’t get any bonuses for this crazy behaviour.

    Also, if you can’t move out right away, get something to lock your belongings up in. Perhaps a trunk or something similar. I’d also lock up all the beddings–make the landlord work to live in your space. Add the cost of the locking containers to your small claims court claim.

  22. patty says:

    are you sure this house is legally this woman’s? I sounds like either one of those scams where a person says it is their house only to find out the house is in foreclosure. Yup, you need to move quickly.

    Good luck.

  23. BlueHighlighterNextToACoozie says:

    Another option you could possibly look into to screw her over a bit is tax records. If she is shady like she sounds she very well may be claiming this as her primary residence and getting a significant tax reduction compared to taxes on rental property. Usually you can pull tax records from local county website and view tax info, then call tax assesors office. They certainly dislike people cheating taxes.

    You could also drop an upper decker in the toilet on move out day, chuck a can of tuna in the duct work, things of this nature depending on how ugly things get. But I suppose there are other tenants to consider.

  24. chrisAPu says:

    My old landlord learned the hard way when he decided to play the “it’s my house I can come in whenever I want” game. He had the attic locked off for his personal storage but the only way to get to it was to come through the house. I simply asked that he call me beforehand but he wanted to be a dick and started coming in while I wasn’t home… One evening I parked my car around the block and waited for him to arrive… Soon as he entered I called the cops and they arrested him for for disorderly conduct. It also turns out that sense he didn’t stipulate the attic as his personal storage within the lease, all his property in there was considered mine. I didn’t take it but I did mess with him for months over it before moving out.

    Anyway, moral of the story is that most states are very pro-tenant and as long as you pay your rent the landlord has little to no right entering your “dwelling” if the laundry machines are in your portion of the house and it’s not stipulated within the lease, they are for your sole use.

  25. almondwine says:

    I know that the article doesn’t specify a state and I know that laws vary by state, but I wonder if this is a situation where the castle doctrine applies.

  26. Earl Butz says:

    Small claims court, and the OP will win every dime she asks for.

    • chrisAPu says:

      This isn’t as cut and dry as the Internet implies. Small claims judges have a tendency to base judgements on personal feelings rather than law…. The law in my state says that a landlord must return a tenant’s security deposit (or whatever is left with a list of deductions) via certified mail within 30 days of the tenant vacating the rental unit or the landlord owes double said deposit. I never received it so I took him to small claims… Turns out he mailed it 3 days past the 30 day cutoff and sent it via regular mai in which it got lost. The judge told me “mistakes happen” and awarded me nothing but court costs and the original deposit.

      I could have probably pushed it further to an appeals court but the time/money required was not worth it.

  27. SamanthaSSJ says:

    1. Start looking for a new place.
    2. Don’t give landlord any more money – burn up the $250 deposit.
    3. It’s your room, so lock the door! Tell the other tenants that they need to do their laundry when you are home and it is convenient for you.
    4. Take lots of photos of the room, preferably with another tenant in the photo – document the condition of the place before you leave so crazy landlord can’t accuse you of trashing the place.

  28. mszabo says:

    Am I the only one who is curious as to just how bad that 3rd unoccupied bedroom was to take a deal on a bedroom that has the apartment’s washer/dryer in it?

  29. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    When I read the article title, I envisioned the landlord crashing through the ceiling into the renter’s room. Like when my cousin was rooting around in the attic at his house when we were kids, and he mis-stepped and fell through the ceiling into his sister’s room.

  30. Crim Law Geek says:
  31. PhiTauBill says:

    ** NOT LEGAL ADVICE **

    Most leases and state laws provide for a right to quiet enjoyment of your leased space. Check your lease, and the applicable laws and regulations of your state.

    If in NJ (a fairly pro-tenant state), Legal Services of NJ has a pretty good description. http://www.lsnjlaw.org/english/placeilive/irentmyhome/tenantsrights/chapterfour/index.cfm#4enterunit

  32. dush says:

    borrowing the bed, maybe in a million years.
    but why rearrange the renter’s stuff?

  33. Kestris says:

    In most states, a landlord has to give a 24 hour notice before showing up. This should be in the lease agreement as well. So that’s another lease violation right there.

  34. who? says:

    We don’t know where OP is, but in most states, especially states with expensive real estate, landlord tenant law is stacked in favor of the tenant. The situation with the landlord running the “boarding house” may or may not be legal. I know in Southern California, it is legal, and it’s surprisingly common. Most, if not all, states require the landlord to give notice that they’re going to come into the house, unless it’s truly an emergency. I would guess that sleeping in a tenant’s bed with no notice is definitely illegal.

    My suggestion? Move, asap. The landlord is creepy. If you feel comfortable burning the deposit by not paying rent, do that. Otherwise, every state has very specific laws on the steps you have to take to get your deposit back. Research the law before you move. Take pictures, get roommate statements about the condition of the place, etc. Typically, the landlord has some number of days to return your deposit. If they don’t either return the deposit or send a letter itemizing why they kept it, you send a letter demanding it back. If they don’t then send it, you can take them to small claims. If it goes to small claims, you’ll get some multiple (commonly triple) of your deposit.

  35. bethrankin says:

    This happened to me – the lady even used my towel to take a shower. There is no way to salvage anything with a landlord that nuts/not keen on personal space. Get out now because in my case, that house turned out to be falling apart anyway. It was condemned a month after I moved out.

  36. hmburgers says:

    this really doesn’t seem that unusual to me… it’s no different from roommates at an apartment which is dead common around here.

    That landlord is nuts… she’s got the worst possibly mindset for a landlord which is “this is my place”—no, it’s not… you’re renting it out, that means it’s MY place for the duration of the lease we both agreed to as long as I am paying…

    I say find a new place to live, don’t sweat the $250 for the moment, and file in small claims court to recover that plus any court fees… I know Cali and Mass have laws geared toward the tenant, but I’d assume that most states have protections for exclusive use of the rented space and privacy…

    Best of luck… I had a rental where the professional landlord couple that thought that they didn’t need to give any notice for entering the apartment to perform routine repairs, and in some cases didn’t even need to knock… I got out of the shower once and found my front door wide open and a ladder setup in my kitchen… I come to find out, the LL came in to patch a crack in the ceiling plaster (certainly not urgent) and realized he didn’t have the right stuff so had left to go to the hardware store… left me apartment unlocked, door open, and me in the effing bathroom w/o a clue. I ended up installing a slide lock on the door to prevent them coming in when I was home–as in, this type of thing happened a few times despite me being pretty emphatic that I was NOT OK with it, and it’s against the law and lease. My point being, once they have that “this is my place” mentality it’s basically impossible to break them of it…

    When the lease ended the wife practically begged me to stay on for another year, even dropped the rent 15% in a market where rents were actually going up year over year… she knew that someone who didn’t bitch and paid their rent is worth a lot…

  37. Shmoodog says:

    Sounds similar to a scam my former downstairs neighbor had going.

    She lives on the first floor, in a two bedroom apartment. She would rent the rooms out to 2 foreign female students at a time, and then live in the living room.

    It gets better. The woman who rented the place out CONSTANTLY left notes about how loud we are upstairs, and could we keep it down. She was crazy.

    One day, the two very nice foreign girls renting the rooms knock on our door. we open it up, and they ask us if WE can hear THEM from downstairs…

    We were like, hear YOU, in our apartment, UPSTAIRS of you?

    Turns out, the lady was kicking those girls out, saying she had complaints from US that they were too loud…when have you really ever heard anyone DOWNSTAIRS of you?

    It gets better.

    Turns out, the lady was taking the rent those girls paid…and then was NOT PAYING THE RENT. She herself was being kicked out of the apartment by the landlord for Not Paying The Rent.

    They literally moved all her furniture and stuff out of the room and changed the locks. We had a downstairs FULL of stuff for weeks until she came and moved it all out to a new place.

    All NYC…

  38. Martha Gail says:

    In some states the landlord has to give you a written letter on why they are keeping the deposit within a certain amount of time or they have to pay you 3 times the deposit.

  39. sean says:

    In California a landlord needs to give 24-hours notice before entering the premises.

  40. makoto says:

    I’m pretty sure you can’t rent out a bedroom legally that is a common space. You can inhabit it if you own the home or if you rent out the house entirely, but it is illegal (if I am not mistaken) to rent out the rather large basement/laundry room as a bedroom if others have access to it as a public space.

  41. backinpgh says:

    I’m betting the whole rental is illegal in the first place.

  42. duke40 says:

    I’m amazed landlords would risk any of these stunts. Easy enough to call the cops and report 500 dollars stolen from the top of your dresser and the landlord is admitting they were in the area. Its only optional that there was ever money there. Non crazy landlords know this and never do unauthorized or unsupervised entry into their rentals.

  43. etbrown4 says:

    Bill, the poster below is right. It’s very likely an illegal occupancy.

    Every city or town has zoning regs on exactly who can and can’t occupy a single family home.

    Often the laws state than no more than __ UNRELATED persons may occupy a single family home. Usually 2-3.

    These laws are in place to prohibit illegal rooming houses.

    Assuming the city or town has such a law, and provided they are over the limit, the tenant owns the landlord nothing and the deposit is to be refunded. It’s an illegal lease and not enforceable.

    I had the same situation where 6 college kids tried to convert a single family rental home into a dormitory. The law prohibited the use.

    Believe it on not, it took me 6 months to get them out and over a year to prevail in circuit court.
    Amazingly, I spent over $50,000 in legal fees, (yup 50k, that’s right), had 4 court hearings, and was finally awarded $90,000 in back rent, damages, AND legal fees. What a nightmare, but one with a good outcome.

    It was a very high $ house, but the principle was the same.

  44. thomwithanh says:

    Reminds me of a batshit crazy live-in landlord I used to rent from. Went through my things, took furniture out of my room (claiming it was hers) and constantly accused me of stealing her personal property and breaking things in the house that I never touched.

    She then became verbally abusive – when the physical threats started I found a new place. I had just paid rent for that month, said it was my 30 days and booked it out of there. She said in writing I’d get my damage deposit back after 30 days. 30 days later and she claims she never wrote the e-mail and I made it up…. I’m suing for triple damages.