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

Yesterday, we shared with you the story of Z, the room he rented in a small city in central California, and the landlord who thought it was totally okay to stay in his bedroom while he was out of town. We didn’t expect to get an update this soon, or for the story to get even stranger. It turns out that while the owner of the house may be mentally ill, according to local police, she has definitely been running a scam for at least the last few months that consists of collecting rent and deposits, then terrorizing renters so they move out. Whether the “terrorizing” part is intentional or not isn’t clear.

[The company I work for] put me up in a hotel the first week of Feb and booked me on weekend business trips every weekend in Feb. When I got to the area on Sunday Feb 5th, I had until Friday to find a place to rent because I needed to leave all my stuff to head out Friday night on a business trip.

I couldn’t extend my hotel stay or book a new hotel because all the hotels in a 50 mile radius were booked solid for the next 10 days. Apparently there is a huge Agricultural Expo that happens in the area right when I got here. This was the only semi-decent place that responded and I was really in a bind.

Almost immediately after sending this to Consumerist so I could get some help, I called the [city] PD to better understand my rights. I had a rental contract that never mentioned this lady lived in the place or that I was agreeing to her presence in the place. They gave me the OK to call 911 if she showed up again to remove her.

Then ….

Two hours after talking to her, I heard the front door and assumed it was a room mate. A stranger barges into the house, goes to one of the room mates door, unlocks it, and goes inside. I text the guy that some lady went into his room to make sure it is ok.

I’m in shock, thinking, “who the hell was that?”

The crazy looking lady comes out and yells “When I am done with my shower, I NEED THE INTERNET” (cable modem, no wifi). I look at her and say “Excuse me, but who the hell are you and what are you doing here?!”

“I’m [M], the OWNER of this house. AND WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE THREATENING ME WITH LAWSUITS AND THE POLICE! I ALREADY TOLD YOU I WAS SORRY! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT! STOP STOP! LET ME FINISH! STOP CUTTING ME OFF, YOU ALWAYS CUT ME OFF”

I had said nothing, just sat there with my jaw wide open in amazement that this person was talking to me like this.

After some back and forth I tell her that I want her to leave, that I will be there until the 6th of March (what I paid for) and that I wanted my deposit back.

At this point she starts to rant “you want to stay until the 6th? I was going to leave tomorrow but now I am going to make your life a nightmare .. yeah yeah.. you think your stuff is safe here? We’ll see.. I’m being sarcastic I hope you know. CALL THE COPS! GO AHEAD CALL THE COPS! I know them all by first name basis”

so I dial 911 because at this point, this loose cannon is scaring me.

For the next 30-45 minutes, this lady sat on the couch and just RANTED to herself. This was the gist of what I remember:

“Look at you, you like to abuse women huh. This is how you are? You always get what you want? You think you always get what you want? I bet you beat your wife. Yeah yeah, you beat your wife.

For the next 30-45 minutes, this lady sat on the couch and just RANTED to herself. This was the gist of what I remember:

“Look at you, you like to abuse women huh. This is how you are? You always get what you want? You think you always get what you want? I bet you beat your wife. Yeah yeah, you beat your wife.

she goes to the counter and grabs a banana and says “these are my bananas, you are more than welcome to eat one,” goes into and out of a bedroom at least 3 times, closes the door, and rummages. Every time she exited I feared that she would come out with a gun or some weapon because she was clearly insane.

She then left the premise, I made sure she didn’t hit my car with her truck and NEVER IN MY GOD DAMN LIFE have I packed my shit so quickly.

I called the other 2 room mates, told then she said she’d be back around 11 pm to midnight and that I was getting the FUCK out of there. God knows where she went, who she was coming back with, or with what.

The officers show up, we find out that this is the 6th time she has done this in recent months, she has a warrant out for her arrest, and that this property is well known.

The officers tell me that her story has progressively gotten worse and worse. The first time they came out she said she lived in Sacramento and was in the area to take care of the house.

The next time other tenants called to get her removed, she started to claim that she lived in the house but was only staying for a night. Somewhere along those lines she began to state that she was passing on her way to Phoenix, AZ.

Long story short, the guy said that it looks like she is spiraling into insanity. They spent 1.5 hours running around in circles with her, even when she admitted being at fault for a lot of things.

Luckily I wasn’t the tenant before me who had all of her belongings thrown away and the locks at the house changed on her.

The cop says she rents to 2-3 tenants at a time and every time they show up the house empties out. Simple math here, 6 incidents @ $700 a pop per person (first month plus deposit) is somewhere around $8,400 she has scammed people in the last couple of months per the cops.

I got a doc # and will take her to small claims. I ended up getting a hotel for the rest of the week as I look for another place to rent. Thank god this time I have actual time and no Expo to make a good decision.

I’m not sure what the consumer lesson here is, other than “don’t choose your rental housing out of desperation.”

Comments

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  1. LeonardoLeonardo says:

    “A stranger barges into the house, goes to one of the room mates door, unlocks it, and goes inside. I text the guy that some lady went into his room to make sure it is ok.”

    A stranger? Huh? Wasn’t this the landlord the tenant had just seen the other day?

    • RockerGal says:

      no, the OP was at a conference or something and the roomies told him about the crazy woman in his room.
      I don’t think he met her before as she told him she lived somewhere else and another roomie showed him around.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      It doesn’t say in the original story that he had ever met her. He may have rented the room via Craigslist, “confronted” her via telephone about her having stayed there while he was gone. Nowhere did it say they had crossed paths IRL before.

    • falnfenix says:

      he had never met her before. he leased the room from her through the first tenant.

  2. agent 47 says:

    Seriously, if this doesn’t show up on Judge Judy I’m going to be very disappointed.

  3. Gravitational Eddy says:

    I have just made a fresh bowl of popcorn.
    Please, continue…..

  4. PercussionQueen7 says:

    “For the next 30-45 minutes, this lady sat on the couch and just RANTED to herself.”

    Where the hell were the police? Did they ever come? She just up and left with no police coming in 45 minutes? Even after they told you to call if she showed up?

    • RockerGal says:

      this is common if they “know” a certain location or address.

      • PercussionQueen7 says:

        Then why tell him to call if they’re not going to show up? If someone off the handle came into my space, you bet your ass I’d call 911, and I wouldn’t let them off the line until they promised to send an officer ASAP.

        Of course, I also live in a town with a mental institution for people who have committed violent crimes, so maybe that would hold more sway.

        • falnfenix says:

          must be nice.

          where i live, we’re lucky to see an officer within an hour if no one is dead or severely injured…and even then, they might not come. and i live in a city of over 600k people.

          • Donathius says:

            When I worked at a KFC in high school in the town where I grew up (and still live) they actually told us NOT to push the police call button if we were being robbed. They said the police response in our town for things like that is so quick we’d likely end up with a hostage situation since the cops would arrive before we had time to empty out the till.

        • repeater says:

          I live near a rehabilitation house where they sometimes put the more violent or crazy alcoholics.

          Every once and a while one of them will escape and go off the wagon. One time I woke up at like 2am to some absolutely MASSIVE guy trying to ram down my front door and threatening to kill me. And then he would pass out for a half hour leaning against my door, wake up, and do it again.

          I called the cops, and they laughed it off and told me not to bother them with something so trivial unless he gets in. Only THEN would it be serious enough for a cop to stop by.

          I live 2 blocks from the police station, and about three cops were hanging out chatting in my building’s parking lot while I was making the call.

          He finally stumbled off on his own like 6 hours later, but it would have been nice to get some sleep instead of staying up all night clutching a baseball bat.

          Hooray for the Seattle Police Dept (currently under review by the Department of Justice!)

    • deadandy says:

      Uh, where do you live? Where I am, you’re lucky to get police response in less than an hour if it’s not a dire emergency. The last time I called the police because guys were racing quads up and down the street and almost hit some kids, they took over two hours to show up.

      • PercussionQueen7 says:

        Napa, CA. I don’t know about the timing there but when we needed an officer at my parents (Sonoma, CA) they came pretty damn quick.

        • aja175 says:

          I live in SF now, cops showed up to my apartment in the tendernob within 10 minutes when I had to report a theft – but in Buffalo where I used to live it was minimum 2 hours for anything that didn’t involve someone getting shot.

          • planetoid says:

            In Buffalo it depends upon the part of the city- if you are in the east side, good luck getting a cop out there. We live in a pretty nice neighborhood on the west side and had a response to a neighbor’s domestic dispute within 20 minutes. But it still does not compete with the suburbs > 2 minutes for a noise complaint.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        I live in a suburb, and one neighbor called the police b/c another neighbor made a loud noise that lasted about 2 seconds and the cops were here in 4-5 minutes.

    • nicless says:

      My car was stolen in Flint, Michigan. I called the police, gave a description, gave my license plate number and the whole deal. 2 months later I get a call from a stranger asking if I was missing a car. Apparently, they had called the cops and told them, “Hey this car has been sitting in front of our house for 2 weeks. Here is the license plate number.” The cops didn’t even bother going to look at the car, let me know it was found, or any other sort of police work. for a month a half. Finally the person got fed up, rummaged through the car and found some papers with my name on them. They called since the cops couldn’t be bothered.

      TL;DR version… cops will help when they get around to it, if ever.

    • George4478 says:

      The last time I got robbed (it was by 2 naked ladies pushing a donut cart) they responded in three minutes. 17 of them.

  5. Velifer says:

    I woke up one morning and was surprised by a man in my kitchen. He was very insulted that I threw a mug at his head, and even more insulted that shortly afterward the cops hauled him out of my apartment. He still believed he had the right to just waltz in and out.

    Some landlords act like they own the place.

    • eezy-peezy says:

      Actually they DO own the place, they just don’t have the right to come in whenever they feel like it.

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

      Awww you’re not very bright are you?

      Tenants have privacy rights, and the landlord must respect the lease agreements no matter what. In most cases, landlords and property managers are not allowed to enter your area unless of an emergency, or pre-notified service work.

    • Powerlurker says:

      Fortunately for me, Texas requires that rental housing has a lock that can’t be opened from the outside.

      • MrEvil says:

        Pretty much everything else has to be defined in the lease agreement. It’s not the most favorable towards tenants, but most apartments and rentals in Texas use a boilerplate lease that defines how much notice to give before entering the apartment.

  6. bdgbill says:

    An ad on Craigslist led to doing business with an unstable crazy person? No way!

  7. HowardRoarksTSquare says:

    Glad it took the cops 35-45 minutes to get there.

    When you only have seconds to spare – the Sacramento Police Department is minutes away. I bet if you mentioned you had a gun, they would have been there in seconds

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      Cosign. Seem that if they’re not busy trying to score with some hot chicks in Old Town or score Kings tickets, they’re too busy hassling brown kids “in the wrong place”.

  8. Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

    You know Consumerist means serious business when they don’t edit out all the bad wordsies in the OP’s letter.

    To be fair I would completely drop the f-bomb all over the place if that happened to me.

    • Mimbla says:

      On an unrelated note, welcome back. :) it’s been a while since I last saw a comment from you on here.

    • Sneeje says:

      Yeah, where you been?

      • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

        I feel like I should come up with a really deep and amazing explanation as to where I’ve been. Perhaps going through detox, rehab, finally let out of coffee’s basement, out on bail because the evidence is circumstantial at best.

        You know, something awesome like that.

        • Sneeje says:

          You have been to… the other side… and returned!

          • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

            If you ever go, just know that they only take American Express over there, the posh bastards.

  9. scoosdad says:

    Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest project perhaps?

    Hey Laura, it’s almost time for another Sears story.

  10. longfeltwant says:

    There’s a lesson in this story:

    Never EVER let anyone tell you that Americans don’t need guns for personal protection because we have a professional police force which protects citizens. FORTY FIVE MINUTES? WHERE THE HELL WERE THE POLICE? AND THIS WOMAN HAS A WARRANT OUT? WHY WEREN’T THEY THERE IN 45 SECONDS? This guy should have mentioned that there were donuts on the property.

    • Ben says:

      Yeah, pulling a gun on this crazy woman would’ve worked out great!

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

        No one said to pull a gun on her. I sure as hell would have felt safer with my hand on conceal revolver. At the very least, get some Sabre Pepper Spray.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        The point is that she could have pulled out a weapon at any time in that 45 minutes, and he would have been defenseless. It doesn’t mean longfeltwant wanted Z to blow the woman away.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        It certainly would have gotten the cops there sooner! XD

    • PercussionQueen7 says:

      I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere there was a 45 minute wait on police for a breaking and entering/trespassing.

      • longfeltwant says:

        Everywhere you can live, is 45 minutes away for the police, even if you live across the street from the police station.

    • SarcasticDwarf says:

      Even knowing it was the landlord, I think they would have been justified in using deadly force in many states. She had already broken a number of laws on entering, then more by refusing to leave. Add in the bat**** crazy aspect…

  11. kevduce says:

    WOW

  12. Raekwon says:

    My old landlord would come into my house to spy on me. He admitted it when I was moving out telling me that he was worried I wasn’t going to get packed and cleaned in time. I asked how he knew and he said he’d been in their multiple times during the day or at night to survey my progress. After he wouldn’t return my deposit (another story) he admitted to being in my house multiple times to find things I was doing wrong so he could keep my deposit. Very creepy and completely illegal. Thank goodness I live in a house now.

  13. anime_runs_my_life says:

    It’s California, what more needs to be said? I’ve rented from some crazies in my day when I rented. Sadly, I was born and raised there too, so I don’t have a lot going for me.

    BTW, if she thinks it’s crazy there, try living in San Francisco or LA. Oh yeah.

  14. Tim says:

    Either here or somewhere else, the OP should really post the name of the landlord. That way, maybe people will Google the landlord’s name before signing a lease, and see this kind of stuff.

  15. whatdoyoucare says:

    Crazy or crazy like a fox? This would be an fun way to scam people out of money. It would be highly enjoyable way to keep raising the crazy bar.

    I could also picture a Rob Snieder movie coming out in a few months about this. Strangely enough, I can picture him playing the role either as male or female.

  16. 3ZKL says:

    i think the lesson here is to check the basement for a meth lab. . .

  17. Cat says:

    Best. Worst. Landlord. Story. On Consumerist. EVER.

    And the only post I ever wished the OP had made longer…

  18. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    “NEVER IN MY GOD DAMN LIFE have I packed my shit so quickly.” Made me blow coffee out my nose. I have no idea why I find this so funny, but the bananas…the wife-beating accusations, the urgent need for the internet….oh my goodness, it’s just all so insane it’s hilarious.

    Not to make light of Z’s situation – thank heaven’s he’s out of there. Good luck finding a stable environment to settle into, Z!!

  19. gttim says:

    My grandmother’s neighbor lives in the house next to her and rents out a house across the street. He can never keep anybody in there. After he rents to them, he tells them that they cannot use the front door. They cannot have company. Can’t walk on the grass. He waters his yard when they are gone with their water- which they pay for. All his yard scrap goes in front of their house until it is picked up. It just goes on and on. Then he complains abut not being able to find a good tenant for his property! Not as good as this story, but funky landlords are everywhere!

    • A.Mercer says:

      Yep. I know that. I have been fairly lucky with mine. The worst was the one that would turn our power off so he could repair the electric gate to the complex. He would get to the end of the day and just leave it off. He never did care that he has cut the power to one set of apartments. This happened at least once a month.

      I caught another one using my bathroom. I came home for lunch and opened the door and noticed that the bathroom door was shut. I went to check it and he yelled that he was in there. He lived two doors down and for some reason he decided he needed to use my bathroom. Who knows what else he used in my place. That one did not like be living there because I was too young for his liking. I was a mere 36 years old. He wanted tenants who were at least in their 70’s. However, he had bought these duplexes after I had moved in.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        he wanted tenants who were too blind/hearing impaired/senile to notice he’s in their place and using their stuff?

  20. proptart says:

    Is anyone else curious why a known scam artist and possibly mentally ill person is allowed to continue this scam? Why hasn’t she been prosecuted? At the very least couldn’t they get her the help she obviously needs?

    • vastrightwing says:

      I would say she’s not as mentally incompetent as she seems. It’s a scam on multiple fronts: 1) her actions and 2) her personality. Her actions are making her a lot of money. The only really problem for her here is that eventually she’ll end up in jail. She could claim insanity but any reasonable judge will recognize the scam and side with the renters on this one. However, the woman probably won’t have the money by the time a judgment is returned.

      Lesson: be very careful renting via Craigslist. Just sayin’.

  21. hmburgers says:

    Wows… YIKES. Good luck OP!!

  22. Conformist138 says:

    Now, the OP (for no reason than to be kind) should post several messages in the rental section of CL for that town and post warnings giving the name and address. Hopefully, people will see it and be warned to avoid the insanity. The cops clearly aren’t stopping her, despite knowing exactly what she’s doing and how many people she’s defrauded and harassed.

  23. pot_roast says:

    Old woman running a scam?

    At least it didn’t turn out like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothea_Puente

  24. ancientone567 says:

    lol I know people crazier. I work with the mentally ill on a volunteer basis sometimes. Some are so far gone they don’t even know where they are or what year it is and they think you are a bear or something.