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.”