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Old 09-08-2009, 09:06 PM
146 posts, read 574,435 times
Reputation: 101


Turns out I have a sneaky, lying landlord, so of course this will be complex, but my question is specific so I'll keep the details on point.

My boyfriend and I are two months into a year-long lease in a four bedroom house. All four bedrooms are rented out to tenants, and until just a few days ago, the landlord was living in a room he had built in the garage. Several weeks ago, he was given notice that he is not allowed to have a room there, and has since torn it down, so he now officially does not have any place to sleep in the house. Nonetheless, he continues to frequent the house on a daily basis, even slipping our mail under the doors of our private bedrooms (because he wants to be the only one with a key to the mailbox). Although the house is enormous, he is a phenomenal hoarder and has stocked the garage, cupboards, and various common areas with his junk, including furniture left behind by previous tenants, found on the street, and so forth. He has shelves upon shelves of mostly expired packaged food, and likewise one of the two refrigerators is crammed with his perishables (9 people would rather share one fridge than share his). There are boxes upon boxes of expired canned goods and bottled drinks all over the house, even in the enormous laundry room which is covered wall-to-wall with cupboards--and still we had to beg some room from one of the housemates to store our detergent and dryer sheets.

Without going into excruciating detail about how the landlord came to live in the house in the first place (he needed a "temporary" place to stay pending an investigation against him for molesting his mentally handicapped four-year-old daughter) and his various perverted ways (I busted him peeping on me, and he's sexually harassed the other two female housemates), isn't there some law against him coming in and out as he pleases, especially considering he doesn't actually inhabit the house?

To clarify, we are not renting the whole house (each tenant has his or her own lease for a single room, with access to the common areas), but he is nonetheless disrupting our enjoyment of the premises by his presence. For the record, he did not indicate that he would be living there when we first moved in; in fact, when we asked him whether we could use the garage, he merely said that he used it for storage. It was not until some weeks later (we went on vacation right after moving in) that we asked one of the other housemates why he was by the house so often, and our landlord's sordid history was revealed to us.

My boyfriend and I are simply in love with the house, in terms of location, appearance, and housemates, but our nutjob landlord is driving us berserk with his intrusive presence. Since the peeping incident, my boyfriend will not leave me at the house alone when the landlord is there, and two of the tenants have children living with them (5mos, 2yrs, 4yrs, 13yrs) who are virtual prisoners in their rooms because they are vulnerable to this pervert who takes our checks monthly. We would hate to go through the hassle of of vacating (which would also entail early termination of our lease) if there is some legal way to prevent him from encroaching on our territory. And anyway, he will just rent the room out to some other unsuspecting sap, so maybe my efforts will save someone the headache we are now forced to endure.

Although our lease contains the standard clause that a landlord may only enter the premises with 24 hours' notice, under specified conditions, he is under the impression that "premises" refers to our rooms, i.e., that he has access to all of the common areas of the house, anytime. It is my understanding that "premises" refers to the entire house (as an apartment would constitute premises in a building). Can anyone clarify this?

And that's the short story!
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:57 PM
24,885 posts, read 47,531,989 times
Reputation: 17901
Renting rooms in a house is different than renting a apartment or single family home because you don't have the expectation of privacy except in your dedicated space...

No matter how nice the home is... I wouldn't consider living/staying anywhere where I felt I was a prisoner.

I don't see how the Landlord can be "Banned" from common areas... so it looks like you have to decide if this is something you can live with or not.

Filing a Police report for Peeping would help your case if your intention is to move... looking into a restraining order is another possibility... I personally would not live under the same roof or want to rent from someone I felt so strongly about where I needed a restraining order and then there is the entire logistics of enforcement...

As always, the only advice you should rely on is that from an Attorney hired to represent your interests...

Keeping junk in the garage probably isn't material and there is no law against being eccentric that I know of...

Last edited by Ultrarunner; 09-09-2009 at 12:32 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:33 AM
146 posts, read 574,435 times
Reputation: 101
Ultrarunner, oughtn't it make a difference that he does not inhabit the residence himself? He has no bedroom of his own in the house. Moreover, I am renting the room and my lease stipulates that I have access to the common areas, but said common areas are crammed with his belongings, which I believe are to blame for a silverfish infestation (I think this is unusual for a home that is just a few years old).

When we first moved in, we had no reason whatsoever to believe that this enormous house with its vast number of cupboards (and even a smaller second kitchen) would not accommodate such basic things like our food and dishes, of which we had just enough for two people to begin with. For example, we were given just two small cupboards for all of our dishes and food, one of which is the depth of a regular dinner plate, and one shelf in a refrigerator the height of a pickle jar. Luckily the landlord allowed us to build a pantry in what was originally intended to be a closet for a vacuum cleaner (none would fit--it's too narrow), so we were permitted to build shelves there, at our expense. One housemate got fed up today and moved all of the landlord's cardboard boxes of expired food that were sitting around collecting dust long before even I moved in.

We were also grossly mislead by the landlord and had no reason to even suspect that he would be living there as well. It would be a totally different matter if we were renting a room in someone's home, but we were led to believe that we were just signing an individual lease, and not that the landlord would be occupying the house in any way, let alone for storage. He comes and goes as he pleases, doing goodness knows what in the garage, generates more trash than everyone else in the household combined but does not pay for trash collection, and we will probably do as some of the other housemates have done and obtain a PO Box, because he brings us our mail (it is delivered to a locked box at the start of the private street) whenever he feels like it. Yes, we are renting a room, but that room includes enjoyment of the common areas, as per the lease, and that's just not happening.

Incidentally, he wrote up parts of the lease himself, using a template I suppose, and did such a mediocre job that I have no doubt I would be able to break the lease without penalty. Unfortunately, there are greater cost to moving out, namely truck rentals, time spent, and so forth. In our capacity as full-time students (my boyfriend also works full-time), this is not a financial possibility, nor can we afford the inconvenience. I would rather suffer here than leave, but also I would rather not suffer at all.
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Old 09-09-2009, 05:22 AM
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 53,147,657 times
Reputation: 26338
You should contact an attorney versed in such matters as I don't think anyone unqualified can answer such a complicated issue.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:09 AM
809 posts, read 3,055,253 times
Reputation: 566
What a mess. Contact a lawyer. Try googling "tentant rights" and the name of your state and see if you can find any information on renting a room in someone's house.

I don't know the answer for you, but I'd be tempted to just through out the expired food at least. Of course, that would probably just cause more stress and drama.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:23 AM
Location: Long Island
8,916 posts, read 17,748,778 times
Reputation: 4635
Go on Nolo - Legal Solutions for You, Your Family, and Your Business - they should have a section on tenants rights.
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:18 AM
Location: In The Outland
6,023 posts, read 11,160,941 times
Reputation: 3535
Wait until he is in the house then mention that you are going to lay down nude or take a bath or something where you know his peepholes are. When he puts his eye close to the peephole to look at you, shove a straightened coat hanger or pencil as far into his eye as possible.
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Old 09-09-2009, 12:08 PM
Location: 39 20' 59"N / 75 30' 53"W
15,284 posts, read 21,831,175 times
Reputation: 16806
Contact the Attorney Generals office, theres kids in the residence and hes being investigated for molestation where he lives, the fact that hes the landlord doesn't give him rights to walk in when he feels like it. Get balsy , and when he comes in without 24hr notice ask him about it. Hand him a letter with the state law entry notice required and every residents signiture , make a copy for each resident. If you can afford to set up a nanny cam to catch what he comes in and does. Borrow one if you can't afford it.

Contact Legal Aid, an attorney whatever you can afford to start a law suit. Don't let the pervert get away with what hes doing.

Originally Posted by rickers View Post
Wait until he is in the house then mention that you are going to lay down nude or take a bath or something where you know his peepholes are. When he puts his eye close to the peephole to look at you, shove a straightened coat hanger or pencil as far into his eye as possible.

Last edited by virgode; 09-09-2009 at 01:34 PM..
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Old 09-09-2009, 01:04 PM
8,416 posts, read 33,523,386 times
Reputation: 6171
I would look for a kit that you can find cameras in the house. Dude is a freak. MOVE.
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Old 09-10-2009, 05:53 PM
146 posts, read 574,435 times
Reputation: 101
I met up with an attorney, and of course what the landlord is doing is illegal. Contrary to his belief, California Civil 1940 does not cover him. That section discusses the classification of a dwelling unit, and one classification is a "residential hotel" which does allow a landlord on the property. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for us), a dwelling requires a minimum of six guestrooms to be designated a residential hotel. As such, even though we are renting individual rooms, since he is not an occupant of the dwelling, he is not permitted access to the common areas. In other words, "common area" is in reference to the occupants, not to the landlord as well. Incidentally, we're also within our rights to remove anything of his from the common areas.

Also, the landlord had included a clause (which I somehow missed) saying that he has permission to access all the common areas. But the right to privacy cannot be waived (1953), so that clause is therefore void and unenforceable.

All of the housemates need to sign a letter to the landlord addressing the various issues, and I suppose I will provide some sort of update after that's transpired.
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