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Old 06-17-2009, 03:03 AM
 
12 posts, read 82,825 times
Reputation: 14

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Up until a few days ago, we had a great relationship with landlord. We live in a 2 flat, with the landlord living above us. We pay rent on time every month. For demonstration of character, this landlord actually DECREASED our rent after the first year when we signed a 2 year lease because he said he was happy to find such good tenants and wanted us to stay.

A few days ago, there was a misunderstanding over a shower repair, and he has become increasingly erratic and angry.

- After the misunderstanding, which resulted in an argument, he began ringing our doorbell at 10:15PM the next day. We had agreed he wouldn't come by until the following day. He rang the doorbell over 12 times. We were in bed, and so never got up to answer. A half hour later, when I went to the bathroom, I discovered he had shut off our water. I walked upstairs to ask him why, and he said to me, "Oh, that's what it takes to get you to answer your door." I asked him to turn it back on, he refused. I called the police, who made him turn it back on. While the police were present, we came to a new agreement that he would come on the upcoming Saturday to repair it t. We also specified that I believed reasonable times for him to come were between 8am and 8pm.

- The next morning, our doorbell began ringing at 6:50AM. I answered after about 10 minutes (I was sleeping), and he stated he was shutting the water off in 5 minutes to work on the pipes leading to our shower. I told him we had agreed to do it saturday, he said he didn't care. I called the police again.

- Shortly after the police left, he shut off all the water, I went down in the basement to talk to him, and he waved a lit blowtorch in my face. I called the police, but he said he was just working and I was making it up. They couldn't do anything, but filed a (third) incident report.

- Today, while I was at work, he entered the apartment and changed the lock to the door that gives us access to the basement. We have had access to the basement since we moved in (2 years). The lease states that we have the use of part of the basement for storage as well as safety (tornadoes). Furthermore, he installed the lock backwards. The key portion is on our side, while the switch to lock it is on the other side. There is an outside door that provides access to the basement. He often leaves that unlocked. If he leaves it unlocked, someone simply needs to walk into the basement, turn the lock, and enter our apartment. We no longer have the ability to secure our own apartment; we have to hope that he secures the basement door every night.

We will probably be consulting an attorney, but I have some questions:

- Did he break the lease by changing the locks to the basement? The lease states that we have storage space down there. Also, on the other side of the basement door is our broom closet.

- Do you feel we have adequate reasons to break the lease?

- Is it legal for him to place the lock on backwards?

- Should we try to work it out with him (asking him to let us out of the lease) before we contact an attorney?

FYI, we are in Illinois. It is a year lease. We have 10 months left on it.
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:16 AM
 
104 posts, read 624,238 times
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As a LL, I do have to say that he did act erratic, however LL's are only human as well. He has demonstrated before that he does have a calm & rational side, so I would have a sit down and try to calmly mediate everything before you have to hastily move. Just get any new agreements in writing.
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:54 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,669 posts, read 66,963,585 times
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It seems awfully peculiar that after all this time of him being the pretty perfect landlord he's all of a sudden changed so quickly. I agree that you should try and quietly sit down with him and try to figure out what's going on before you leap into getting an attorney. Hopefully this isn't a sign of a serious health issue with him. Does he have a wife you might approach?
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:58 AM
 
850 posts, read 4,584,545 times
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Yikes, I'd be out of there. Definitely consult an attorney to find out your rights and procedures for breaking the lease. The grounds would be his erratic behavior, demonstrated by the police reports. The maintenance issues (locks) can all be fixed and aren't grounds for breaking a lease. But yes, in the meantime while you're consulting the attorney, definitely demand he removes the locks. Refer to the paragraph of your lease that allows you access. I'd demand he do it in 24 hours as it's a safety issue.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:06 AM
 
Location: 39 20' 59"N / 75 30' 53"W
16,078 posts, read 27,316,457 times
Reputation: 18161
In the future, I wouldn't approach him alone. I couldn't be around someone who put a blow torch in my face, the mans mentally unbalanced, your safety is at risk.

Make a copy of the pages on the lease where he is in violation, highlight them and mail certified along with your request that he make storage area accessible again and reverse the lock leading to your apartment. Keep a copy for yourself as well.

To get out of the lease you are going to need as much documentation as possible.

Last edited by virgode; 06-17-2009 at 10:07 AM.. Reason: spelling error
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,963 posts, read 43,003,340 times
Reputation: 24665
Quote:
Originally Posted by STT Resident View Post
It seems awfully peculiar that after all this time of him being the pretty perfect landlord he's all of a sudden changed so quickly. I agree that you should try and quietly sit down with him and try to figure out what's going on before you leap into getting an attorney. Hopefully this isn't a sign of a serious health issue with him. Does he have a wife you might approach?
I was wondering about that one, as well. Sudden personality changes can be signs of a mini-stroke, among other things. Anything else to explain it?
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:22 PM
 
12 posts, read 82,825 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasHorseLady View Post
I was wondering about that one, as well. Sudden personality changes can be signs of a mini-stroke, among other things. Anything else to explain it?
I don't know that it is necessarily a sudden personality change. There have been indicators to us. He has, from the beginning, seemed to be a very strange guy. He is divorced twice, with 2 kids, neither of the ex wives talk to him, nor does 1 child. We have noticed he has a huge, explosive temper with the other child (in his 20's) when he gets angry.

Like I said, we have been model tenants and have never gotten on his bad side until now.

We are going to approach him today and ask out of the lease. We hope that he will be rational about it and see that things are degrading to a point where it would be best for both if we move as soon as possible. I think the chances of this are slim given his recent behavior -- I can see him very much trying to hold us hostage while creating even worse conditions. As an example, after writing the initial message, I found out what he was doing with the blowtorch yesterday -- he was closing off the pipes that lead to our shower and our main toilet. There are no water to either of them. He didn't tell us this and we ended up using the toilet to find out it wouldn't flush. There is now filth sitting in it. We do have a 2nd toilet. Like I said, our only other way to bathe is a jacuzzi bathtub, which is very inconvenient and hard to bathe in (no shower nozzle). Even worse, the tub randomly spits out black chunks in the water. We notified him shortly after he lost his temper a couple days ago and he insists its nothing to worry about.

I realize now that I need to begin documenting everything by certified mail or police reports. If he does not agree to let us out, I am going to send letters by certified mail demanding the door lock be changed back, requesting the shower to be repaired asap (it's been out of service 5 days now), requesting the bathtub be repaired, requesting him to avoid working in the basement after 10PM (paper thin floors, we can hear a pin drop, and he is often down there hammering at 1AM), requesting him to give us notice when the water is being shut off for repairs (he says he will not anymore), and requesting all non-emergency entries for repairs be submitted in writing to me 24 hours before.
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:39 PM
 
Location: 39 20' 59"N / 75 30' 53"W
16,078 posts, read 27,316,457 times
Reputation: 18161
Best of Luck with your situation, let us know how it goes.~ virgo
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:59 PM
 
12 posts, read 82,825 times
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As an update, he arrived home a few hours ago. I knocked on his door to discuss an agreement to terminate the lease but he wouldn't answer. We went to his other door (there are two entrances to each apartment, separate entrances through the back, and separate entrances that are accessed from the front vestibule), knocked a few times, he asked who it was, we stated it was us and we wanted to discuss some things. He told us to come back later. I said through the door, "We'd like to discuss the problems we've been having, and we'd also like to get our stuff from the basement." He again told us to come back later. I asked him when we would allow us into the basement to get our things. He said, "Whenever I feel like it." At that point, I said I was going to call the police (again), and he said, "Do whatever the **** you want." The police came, and it again turned into a VERY messy situation, with him screaming at the officer. The officer commented numerous times how irrational the guy seemed. The officer also said he smelled pot and was sure he was high. I told the officer we are fully aware he does drugs. He told the officer he was not going to let me in. The officer advised me that if he didn't let me in, I can break the door down to get my things out and the police cannot do anything. Luckily, it did not get to that and he came down a short time later.

He would not let me enter the basement; instead, after arguing with the officer for around 10 minutes, he proceeded to carry everything outside. The officer also asked him about the lock being installed backward. He asked the LL, "So if somebody breaks into the basement door, which is secluded and would be easy for someone to do undetected, he can then walk right into their apartment?" The LL said, "That's why they have a security system. They don't need to have a door lock when they have a security system." We do have an ADT alarm; but I'd honestly rather have a lock that couldn't be opened from the outside.

I asked the police officer to hand him a letter I wrote asking him to agree to amend the lease so that it terminates at the end of this month. He (very irrationally) said he'd look it over.

Anyone have thoughts on this? I will let everyone know how it turns out. He is obviously extremely upset that the police have come four times. He insisted that I am calling the police for trivial reasons. For the record, I have called the police 2 times because he shut off the water, and 2 times because he locked me out and would not allow me to access my things. I am hoping that he realizes how bad this situation is and just agrees to the amendment I proposed.
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Old 06-17-2009, 08:06 PM
 
28,005 posts, read 60,680,217 times
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No one can make you stay... period.

As concerned as you are, I would be out ASAP.

The burden will be on him to go after you for the lease remainder and you for your deposit.

In either case, you won't be living there and it sounds like you can back up your decision with police reports and he might even loose his temper with the judge.

As always... the only opinion that counts is from an Attorney hired to represent and defend you...

The longer you remain may only serve to lesson the gravity of the situation... in other words... If it is that bad, why did you continue to stay?
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