landlord is a real jerk

lilyny621January 2, 2005

DH and I just built a new house and rented for 2 years. We kept the place spotless and really made sure it was clean (even spackled and painted where we had put pictures).

In August, our lease was up and we knew we would only be there for a few more months, until our house was complete. He refused to do month to month and so we had to sign another year lease. He agreed that as long as we found tenants when we left, we would get our security back no problem and our lease would be broken.

We found some people who wanted to move in this month. Our house is ready to be moved into & he called me and said, "they want to know which is better for you, the first or the 15", and I told him the first. We moved out the day after Christmas, leaving the others free to move in on Jan 1. According to the landlord, they signed a contract and were planning on moving in the 15.

Yesterday he told us we would have to pay half of the month's rent because their plans fell through. Since technically we are still under lease since the other tenants have not moved in, he is making us pay.

I feel this is unfair and doesn't seem right. If they signed a contract, why do we have to pay? This guy is that desperate for money that he can't live without this small amount of money he'd get for the half month? UGH this makes me so mad- DH and I have so many expenses with a new house and 3 month old baby that I really feel this guy must be heartless.

Is is overstepping the boundaries here? What are my rights?

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You are bound by the terms of the lease. Since his vacancy is due to your leaving the premises, you are obligated to pay for the time the unit is vacant. He has his own expenses as well, such as a mortgage on the building, property taxes, etc. He is not responsible for your expenses with your new house and is probably not responsible for your 3-month old baby.

There is a difference between being heartless and being in business. He is only charging you for the time the unit is vacant, and that is allowable under the terms of your lease.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2005 at 10:30AM
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you not wanting the extra cost doesn't make him a jerk.

you don't indicate that he's being particularly rude, or threatening to you...

and while I would charge the tenants to be, since they SHOULD have taken over the place on time...

it's well within his rights, and within your obligation as his tenant-

he could very easily have refused to break the lease, and left you stuck with 6 months or more worth of rent.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2005 at 3:59PM
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You got off with small potatoes. He could have refused to let you break the lease and sued for the rest of the year (mitigated if he found another tenant). I'd let him have the money, and mentally count it as a cost of moving.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2005 at 2:27AM
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Lily -
He's not being a jerk or heartless, he's being a landlord, and you are being unrealistic. Unless you can get his mortgage decreased by the amount of the rent you don't want to pay, don't call him a jerk. And "but I have expenses with my new house and baby" gets you nowhere with a bank.

"Since technically we are still under lease since the other tenants have not moved in, he is making us pay." Exactly ... he legally has to try to find a new tenant, but until he does, you are on the hook for the rent. He's being quite nice to let you off with just 1/2 month rent when the tenants you found balked on moving in.

Note that not paying, being taken to court, and LOSING (as tenants always do when they don't pay the rent) is very bad for your credit rating.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2005 at 10:52AM
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I know it seems like your landlord is being unreasonable. You took very good care of the property. You tried to be on the up-and-up as much as possible. But you really need to walk in his shoes. He is a landlord because he wants to earn a living at it. And you are now asking him to take a cut in pay because it does not work well with your schedule. It is unfortunate that he would not accommodate you with a different lease schedule when it was time to renew. But he is only trying to protect his own investment/salary.

Think of it this way - how would you feel if your landlord kicked you out because he found someone who was willing to pay more? If he broke the lease, you would have probably taken legal action against him. He is actually accommodating you in a way he has no obligation to, as stated by other posters.

One more thing - "This guy is that desperate for money that he can't live without this small amount of money he'd get for the half month?" - Why is it that you can judge whether or not he needs the money? Do you know his entire financial situation? You have no idea how deep or shallow his pockets really are. You may be in a financial pinch right now, especially with a new baby and a new house. But someone else, at this very moment, may be looking at you thinking - "Boy, have they got it made, a new baby, a new house. They must be making some good money." Do you think it is fair of them to judge you based on what they see on the outside, without knowing your financial situation?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2005 at 12:49PM
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WOW I am sorry if I came off as an idiot. I had no idea I'd get this kind of response. The only reason why I am badmouthing this guy is because everything was clear that the new tenants were moving in in January, and they had signed a lease. I don't understand why I still have to pay him when these new tenants were bound by the contract.
He doesn't do this for a living, he is a contractor for commercial buildings and rents out many homes that have already been paid off. I am not worried about his financial sitation. I guess I just don't like the way he goes about things.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2005 at 2:04PM
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I just went back and reread your original post and did my best to take out the emotional aspect of it. It is easy for someone reading a post to not fully understand the situation. I stand by my comments, but I have a little advice related to "Since technically we are still under lease since the other tenants have not moved in, he is making us pay." You should have had him release you from the lease and not relied on his word when he told you that he had new tennants. Then you would have been out from under this. When you were unable to get him to offer you any other type of lease other than an annual one, even though he fully knew your situation, you probably should have been a little suspicious of his future actions. And of course, hindsight is 20-20. Also, you should contact these new tennants and make sure they are not being bound to paying for the earlier move-in date and he is just taking you both for a ride.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2005 at 4:23PM
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It may seem wrong but in housing court he would win due to the contract. If he doesn't wish to sign M2M - it is best to move to another location if you know you wouldn't finish out the full year lease aas courtesy to him and his business.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2005 at 8:19AM
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His financial situation or your financial situation is entirely irrelevant. Even if he were a billionaire, if would be irrelevant.

You are responsible to pay rent for the entire year, minus any rent paid by the new tenant. Since the new tenant isn't paying rent yet, you are responsible. And if the new tenant can't move in until next month, you'll be responsible until then.

It seems to me that the landlord is being more than fair. As I read your post, he's only charging you for the time between when you moved out on the 1st of the month and when the new tenants were supposed to move in, on the 15th. It's a no-brainer that you should be paying for that period, since the new tenants hadn't even planned to move in until the 15th.

There are always costs associated with breaking a contract, and it seems to me that you got off easy.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 2:56AM
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Hello I need to know something about a situation that I am in. I live in an apartment on the first floor. The agreement the landlord and I have is that I pay $625.00 per month and he pays for the water and the heat. This place is extremly old and poorly insulated,the heat control is in my apartment, now he told me today that he is moving the heat control upstairs in his sisters apartment. She does not like the heat on. I have a handicapped child who dislikes the cold very much, I feel just terrible about this, what is my right as a tennat if any? May I add that half of my rent is paid by section 8. If you could answer this for me it would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 8:19PM
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Check your state laws. Most, if not all, states have requirements about minimum temperatures if the landlord provides the heat. Your apartment must be heated to that minimum temperature. Check your lease, as this information is sometimes written into the lease. How your rent is paid has no bearing on whether or not your apartment is heated.

Most states require the apartment to be heated to 60 or 65 degrees during the day. Some allow the temperature to drop by about 5 degrees at night. If that temperature is still too chilly for your child, you will have to investigate a space heater for the child's room.

Reading between the lines of your email, it sounds as if you have been heating both the apartments to a temperature that the upstairs tenant feels is too hot. Heat rises, so that her apartment may be warmer than yours. If you and your child are too cold, talk calmly with your landlord about how he can make your apartment warmer.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 10:26AM
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If he pay elec. or you are that worried buy a space heater.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 8:35PM
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Look into the Section 8 guidelines in your state. All landlords who accept section 8 must follow the guidelines written by their state.

You can also cover your windows with plastic, I've seen the shrinkwrap type, 3 in a pack for $8. You can also use weather stripping around doors. Every little bit helps.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 9:58PM
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Here is the problem with section 8 in my area. Landlords are not suppose to discriminate against it, BUT the reasons individuals and familys get section 8 is typically income. Landlords also are not forced to accept it. I had a terrible tennant on section 8. The section 8 workers told me I wasnt in compliance with something minor like a screen having a very small hole. I refused to repair it and they pulled the tenant out. Screen was fixed later but just saying if you really need to stay there or like it be carfull about pushing manditory repairs.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 10:30PM
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nflifer has a point, it can go both ways when pointing out the guidelines.

My parents own three rentals, and were debating on getting them approved for Section 8 tenants. My mom sent for the information, and it was amazing what was needed to meet their guidelines.

Their rentals are not dumps, and they're not deadbeat landlords. I've seen the amount of work they're stuck with each time a tenant moves out.

Also, and this may start a big debate, I know several people who recieve section 8. A few of the people that I know who get it seem to think that the landlord owes them something, like the landlord should be at their beck and call because THEY are paying the landlord, so it's his/her job to be "on call" to run right over for every little thing.

I'm not talking about things a landlord is supposed to do, I'm talking about rediculous things like replacing a carpet after a year because it wasn't taken care of and the tenant's kids destroyed it. I know one who lets water lay on the bathroom floor constantly, yet complains about the landlord and how he won't get off his "lazy a$$" and fix it. Yet if you explain that the damage is caused by her kids, she won't hear it. She says the landlord should fix it.

In the end, she'll move to another Section 8 apartment, and that landlord will have to repair the damage.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 11:14PM
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I have had over 20 section 8 tenants. One has been good. 5 have been some of the worse tenants ever and the reset were like typical tenants. After the last bad one I didnt do the correction they wanted, (counter top had slight burn from their past tenant, and I was suppose to replace) Now I dont even get the aplications and everything is much better.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 11:55PM
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I highly recommend Pelonis ceramic heaters if you end up needing it to be warmer. We purchased two for our finished basement last year, b/c we were overheating the upper two floors of our townhouse trying to get the basement to a reasonable temp. The Pelonis ceramic heaters are not like the space heaters I remember as a child, which had the scary heated coils that looked like a major fire hazard. For instance, they automatically shut off if tipped.

Here's the url of the website where I purchased the heaters. They are a little pricey but worth every penny.

Hope this helps...Lily-sorry to have contributed to the hijacking of your thread.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2005 at 4:29PM
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What is a typical tenant?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 8:13AM
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back to the first topic, the land lord is not being a jerk by charging you 1/2 a months rent. you said you moved out at the end of December and the new tenant that you found sighed to move in on the 15th of January, thats a half month of vacancy that you are responsible for since you broke the 12 month lease. if the place stands vacant because the others didn't move in its on them becase they are under contract after the 15h not you. thats what I get from what you wrote. you should have been on the look out for problems like this when the guy didn't want to give you a M2m lease knowing you were building a house. to me that don't seem right.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 3:31PM
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What I don't understand in the original post is this:
"they signed a contract and were planning on moving in the 15. Yesterday he told us we would have to pay half of the month's rent because their plans fell through."

What plans fell through? The new tenants signed for the 15h, leaving no-one paying from Jan 1-15, so it is fair for you to pay.

I just don't get how the tenants' plans fell through if they signed for the 15th and started paying on the 15th.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2007 at 10:14AM
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The way I see it hon, it all depends on the date of the signature. If they signed for the tenancy on the 1st January, that is their contract has this date on it, then as far as I can see they are liable no matter when they choose to move in. If,however, all they did was physically go down there one sunny 1st January to sign the contract and clearly date it from the 15th, then you are liable, but only because of the year long lease issue.
Moving in day really is personal choice, many people sign for tenancy a few days before they move in. Soemtimes landlords allow people to date their tenancy from the date they plan to move in even if they sign for it a few days before. If the landlord did this then that wasn't fair on you - no right to play the good samaritan while you foot the bill!
I mean, you could sign for a tenancy on 1st January and not move in until 1st December - who foots the bill then?!! Certainly not the previous tenant!
So basically what I'm saying is it has nothing to do with when they choose to move their crap in, and everything to do with the date of that signature. If that tenancy agreement of theirs is signed 1st January and it is not made clear on it that it does not officially begin until 15th January as 1st is only day they could come down to physically arrange it then you have a case. When they physically move themselves and their crap in is irrelevant! If the date of the contract clearly shows 15th then I'm afraid you are liable hon. xx

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 11:58AM
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