Landlady entering apartment when I'm not there

clchangJune 14, 2004

I have this feeling that my landlady is entering my apartment when I'm not there. She is the only other person that has the keys to my apartment. Nothing is ever missing but I can tell when i get home that someone has been there. Does anyone have any ideas that i can implement to find out if shes been in my apartment for sure? Any help would be much appreciated.

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Sift some flour or sprinkle a little baby powder right by the door- look for footprints. (I read this in the Nancy Drew mystery books when I was a kid.)

Seriously, why do you think someone was there? Is anything missing or disturbed?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 5:42PM
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Good idea! Put baking soda on the floor by the door as you leave, big enough so she couldn't jump over it and see what happens.

Or sneak in a friend the night before and when you leave they stay and read and be quiet and see if she comes in and catch her read handed.

Or set up a camera or 2 and watch it when you come home that way you can leave it a few days if you need to and you will have proof for whom ever you need to show it to to get her to stop.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 7:36PM
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Nanny cams are cheap. Set one up so it covers the front door, with a motion detector triggering it if possible.

Actually, a motion detector with a really loud siren alarm on it, aimed at where she would go after she comes in, could be just the ticket. If you don't have pets, that is.

I had a landlady who snooped ... until the day I stayed home sick, heard the front door open (DH was at sea) and met her in the hallway with a pistol aimed right at her.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2004 at 9:06AM
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She will see the flower and not go in.

Best thing to do is close and lock your door and put a little piece of invisible tape across where the edge of the door is. Make sure it's on there good and that its not where seh will see. Thwn go out the back door and when you come home use the back door again (if you have one)
Check the tape and see if it got peeled off the wall or door.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 9:34PM
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That suggestion by salsoul about putting tape on the door was a good one. If you have a back door, the tape will work. Make sure you tape the door in a place where the tape will not be noticed by her.

One other suggestion: place a very very small piece of paper in the door jamb as you close the door to leave, with just a small part of the paper sticking out. So if she has opened your door, the little piece of paper would have fallen down. Test this first to make sure the paper falls down when you open the door.

This worked for me when I wanted to find out if my sister was entering my condo without my knowledge (she had a key because she used to live there, and the locks weren't changed). Well, I would have never known she was there if not for the little piece of paper that had fallen out of the door jamb.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 3:31AM
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Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. The tape is a good idea but unfortunately I dont have a back door. But as far as the paper in the door jamb, how will I know if the paper dropped when I opened the door or if it was already on the floor. I only have one door to my apartment.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 6:15PM
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You look for the paper BEFORE you open the door - that's why it has a tiny bit sticking out.

Paper the same color as the door works best.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 8:25PM
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Try putting something small by the door, place it just as you close your door so you can feel it around the edge. When you get home open the door and feel to see if it is still there, if not open the door enough to squeeze in and see where the object is.
Tape on the door will work if you place it on the outside, right tight to the jam, or use a couple of tiny pieces with a hair taped in between to see if the hair is broke or pulled free.
I also like the slip of paper, leaving only a tiny bit visable where you can see when you come home.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 3:50PM
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The best way to monitor your apartment is by using a hidden camera device. If your videotape shows your landlady in your apartment without your permission, you can call the police and you'll have evidence of a videotape to back your story up. But then again--and I'm thinking of how the landlady would defend herself--she may say that she had your permission to enter your apartment. Though if the video shows her rifling through your things or just walking around snooping, that right there would most likely show the police that she didn't belong in your apartment.

All of the other suggestions are inexpensive and may suggest to you that someone has opened your door, but you cannot prove that she actually entered your apartment. Then it's just her word against yours.

So perhaps first try an inexpensive method like the piece of paper in the door jamb, and if it shows that someone has opened your door, then I would suggest that you immediately buy a hidden camera to catch the landlady on videotape.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 9:05PM
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She can get in alot of trouble by entering your place with out your permission infact it's illegal to do unless it's an emergency..I would set up a camera to catch her in the act and report her.Who knows what she is doing in there.I bet she is going threw your stuff.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2004 at 10:06AM
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I have a logitech QuickCam Travler camera that can act as a security cam!! It would work, as long as she came into the room that had ur computer. It activates by motion and instantly starts to record. You would just have to leave your monitor off and she wouldnt even know its recording!! You can find them cheap on Ebay. Plus you can use it for conferencing, sending pics, making videos!! It does take pics, but nothing special. Great for conferencing and that security option!! cheers

    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 10:14AM
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How about putting up a big visible sign hung right in the entry way that says something like...

LANDLADY (insert real name),


That will likely scare her from ever doing it again. Feel free to be as rude as you want in the message, since she can't get mad at you because she will never be able to admit she read it.

Of course, you'll never have proof she was there, although I bet she will start behaving a lot differently towards you..


    Bookmark   June 23, 2004 at 9:04PM
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If you think she is going through things, get some gentian violet powder (sic?) from a local drug store pharmacy and spread it around where she might be looking. It is a powder that when touched with hands reacts to the moisture and stains the hands purple. Be careful as this will stain anything (hands and anything the hands touch afterwards) and is permanent. It is also known as "sneak powder" as people have used it to catch other people snooping in their valuables. For instance, leave a letter or envelope that she might look into with this stuff inside.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 1:35PM
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You should use the method of using the little slips of paper on drawers and cabinets as well as the doors. This way you will know if she has been doing more than just walking around your apartment. It is low-tech and effective. Then if you do find that she is opening up the drawers, consider putting a spring-loaded device into the drawer that can flip out a fake rat. Once that comes flying at her, she will have to go do her laundry and won't have time to look through your stuff. And if you get a video cam to go along with it, you'll have some enjoyable viewing for weeks to come. ;-)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2004 at 12:34PM
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I had to chuckle when I read of all the tape and paper in the door jamb tricks. I got busted a couple of times as a teen, when I would enter my brother's room at home...looking for stuff he had taken from my room. But hey, the booby-traps worked...for him. Never could catch him in my room though. Anyhow, I had the same problem when my EX-husband and I used to rent our upstairs apartment. We had gotten a great tennant, but she left after just a couple of months. I later found out, that she left because my (then) husband had finally been physically caught snooping in her apartment! I couldn't blame my tennant for leaving...being a single working gal, I wouldn't have felt secure if I were in her shoes either. I think all these ideas of cameras, hair-tape-paper in the doorway, powder, etc. are great little ideas, and please let us know if you used any of them, and what the results were. I would even go to the point of leaving a note for your landlord, in your kitchen. Tell her to sit down and relax, make herself some coffee, watch some tv, maybe even leave her a note asking her to tape a tv program for you while she's there, leave her a suggestion of things to do in your apartment like dusting or water your plants or fold laundry. I'm sure it would leave her red-faced. Please keep us posted...I'd love to learn what happens!!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2004 at 9:18AM
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I'm not an attorney, but my husband is, and I used to work as a paralegal years ago... Since clchang lives in California, I'll paste in Section 1954 of the California Civil Code:

  1. (a) A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases:
    (1) In case of emergency.
    (2) To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors or to make an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5.
    (3) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
    (4) Pursuant to court order.
    (b) Except in cases of emergency or when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, entry may not be made during other than normal business hours unless the tenant consents to an entry during other than normal business hours at the time of entry.
    (c) The landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant.
    (d) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (e), or as provided in paragraph (2) or (3), the landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice in writing of his or her intent to enter and enter only during normal business hours. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. The notice may be personally delivered to the tenant, left with someone of a suitable age and discretion at the premises, or, left on, near, or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice. Twenty-four hours shall be presumed to be reasonable notice in absence of evidence to the
    contrary. The notice may be mailed to the tenant. Mailing of the notice at least six days prior to an intended entry is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
    (2) If the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord or his or her agent has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally for the purpose described above.
    Twenty-four hours is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. At the time of entry, the landlord or agent shall leave written evidence of the entry inside the unit.
    (3) The tenant and the landlord may agree orally to an entry to make agreed repairs or supply agreed services. The agreement shall include the date and approximate time of the entry, which shall be within one week of the agreement. In this case, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant a written notice.
    (e) No notice of entry is required under this section:
    (1) To respond to an emergency.
    (2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.
    (3) After the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the unit.

The above language refers to Civil Code Section 1950.5(f), which is regarding the landlord's right to enter the premises for purposes of inspection after the tenant has given notice that they will be vacating.

The last thing you want to do as a tenant -- that is, if you like where you live and you don't want to have to find another place and move -- is to tick off your landlord. So, don't be making threats. You could let your landlord know that you're concerned that perhaps a former tenant still has a key, so you have installed a hidden security camera to capture anyone entering the apartment. If the landlord just thinks you have one, that may be enough to keep him/her out. If the landlord says, "oh, that's not possible because we change the locks between tenants," you could respond with, "well, I know it's not you coming into my place, because I know you wouldn't violate California Civil Code Section 1954, so I'm really concerned about this. And I've already gotten the camera hooked up." The string/paper,whatever in the doorjam works really well, too (been there, done that).

You could also print out the language of California Civil Code Section 1954, and tape it to the inside of your front door. The landlord would have to see it on the way out if he/she is, indeed, entering when you're not there. That will certainly let the person know that you are aware of your rights...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2004 at 3:50AM
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I think Lindsey hasthe right idea. You don't want to outright acuse your LL without proof positive - you just want to ward her off without pissing her off.

I love the way you worded that Lindsey. Always helps to know your rights, but at the same time not use it as a blunt instrument unless necessary.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2004 at 4:13PM
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Most tenants don't know their rights, which is why landlords take advantage of them. Usually just letting a landlord know that you are aware of your rights is enough to get them to back off. And, in the unfortunate situations where the landlord is still a jerk, you've at least "warned" them that you aren't going to let them get away with anything.

Years ago I first heard the term, "pick your battle." Another good one is, "choose the hill you want to die on." In other words, unless you are prepared to do whatever needs to be done (suing the landlord) to uphold your rights, don't levy idle threats. Be fully prepared to find another place to live, if need be. No, a landlord cannot legally retaliate by starting eviction proceedings, raising your rent, or making your life miserable for a specified period of time after you assert your rights... but, as we all know, landlords don't always follow the law.

Oh, and I wanted to say to TomH_GA -- regarding the Gentian Violet... it contains a poison, so think a long time before using it.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2004 at 8:55PM
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I couldn't agree with you more. I've been both tenant and LL, so I can really see both sides of the issues. It's amazing how one's role greatly influences how you see the facts. I've found on LL/tenant forums that there's always at least one strident tenant rights post advocating that the OP get in the LL's face, threaten to sue, and spit in the LL's face. And then, of course, there's usually at least one bitter LL saying that the tenant should be afraid of their own shadow and be glad to have a roof over their head. Somewhere in the middle, there is peace.

If more people really thought about the future consequences of their actions, threats, etc., my wouldn't the world be a more pleasant place to live! You really can't put a price on the stress (on both sides) involved in any tenant/LL war.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2004 at 9:02AM
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I had the same problem. I could *just tell* that someone had been in my apartment. I called the landlord and said I believed someone was coming into my apartment while I was gone, maybe picking the lock, etc., and that the police would probaby be calling her to ask who might have keys. She fessed up. They *forgot* to tell me repairs were being done in the building and they would be going into my apartment.

However, a few weeks ago I was sitting on the couch and noticed I all of a sudden have a cable jack in my wall! I had the cable company install a jack somewhere else in the apartment awhile ago. This jack was NEW!

Some people are rude/snoops/oblivious. Even if you catch her, it may not stop her.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 10:19PM
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Sue36, as I know you're aware, adding a new cable jack can in no way be considered to be a repair. In California, your landlord would be in violation of the law.

Many, many years ago I lived alone in one-half of a duplex. An engaged couple lived in the other half. From time to time when I'd get home after work, I'd walk in the front door and just know that someone had been in there. Nothing would be out of place -- it was just a sixth sense type of thing. I'd go next door and ask the neighbors if they'd seen anyone lurking around, or if they'd heard any noise from inside my place, but they'd always say no...

Then one day I came home to find the toilet seat in the "up" position. Being female, I had no reason to put the seat up, and it certainly hadn't been up when I left my place that morning.

So, I called my landlord to say that I was greatly concerned because someone was coming into my house when I wasn't home, and it was freaking me out, etc., etc., and I wanted the locks changed immediately. Then, my landlord told me that he was the one who'd been in my house that day. He was a real estate agent, and he said he'd been in the area that day showing some property and he had to go to the bathroom, so he decided to let himself into my house to use the toilet!

Needless to say, I let loose with a barrage of yelling and screaming (I was much younger and less controlled than I am now)... I let him know in no uncertain terms that I knew he was violating the law.

A lot of good that did. One day about a month later, I came home from work, went into the bathroom, and found a little note that my landlord had left on the toilet. He'd put the seat down... and left me this little note on the back of one of his business cards saying that he just wanted to let me know that he'd been in the house. So, I called him and yelled at him again and told him that, no, it wasn't good enough for him to let himself in and let me know about it after the fact...

It creeped me out so much that I found another place and moved. And I really liked that little duplex, so it was a total bummer.

And when I told my neighbors that the landlord had been letting himself into my place, they said that, yeah, they'd seen him around, but they just assumed that I had asked him to come fix something, so they didn't think anything of it -- and that's why they said "no" when I had asked earlier if they'd noticed anyone lurking around or going into my place... Sheesh!

I strongly suggest that everyone who has any concern over whether or not their rights as tenants are being violated should spend some time online looking at their state's landlord-tenant laws. Go to the homepage for your state -- there's bound to be a link to "Legislation," "Law," or your state's Legislature. Then you can do a search for "landlord tenant" and you'll get hits. If you don't, you can always click on the "contact us" link and ask for the URL to the Codes.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 6:35AM
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My landlady has been entering my suite after i started setting traps for her she started setting traps on her side and has implied that i am entering her place and turning her phone volume down.She has made our life hell since i cut off her entering my suite when i am not here.
When my husband went up last week i head a big bang so i can only imagine the trap she has at her doors.
I am moving at the end of the month but the continuous mental torment is such a strain.
I am beginning to fear she flips out one day and come in to harm us.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 3:42PM
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