Dealing with Slumlords

lazy_gardensAugust 4, 2003

I've been on both sides of the issue, having rented from a true slumlord (when the water in the cat's dish freezes in the kitchen ... that's a slumlord), and managed up to 20 rentals at a time.

Every state I know of has a residential landlord/tenant law. Do yourself a favor and GET A COPY of the law, and know your rights and responsibilities, and the landlord's rights and responsibilities.

The "maintenance man who seems to vanish" is not a problem if your state's law has a process that allows you to deduct repairs from the rent. But you have to follow the process.

However, don't try to use the law as a club to get your way: one PITA tenant of mine invoked the "fix it in 10 days or I'm out of here" part of the law for a cosmetic problem. I didn't challenge whether the problem was serious, nor did I fix it. I replied to her certified letter with one of my own, letting her know that unfortunately the problem would not be fixed within the 10-day limit and that according to the law, her lease would therefore be over on mm/dd/yy, prorated rent for rest of thethe month would be returned to her and the damage deposit would be mailed to her next place of residence.

She went BALLISTIC! :-) She didn't want to move, she thought she could use the law to whack me into making the repair. It was a cracked ceiling - not something I like to fix in an occupied apartment because of the dust hassle. But she moved out, I ripped out the ceiling, fixed the cracks, increased the rent and replaced the tenant.

Another tenant reported me to the slumlord police for having a leaky roof ... so I fixed it, which involved a full tear-off, new sheathing, a huge dumpster in the parking area, and swarms of workmen for almost 2 weeks. They were aghast to discover that they couldn't move into a hotel at my expense for the duration because the basic services were intact. They had to live with the noise, dust, dirt, and crowds. (heh, heh)

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Been on both sides too. I figured since we had rented various times in our life, even with children and pets, and we took good care of the places that other people would do the same. We got some small older houses, 2 & 3 bedrooms and fixed them up. Well, it was a disaster. Still, landlords must provide a decent place to live. We've been checked out by the health dept., they can see when a tenant has purposely broken something. We have 3 left, lost money on most with the constant repairs, evictions cost, even winning in court doesn't mean you actually get the money, we couldn't be real picky in the older areas. It was quite a learning experience, I learned that while we used to think we had to take care of a rental because it was someone else's property, other people think they can destroy it for the same reason. Lynn

    Bookmark   August 8, 2003 at 11:58PM
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: ) Lazy, if I was still renting- I'd rent from you : )

actually, I've chosen to live with my dad for months on end rather than deal with slumlords- or the evil yuppies who have bought everything around here.

but I tend to treat any place I live like MY HOME... which means if the light bulb burns out, I replace it.... ditto for the battery for the smoke alarm, and that broken pane of glass in the front door.

I have three separate letters from previous landlords stating that not just did I pay the rest on time- I was good people whose loss was just that- a loss.

the last apartment was IN the slums, and while the roof did not leak, the front wall of the place was slowly detatching itself from the rest of the building...but I loved it, and did my best to fix the place up- and when I left, the landlord promptly tossed my ex out, and rented the place for twice what I had been paying, with all my decorating intact : )

now THAT is a compliment!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 2:59PM
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Hello ,
I live in Brattleboro, VT. Right now I am dealing with a slum lord who made an advance to me and I refused right away. Since that incident live in my apartment is a night mare. I live with mold , roaches and pealing paint on the out side of the building. He has raised my rent from 575.00 to 675.00 in the last 2 yrs, He has tried to evict me on a no cause eviction. He has entered my home when I am not home and shows up with out notice. There is mold in the structure of the building . ( black mold ) there is mold in my bathroom too. you can smell it from the street. There is a dumpster in front of the building that is always filled up from him. No he doesn't live in the building, He has a dome shaped home in west Dummerston , VT. There are rodents crawling in the walls chewing the wire's. The stairs that lead to my neighbors apartment is slipping down the hill. they sit right in front of her doorway. just 2days ago July 4, 2008 She fell down the dtais and rolled down the hill which is filled with dirt and rocks. She is 60yrs old ! all this happened right in front of me. The landlords girl friends mother was watching and never bothered to ask if she was ok. She did tell the landlord . He never asked if she was ok either. I wanted to call the fire dept. but she said no because she has no insurance, I was horrified by the whole thing, Most of the tenants here are 60 and older. If they ask him to fix something he threatens to raise the rent on them. If I dis agree with him he threatens eviction, this man is a bully. He knows that I am a female Living alone. I have called the health office and they have come out here to inspect. When I called them back they told me that the place is in no violation, I had hand the officer an envelope filled with cock roaches he said the he didnt see them walking around, I asked about the mold he said that his offices doesn't have much pull. He also said that he did not see any mold. You can see it as plane as day. There are wholes in my walls from the landlord. He said he was going to fix them , This was last year ,they are still there. I have filed a complaint with human rights. I really need a lawyer to bring him to court. I cant afford one, I am on a fixed income and he knows this. So talk about slum lords , I feel I beat the rest !!!! I want out so bad !!!! I just cant come up with the security, . One more thing .When I was in the hospital the land lord changed the locks on my door and shut off my electric, my 17 teen yr old daughter was not able to get in. so she called him and he refused to come an open the door. She had to call the police to make him open the door. It was 17 degrees outside. I was a mess knowing her key would not fit the door. I wanted to go home. I couldn't.
Thanks for lisening it feels better when I talk about this,
Debra Renouf

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:44AM
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I feel bad for you, Debra, but why don't you find the proper local authorities and report him? You obviously are very articulate and seem to have a good case against him. Having access to a computer is a plus. I wish you luck!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 8:25AM
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Hello, I would like to thank you all for the support in this matter, To answer your question : Have I located the proper authority's ? I have . There are NO health codes for apartments in Brattleboro , VT. I have contacted human Rights they did charge him , But they only bring it to mediation. This guy lies and Say's he will get to it and NEVER does. I wish I could get a lawyer But Like I told you I am on a fixed income, I called legal aid, no luck , They only do evictions.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 10:17AM
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but there ARE tenant/landlord rights and rules, and you should look up the ones for vermont and print out a copy for yourself AND your SOB landlord. there must be some way to resolve these injustices. anyone can see that this man is a vicious tyrant. man, and i thought i had it bad living in just a plain old NASTY apartment. at least i have a cooporative/friendly landlady! good luck!!!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 9:06PM
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debster, if it is so bad, just move somewhere else

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 3:42PM
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On why people continue to renew their leases:

I work for a tenant advocacy non-profit in MN. Our main service is free legal advice for low income residents in MN.

It's really easy to TELL someone they should just move out, but low income earners and people on fixed income DO NOT have money to spare. Moving out means: Taking time off of work, putting down a security deposit, plus the expense of moving large items (a Uhaul or large truck to move furniture), etc. Not to mention that it isn't that easy to find affordable housing with good landlords. Slumlords manage properties where low income people/families live because they CAN. People who can afford to move out do move out, therefore people in the worst economic condition end up with the worst landlords. And like Debora, don't have the resources to move out. The only thing they can do is what she has done, and report her landlord to authorities.

I am not sure how things are run in VT, and it could be completely different, but one thing we often recommend in MN is either have a city inspector look at the property or tell the landlord that you will get an inspector out if he doesn't. The inspector can set a date in which repairs must be done (under law) and can also tell whether or not the landlord is licensed (if landlords even have to be licensed in your city).

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 3:31PM
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