Help! Obessed landlord...

candieyamOctober 8, 2007

I live in NC and am renting a apartment from a private landlord. The first apartment I rented from him, I had no problems. This second apartment has been a headache from the start. Because of the condition the last tenant left this apartment in and the cost of the repairs he had to make, I am harrased constantly. The latest incident involved the landlord or an employee of his entering my home and taking pictures of my personal property. I have been threatened of eviction because they found what they deemed to be "food and drink" in the bedroom. The item of referral was a sealed McDonald's cup that I left in my rush to work that morning. I wash clothes each weekend. The week in question was extremely busy, so I failed to put up clean clothes in two clothes baskets that I had sat neatly in a corner. They also took a picture of a sealed boxes of cereal on the kitchen table because the cabinets are so filthy with rodent droppings, I can't keep them clean. They took a picture of a sealed clear tub located in the kitchen, in which I keep my pots and pans. I keep the pans in the tub because I have been unable to put them under the sink because there appears to be a mold issue. There are other issues in need of repair in the apartment as well. I would like to know what rights do I have to request prior notification of entry by the landlord. The only entry the lease states is a monthly extermination and a three month inspection. I have only been in this apartment for two months. Other times the landlord was standing outside the door as I was leaving for work, questioning if I was keeping the apartment clean. They have entered many times without written notification. I am at this rate too parnoid to leave without checking for a cup on the table or anything out of place. I am unable to live like any average family for fear if I forget to clear or clean something, I'll be kicked out. I leave in fear that there is something somewhere in the apartment that I have missed. It is a constant stressor and I am almost tempted to just leave. The items are in no way attracting bugs or contributing to any unsafe habitation. I have cleared the one cup and the baskets. Please let me know what I can do. Can I be kicked out if I request a restraining order or harassment complaint that would keep them away other than the times of notification. I don't think the items I stated warranted threats of eviction. Please let me know if I am correct. This apartment does not have any common areas and I wondering how the covenant of quiet fits in to all of this.

Thanks for reading this novel and by the way I live in NC, where I think there is no statue.

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Hi, that's the worst thing I've ever heard! You're not renting an apartment, you're allowing that man/men to treat you like dirt, and I believe it's illegal (probably in more ways than one). Unless I'm missing something and you did sign a lease that says you must never have food in the bedroom, etc., and that they have a right to come in (most places do allow landlords or supers to enter in emergencies) whenever they feel like it and photograph anything while you are still living there - as opposed to gathering evidence of damage after you've moved out - they are waaay out of line, and invasion of privacy is only the beginning! But don't go confronting them in person, all emotional, etc. DO get a lawyer, or the police, or someone who knows local laws to intercede. If you are, however, just renting a ROOM in someone's house on a week or month to month basis, and IF you did agree - in writing - to some draconian things (re not eating in the bedroom, or other such nonsense) you still need to find out if they can do what they're doing (and you want to go on living there why?). Being young (I have to assume you're very young) seems to be an excuse for people to try to intimidate you, but it's not enough and you need to know (and exercise) your rights - but get your own ammunition, and do it right yourself, maybe through legal aid if necessary, and not just accost them in the hallways giving them the opportunity to threaten you or intimidate even more.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 4:15AM
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There ARE laws in North Carolina. If you do a Google search on "north carolina" and "tenant's rights," you might find some interesting stuff.

This is the only part of it that might apply--maybe he'd try to argue that this is what you're violating:

Duties of the tenant
"Keep that part of the premises which he occupies and uses as clean and safe as the conditions of the premises permit and cause no unsafe or unsanitary conditions in the common areas and remainder of the premises which he uses;
(2) Dispose of all ashes, rubbish, garbage, and other waste in a clean and safe

I think now I would try to get some things in writing.

Write them a letter, outine what they did, and when.

List each of the photos you've been given, and give an explanation fo what they are. A single McDonald's cup in the bedroom is not a major violation of this, and I would assert that. Clothes, ANYWHERE, even if they aren't clean, have nothing to do w/ the "clean and safe." Ditto the cereal--out on the table or counter is no different, cleanliness wise, than in the cabinets.

AND, if you have stored those things there because his cabinets are too crummy to use, then this is your opportunity to insist that he fix these.
And I think I'd point out the mold problem--in writing, bcs you also have a responsibility to notify him of any things that make his place uninhabitable. And then say that if he doesn't fix this, HE is violating this part of HIS duties:

"Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;"

Include photos.

And then point out, in writing, that you are yourself committed to keeping the place clean.

If this is the same landlord, I think I'd also point out, in writing, that you are a repeat tenant, even if not in this unit, and that your track record should be clear to them.

And state that you want 24-hour notice before they enter your home again in anything but an emergency, "water is dripping from the ceiling" situation.

Also look carefully at your lease--see if there are clauses there that you can quote. You say there's n o mention fo anything but exterminators and the three-month inspection; point this out, and say that since nothing else is indicated, that means nothing else is granted, and they are violating the terms of your lease by entering your home.

Off-campus housing info for UNC Greensboro says:

Under what circumstances may a landlord enter rental property?

Typically, a landlord has the right to enter rented premises in cases of emergency, in order to make needed repairs (in some states, just to determine whether repairs are necessary) or to show the property to prospective new tenants or purchasers. Several states allow landlords the right of entry during a tenant's extended absence (often defined as seven days or more) to maintain the property as necessary and to inspect for damage and needed repairs. In most cases, a landlord may not enter just to check up on the tenant and the rental property.

Must landlords provide notice of entry?

States typically require landlords to provide advance notice (usually 24 hours) before entering a rental unit. In most states, without advance notice, a landlord or manager may enter rented premises while a tenant is living there only in an emergency, such as a fire or serious water leak, or when the tenant gives permission.


I couldn't find any provision that looked like this in N.C. statutes, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. I'm trying to find a tenants' right or housing organization.

You might try these folks:

Their website says:
Can my landlord come into my apartment periodically just to check its condition?
Maybe. Many leases give the landlord the right to enter the property to inspect it to see if the tenant is complying with his obligations, to make necessary repairs, to place "for sale" or "for rent" signs on it, or to show it to prospective purchasers or tenants. Still, entry must be at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice. If your lease doesn't address it, the landlord has no right to enter your apartment during the term of your lease.

Can I be kicked out if I request a restraining order or harassment complaint that would keep them away other than the times of notification.

This is specifically addressed in NC law. You may not be evicted in retaliation.

So now I'd get this in writing.

Here is a link that might be useful: your rights as a tenant--NC Dept. of Justice

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 1:51PM
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Wow, this is a weird one. Many of those photos your landlord has taken are going to backfire. So you have to keep food and dishes in clear containers because of rodents and mold? And he expects to do what with that? If it goes to court it will no doubt backfire, because he's going to be asked why his tenant felt compelled to store cooking/food items that way.

I did some googling for laws, what I found so far NC doesn't address entry notice, which is odd.

See this link for a PDF file dated April, 2005, it contains several contacts and landlord/tenant rights. Universities are a good resource, they often spell out laws for renting students. You can check NC college web sites as well. Here'sa link from NC Attorney General but that too does not address entry notice.

Some states are explicit, e.g. 24 hours notice is required for non-emergency entrance. Other states, like mine, state 'reasonable' notice must be given, oral or written, and within 'reasonable times'. I typically give at least 24 hours notice, always try to go when tenant will be home (unless a contractor only works days and tenant does too, but then I always accompany contractors in. I call tenant to say we've arrived, and I call again to say we're leaving and I'm locking up.) I typically go in after 9AM and before 6PM.

Your landlord is entering far too often without your prior knowledge. Taking photos of the way you live, which does not sound extraordinary, is odd. Agree that a cup and some clothes on the floor is nothing to get excited about.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 10:49AM
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Yikes! I live in Massachusetts and I am a landlord. And I know for sure that wouldn't be allowed in my state. What is the exact wording on your lease regarding when the landlord is permitted entry? Can you post it here?

Keep in mind that even if it says on the lease he can come in whenever he wants, that wouldn't necessarily hold up in court.

I'd write your landlord a letter telling him that he can only come in your apartment with 24 hours notice unless it's an emergency. I'd also take the opportunity to point out the things you want fixed in your apartment. Tell him that it should be scheduled at a reasonable hour and that you will be there to oversee the work.

I don't know how it is in NC, but in MA if a tenant complains to the landlord and/or asks for things to be fixed, the landlord can't raise the rent or evict the tenant for a period of time because it would be seen as retaliatory.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2007 at 11:13PM
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Time to find a new place to live.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 3:56PM
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