Bad Neighbors, Bad Building, Bad Landlord

vivalaewanOctober 22, 2009

I'm looking for legal advice and\or just advice. I've been living in a two bedroom apartment with my husband and three year old son for three years. When I first moved in when my son was a few weeks old, I noticed how shady Mr. Landlord is. He would come over to collect rent in cash only. That was fine, but he usually always made it this huge big deal when I asked for a recipt. Too bad, I wasn't giving him cash without one, so he would give in and write down on MY scratch paper. (How professional)

For several months, (And still to this day) He'll collect his rent, and then one, or two days later, he'll come for it again. He is an alcoholic. When he talks I can smell it and it irratates me. Not to mention I know for a fact he smokes marijuana when he's fixing other apartments in the building. I've seen and smelled the joint.

Now, I live in a type of building that was a house years and years ago. There is 4.5 apartments. (.5 being a basement flat. I live in the upstairs, in number three. Now. I'm the only one in the building with a child (and another on the way). I've seen children visit, but never stay here.

The people across the hall from me, (Will be Named #4.) Moved in just early this spring.. They, Again..Smoke marijuana. Drink constantly. Slam their front door. And Beat on the wall in my son's bedroom to wake him up from a nap. Now, I've called the police on them three seperate times. The first time, They blasted their music at 2 in the morning, and woke my son up. (Their living room, is right next to my sons room. The walls are paper thin. If it's quiet enough, I can hear them carry on a conversation.) I got super upset, and at the time my son was battling a nasty cold. I first banged on their door to tell them to turn it down, and they didn't answer - but turned their stereo down. Fine. I walked back into my unit, and once I shut the door (My door squeaks loudly) They turned it back up. I knocked on their door three MORE times, and still had the same thing happen. I got fed up, and called the cops.

The cops of course, knocked. No answer. So, they ended up leaving. Half a hour later, the music started again and I gave up and had my son sleep with us.

The second time we called, My husband just came home from work and Ms. #4 began to bang on our door and told me she needed help. Mr #4 wanted to kill her. She begged me to let her stay there for a while so he could cool down. I could smell beer on her breath and I said fine. I didn't know what to do, so I made her a cup of coffee and we watched the news together. By the time she wanted to leave, it was dark. And as soon as she left, I heard horrible screams. I opened my door, with cell in hand, and seen mr #4 beat her down the flight of stairs in our hallway. I quickly shut my door and dialed 911. She screamed for my husband to help her and Mr #4 just kept telling her to shut up. I actually heard him beating her. And as soon as the dispatcher got hold of a police officer, mr #4 ran on his bicycle. (By the way, we are also the only ones in the building with a car. Shocker)

Ms. #4 hid herself with the neighbors in #1 downstairs. They gave her a new t-shirt because mr #4 ripped it to shreds. She had a bruised eye, two scratches on her throat and her lip was bleeding pretty bad. I guess she cleaned herself up and as soon as the cops showed up, I ran downstairs. I told them everything. And once they questioned Ms #4, she of course said. "Nothing happen. I've been drinking and I fell." Of course the cop didn't believe her, but without pressing charges they let Mr #4 go. The third time, They slashed my tires, and threatend to kill me. Again, called the police - they ignored the knocking - and I can't prove them harrassing me or them slashing my tires when I clearly heard them yell at my front door telling me to look at my car.

Now, I stopped calling the police. It seems as if I can't do anything, so why bother. The reason why I'm writing a thread is now that they are still continuing to threaten me and my son. Just two days ago, they called DCFS saying I neglect and abuse my son, and that my husband beats me. The officer of course questioned my son, who began to cry so bad. I felt so helpless for him, and They wouldn't even let me calm him down. They had to go to another room and interview my three year old. Of course they found nothing.

They made me roll up my sleeves (I was wearing a sweatshirt when they showed up) to show that my husband gave me no bruises. Now by this point I have told my landlord, and my landlord doesn't care. All he tells me is to stop bothering him and if someone hits someone then someone is getting evicted. Are you kidding me? He's going to let it get to that? Now, Mr &Ms #4 both have children uner 18. But why don't they have them? Mr #4 has been convicted for drugs and his ex-wife refuses to let him see two kids, and Ms. #4 abused her 7-year old daughter while she was intoxicated. Go figure. And they call DCFS on me? What is wrong with this world?

I want to move so bad, but thanks to the economy - I lost my job a few months ago. My husband is an electrician at a university but between rent, bills, taking care of children it's hard. I just need some advice on what to do. I live in Illinois.

And I have a month-to-month lease. Great, eh?

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I've already posted a reply but it didn't show. So I apologize if my original one actually shows up.

First off I'm sorry for your situation. Second: I too live in Illinois..where is this taking place?

Third: document EVERYTHING. get the police reports. take pictures of anything you might find fishy. set up a recorder in your son's room. I would take this slum lord to small claims. You're in emotional distress and physical. You've been threatened and property damaged. I know times are tough and its a struggle to find a job these days, but GET OUT OF THERE!

There are other posters on here that can offered more detailed legal advice than I, but honestly..get out. Keep us posted

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 10:28AM
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First, I'm not a lawyer. I'm a landlord.
Forgive me if I ramble, I've not had much sleep this week. ;)

I'm just going to give you my .02, based on my experience only. Generally speaking, on a month to month lease, there really is no process of eviction unless a tenant continues to stay on but does not pay rent and refuses to leave or pay. You can view Illinois Landlord Tenant laws here (halfway down). Illinois is very specific about domestic violence and has written an entire Safe Homes Act as part of their Landlord Tenant legislature. However, that deals most explicitly with what goes on within a unit, not between units. (An ironic side note, Public Housing is excluded, which I don't get. Unless it's covered under separate City laws such as Chicago or HUD. Not uncommon with large cities.)

So as far as your LL threatening an eviction over a fight, it would not even have to go that far. Typically one party only need give the other 30 days notice (usually written) and the lease is finished. (That can vary by state, but is usually the way it works.) No excuse or reason is needed, just the 30 days notice.

In Illinois, I see that if a Class X Felony is committed the landlord can get the offender out in 5 days. See Sec. 5 at that link. (I interpret that "X" to mean any offense classified as a felony). Maybe that's what your LL is referring to by "evicting" if anyone hits anyone. But utilizing that law would only be beneficial on a long term contract. Because that would mean the assailant would have to be arrested, tried and convicted before LL can use that statute. Again, on a month to month lease, generally all LL has to do is give 30 days notice and tenant no longer has a lease.

Your LL should not tolerate the physical violence nor the pot smoking. Both are illegal and most LLs don't want illegal activity going on. But since your LL also imbibes, then that's probably why he a)looks the other way and b)doesn't want to draw attention to that situation. Proving assault between couples is difficult, but in your situation there were outside witnesses. (I'm surprised the guy wasn't hauled off then and there, in my state no charges need be pressed by the victim. If police have enough evidence the abuser is off to jail, even if abused objects.)

I was thinking (but only for a second) that a restraining order could be obtained by you against your neighbors. But that's tricky because of the close proximity, tho perhaps it could be done. But what really concerns me is the fact they reported you to DCFS. Anyone that would knowingly file a false claim of that nature is a cold, vindictive and imho dangerous individual. Because they don't care about the consequences. So in trying to protect your space, you could well end up seeing your family go down a long path of fighting false allegations of a very serious nature. Do you really want to provoke that?

It really sounds to me like you are in an arena here where you should seriously consider moving. (That is not a suggestion I would ever make lightly, and have only done once or twice here. I understand we're talking about one's home in this forum.) Because the only other option I see is legal recourse, but given your financial situation, and more importantly how the other couple has behaved, that could end up causing you a nightmare path from h@ll that you don't want to go down.

Well, there is a 3rd option I see. That's to lay low and wait them out. Based on my experience, problem tenants like that have a high turnover rate and rarely stay longer than a year or so in one place. Sooner probably than later they will split up, or he'll get arrested for punching the wrong person or for the pot or whatever else he does, then she can't afford the rent, etc.

I'd suggest a couple things. Talk to a Legal Aid Society or contact the Illinois Attorney General's office and ask for guidance as to whom you can speak with about this. There is usually an official's office that handles matters such as these.

Also, do check the rental market out there. You never know. A lot of homes in my little town are being rolled into rentals because they've sat too long on the real estate market and for a variety of reasons the owner needs to start collecting income (cover mortgage and/or taxes, upkeep, etc.) .

Oh, one more thing. Head to Office Depot and get yourself a Rent Receipt booklet for $3. You fill it in and have your LL sign it each month. You can keep the original in a file somewhere and just leave the carbon in the booklet. That way your doubly covered with proof of payment. (Sheesh, you shouldn't have to do that.)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:00PM
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**Follow up -

Okay, it's been one day since I posted. (Practically) and the neighbors started up again with their music. This time, rap, with their bass so high it was shaking my son's bedroom door. So, I opened my door, and knocked to tell them to just please turn it down.

Of course, no answer. Called my hubby, he told me to scream out in the hallway to tell them to turn it down or I'd call police and they would make them turn it down. So, I followed his advice. And before I could even shut my door, Mr #4 screamed at me, (with beer in hand) And said he could do whatever the *^ he wants, and if I give him any more problems he will see me in jail and hurt my son. So, I said bring it &!!hole and locked my door. (Hubby, heard the whole thing, over the telephone)

So, with that said, I called the police. Of course, as I dialed, I had a panic attack - and fianlly the police showed up. I had them come to my door FIRST (or at least one officer) Because for some reason I just did not feel safe anymore. Told the police what had happened, they actually called me down - So, I made an incident report. I asked for an order of protection or something, they told me no - I guess it's only used for couples, boyfriend girlfriend type things ect. BUT - I made an incident report. Then they asked me about my landlord.

I told them about the Landlord, and they said to tell him one more time, and if he doesn't listen to call them back and THEY will talk to him. So, they knocked on their door and of course no answer. So, like usual. The cops left.

Twenty minutes later someone pounded on my door. I figured it was Mr #4 so I ignored it. My brother was over, and he took a peek out of my kitchen window (It faces out to the front where their bicycles are 'parked') and seen them scurry off down the street. I figured good. Now I can take me and my son out of here. I got him dressed, and as I eft, the stupid idiots put a note on my door.
This is EXACTLY what they put. I have the letter right here.

"Well, since you have become a problem, Harrassing me, I am telling "Landlord" & DCFS that you and "Hubby" have other people living with you and also MARIJUANA smoking in the house with a child present and all the traffic coming and going! Drug dealing - and aslo have DCFS give "Hubby" a Drug test screening.

Also - it is a FELONY for filing a FALSE POLICE REPORT - I will file ANOTHER complaint with DCFS since you have a case already. =]

It's not 10:30PM. I can play music ^$@^$!!!!"

I have never touched a drug in my life. Ever. My hubby was a dumb teenager back in the day, but ever since he graduated hiughschool he left it in the past. As for 'traffic' coming and going, sure. I have company. But never really on a regualr basis. SOmetimes a babysitter here, a friend there. My mother-in-law shows up..That's it... As for "Other people living with me" There is none. Just me, hubby a toddler. Sometimes my brother comes to spend the night (He lives in wisconsin, comes down for visits for a week, and leaves). Filing a "False" police report is a felony. But it wasn't false.

I just don't understand these people. I took the letter to the police station, and they said it's enough evidence to book him in jail. But, the cop told me (It was the same guy that was over earlier) "Fine. We can put him in jail. But his bond is $100, He'll be there overnight, get out on bond...and slash your tires, or burn the place down or worse..." So, he basically gave me a choice. I didn't know what to do.

So I chose not to. I want to move so bad... I guess for the meantime my landlord can eat crap - My life is in danger, as well as my son. I already paid November month's rent, I'm leaving tonight.

I'm putting everything in storage, and staying with a friend a few blocks down until I can save up and move out. As for my neighbors, I hope they rot in hell.

I live in Kankakee County, Illinois. I live in Bradley.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 6:44PM
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Oh, good grief, what a nightmare! I'm so sorry you're going through this. I might have more to post later, about your rent, etc. (Have to finish up something I was working on, came on here to take a break). BTW, I'm only a little over an hour from you, have passed through there just taking a bumming around drive with DH or going to in-laws in southern IL, and have had co-workers/friends who come from your area.

Meantime, keep all documents! Police Reports, the note, print this out or write down the incidents, date, time, etc. If DCFS shows up again, you've hopefully got something there, especially since the same officer was involved.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 7:18PM
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Since you're dealing with crazies, I thought of this board. (It's down for me right now, but probably temporary, perhaps maintenance, it's an active place.) They have seen it all and know a lot of legal maneuvering, but it's about neighbors, not rental laws. Probably someone from there could give you advice on how to handle the nut and the false DCFS issue, I've seen that situation posted there as well.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 7:27PM
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I too know where Bradley is...I also can't believe how the police have been handling this. But what do I know.

Just get out. Leave. Take whatever you can, the rest in storage. Hopefully your neighbors don't flip out and do damage to your apartment (i.e breaking the door or something).

Keep us posted

    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 1:08PM
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I already paid November month's rent, I'm leaving tonight.

If you're serious about this (and I would be, too), just a few suggestions. Be sure to give the required notice per your Lease. It's probably 30 days since you're on month-month, but do double check. Send it Certified so that LL has to sign. If he refuses, you'll have a record from the post office (they usually attempt several deliveries before returning the item to you). Don't open the returned Notice should it come back, leave it intact just as you mailed it to him. You don't need to say anything fancy and I wouldn't get into a lot of accusations. He already knows what's going on and has chosen not to address it. Something like "We have paid rent through November, 2009. This is to advise you, per our Lease Agreement, that we are giving XX days written notice that we will not be renewing our lease after November 30, 2009." If both your names are on the Lease, both of you need to sign. Then use the rest of this month and Nov to find another place and pack. LL cannot deny you entry or use of the place, nor re-rent to someone sooner, even if you're not living there full time. You have paid your rent and are entitled to the space until your monthly term expires. If you have separate utility hookup, make sure to leave a water pipe dripping if it's on an outside wall, so it doesn't freeze/burst. Doubt temperatures will get that bad this time of year, but you never know, we've had a crummy autumn so far. Before you send notice take photos, and lots of them, to document any damage or lack of damage. And if at all possible, give no hint to the lunatic next door that you're leaving, so he doesn't try to go in and trash the place or something and say you did it. (I'm not trying to give you more worries, just covering possible bases, he sounds like a loose cannon, don't know what he's capable of.)

With that neighbor's behavior, whomever takes over your place is going to have the same experiences and complaints. Too bad your LL hasn't learned yet it's best to weed out and detach the problem tenants, they only drive away the good ones.

Keep us posted how things go?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 11:08AM
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The joys of apartment living, eh? I've also had scumbag neighbors like this before & got myself out of the situation as soon as I could, which meant having to move! I know you said that you can't really afford to move, but it sounds like it's a necessity! Your life & the life of your son are being threatened & there's no telling what crazy people like this will do! I would get out of there ASAP & keep it top secret where you're moving to because they'll start harassing you at your new place. Trust me, I know because I've had insane, vindictive neighbors before myself! I just moved out of a bad situation a few months ago & somehow they found out where I moved to & vandalized my car! Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 4:00AM
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Wow, I really feel for you! I wish you, your husband, and son all the best!!! Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 2:45AM
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you're on a month to month lease, so give your notice and move

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 7:13PM
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You are subjecting your child (and coming one) to danger, and that alone could be grounds for losing him to the system. Get out, even if only to some kind of shelter til you find somewhere else to go. That's an untenable (horrific!) situation and if you're in you're right mind (maybe you've gotten so used to it that you can't see clearly anymore) you'll figure out something - anything is better than that.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2009 at 11:28AM
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I have a chitty landlord who won't do anything about these two women who live next door and think this is a motel for them and all 150 of their relatives! I've been fighting for 2 years to get them to quit banging on the wall. I went off on the landlady because she says it's mice in the block wall that are making all the noise. The mice leave when these two ladies leave to go back to the rez and come back with them. Now these damn mice have stolen my lounge chair outside my door. Noone else's, just mine. I have no choice but to move since the landlord won't do anything about them even though I've called the police on them numerous times in the last 2 years. Oh the joys of apartment living!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 8:14AM
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