Life isn’t simple, clear, and black-and-white. However, some things are black-and-white. Like zebras, Dalmatian doggos, letters on the pages of books, chess boards, and… landlords.
Landlords are black-and-white because the vast majority of them are either like angels (they’re the sweetest people you’ll ever meet and who take care of you like a third parent) or demons (they want to rob you and don’t care what conditions you’re living in). Some landlords are so evil that they tell you there won’t be any hot water for the foreseeable future. And Winter is coming.
Well, one tenant had enough of their landlord’s excuses and wrote a note translating their empty apology into an honest interpretation of what they ‘actually’ meant. Bored Panda reached out to landlord-tenant lawyer, Reddit user Morosct, to hear their take about the entire situation, as well as to hear some advice on how to deal with difficult landlords. Read on for the full interview!
“The apology note is the bare minimum of what the landlord should be doing. While I appreciate the efforts of the landlord, the landlord must be more proactive in taking the time to ensure that his building is habitable and that all of the amenities that the tenants reasonably expect to be available to them are available to them,” landlord-tenant lawyer Morosct explained.
“I believe that many (if not most) landlords view their position as landlords as a secondary occupation, which is to say they view being a landlord as a way to gain passive income. Being a landlord is a business—it's a job. Landlords must be proactive, and take the time to ensure that their properties are safe and habitable.”
“In my experience, landlords also rely on tenants not knowing their rights as tenants, and that the landlords themselves are unaware of their responsibilities and obligations to the tenants,” the lawyer said. “Many landlords will intimidate and bully their tenants for a variety of reasons, either so that they do not ask for rent abatements when conditions are poor, or will not push for return of their security deposits when they are withheld for insufficient or unlawful reasons.”
Bored Panda asked Morosct for their advice about what tenants should do in order to deal with malicious or overly-greedy landlords. This is what they said: “Tenants should take the time to find out the extent of their rights in the states that they live in. Without understanding the full panoply of rights they are afforded under the law they cannot successfully assert their claims. Tenants should educate themselves on relevant landlord-tenant law, and they should reach out to low cost or pro-bono legal service providers in their area when they are faced with confrontations with their landlords to ensure that their rights are being protected and asserted so that they aren't taken advantage of.”
“I would like to add that there is a toxic culture in the United States especially regarding property ownership, and that landlords and many in the public often feel that they are the ultimate decider in what happens. The prevailing attitude of ‘It's my property I'll do what I want with it’ is harmful to the ends of ensuring safe and habitable housing for many in this country.”
The lawyer continued: “It boils down to a lack of understanding of what renting is. When you enter into a lease agreement, as a landlord, you sign away your right to possess the property. Maintaining the property, and ensuring it is fit for human habitation however, is the landlord’s ultimate responsibility, but the notion that you can do whatever you want with the property because it is yours doesn't fly.”
“You have leased away your right to possess the property, full stop. You are not entitled to possess it. While you are entitled to profits from rents on the property, those rents are to be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the property, it is not meant to be a passive income stream that you ignore until something goes wrong, or rent is not paid. That's what we see a lot of in my line of work, landlords who treat their properties as passive income, do little or nothing to maintain the property, and only start to care about the property and the condition of the property when rent is late.”
Landlords are like businessmen: some will be honest and do things the right way; some will cut corners and end up hurting their customers.
Plenty of us don’t know how to deal with difficult landlords and some of us are scared of raising our voices when there are problems out of fear of being thrown out. However, there are some effective ways of dealing with mean landlords and for making sure that you won’t have issues with them in the future.
For example, before signing any documents, make sure that you read them thoroughly and that you agree with all parts of your lease agreement. If the contract says ‘no pets’ and you’ve got three dogs, well, things are bound to get hairy, right?
Also, be sure to brush up on local laws: know what your rights are as well as what landlords can and cannot legally do.
The best way to avoid problems with your landlord is having physical proof that you’re right and they’re wrong. So keep a paper trail and a digital record of your discussions.
If you’ve agreed on something in person, make sure to follow up with an email or even ask them to draft up a document.
Make things official and don’t rely on empty promises that can change as quickly as the direction of the wind.
That also means that if something breaks, you should request repairs in writing. What’s more, to make sure that you avoid your landlord’s blacklist, always, always, always pay your rent on time!