Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekly Whine: I hate landladies

It seems like we've had more than our fair share of horrible landladies. To the point where my husband and I have agreed that we will only lease from large faceless corporations who only base decisions on money.

A couple of years ago, we leased a condo that I initially loved. It was in a great neighborhood, was large, and even had free heat (a nice perk in the windy city). The landlady was a woman we never met who owned 3 condos in the building. I loved the apartment for about five months, until the lock on our front door broke. I don't know what happened to it, but one morning when I was trying to leave to go to work, I kept turning the lock and it wouldn't open. I had to call the super to rescue me from my apartment.

I am not a complainer (at least as a tenant) and this was the first repair I had requested. I emailed my landlady (she'd only communicate with me via email) and told her about the lock. I have copied and pasted her reply:

"The lock has been operational when you move in and it functions now as well."

So apparently, if something worked when I moved in, it cannot stop working. This ended up being a huge fight. She was in Europe at the time the lock broke, but somehow managed to come to our apartment to inspect the lock. I don't know what it would have cost to fix that lock, but I think it must have been less than a trans-Atlantic flight. Anyway, she never fixed it. The super just put some oil in it and it usually worked after that.

Then next month, on the third of the month, she emailed me to tell me that she didn't want me to mail her the check for that month because she would be traveling for a while. Except I had already mailed it days ago, which I told her. What she wanted was for me to go to the bank and directly deposit the rent. I told her I didn't want to wait on line at the bank every month. She replied, "I travel a lot and this is difficult. The bank is right at the corner for you." (I ended up mailing her checks to the bank and they deposited them for me.)

Finally, about six months before our lease was up, she emailed me to ask if we wanted to renew our lease. I asked her what the rent would be. She was increasing it by $100/month.

Now I don't have to tell you that we're in the middle of a recession. Apparently, the landlady had bought the condo during the housing bubble and was now losing a lot of money on it. But that didn't mean we were willing to pay the highest rent in the whole neighborhood. I tried to point this out to her, but she said something about condo fees and that brokers had told her she could rent out the apartment for much higher.

I'm not sure why she was so confident about being able to rent out the apartment, considering the apartment had been sitting empty for months when we rented it. Even if the apartment was empty for a week or two, between that and the broker's fee, it was obvious that she would come out ahead if we stayed in the apartment.

I told her we'd pay a $50/month increase. She refused to budge. So I gave her permission to show the apartment.

That's when the hell really started.

First the landlady came by to test if her keys work. I gave her permission to test her keys, but apparently, she decided to take a look at the apartment too, because I received the following email:

"I would greatly appreciate it if you could please put a little time into tidying the apartment. There was food on the floor and dirty pots in the kitchen and things on the floor in all the other rooms."

Now we had guests that weekend, so the apartment was actually quite clean. I had done all the dishes the night before so I can say for a fact that there were no dirty pots in the kitchen (and I had vacuumed that morning, so there was no food on the floor, unless my daughter had dropped a cheerio or something). But even if there were dirty pots int he kitchen, so fucking what??? It was OUR apartment. And we had zero interest in helping her rent it out.

And then another follow-up email, when I told her she was rude:

"As I said, the apartment was delivered to you spotless, newly painted, new kitchen. As it is now it is in non showable condition."

Event though the apartment was in non-showable condition, we proceeded to get inundated with calls from brokers over the next several months. We had people looking at our apartment 2-3 times per week. A couple of times, I even had a broker demand that I come home from a lunch out so that I could let him inside. I really started to despise all brokers.

When there was only a couple of months left on the lease, the landlady started to realize that it wasn't going to be so easy to rent it out. She started pleading with me to stay. But at the same time, she wouldn't lower the rent increase.

Finally, we moved out and it was such a relief to be free of those horrible brokers. I was so happy when one called to demand that I let him in and I told him that I was no longer living there and didn't have the key.

Just out of spite, I checked craigslist to see if the apartment got rented. I saw the apartment listed on craigslist for close to two months after we moved out, and the rent had been lowered to what we were paying when we moved in. All told, she would have lost less money if she had lowered our rent by $500/month.


  1. Ohh....I hate evil landlords. I had an evil landlord years ago who took it as a personal affront to his religious beliefs that my boyfriend was staying over at my apartment, and he would harass me on a regular basis by threatening to phone my parents (in a different city) to tell them what I was doing. It was so lovely when I finally got away from that apartment and had a landlady who was sane. I hope that you're much happier wherever you are now.

  2. Ah yes. The devils of renting.

    HATE it!!!

  3. Man she sounds like a total bitch (excuse the language!). Makes my landlord sound sane! eek

  4. I think we rented from the same lady. My last place (that I would have loved had the mecca of all apt amenities - hardwood floors!), the landlady refused to fix the myriad of broken appliances and after we told her we were moving out, we had random creepers come by to look at the place with no notice. The only time she ever would talk to us was to try and get us caught up in her MLM marketing scam.

    Long live renting from the faceless corporation.

  5. I am a landlady (As in i rent out two of my rooms so i can afford to learn how to be a nurse). I have a simple rule: If it doesn't devalue the property and if its something reasonable, my tennants can do it.

    They're currently putting a hot tub in in the garden. I have given them permission to drill the hole for electricity, as long as permits are in place I don't mind. And hey, they say in return, I get to use it. Being friendly just works so much better...

    but i could tell stories about the Evil Russian Landlord (tm)......

    In short, be who you want to deal with, is the way i'm going.