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Just moved into a new place... renting a single room with three other guys each renting their own rooms. Ive been here a month; they've been here for significantly longer.

The landlord spends far too much time here. She doesnt live here. She isnt working on anything, she isnt doing paperwork regarding the property or tenants, not doing maintenance, etc. In fact, all she does is yoga, read, takes up space. She consumers utilities - which she doesnt contribute paying to.

She rigidly dictates the common areas, furniture, storage, etc; we've basically been exiled to the bedrooms. We cant even cook in the kitchen because she's always using the oven and stove at the most inopportune times of day, yet is willing to criticize us for our microwave and canned food diets we've been forced into.

And she comes over 3 or 4 days out of the week, for 6+ hours a day. Just loitering. In a place Im paying her rent to have access to, to make my home. I wonder if she'd do this if we four tenants were a single party and family of four renting the house.

Cant bring guests over because either she'd be in their faces in the living room (which Ive never been able to make my space and wouldnt feel comfortable in anyway), or she'd be spying on me outside my bedroom door "cleaning" and hounding me about overnight guests.

I know she technically owns the place.. but this is uncomfortable. And I feel like Im paying way, way too much in rent for what Im getting. No real house space. She wont let us use the empty garage for storage. She has keys to all of our bedrooms which Id be more or less fine with if she werent always here looking over my shoulder. I dont trust her to respect the sanctity of my bedroom, ie my privacy while Im away. Its like she doesnt trust her own tenants.

Is there anything I can do? Id be willing to breach my rental contract even and argue these points in court if I had to. How do I approach someone about this disturbing behavior? I feel like the landlord has breached contract by treating us this way, depriving us of the basic amenities that comes with renting a home, consuming resources without contributing to the bills, etc.

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    Where is this happening?
    – Greendrake
    Jan 10 at 4:22
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    Lynnwood, WA, USA. Why? Jan 10 at 4:23
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    Because the law is not the same all over the world. The answer will depend on location. Now, do you guys rent the whole house or just rooms?
    – Greendrake
    Jan 10 at 4:24
  • Just the rooms. I know, its a problem. Ive been renting rooms for over a decade and Ive never had a landlord act this way. Jan 10 at 4:25
  • Would you be ok with this if the landlord did live there and was there 24/7?
    – Unfair-Ban
    Jan 10 at 15:36
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renting a single room with three other guys each renting their own rooms

means exactly what it says. What you are paying for is that room, plus shared access to the common areas.

Without knowing exactly what your lease says, especially with respect to the common areas, it's difficult to give a proper answer.

I suspect that the lease for your room says nothing about who can live in the other rooms. Unless the lease says otherwise, the landlord has full control of the common areas. (Compare with a large apartment building, with hallways, stairwells, lobbies, etc., which must be maintained by the landlord.)

This isn't an unusual arrangement, but I've never understood why anyone, landlord or tenant, would want it. There's far too much potential for conflict.

You, yourself, could be a totally obnoxious person that the other three guys can't stand, but they'd have to put up with you. Their only alternatives are to move out or to ask the landlord to evict you.

Moving out would be a lot of trouble for everyone. But, depending upon jurisdiction, as long as you're paying the rent on time and not causing damage to the property, eviction could be a very difficult and long process.

And eviction is hardly in the landlord's interest. It costs a lot of money and time, and might not be granted even if she did apply.

Why might a landlord spend so much time at the house they're renting?

I'd be concerned about the implications of a woman going out of her way to do yoga in an area rented to four men. That is the part that sounds most strange in this situation.

How do I resolve this?

I'd start looking for a room somewhere else.

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  • I believe the moratorium on evictions is still in effect in the state of WA. As such, even an attempt to establish a payment plan for backpayments (and certainly being up to date on rent) amount to defense.
    – grovkin
    Feb 10 at 13:03
  • There is not nearly enough reason here to start looking somewhere else. Some people have boundary problems and do not realize what the expected boundaries are until they are informed. Simply letting the person know that you expect to be left alone in exchange for the payment they receive may very well be enough.
    – grovkin
    Feb 10 at 13:25
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Is there anything I can do?

There is no information on the terms of your contract.

Your perception that "the landlord bas breached contract by treating us this way" seems plausible, but you might be confusing between landlord's annoying habits and a plain breach of contract. The fact that other tenants have "been here for significantly longer" apparently without bring up these issues tends to weaken an allegation of landlord's wrongdoing. This is why knowing the terms of the contract is crucial for ascertaining whether the landlord has materially breached the contract. From a legal standpoint, the terms of the contract supersede parties' perceptions.

Many of the disturbances you describe sound in landlord's interference with your quiet enjoyment of the dwelling unit you rent. Likewise, her consumption of utilities you tenants pay sounds in unjust enrichment (or its equivalent term for benefits in kind). However, your willingness to breach the lease seems to be a premature decision. The landlord could easily prevail by positing that your allegations of annoyance were a mere pretext insofar as you did not even attempt to resolve these issues with her.

Regardless of whether you decide to post a separate question with details of the contract, make sure that henceforth your interactions with the landlord in this regard are in writing. That will make it easier for you to prove your arguments in the event that the matter ends up in court.

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  • My roommates actually do complain about the behavior as well. They are just pacifists who let themselves get walked on, and who arent willing to take it to the next level. I dont know if Id have their support, but I can get them on audiotape. Jan 10 at 15:21
  • Appreciate the info and advice. Jan 10 at 15:21
  • Also I do know the terms of my contract. There is no mention of granting her these permissions. But there is no mention of depriving her of them either. She owns the place, and Im renting a room... with access and privilege to use the rest of the house. However its clear she does not legally reside here yet spends 20% of her time here. Jan 10 at 15:24
  • @SquishyRhode If/when you take this to court, you will need co-tenants' testimony to be in the form of affidavits, deposition, or testimony at trial rather than audiotape. Although the contract does not address these issues explicitly, it might contain language that implicitly favors your position. The more your position can be premised on the terms of the contract, the better. Jan 10 at 16:00
  • My brother suggested that she may be committing some sort of fraud with the state. Jan 10 at 16:29

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