Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lease Term Dealbreakers.

Okay, here are the terms of the lease that we agreed to when we gave our first month's rent and agreed to rent the apartment. The rent we are paying is higher than the norm, but that is because we were promised some benefits that were recently taken away by the landlord's adult children.

Firstly, the landlords agreed to rent the apartment as an annual lease with us (tennant) having the option to renew the lease for 3-5 years. After we moved in, the landlord's wife came over and said that we can't stay here longer than a year.

Next, when we agreed to pay security, they also wanted us to pay the last month's rent as well. We were okay with that for a 3-5 year lease, but now that they changed the deal to a one-year lease, we are not willing to agree to pay last month's rent for a one-year lease. This wasn't the deal, especially because we have every intention of applying the security to the last month's rent (and we have nothing wrong with telling them that. All that would happen is that 30 days before the lease is over, we would invite the landlords over for a walk-through inspection. If they find no damage which would make them apply a claim against our security, we would apply the security to the last month's rent. If they find damage, then we wouldn't apply the security and we would resolve their damage claim.)

Additionally, we are nervous to even give a security deposit to them in the first place because (with good reason and many examples) we are convinced that they have every intent on trying to keep the security deposit at the end of the lease term, regardless of whether we cause any damage to the property. Nevertheless, we are still willing to give the security deposit.

Next, when they showed us the house, we were told there was a working washing machine and dryer that we were to have exclusive access to. When her son moved out, he took the washing machine with him, leaving us a broken washing machine. Oh, and the dryer is now broken too. When we approached the son about it, he said, "we never provide washing machines nor do we provide dryers to tenants as a rule. Whatever my parents said was wrong and we are not providing this." Both myself and my wife believe that having a W/D was an essential part of the apartment; we would never have rented it without one.

Lastly, there are repairs that must be made before the house becomes bearable. Firstly, we have only one key to the apartment, and the door lock is so old that when we made copies of keys (twice), they did not work. Sharing a key with my wife (where both of us go out during the day, me to work and her shopping) will be highly convenient. Secondly, the top lock (which is required for safety because our door is accessed from outside which isn't the safest neighborhood in the world) has no key. The landlord's son told us to buy a replacement lock and he'll replace it; we purchased the lock, but for days now he hasn't replaced it. Same deal with the showerhead -- there was none. They told me to purchase a replacement, and I did, but it's sitting there with the lock. Additionally, the landlord broke our halogen light bulb when he touched it, and has not replaced it even though we have a replacement bulb.

All of these things might seem like little things, but to us they were dealbreakers. And the fact that the landlord is *still* a no-show shows us the kind of respect he has for us. After all this waiting, it looks to me that I will have a conversation tonight where we will decide that at the end of the month, we will be moving out of this apartment for good.

1 comment:

Ahuva said...

This is why I never bothered with a written lease when I was renting out a room (either as a renter or later when I was the landlord). Unless you have an absentee landlord, home life becomes unbearable if one party wants out-- no matter what the legalities are.

This family is going to harass you in a thousand legal and semi-legal ways until you move. If you want those locks changed, I suggest that you change them yourself and provide them with a key (and get it in writing that they gave permission to have the locks changed). I would also plan on changing the shower head and the lightbulb yourself. They don't want you there, so they are unlikely to do maintenance work for you. I sincerely hope that nothing more serious goes wrong while you're there.

I would sit down and have a serious discussion with your wife about whether or not this is worth the stress. They are not going to give up and become more coorporative.

You might get a written lease eventually, but you are not going to get a friendly landlord who will be on your side if something goes wrong. And, at the end, if they want to find damages they *can* find damages. They could, say, bring in a UV light and identify all kinds of stains on the carpet and insist that your deposit goes to having it replaced. What proof do you have that those normally invisible stains were pre-existing? Another thing I've heard of is they insist they had to have the place professionally cleaned, or say that you damaged the finish on the tub (again, the tub likely already has scratches that you didn't note when you took possession) and that it has to be refinished. How well documented is the current condition of the apartment?

After the way they're treating you, they're not going to expect you to treat them fairly, so of course they're going to balk on letting you apply your security deposit to the last month's rent. In their minds, you could easily wait until the last day and then trash the place-- knowing that they're unlikely to take a lawyer to court.

Your home needs to be a sanctuary for you and your wife. They're not treating you fairly, but is staying there really worth what they're going to put you through? Please consider looking for another place.