The Ongoing Saga Of My Despicable Landlord’s Continued Harassment (Latest Update Includes ASSAULT!)
I haven’t written much about the crazy landlord/housing situation lately because it has been too depressing for words. But ultimately, keeping it to myself only helps her… So here we go:
We went to JP Court on January 17 to officially “answer” her eviction suit. It went terribly. We later learned that the judge was himself a landlord of 50+ properties and was very biased toward landlords. The Landlord lied repeatedly under oath (which I think is perjury, right?), and he didn’t draw attention to it at all.
The eviction suit alleged that we owed her $58 for “rent” and that we hadn’t paid our security deposit. We didn’t owe her $58 (that’s a charge she made up), and we admittedly had not paid the security deposit. Our lease agreement just said the deposit was “to be paid out” and we had an oral agreement that we would start paying on it early this year, as we had multiple financial mishaps in late 2011. This was a common occurrence with her — some of the people that live in her houses have only paid part of the deposit, and some of them haven’t paid any of the deposit at all (and have been here longer than us).
We had not breached any part of any agreement with her. But by the time we got to the courtroom, she had fabricated $1200 worth of nonsense “charges” such as unpaid rent in 2011 and accumulated late fees. We had receipts for the months she alleged we didn’t pay. The judge dismissed those false charges as well as the $58, declaring $0 in damages, but awarding possession of the property to The Landlord on the basis of the unpaid deposit.
We’ve been advised that this is a legally questionable ruling by a notoriously biased judge, and an observer in the courtroom actually followed us out and told us we should file an appeal.
I won’t lie, it was depressing. Deflating, if you will. She filed fraudulent documents with the court and the judge said “so what?” It doesn’t get worse than that.
Legally, we had five days from the court date to either accept the ruling and vacate or file an appeal. We intended to appeal — of course — but the law and process is definitely skewed in the favor of homeowners and landlords. They are statistically more likely to be voters, and thus able to influence policy. Renters don’t typically band together or voice their opinion until something has already gone awry.
So it took a little time to get our ducks in a row.
The day after the court hearing, which happened to be a Wednesday, I returned from a physical therapy appointment to find a note on the door. The Landlord was demanding that $300 be paid to her, the “plaintiff” by us, the “defendants”, immediately — “per the court order.” But the court ruling, which we have a copy of, AWARDED HER $0.
It turned out that while we were gone, The Landlord’s Daughter came into the house to “collect” the $300. When one of The Roommates encountered her, she quickly left. I kind of wonder why The Landlord told her that she was entitled to $300, why anyone thought we would hand over $300, and how she got into the house in the first place. (I’d like to state again that I don’t have anything personal against The Daughter. I see this situation as being caused by The Landlord.)
Of course, we did not rush over to The Landlord’s house to give her $300. So later in the day, when the wheelchair bus arrived to take us to a meeting, The Landlord rushed out and started screaming. She screamed at us about giving her $300, screamed about how I had “made a fool of myself” in court and needed to “SHUT UP!”, and screamed at The Roommate for helping me get down the stairs.
I am rather ashamed to say that I screamed back. It wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of Christlike behavior.
In trying to give an accurate description of all of the nonsense that has happened in the last week, I actually find myself overwhelmed.
I left a handwritten note on our front door stating that the court awarded her $0 so therefore I am not giving her $300, and that if she enters the house I will call the police and she will be arrested for trespassing.
We came back home to find a very strange and uncharacteristic note on the front door. It was all caps but a very small print, probably a font size 7 or so (as compared to her usual 18-20 point “shouting” font) and it said “FINE. YOU WIN. I’M NOT COMING OVER.”
And after that, it was quiet for a few days. I’m certain she interrogated The Roommates about our activities because it’s in her nature to do so. She simply can’t leave anything alone. And we were on guard, because there’s no possible way that she was sincere about giving up. Why? Because she has too much to lose by losing.
We filed the appeal on Monday. Later that day, at home, someone started lurking around our window and making a bunch of noise. It was two black guys, one of whom I was pretty sure was married to The Daughter (and is the father of one of her children). They went on the roof, talked loudly outside, and basically made a racket intended to make us nervous.
It worked for a while. Then I decided that anyone who wanted to intimidate me could go straight to hell, so I went into the kitchen and made pitchers of Kool-Aid and iced tea. Enough with the hiding.
While we were in the kitchen/dining room area, one of the guys beat on the sliding glass door loudly. Tim opened the door and the guy walked in and announced (loudly) that his name was Michael and that he was “doing maintenance.” He asked if our air conditioner was working, and we said that it was (although we haven’t been using it much since it’s JANUARY). He wanted to know what our names were, if anyone else was home, and which bedroom we stayed in.
Curious questions for a “maintenance man,” right?
He wanted to check out the vents in our room. Tim told him that was unnecessary, as the city had just inspected the house a week or two ago. He didn’t care for that response, and went outside shortly thereafter.
Tim went outside to smoke a cigarette, and Michael was still out there. He asked Tim if we keep the gate locked, and if we keep the garage locked, because “there are a lot of dangerous drug dealers around here and they get violent.”
That’s quite a statement. The song lyrics “this ain’t my first rodeo” come to mind. Because, wow, having lived a moderately rough life, I HAVE NEVER HEARD A VEILED THREAT BEFORE. /sarcasm
I’d also like to point out that, logically speaking, it is generally crackheads (“drug users”) that get violent. “Drug dealers” are conducting a business; doing commerce, if you will. Any drug dealer worth his crystal isn’t going to go around threatening people and committing petty crimes because he has business interests to protect. A wasted crackhead, on the other hand… does stupid stuff on the spur of the moment.
Speaking of stupid stuff on the spur of the moment…
The Landlord sent a note over here stating “MAINTENANCE MEN: THEY WILL BE IN AND OUT TO MAKE REPAIRS PERIODICALLY. CONSIDER THIS AN OFFICIAL NOTICE.” The point of this was that her goons, who were by no means “maintenance men,” would be coming and going at will. She did this because the last time the police came, they told her she had to make an appointment and give the tenants notice before anyone could enter the house — either her or any contractors she might hire.
Surprise, surprise… Around noon, the “maintenance men” showed up with a note from the landlord. It said that her washer, dryer, and refrigerator are “inoperable” and that the “maintenance men” would be removing our appliances and taking them to her house, as well as the microwave and can opener. It also included a statement that she would be turning off the cable and “no one can put it back on.” The Roommates were invited to do laundry at her house “any time of day or night” and store their food in her refrigerator. In fact, she specifically said they could do laundry at her house “for free.” HER GENEROSITY OVERWHELMS ME.
The point of this activity was to remove our (mine and Tim’s) access to the appliances — I assume to make us miserable and hasten our exit from the house.
THIS IS POSSIBLY THE CRAZIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE, AS WELL AS THE MOST BLATANT HARASSMENT IMAGINABLE.
So we called the police. Michael the Maintenance Man got into something of a dispute with one of the roommates while we were on the phone with the police. When they heard the commotion, the dispatcher quickly got officers out here.
When the officers arrived, the “maintenance men” had removed the dryer and taken it onto The Landlord’s property. They had taken all of the food out of our refrigerator and unplugged it, but the police stopped them from removing it.
According to the police, we were absolutely not required to let the “maintenance men” in, regardless of The Landlord’s notice, which didn’t meet the legal criteria for anything we’d be required to comply with. In fact, we’re not required to let anyone in and the police have specifically advised all of us not to do so under any circumstances.
The police took it all in for sure — they got to see a dispute between The Landlord and one of the roommates, as well as the “maintenance men” scurrying to find something “maintenanc-y” to do (raking leaves and messing with the water meter). They couldn’t make them bring the dryer BACK because of quirks in the law, but advised us as to our rights with regards to pursuing that issue.
No sooner had the police left than The Landlord showed up on the front porch, demanding entry. She wanted to talk to one of the roommates. Tim told her the roommate was probably outside, and she started to leave… Then she turned and screamed at him, “Are you happy? ARE YOU HAPPY NOW??” And… she hit him.
At this point, the “maintenance men” got in their vehicle and left. It was probably a wise thing for them to do.
We called the police again and reported that The Landlord had hit Tim. He submitted a written statement to the police and now she will be “hit” with a criminal charge for assault.
It’s like she just can’t help herself, can’t stop herself from making senseless mistakes. She’s out of control… or, more accurately, she is controlled by anger. That’s a dangerous thing.
This situation is just absolutely bizarre. Everyone recommends that we move — and THEY ARE RIGHT. Of course we should move. I’d love nothing in the world more. But if we had the resources to up and move on the spot, we probably wouldn’t be renting a room from The Landlord in the first place. We’d have our own apartment and would not be dealing with such difficulties.
But we don’t have the kind of resources that would permit us to up and move with 3 days’ notice or anything of the sort. We don’t have a vehicle. Our credit is beyond help. We don’t have cosigners or helpers or anything like that. We don’t even have FURNITURE.
Even if I found a place quickly that would accept us with all our bumps and bruises, we wouldn’t have so much as a bed to sleep on.
This is a drastically bad situation and I find myself questioning God in ways that frankly make me a little uncomfortable. I’m not naive enough to believe that God will straighten out every situation to work in my favor. I understand that sometimes it is not His will for “everything to be okay.” Sometimes we are intended to struggle for a variety of reasons. To build character, to test faith, to test strength, to bring out the best in people (and hopefully not the worst), to compel others to behave in Christlike ways, to draw attention to injustice… The list goes on and on and on.
But I’m feeling like Job right now. And I’m tired.
The clock is ticking and we’re all miserable and something’s got to give.
But it would be a mistake to ever think I am giving up.