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My landlord just unleashed the worst verbal vitriol on me and I am afraid

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Old 3rd February 2018, 4:19 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by whichwayisup View Post
Do video and take pictures with the date and time showing. Also, do not go alone, bring family and/or friends, whoever can help. I suggest the quicker you move out the better off you will be. And yes ask someone to sleep over for the rest of your time there, better to be safe than sorry.
How do I set up video surveillance while I am away? I don't know how to do that.

My only recourse is to take photos of what everything looks like before I leave the apartment in the morning, and then compare them with what I see when I come home in the evening and if there is a discrepancy, to call the police and tell them she has been trespassing. The other recourse in addition is to pull something up against the door as I am leaving so that if someone tries to come in they'll have to push that aside to get inside.

I don't think I can get anyone to sleep over but I do plan to start pushing a heavy box up against the door at night starting tomorrow. I don't know when my landlord will be coming into town to "see about the apartment" (her words) but I'm pretty sure it can't be before Monday. Starting Monday especially, I'm going to be very scared and on high alert. I am going to have a friend over every evening because I don't think she'll dare harass me with a witness present.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 4:32 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by CC12 View Post
She can't just come in and start working. I believe in most states, landlords have to give at least 24 hours' notice when they need to enter the apartment. You may want to look that up to be certain. If she gives you proper notice, I guess you'd have to let her in to start painting. If not, she would be trespassing and you should absolutely call the police. Also, keep in mind that since you've paid February rent, that place is yours until the end of the month, even if you move all your stuff out on the 10th. I'm not suggesting that you have anything to do with the place once you've moved out, but just know your rights.
My mom suggests that since I have rights to the apartment to the end of the month, that I not hand over the keys when I leave and send them to her at the end of the month. She'll change the locks anyway, as she said she'd do "the moment I leave" (her words), but it would just be a way to sock it to her and insist upon the rights I do have. My inclination is to leave the keys and be done with it.

So it's her son that you've mostly been dealing with so far? Is he a reasonable person? If he seems decent and fair, you should let him know what's going on and tell him that she threatened to change the locks and move your stuff out. He might be able to talk some sense into her.
No, I've never dealt with her son. He's just a few years out of college and I barely know him. My landlords just moved in December; they used to live in the house on the same property as my apartment. My feeling is he won't want to be involved but he's a bit of a milquetoast so if his mom says jump he will jump. I do not trust him either, for that reason.

Set up a camera in your house. They're not that expensive. I'm not sure you can legally change the locks or use some kind of combination lock to prevent them from entering, but you can totally hide a camera in there so you have proof if she comes in and starts damaging/moving your property.
As I asked Whichwayisup, how do I do that? I have never had to do it and if it's easy enough, I'd love to rig something so that I can at least have evidence of any trespassing and tampering with my things. I'd send the evidence directly to the police and try to have her arrested.

Are you a month-to-month renter, or did you sign a lease for a certain length of time? If you signed a lease and you're trying to get out of it early, you might have some more problems coming your way. If you're month-to-month, in my experience, you must give a 30-day notice to vacate. If you did this on the 1st of February, you may not have given a proper 30-day notice, since Feb only has 28 days. I'm honestly not sure how that works, but you may want to find out for certain so that you are 100% in the right, legally.
I gave her exactly 30 days' notice. Where I live, 21 days is required.

Get all of your paperwork in order. Find a copy of your lease, proof that you've paid your rent, proof that you gave notice to vacate, etc. Document every single thing that happens. Even if it's just a verbal conversation, write down the date, time, and place it happened and what the conversation entailed.

For my own curiosity, do you have any idea why she flipped out on you? Like, are you trying to break your lease early, for example? There's no justifying her insanity and verbal abuse, but I'm just wondering if her anger has any basis in reality, at all.
Thanks. I have been documenting everything. I even took a photo of my last rent check and my emails to her especially in this past week sound like legal documents :-D .

Re: why she flipped out, I don't know. I have been an excellent tenant. She was nice in the beginning, but there always was something phony I sensed in her that I never could quite put my finger on. then one day in 2013 she offered to take me to physical therapy down the road when I tore some knee ligaments and could not drive for almost a month; SHE got the time wrong and showed up at my door and started yelling and pounding on it. I wasn't expecting her so I was surprised, and when I answered the door, before I had a chance to tell her that she was two hours early she chewed me out for some minutes. That was the first time. She has been abusive when she has told me she is going up on the rent, increasing it once as much as $200/mo. This most recent level of meanness was unprecedented but I already knew she was capable of it.

And the reason I am afraid and writing this thread is because I am 100% positive she is capable of much more. I don't think she has any scruples about being as nasty as she possibly can at this point, and just because she can, not for any other reason. I've never encountered someone quite like this.

I am afraid.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 7:30 AM   #18
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Definitely do get those friends involved - if I were nearby and a friend I'd be more than happy to help out plus I would happily help you pack and clean too.

Do you still have that original lease?
Even though the basis changed to verbal agreements and month to month it's worth reading.

The blunt stuff - because the agreement appears to have always been 2 months notice there is a possibility that she could sue you for that other month.
There is also wear and tear to be considered and things like intense cleaning and redecoration might be on her list of things she would be thinking of to claim from you for.
In light of those two things my suggestion would be to get at least a free consult with a lawyer experienced in tenant & landlord law. Many places offer this and it would be better to know where you stood sooner rather than later legally and financially.

I would advise not holding onto keys - I think you're right in thinking it's best to give them up once you go and all of your stuff is out.
I would be wary of trusting her if she requests the keys earlier on move out day. I asked a lodger to give me her keys upon her first exit leaving my place but I left her access to continue removing her stuff and would not have dreamt of shutting the door until she had taken all of her things but with your landlady I wouldn't trust her on that score. Though, you would then have recourse to call the police if that happened.

Is there any possibility you could take a few days off work and explain to them what is happening? It could be worth a shot and you could then have more time getting things packed and ready and be in the property so it's protected to some degree.

I totally understand your fear but also, do remember that most people feel less strong face to face rather than over the phone or in emails.
Definitely take lots of photos both of clean perfect areas and of any marks which were there before you moved in or which occurred during your stay. Floors and walls and all doors too - all three are the most common places for any damage to occur or to be done if a landlord is so inclined.

Camera surveillance - you can get cameras now that are quiet and be concealed inside things - eg a teddy bear (as an example).
If you did want to do anything about this though my one thought is to place a camera inside a packing box aimed at the door giving enough space to see who has walked in. Some packing boxes come with hand hold holes.
But, if you would be unable to watch the activity consistently whilst at work for instance or the device has no way to alert you to check when it registers movement so you can see if something has happened it might not be worth the cost and hassle.

IMPORTANT: Though I and also others are asking questions here, certainly from my perspective please don't feel any obligation to answer - I am more trying to offer thoughts on things you could do and you have quite enough to get done over a short period of time and it's far more important you get that all done.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 9:44 AM   #19
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If there is anything in your apartment that is truly priceless to you, get it out immediately. Take it to a friend's or your parents or your new place. I'm taking pets, some antique your grandmother gave you etc. The rest . . . it's stuff. If the landlord damages it you have legal recourse to get paid for any damage she caused. If you paid through February & she cashes the check, you have rights to stay in the apartment through February. In most states courts look down upon landlords who bully tenants.

She sounds horrible but you are moving. I doubt she'll physically hurt you or damage your things. Try to breathe. Know the police are on your side.
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Old 3rd February 2018, 1:38 PM   #20
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My mom suggests that since I have rights to the apartment to the end of the month, that I not hand over the keys when I leave and send them to her at the end of the month. She'll change the locks anyway, as she said she'd do "the moment I leave" (her words), but it would just be a way to sock it to her and insist upon the rights I do have. My inclination is to leave the keys and be done with it.
DO not listen to your mom's advice. Listen to your own instinct! Playing a game with the keys is just going to make this woman more mad and cause more problems for you, especially since you've already involved the police you need to do everything by the book so she can't make you look bad or accuse you of wrong doings. I'm surprised your mom suggested you hang onto the keys after you leave for good. That's just asking for trouble! As soon as you move out, return the keys. Less drama the better for you in the long run!

Go to any electronics store and ask them to help you set it up.
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Old 5th February 2018, 8:47 PM   #21
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You can get motion sensor cameras and set them up pretty easily. Some of them will connect to wireless and save recordings to the cloud for a monthly fee. For a few hundred bucks it's not a bad thing to set up, then take it with you.

If you go to home depot or some place like that you can get fake cameras you can put above your door on the outside too that give the appearance of a security camera. She might see it and assume you're recording and stay out.

A cheaper solution is if you have an old web camera or something and set it up right where you would open a door, running the cord to a PC that's powered on where she can see it powered on. Post a sign right underneath it that says, "Smile, you're being recorded". The hope would be she walks in the door, sees it and leaves believing she is being recorded. You are in your right to do any of those things. An actual camera is best, but the appearance of one might be a free alternative.

A couple of other things you could do-
You can close a piece of string in the door where it is not noticeable. That way, if you come home and the string is on the ground you know if she came in.

In my old apartment I was worried about someone coming in at one point.
I was able to set a pot on a small stand and pull it behind the door when I closed it by reaching in and dragging it behind the door, so it would fall over if someone opened the door more than a couple of inches. I set the handle in a certain position towards the door so two things would happen, a loud crash if they opened the door that might make them freak when they saw what it was and leave right away. Even if they could get it back in place, I had an auto mirror, the telescoping kind you could bend to see around angles, so I could crack the door open and look at the pot with the mirror to see the handle was in a different position without opening the door. They wouldn't know which way I had set it up after it fell over so even if they were smart enough to put it back, they would never know to put the handle in the same position.
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