Not sure what to do here…

By admin

So this is one of those “hindsight is 20/20″ stories and I apologize for how long this is!

Last Summer I took up a job about an hour and 20 minutes away from where I was living at the time. I had about two months left on my lease and I had told my then landlord that I was planning on moving and not renewing it. He was even nice enough to offer to lower my rent in order to get me to stay but the commute back and forth was too much. What he did do was he told me not to worry about paying him the last months rent and that he would just use my security deposit which worked out well for the both of us. So I began looking for an apartment closer to work. The area I was moving into was much more expensive than what I was used to so I was looking for a shared rental type of situation. I found an ad for an apartment which was very close to work and responded. After a quick visit, I was happy with the condition the house was in but the living situation was a little obscure at first. After about a week of emails and phone calls I was finally able to get the owner of the house to explain to me what exactly the living circumstances would be: it was a large 2-floor house inhabited by him, his girlfriend and his mother, one tenant downstairs, and one tenant upstairs that rented out two rooms more secluded from the rest of the house. He showed me the two small rooms and the bathroom which were for rent and the kitchen shared by all of the inhabitants of the house. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of sharing so much space and living in two small rooms but it was in my price range ($850/mth). I explained to him that I was a little concerned that I might not like the living situation. After a few weeks of trying to make up my mind, I discussed with him and we agreed that I would live on a monthly lease and if after a few months I was still there I would then sign a 12-month lease.

A few things that I know now should have tipped me off to the bad situation I was walking into:

-the fact that he was so reluctant to reveal details about the shared living situation at first.
-the fact that he had me pay him a $50 application fee to do a credit and background check, but never called any of my references nor did he do a credit check (I know because I monitor my credit online and I’m sure it would have shown up)
-when I wrote him the check for the application fee he had me write it out to his girlfriend, “for tax purposes” according to him (not sure what that means)
-he asked me if I could pay him the rent in cash; I told him I would try to accomodate this but couldn’t guarantee doing it every month

Around the beginning of November, before it got too cold, he informed me that he heat wasnt working but that he would have it fixed in about a week and he gave me a small space heater in the meantime. The space heater was sufficient for the current temperature but I made him aware that it would not function well once the temperature dropped too low. It took six weeks from that point for him to replace the thermostat.

After this and several other issues I had with living there (the firehouse across the street, him asking me to put all of my kitchen items in the basement for storage so he could use the space) I found a full one-bedroom apartment available for the exact same price in rent; in a much nicer area, and overall better living conditions. At this point it was about the 3rd week of December when I made the final decision to move into the new apartment in February. I told my current landlord that I planned on moving in a little over a month and asked if it would be possible for me to live out my security deposit as opposed to paying January’s rent. He responded to this by saying that he would have to check his budget because he was expecting to have that money. I told him I was confused as to why he would have to check his budget due to the fact that he would just be using the security deposit as rent. He kept repeating that he would have to talk with his girlfriend and see how their budget was so instead of arguing, I told him to call me once he discussed it. A little while later, the two of them called me into their room to tell me that the whole purpose of the security deposit was to ensure that no damages were done when I left.

At this point I was almost certain that my security deposit was spent and gone and that the landlord had no intention of giving it to me. Why should I trust him to return a months rent after 4 weeks if it took him 6 week to fix a thermostat? Seeing as though it was still the end of December, I still had not paid them January’s rent. I decided instead to write a letter saying that I would take pictures and do a walkthrough of the apartment ensuring that there were no damages but that I would not be paying them this months rent. I was sure that this would not go over well but I still didn’t feel comfortable giving them money that I knew they would not return. I called the landlord into my apartment to make sure he could see the good condition the apartment was in. I gave him the letter and explained to him my decision. Although I did not say that I knew he didn’t have the security depost because I felt as though that would cause even more friction. He then went and got his girlfriend and the two of them repremanded me for not giving them enough notice and also misleading them into thinking I was going to give them that months rent. At this point I was asked by his girlfriend if I had another place to stay in the meantime because she did not want me living there for free. I told her I would look into moving into the new apartment earlier but could not guarantee anything. Then about 30 minutes after they left I received a call from the landlord saying that I could stay until the end of the month but to leave the place in good condition so he could show it to new prospective tenants.

That following Friday I came home from work to discover that he had been in the apartment and had turned the heat off. It was 60 degrees inside the apartment when I came in. Because of the awkward situation I stayed at a friend’s house over the weekend to avoid any further conflicts. I stayed there that Sunday because I had to work the following morning but at 5 in the morning he was making a lot of noise downstairs. There was a lot of banging and stomping and slamming of doors. I cant help but feel as though this was in an effort to wake me up.

Thats my long story, and I’m currently still in the apartment as I have a little over two weeks before I move into the new place. I am trying desperately to avoid a bad situation by not confronting him directly over the noise and going into the place without my knowledge prior. However, I do not feel comfortable being there while he has direct access to all of my personal things and while he is making noise very early in the morning. I really don’t feel as though I am wrong by not giving him the last months rent in return for him not giving me my security deposit but I would like to hear someone elses opinion/advice on how to deal with the last few weeks here.


Edited on: Monday, January 12th, 2009 2:28 pm

2 Responses to “Not sure what to do here…”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


January 16th, 2009 7:44 am

Actually, the law still requires you to pay your last months rent. You cannot just use the deposit towards your last months rent, unless it is clearly written in a signed agreement that the deposit can be used as last months rent.
So, its not right to stop paying your rent, it will only add to an already awkward renting situation. The security deposit is just like it says it is, a security that you will leave the properpty in the condition you found it in.
I suggest you pay your last months rent, then things should be much better. Laws protect your deposit, so you shouldn’t fear not getting it back.


January 20th, 2009 4:32 pm

This blog is for landlord questions… Renters should post questions under the renter blog. Look at the top right of page.


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