I’ve racked my brain over and over again concerning my current situation with the Landlord. Increasingly, I become stressed and angered. I cannot stand being in the apartment for long, hoping to avoid him. What he has done is not only morally wrong it is illegal. He has solicited and harassed us to get his rent since the beginning of the year. Regardless of our impoverished state, every month we have paid him, no later than one week. In my opinion he is disregarding our lease and treating us like we are there month to month.
In January we went to him, saying that we will be a little late with the rent because my roommate lost her job and used up all her savings, I was the only one paying with a part time minimum wage job. At the beginning of the month we had half of the rent. Up until that point we were early with payment, so we thought that he would be reasonable. We were wrong, he said he wanted the other half by the end of the week or he would start the eviction process, also stating that half the rent would “buy us a few more weeks”. That was the beginning of all our problems.
Since January, we have been late with the rent, no later than one week, only three times. Every time we have paid him in full. However, in April I lost my job, so getting the rent has been a struggle. We have managed to get it throughout the month. Some months he has come down giving us the same speech about if we can’t afford to pay on the first of the month then we can’t afford to live here, saying that he likes us as people; that he was in the same situation before, that he knows what it is like…etc…etc. To that I say bull. He hasn’t had to sign over his paychecks to pay for rent; he hasn’t had to be turned down for rent assistance because we don’t have jobs.
The only way that we could qualify for help from DHS is if we had a court ordered eviction. In May I told him this and he followed through with getting an eviction (another roadblock that we didn’t know about was that we needed to have jobs or solid promise of one). Hesitant yet quick to pull that trigger, saying that DHS takes a long time with getting the money to him, he stood in our apartment and told us that he would PAY us $100 dollars to get out of the apartment by the end of the month and give us a good recommendation for our next apartment. Needless to say, we got the money to him quickly.
Last month, we received a financial gift from some friends. So, the money that we were saving up for June we put aside for July’s rent. Often, we would take the rent money and tape it to his door because of his threats we felt uncomfortable confronting him, even if it was to give him the rent money. Never have we had a problem with it. Most of the time we paid in cash, neither my roommate nor I have checking accounts and money orders are too costly (we cannot afford the additional dollar). Regardless, we never received a receipt for our payments.
This month, we paid our rent early, at the end of June, taped the money to the door in an envelope, all cash of course. At Midnight, on July 2nd the Landlord came down with eviction papers in hand demanding his money, before even asking us about whether or not we had it. His reason was that he wanted to get this done with before he went up state for a gig over the 4th of July weekend. I told him that we paid the rent and taped it to his door. He said that he would go upstairs and check to see if his girlfriend got it and put it somewhere.
The following day, he came down and handed us the eviction papers, calling us liars and that it was stupid to put CASH on the door in a common area; that he doesn’t know who to trust, that we should have knocked on his door and hand him the rent money like we usually do. He also handed us a letter to that effect. Honestly, we felt so threatened we went through a lot just to avoid him.
All of this seems hasty. We paid the rent every month; he even said that we were paid up until the end of June on the eviction paper. On the initial papers he wrote our address in the spot where he was supposed put his address.
Something else that bothers me about the situation is this. We got another roommate in April, we had a verbal agreement that the amount that we would be paying would increase by $25. So, instead of the $525 that is in our lease the rent went up to $550. This seemed reasonable. However, the eviction papers say $525 and the letter that he gave us said $550. This is so contradictory.
We have gone to Legal Aid for help and are waiting to hear back from them. Our court date is for August 24, one week before our lease is up.
He has wanted us out for a while now. It isn’t because we are bad tenants, we are quiet, respectable, we don’t have people over that often; it’s because we are unemployed. Back in June he asked me if my roommate was planning on staying in the apartment after I was moved to Kalamazoo. (I’m moving at the end of August for grad school). He said that if she wasn’t going to stay, he wanted to start showing the apartment in July. That has me wondering. I’m quite frightened that he will try to push us out of the apartment soon, especially if August comes around and we have no money to pay.
Now, with all of this going on, we can’t pay our rent. We paid it this month now we don’t have anything for August. The question is, should we pay the rent?