Monday, August 06, 2007


This all just went down last night, and I got about 4 hours of sleep (instead of my usual 8.5) and I know that unless I get this out of my head a bit, it's going to keep me up for many more nights.

We've been living in our current apartment for two years. We don't have a written lease. Partly because our landlady told us she's never had written leases, and also because we had a very good experience with our previous landlady without a written lease and it didn't occur to us that this time might be different. (Not smart on our part, clearly.)

When we moved in we agreed to stay through May. In May '06 we agreed to stay through August. In August '06, we agreed to stay "through the winter", and that after that we said we would be looking to buy a house. She asked us in June if we would be able to move out by August. As we hadn't seen any houses we liked then, we said that we weren't able to guarantee that, but that we were looking for houses. So in June, she told a potential renter that the place wouldn't be available for sure in August. She never seemed terribly upset about this and just asked that we keep her informed on the status of our house hunting.

We've been keeping her updated. There just hasn't been much definite to share.

Last week we found a house we like and today we'll be putting in an offer. If the offer is accepted, then our real estate agent said to expect 4-6 weeks for the closing process. We wanted to wait to see if the offer was accepted before giving our LL a definite date. For some reason, we were thinking that 30-45 days notice would be appropriate. (Maybe because it always has been in the past...)

Last night LL showed up all pissed off and ranting about how could we forget it was the beginning of the month? We had forgotten to give her the August rent check, which admittedly was our error. She lives in another house on the property so we usually just hand it to her when we see her. She's been down at her son's house taking care of the grandkids this week, and we've been running around house hunting, job interviewing, and farewell partying for friends who are moving away. But we've been a couple days late before and she hasn't cared, and we've given her rent up to a week early before when she needed it before a vacation. So I thought this was not such a huge deal.

She apparently took it as an insult and thought we had decided that August was going to be our last month and that we had just chosen not to inform her. We apologized repeatedly, but she wasn't hearing any of it, she just kept accusing us of taking advantage of her. She asked us if we could be out by September 1st because she has someone else who is interested in renting, and we said that we didn't think so. We said that October would be acceptable, and she countered with "I can't do November!" Um. Okay.

Insert much more yelling that we were being unfair and deceptive and just wanted to do things on our own schedule without thought for anyone else. Especially since EVERYONE KNOWS that she rents August to August only... Everyone except us, apparently. So we're sitting on the couch kind of just sputtering because we're completely unprepared for this, and she just says fine, she'll talk to us later, and storms out.

Ten minutes later she returns to let us know that she just talked to her lawyer and is "serving us papers" to be out by the 9th of next month. She says this is more than fair, fairer to us that we have been to her, and that she's giving us more notice than we gave her, and that she should have known better because she only has problems like this with people who have too much education. (!!! She teaches, same as we do...) We asked for clarification on that last month's rent and the security deposit, and she answered, adding, "Because I'M not dishonest." Basically implying that we are, of course.

I'm more upset about that than about having 30 days to figure out our living arrangements.

Pretty much I think it comes down to all of us hearing the same words and interpreting them differently. It's an issue of communication more than anything, and I have definitely learned my lesson about getting these agreements in writing.

So right now, best case scenario is that our offer is accepted, inspection goes well, bank agrees to finance (we are pre-approved, but they have to decide the house is worth the purchase price), and we're in the new house by October. Worse case, inspection goes bad, we have to find another apartment for a year. Either way, I think we're going to end up with our stuff in boxes, sleeping in a friend's spare room for a couple weeks.

I'm not sure whether I want to cry or scream.


Karen said...

Oh my god! That's terrible! What a horrible way to start the week. I hope that it all works out with the house and all. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

sue said...

OMG. This is the kind of b.s. that we've had to put up with when dealing with elderly women. Having said that, I must add NO, not all elderly women are like this. However, the majority of ones we've dealt with (including MIL) has been this way.

Those are the incidents that prompt me to tell my kids "if I ever get like that, you have my permission to take me out and shoot me".

Good luck on it all, hun. Will be holding good thoughts for you.

kate said...

thanks. She's not that old... just retired from full time teaching this year.

We've been talking discreetly with a few people at school. They did not seem at all surprised. Telling, eh?

We put in the offer. We should know if they accept it by tomorrow afternoon. We will probably need to come up from our initial offer a bit. I'm just hoping that if they do accept, we can close quickly.

Friends have already volunteered accommodations for a week or two if we end up with a gap.

It's just very uncomfortable living here now.

Alex Roddie said...

Sounds like an awful landlady. Our landlords are currently being a right pain in the neck too ... sheer incompetence and disorganisation.

I look forward to the day when we can afford to BUY our own house and not worry about landlords! Given the way the British housing market is going, though, that day may be ten or fifteen years from now. =( On the other hand, if Grace makes enough as a barrister and I land myself a decent IT job, things might not be so bad!

Good luck sorting out your situation.