Tenant Unfriends Her Overbearing Landlord On Facebook, And Awkwardness Ensues
Landlords can influence your living conditions in multiple ways. Besides the obvious keyed access to your temporary residence, hopefully only used to maintain the working order of toilets and dishwashers, they can also affect your personal life, too. A tenant's ability to follow house rules and regulations could make or break your landlord relationship, and you want as good as one as possible. Nothing is better than a landlord letting a rent check slide for a week while you gather the funds. Sometimes, though, that doesn't always get to happen, as one woman found out. She shared her story on Reddit, looking for advice on what to do when she said:
[F22] I unfriended my landlord on Facebook and he [M30s] freaked out.
I rent a room in a house in which the landlord (the homeowner) and also his wife live on the premesis. I'm 22 year old female graduate student and he's a late 20s or early 30s graduate student. He also has one other tenant on the property.
I think the landlord is creepy and I don't like him. For example, I did three loads of laundry in one day and he confronted me about it and informed me I didn't know how to use the machine properly. I do indeed know how to use the machine, but I wash towels, delicates, and casual clothes separately. He works from home and never leaves so I often feel like he keeps an eye on my every move. He also texted my mother last weekend asking her for her email address... I find that ridiculous since he has her phone number for emergencies only and there is never a situation in which he should be emailing her! He also has a lot of rules that apply to me as a tenant but don't apply to him, such as if I have a guest over I'm expected to let him know in advance, but he's had guests over without ever telling me. He also told me I can't open the windows in my bedroom, that I can't have a desk plant, etc. (These rules are not in the lease, but I follow them.)
He had also asked me questions to the effect of "Is your department obsessed with women and affirmative action?" And "do you attend church just to please your boyfriend?". I find the former question quite offensive because we're both in highly male-dominated fields and I felt like he was suggesting that I didn't deserve the position I earned. The latter question I think is ridiculous because if you formulated that as a statement it would be clearly offensive.
I was friends with him on Facebook but due to him contacting my mother and other offenses, I decided to unfriended him. Around a week later, he friended me again so I blocked him on Facebook. Ten minutes later after blocking, he texts me "Did you block me on facebook? I would like to have a good relationship since we will be living together for a year." And I said "Sorry but I don't consider having my landlord as a friend on Facebook a requirement to having a good relationship." He responded with "Well, we were facebook friends and now we're not, so that's obviously a problem! I hope we can resolve it." I think this is bizarre since he would have only known that I blocked him if he went searching for my FB profile. I rarely post on Facebook so it's not like he would notice that he stopped seeing my posts. Personally, if someone unfriended me on Facebook I would probably not notice unless they were someone I speak to daily on Facebook messenger.
How should I handle this? I just want to be left alone in peace. I live in Tennessee if that matters.
tl;dr: I unfriended my landlord that lives on the premises and he freaked out. I think he's obsessed with knowing everything I do because I live in his house.
Let's Start With The Worst Possible Outcome
Find a new place before you're turned into a lampshade
Get A Sense Of Your Surroundings
I'm probably being paranoid but... I wouldn't use his WiFi. He could be tracking sites you visit.
"he's definitely tracking your internet."
Start checking out puppy adoption sites over the course of a few days. If landlord starts talking about not allowing pets (and this controlling f-cker won't be able to help himself) you'll know for sure.
Get The Law On Your Side
Double check landlord/tenant laws in Tennessee. See if there are any provisions for if a landlord is harassing a tenant or making up ridiculous rules. If you can find anything that could apply to what he is doing, consider taking steps that could bring you closer to moving out. You would have to document everything in writing and save receipts of any harassment you receive. Your landlord may or may not take you to court for breaking your lease so be prepared to prove that the landlord nullified the lease first with his actions.
If you can't break your lease I suggest finding a coffee shop or library to hang out in a lot. Ignore any contact from your landlord about Facebook or anything that isn't specifically about your lease.
Don't Be Afraid To Shut Him Down
Pop over to r/legaladvice for sure but I'd stick to only what he can legally enforce. If you want a houseplant, get one, open windows, have guests.. not to be annoying but just to live your life. The more you give in to his ridiculous demands the more he believes he is right and has power over you. He is a major creep. Keep ALL communication in written form. If he tries to ask you verbally why you washed 3 times tell him to email you his questions or concerns. Shut him down, ignore his inappropriate questions by telling him "That's inappropriate to ask"
Visit your local housing court, they can't give official legal advice but I find a friendly face and a sad tale usually gets people talking enough to tell you what to do hypothetically.
The advice of turning your laptop into a motion activated camera do it. What locks are on your door? Can you legally have a lock on your bedroom door?
Start Searching Elsewhere
Do you have a long term lease? If you can- I would consider finding another place to live.
He doesn't sound like the type that is going to back off. You can try talking to him, tell him that you pay rent for you room - with the expectation that you (and your family /friends) are allowed a private life. Tenancy doesn't equal friendship. If he was looking for something else- perhaps it would be best if you found another place to live. See what he says. You might need to continuously point out to him when he is crossing the line for a while (because he will not get it).
Try To Find Nontraditional Methods
Many universities have legal aid offices which will provide advice free for students. If you have access to such a resource, make an appointment and see if you can come up with a way to break your lease early.
Keep Track For Later
you need to document all of this in writing and let his wife know. You should also call for a meeting with him and his wife and let them both know that you feel like he's crossed several lines and that in order to feel safe some things need to change.
Most states have something called "the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment" which means he can't harass you about the space you've rented, that you get to control it and live free from harassment. Check up on your state's tenants' rights laws and contact the local tenants' association.
He doesn't get to direct you on laundry or tell you you're not allowed to have a desk plant. He certainly shouldn't be contacting your emergency contacts for non-emergencies or contacting you on social media after you've unfriended him. That, and retaliating in any way because you enforce your right to quiet enjoyment is illegal and you should just let him and his wife know that you know your rights and you will be documenting in order to protect yourself.
It will be awkward but that will probably back him off, and you shouldn't have to move before the year is up unless you want to.
It's Not So Complicated When The Signs Are This Obvious
In my honest opinion this is a very unstable situation. He could be stalking you. I mean how would he know you un friended him so quick. You really really need to find a new place. His actions are very strange.
Really, It's Not As Tricky As It Seems
This sounds like too much of a headache for what it's worth, I'd be out of there fairly lively.
I dont think there's an issue with him asking you to let him know when you're having visitors and for him not to follow that rule, that's one of the perks of being a landlord. But all the other stuff is too much.
Also asking you about the 3 washes? Like feck off! If you split the bills what is the issue. Wifi thing is creepy, comments are off.
I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he has secret cams hidden up, sorry to say. He's just giving off that vibe and the reaction from the fb thing indicates a sense of entitlement to your time.
Creepy dude, flee!!!!
I saw you're tied into a 12 month lease...what would it cost to break it...presumably just your deposit? A small price to pay!
woah woah woah woah woah. He noticed it within 10 minutes? He's stalking you, at least on facebook.
You need to get the hell out of there asap. No matter what you have to pay to break the lease. You need to leave all in one day. Can you put a camera in your room? Bc he might be going through it- that's how crazy he sounds.
"It wasn't me!"
There's not much you can do when the righteous fist of the law comes down on you. Call it a mix-up, or call it a mistake, if someone's pegged you at the scene of a crime there's not much you can do but trust the justice system to prove you innocent. However, that's a gamble, and just because you've been given a "not guilty" doesn't mean the effects won't follow you for the rest of your life.
Reddit user, u/danbrownskin, wanted to hear about the times when it wasn't you, seriously, it was someone else, when they asked: