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Old 06-20-2005, 03:43 PM   #1
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Landlord probs

OK- here's the deal:

The landlord for the house I sublet does a regular pest spray in/around the house, and today she was here with the pest control guy, and he said we've got fleas. So she all gets on me about is there an animal here? And my g/f has the cat here, and she's like all in my face about what were you thinking? That cat has to leave now. I said that's fine. Then she says I've got to pay to have the house resprayed.. plus pay for flea spray for as many treatments as it takes to rid the house of the fleas. I say whatever and she leaves.

In the contract I signed for the sublease, nowhere does it say anything about not being able to have animals. And it's not like the cat even lived here anyways... it came over once in awhile with my g/f. The sublease I signed, was written up by the actual renters. They are the ones who still pay the landlord, and I pay them my rent. If they neglected to tell me that there are no animals allowed in the house, then i should be clear of liability, correct?

the only thing I really don't know about is the last paragraph of the lease :

"The Lessee shall pay the rent as outlined above ....... and maintin all covenants in the lease attached hereto no inconsistent to the agreement herein."
to me, this sounds like I need to follow all of the additional rules in the original lease agreement, which shall be attached to my contract. Thing is, this piece of papaer contains the only rules I have ever recieved from anyone.

Finally, I really doubt that the fleas are from our cat anyways, b/c when I moved in, this place had ants and cockroaches (and likely fleas), and there was trash laying around the house, that I cleaned up myself. i no longer have ants or cockroaches, and i removed all of the originals renters' trash. I guess my roomie has gotten flea bites, since last thursday, but prior to last night, the cat hasn't been here in at least 2 weeks. And the fleas are in the opposite half of the house that we keep the cat in. I have had no problems with flea bites in my room, or my bathroom, where we keep the cat.

Any opinions? Am I being unreasonable here? If i had gotten a rule stating "No animals" I wouldn't have had the cat here, but I didn't. I have abided by all of the rules that i recieved.

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Old 06-20-2005, 04:11 PM   #2
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College cook, let me get this straight, you have a rental agreement with which person??
Do you have one with the actual owner of the property?
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Old 06-20-2005, 04:14 PM   #3
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""The Lessee shall pay the rent as outlined above ....... and maintin all covenants in the lease attached hereto no inconsistent to the agreement herein."

to me, this sounds like I need to follow all of the additional rules in the original lease agreement, which shall be attached to my contract. Thing is, this piece of papaer contains the only rules I have ever recieved from anyone.
___________________________________________

(I assume the bf'd word is "not")

"this sounds like I need to follow all of the additional rules in the original lease agreement"

Yes, I think this is true.

When you signed that sublet agreement, you agreed to abide by the terms of the original lease. It should have been attached to the contract. If it was not, you should not have signed it until it was and you had read it. You agreed to be responsible for abiding by the rules in the original lease whether or not you read it. So knowing what was in it was your responsibility.

Get a copy of the lease between the primary lessee and the landlord and see what it says about pets.

If it says "no pets," then you are pretty much out of luck. You'll be on the hook for any damages for violating the lease.

You could try to take it up with the people you sublet from if they failed to disclose this to you and try to get them to pay or at least split it with you.

If it does not say "no pets" or otherwise have a clause about pests, etc. then you might want to point that out to the landlord and see how far you can get.

Fleas come from animals, so I wouldn't spend too much energy arguing that it didn't come from your gf's cat. You can't prove that, anyway.

BTW, what state do you live in? Landlord/tenant law is unique to every state.
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Old 06-20-2005, 08:47 PM   #4
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I live in Indiana, and I did ask for a copy of the original lease, and they said I didn't need one, and I told them I didn't want to sign until I had one, b/c the duration of the lease as stated on the contract was incorrect as well. I said I didn't want to sign until it was corrected, and they told me if you don't sign, you don't get to move in. So here I am, sitting outside this house with all of my belongings in a pickup truck, trying to deal with these clueless girls who already have my first month's rent. My only other option was really a hotel, b/c I had nowhere to go.

My g/f took the cat to a cat hospital today, worried that her own place might be infested, but the cat is flea free. So the fleas didn't come from my cat. My girlfriend and I spend some time at a horse barn here and there, so it's feasible that the fleas could have come from there. But they cant make me liable for damages b/c I go to a barn! I mean we have business dealings out there, so it would be like saying "You've got to pay damages on this house because of your job.", which is ridiculous if I actually had to.

The thing that makes me think that the fleas aren't even from me or my g/f or our cat is that the fleas are relegated to my roomie's room, and the living room, and nowhere else. Those rooms are on the opposite end of the house. My roomie has been bitten, but neither I or my g/f has.

My rental agreement is with the girls who leased the house before me, but they leased for a full year, and their term isn't up till august, so they moved out and sub-leased it to me and another girl. They never gave Megan(roomie) or I any additional rules other than a generic "Keep the house and its contents in good condition."

I don't know where the fleas came from, but from where I stand, even if they came from me, I wasn't given the proper set of instructions to abide by. I mean I'm not dumb or irresponsible like the landlord surely thinks I am... if there's a rule, I live by it. I don't like getting hammered with damges. But to me, this is almost a case of neglect on the part of the girls I sub-let from... they are responsible for THEIR sublettors, correct? I mean it's their security deposit on the line anyways, not mine. I think it's absurd that this lady's coming after me.
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Old 06-20-2005, 08:59 PM   #5
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I really don't know about the subleasing. We never did that ourselves. Did the actual landlord agree to you coming in? If so, then she should have made sure that you had all original rules and a new sub lease. If I were you, I would go and talk to someone in your state housing dept and talk to them about your rights.
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Old 06-21-2005, 12:14 PM   #6
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Do you go to IU? Just wondering. I went there.

Anyway, you did sign a contract that said you would abide by the lease the girls have with the landlord. I know you were over a barrel at the time, but that still doesn't mean you don't have to follow all the rules in the lease. I think you are right about your contract being with the primary lessees, but that would be Indiana law so I am not sure.

BUT, since you guys were smart enough to take the cat to the vet, get a letter from the vet stating that the cat does not have fleas. Show it to the landlord.

That way, your argument is that even if you did violate the lease by having the cat on the premises, it did NOT cause any damage.

If you do go to IU, student legal services can help you. Even if you don't, here is some info: http://www.indiana.edu/~sls/llt.html

I am sure there are similar resources in most college towns.
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Old 06-21-2005, 12:37 PM   #7
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Did you somehow document the messy condition the property was in when you first arrived? If so, maybe you have some sort of out because it sounds like the fleas were already there. Hopefully you took pictures, or had the people you signed a lease with do a walk through of the property and condition. (?) There's usually some sort of checklist where you both walk through and list the condition of the property, what is in the unit (i.e. any furniture that came with), make notes, etc.
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Old 06-21-2005, 12:55 PM   #8
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college cook, sounds like you got strong armed into coming up with the rent up front, and into agreeing to the terms of a lease that you've never seen. unless you can get them to admit that they refused to give you a copy of the original lease, it would be tough to prove. it was really up to you to read it and know what rules you were supposed to abide by.
jennyema is right. if it says no pets, then the cat has to go.

however, you do have rights, and you definitely don't have to pay another penny for the extermination, even if it says so in either lease. in fact, you have the right to stay there and not pay any more rent until the owners go to court and get you evicted. even if it was illegal to sub-let in the first place, you have the right to stay there. the gov't doesn't just toss you out into the street, well, not right away. and not until you've had a chance to make good. in most states, that takes at least 2 to 3 months, sometimes up to 6 months or longer. the owner cannot forcibly evict you until a judge has agreed that you deserve to be tossed out. then, a sheriff would come and padlock your door, and you would be given a time, with police presence, to remove your belongings. (i recommend getting out of there by then.) it would be criminal if the owners or the original renters tried to remove your stuff, or lock you out.
the best thing to do is stay there (and don't pay another penny for ANYTHING) while searching for a new place to live. try to be out asap, but let them know that you know your rights.
my neighborhood is almost all 2 family houses, and you wouldn't believe some of the horror stories that my neighbors have told me about being landlords.
just this past winter, a family with 2 kids moved in to my neighbor's upstairs apartment. they gave him a sob story about the security, saying they'd have it next week. but, it was christmastime, so my nice-guy neighbor let them move in with just the first month's rent paid. they never came up with the security, or paid another month's rent. a coupla months later, after my neighbor told them to leave and started eviction procedures, they finally showed up one day with a u-haul and ran into the house, taking just what they could load up, and never came back.
even with them gone, my neighbor had to wait a few more weeks, until the judges order of eviction took effect, to enter the apartment a throw out all of the remaining junk that was left in there and clean it up to re-rent. they destroyed the place, and left a ton of garbage and broken down furniture. i helped him toss everything out, and tried to tell him not to be so trusting from then on, and to try to rent to little old ladies.
he never listens tho. he rented the place to 3 big drunken day laborers (because they spoke his language, macedonian), and now is complaining that they stumble in at 3am from the local bars, and make noise all day and all night. some people never learn...
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Old 06-21-2005, 01:20 PM   #9
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Buckytom is right, if that is what you decide to do, I thought you might want to fix what is going on, but , if the lady seems to be unreasonable about the whole thing, take his advise. We've had a time with some that didn't want to move and sent them a certified letter showing what we were about to do, of course, we didn't think the letter would scare them off, but, it did. We didn't even have to go through the court for that, we filed a abanonment and didn't cost hardly a thing. :O) They CAN NOT just throw you out, they may threaten or intimidate,or send you a certified letter, but , that is all that she can do until the court tells you to leave. Find another place. You don't want your g/f to have to give up her pet.
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Old 06-21-2005, 01:34 PM   #10
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College cook,

I don't have a lot of experience in sub-leases, since the contract I use strictly forbids it, but if you DO decide to contests the payments, and escalate things to the point where you stop making payments on the rent while you move out, there is one other thing to consider - whatever place you attempt to move to will likely want references, and a rental history.

If you go to the mat with the landloard, even when you're in the right, it may be held against you when you apply for future rentals.

Many rental laws are similar state to state, and as such, it's likely that you can continue ti stay there, pay the rent in good faith, and continue to dispute the cleaning charges in the meantime. The important thing is, make sure all of your communications with your landloard regarding this dispute are documented. If things do get ugly and they try to evict you, the documentation can be used in your favor, as you do get a chance if you wish, to tell your side to the court when the eviction order is sought.

John
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