My Unlawful Landlord: Part II

snidely-whiplash_6902It was this past summer when, all of a sudden, in the quiet of the night, my landlord started banging on my door/walls and yelling at me to stop using the shower. To make things worse, he would also text and call me to stop using water because apparently the sound of water travels and was disturbing him and his wife. He would confuse the water sound from the faucet, laundry and/or sink with the shower and accuse me of using the shower for two-three hours. I have been using the water in the same way for months now, and have had no complaints thus far. I also have proof via text that I have been a very quiet tenant who would ask if my using of the kitchen fan late at night after coming home from school to make dinner would disrupt them, to which they always told me that I was so quiet that sometimes they thought I did not exist! I have never been loud and have always made sure to be extra quiet after 11pm at night as well. Therefore, it was all very abrupt and, frankly, quite frightening to have a man banging on your walls and door, screaming at you at 2 am in the morning to force you out of your shower prematurely with no time to wash off the bubbles. Each time it happened, I would apologize and try to make peace. At that time, I still wanted to maintain peace and did not know that what my landlord was doing was basically violating the tenant’s/my “right to quiet enjoyment”. His restrictions on my time/water usage were also illegal. I was especially disturbed by his insistence that I was showering for “hours on straight” even when I had not even turned it on and by the fact that he would listen to my bathroom sounds and time my shower. Ever since then, there had also been a few instances when he forced his entry into my suite at night to check the toilet because he claimed that the “sump pump is running” and that there could be thousands of dollars worth of damages caused by a potential flood that I would be liable for if I do not allow access into my suite for this so-called emergency. However, each time it was found that there was nothing wrong with my plumbing and that it was his side that had water problems.

Anger 2

A few times after this had happened and my growing suspicion that he (or his family) had been entering my suite without my permission I began to entertain thoughts about moving. However, because of my busy schedule and other responsibilities, I was not able to move immediately, so decided to put it off until the next summer when school is out. My determination to move was consolidated after the latest occurrences in the past two months.

This past month, I was forced to evict my suite temporarily and quite suddenly by my landlord to accommodate a new home’s inspection. In my city, occurrences of illegal suites are on the rise, and so the city has mandated a law to have new homes to be inspected within two years of its completion. In order to pass the inspection, my landlord forcibly and aggressively removed me for one week to demolish the place to cover up evidence that it has been a dwelling for another individual. I was told by my landlord that this demolition was necessary for the purposes of a new home inspection. As compensation for this disturbance, he “generously” offered me free rent for the month “out of the kindness of his heart”. Apparently, his dad wanted to charge me rent anyway for the month despite forcing me out but that he, being “a considerate man”, did not want to add to my stress of having being forced to move in and out within one month so decided to give me the month for free. (Note: It is actually illegal for him to charge me rent when landlords force a tenant’s eviction for their own purposes.) He also made sure to emphasize how “kind and generous” he is as a landlord but just that things were “out of [his] control” (e.g., he had tried to get the “jerk” inspector to delay the inspection, but to no avail). Although I had not extensive knowledge of the law, I suspected what he was doing was illegal but did not raise any issues other than asking for the full reason and rationale of my eviction and demolition. His communications to me became very aggressive and inappropriate. I communicated to him how disturbed I was by his behavior and asked him to abide by ethics, to which he ignored and continued his insistence to have me move out temporarily. At the height of his aggression, he started accusing me of being ungrateful, greedy and difficult when I asked for clarifications as to why I had to leave my home and why it had to be demolished. On the side, I started to research the law and look into the issue. As I did my research, I confirmed with the legal sources and the government that my suite was indeed illegal and that he has been committing fraud and being deceptive to all parties (even to his own family, but, even after knowing, they have decided to help him perpetuate the illegal activities rather than put a stop to it). The application to legalize the suite as well as the mentioning of this to me, the tenant, was intentionally neglected by him, which are all acts of deliberate deception.

I was able to move back to my suite this past week, but found out he has violated several terms to our initial agreement (e.g., the removal of my stove and kitchen fan). At the advice of a kind lawyer and the tenancy boards, I formulated a letter asking him to remedy the concerns of the withdrawal of services as well as the improper eviction letter. Upon receiving my letter, he and his male cousin came to my door and made an issue about the sump pump again so that they can force their way inside my suite to threaten me.

Me no know I have to obey the law…

This is part of an actual conversation between me and him and his wife this past weekend. Earlier, there were my landlord and his cousin outside my door, yelling and threatening to call the police and telling me that I’d be liable for thousands of dollars worth of damages because I refused them entry on the basis that I did not receive adequate notice on a non-emergency. I was well within my rights to do so, and again it has been proved that there is nothing wrong with the plumbing on my side of the suite, nullifying their poor reason for forcing entry into my suite. I pointed out that I was uncomfortable letting two men inside my home, so they agreed to have my landlord’s wife to come down and talk to me. During this conversation, I again asked for the truth about my eviction, to which he insisted that he had been truthful to me about everything and that I had no trust in him. I felt I had no choice but to tell him I knew about everything:

Me: “Why did you not tell me I have been living in an illegal suite?”
Landlord: “I didn’t know it was illegal either.”
Me: “Um, your wife just confirmed that you were the one who built the house…”
Landlord: “You never asked me!”

As I did more research, more of his illegal activities came into light. I began to feel more and more disheartened by how someone could act in such a heinous manner. Another thing that he did was trying to bilk me further of my rent by forging an illegal document to pass it off as a legalized form of an official “2 month notice of eviction for landlord’s use of property”. His parents-in-law are moving in and need the space, which I could understand, but what I could not is how he (and his family) could so blatantly ignore the law. As I previously mentioned, my landlord is a well-known doctor, and he owns a newly-built, million-dollar house in a good neighborhood. Therefore, I honestly do not understand why he is so desperate for a month’s worth of my rent that he had to break the law to acquire it. I insisted on asking for the government form to legalize the eviction, as landlords do have the right to ask tenants to leave if they need the property, but he and his family insisted that the form they forged was legal and proper and accused me of being unreasonable and difficult, amongst other things (e.g., that apparently I take “2-/3-/4-hour long showers”, of which the hours vary each time they bring it up and that I am very ungrateful for not knowing when I can find a place and move out). It was not until I revealed that I knew about the illegal suite and reviewed with them the tenancy laws about the proper procedures of an eviction that they stopped and left me in peace. I felt very saddened of their sudden accusation of me being a “horrible” tenant because I asked them to abide by the law. All this time they kept telling me how good of a tenant I have been because they know I have been clean, quiet and respectful to their property, but this quickly turned when I found out they have been breaking the law and now they claim that I am a tenant who “takes long showers at late of night and who occasionally pays the rent late” (I have paid the rent late once because I was sick and away and he confirmed with me that it was okay) and who is “ungrateful” to their generosity and kindness. They could not see that asking them to serve me the proper eviction form has no benefits to me. As a tenant, I could easily provide proof of their fraudulent activity by submitting the forged form they gave me, thereby making it impossible for his parents-in-law to move in and still be within my rights…

As I retell my terror tale to my friends, they all wonder why on earth would I put up with all of this for so long. I admit that recently as I reflect on my own life I have to agree that I have been too inclined to acquiescence as well. I remember that Jesus says to forgive seventy times seven times (it literally translates to infinitely), to love our neighbors and to love and pray for our enemies, so I guess that was what kept me quiet. All of them advised me to file a complaint against my landlord and could not understand why I even bother responding to him, let alone maintain my manners when they have been aggressive and inappropriate. A friend of mine, a local celebrity philanthropist who is known for his Christian faith and forgiveness, also has doubts whether or not “kindness can reach people like [my landlord]”. I must admit that I have had ill thoughts and have been frequently upset this past couple of months because of these issues (including throwing a temper tantrum last week), but listening to hymns really have helped. When they came outside my door to threaten me, I had spent the entire day listening to hymns and cleaning up my suite and so that was why I was still able to maintain my composure and manners when engaging them. To this day, I can honestly say that I have never been ill towards my landlord and have tried my best to be polite and non-accusatory in my communications so as not to add fuel to the flame.

Now that I have no stove, I am hoping to borrow my friend’s oven and bake them cookies as a peace-offering. All of my friends feel it is of no use to talk to them, and advise that I should just assert my rights and leave them to deal with the law, but I want to see if I can talk some sense into them. As I told Brownie, this will be my test to the goodness of humanity. I hope I would not be disappointed again after being burned the last time in November when I tried to be a good Samaritan… Re:

P.S. Well, if the cookies turn out poorly, it’s really their fault for taking away my stove in the first place. Oh, and if my cookie plan doesn’t work, I know I have the law and all the evidence on my side 😉