Moving on … (Dick Move, Landlord)

Posted on
Mar 25, 2011

Okay, so clearly I'm not ready to move on.

When we got back from Europe this past weekend, I had hoped to spend this week blogging. It’s been ages since I’ve really been able to sit down and write, so I was looking forward to recounting all my tales of adventure (and a few of woe, because, hey, you know me) to you guys. Unfortunately, it looks like all of that is going to have to wait, because right now I have the unexpected task of finding a new place to live and moving out.

Rand and I have lived in a condo (one we rent from a private owner) for the last two years. Though “live” isn’t really the right word, since we’re hardly ever here. Rand and I joke that it’s more “the place where we keep all our stuff.” Our landlord seems a bit AWOL, too. In two years, I’ve met him once (Rand has never met him). He wasn’t even the person to show us our place. Instead, it was a lovely real estate agent whom he described as “a good friend”; the agent later told me she barely knew the guy. He never replied to my emails when anything broke (we had to fix a lot of things ourselves, because afterΒ  weeks of emailing him, calling the phone numbers I had for him, and receiving no reply, I got fed up.)

We heard from our landlord once – when it was time to renew our lease last year. I politely told him that, as we had discussed when we moved in, we’d like to move to a month-to-month lease. When we first moved in, he had promised me it would be totally fine with him. Of course, it wasn’t in writing, and a man’s word isn’t worth more than he is. So when he resolutely refused to keep his promise, I was upset, but I realized I had no legal recourse. He explained that he wanted long-term renters, and that we needed to sign up for another year, or move out immediately.

We signed up for another year. We had to – we had no time to move (with all our scheduled travel) and besides, I hate moving. I realize most people do, but I loathe it so acutely, so painfully and intensely, that I have lived in absolute crap shacks (a friend of mine once described an old apartment of mine as being down “rape alley”) for years simply to avoid moving.

Of course, our place was pretty nice, so it wasn’t a huge concern staying here a while longer. I liked having a home base, and even though it wasn’t perfect, I could see us living here for a while. Again, when we moved in, I double-checked with our landlord that he wouldn’t want to move back in soon, effectively booting us out in the process. His reply (in an email to the real estate agent) was this:

Assure them that indeed I do love Seattle and intend to return but have no intention of occupying that condo again in the near future. My space requirements have changed since I acquired that unit and a long term renter that enjoys the space is EXACTLY what I have been hoping for. I am very flexible and want them to feel at home and am even amenable to things like painting (with-in reason) or other minor customizations that suit their requirements for the long term.

And stupid us, we believed him. As cynical and jaded as I am, I tend to believe what people tell me. It never occurred to me that he simply told us this because no renter would take a condo for only two years … I’m sure you see where this is going, right?

This month, our lease was up. After not hearing from our landlord for nearly a year, he sent us a letter, wondering why we had yet to vacate our home.

Rand and I were dumbfounded. We explained that we hadn’t heard from him in ages, and that, as per Washington state law, our lease automatically became a month-to-month after a year had elapsed. We figured that, since he hadn’t contacted us in over a year, he was okay with this. Instead, he told us we needed to leave immediately (as much as it baffles the mind, he wanted us gone that day so he could move back in).

Dick Move, Landlord.

Obviously, he’s entirely within his rights to move back in, but it still stinks. Plus, the way he handled it was downright surreal (had he really expected us to move out without giving notice? Without turning in our keys? Without talking to him once about it? It made no sense). We told him we couldn’t leave immediately, and asked to renew our lease. He refused. Per Washington state law, he has to give us until April 30th to move out, which he begrudgingly has. I’ve sent him a few emails, which he has refused to answer.

So now? We need to find a new home. I’m not taking it well at all. I hate moving. I’m upset about the situation, but completely powerless to do anything about it (anyone who tells you that tenants have all the rights are full of it). Worse still, Rand and I had a lot of travel planned this month. We actually said to ourselves, a few months back, “Well, we certainly can’t move this year, because we won’t be around for March or April.”

But right now, that’s exactly what we have to do. I’m going to be canceling a few trips, and trying to find us a new home in the Seattle area (I’ve checked out more than 10 places in 2 days. Things are not looking promising). And I’m off to see another half dozen or so today. I can’t even keep the places straight anymore. They’ve merged into a single apartment in my brain: one with over-priced parking and too-small bedrooms.


So forgive me if the blog is a little thin these next couple of weeks. I’ll be taking a break from travel, and looking for a new home. Wish me luck.

Leave a Comment

  • Ruth Burr

    Oh my goodness, that’s terrible. Landlord disagreements are the worst kind of tummy-twisting since they affect where you live.

    I’ll keep an eye out for promising listings. Let me know if you need an extra pair of hands during the move!

  • Everywhereist

    Ruth, you are too sweet. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  • I can’t believe he did this to you. This is my nightmare, I literally have nightmares about moving too. I wish I knew someone that could help you guys out. Hope you find something nice soon.


    P.S. If you want a good laugh, tell Tom Critchlow he has “solid delivery” (care of Monique). He will get ruffled I’m sure.

    • But just slip it into conversation, I’m sure it will be hilarious!

      • Everywhereist

        Bekka – Oh, we know the “solid delivery” comment well. After that famed tweet, Tom started wearing pressed shirts to conferences. πŸ™‚

  • I hate landlords, I was renting for 6 years (different places) and nearly every time we had problems with the Landlord. There was just one time where we had a great landlord and we met him, he came round to fix things and didn’t hesitate when it came to giving us our deposit back.

    Although moving is a pain and you probably don’t want to move, at the same time getting a new place can be exciting and you have the chance to find somewhere with a great landlord and no problems!

    Hope you find somewhere nice πŸ™‚

  • What a jerk your landlord is!

    This really struck a chord with me. Years ago when I was a poor starving college student in my senior year, my ex-husband (now he is, but not then!) and I rented a basement apartment from a family 8 miles from campus in the Provo, UT area. It was our first official place together. We were living there five weeks when she posted a letter on our door during the first week of my semester that we had 30 days to move out. No warning, nothing bad had happened except when I went to talk with her about why, she said she and her husband had an agreement that if they prayed about it and received confirmation that Heavenly Father didn’t want them to have certain tenants they would have to follow through on the “promptings of the Spirit.” I cried for weeks but felt I had no recourse.

    We had signed this month-to-month lease with her because we were broke and couldn’t afford some of the other options. We ended up finding a great place next door to school and we lived there for 3 more years, even after I graduated. The mean landlady conveniently pocketed our $300 deposit, claiming damage which pre-dated us. She also moved her friends into the apartment a few days after we left. That $300 felt astronomical at the time to someone living on Pell Grants and student loans. I ended up taking her to court. Now that I’m older and my life has worked out far better, I wish I could go back and tell 20-year-old me that the wait until the trial wasn’t worth it for that.

    A couple years later when I managed an install support team and one of the hires told me all sorts of ironic info about their true religiosity.

    I really feel for y’all having to move at such a busy time. You will triumph over this! I bet your new place will make you far happier than where you are now.

    • Everywhereist

      Holy crap.

      That is one of the worst stories I’ve ever heard. And, of course, there’s the sheer irony of her hiding behind her piousness. What heinous behavior. Jesus would have smacked her upside the head. I hope the fact that your life is awesome is solace enough. πŸ™‚

      We should hang out soon and drink gin. I miss you, and want to hear more about how great life is treating you now. πŸ™‚

      • Aw, I miss you too. Certainly up for gin and talking about how awesome life is these days. (We’ll just overlook the events of the last week, for both of us πŸ™‚ )

    • Garry

      Jesus, save me from your followers.

  • Bradfields

    Massive sympathy for you here.

    Sadly I too have a similar horror story so i know the pain you’re feeling.

    Several years ago I was happily living in a beautiful three storey town house with three friends. One Saturday morning we were having breakfast when there was a knock on the door, on the doorstep were four students who told us that they’d viewed the house earlier in the week with the estate agent (while we were all at work) and then promptly signed a contract to move in once our initial six month lease had run out.

    It transpired that the inept estate agent had simply failed to offer us a renewal after our first six months and just found someone else to move in instead. Despite our complaints to the estate agent and the owner of the house and us beggng with the students who had signed the contract, all refused to yield and we found ourselves moving four weeks later.

    To be honest I have never trusted a single landlord or estate agent since that day. Too many of them seem happy to tell you whatever what you want to hear until they’ve taken your security deposit and first month of rent and then they disappear or seem to magically forget all the things they promised you about how they would behave.

    I really hope you get your situation sorted. Maybe you’ll find somewhere amazing to live and this will all turn out to be the best thing that ever happened. Every cloud and all that.

  • I understand how you feel — my last landlord lied about not needing to sell the place (he was “mailing the keys in”/not paying the mortgage) and said he would agree not to have real estate agents touring the place. Just like you found out, his word was worth the paper it wasn’t printed on. Within a month of moving in, I had real estate agents waking me up, bringing their tire-kickers through my place and then leaving every single light on when the left. Through it all, he wouldn’t let me move out even though he lied about needing to sell/having real estate agents tour it and never paid the mortgage or homeowner’s dues. But I still had to pay the rent. Nice.

    My current landlord is actually very nice, but he’s a software engineer a few years younger than me who is managing the unit for his parents. He’s had bad landlords and doesn’t want to be one.

    You might try getting a back massage after moving to relieve tense muscles and stress. It always helps for me.

  • That sucks.

    Have you spoken with a lawyer? Even if the owner/landlord is legally able to do what he’s doing, you can probably scare him into more time and/or establish that he can’t just be a 100% dick by having someone draft something on legal letterhead.

    Do you have any odd requirements for a space? There’s still a lot of great deals if you want to buy (I obsessively check real estate listings) – don’t know about renting though, haven’t done that in awhile.

  • Ken

    Wow. Between Air France and your landlord it really has been a week full of dick moves for you guys. I’m sure you’ll find a place that you love (and I’m equally certain that Rand will love it too once his feet touch the ground long enough for him to visit it).
    In the meantime, if it helps you to vent some of your rage in ways other than sticking pins in a little landlord-shaped voodoo doll, can I suggest that you begin prepping an updated version of this post that includes your ex-landlord’s name and a few choice details about the condo’s location? Obviously don’t publish the updated version until after you’ve moved out and got your security deposit back but I’m sure you’ll agree that this guys online reputation could do with having this information added to it, especially if it helps provide a warning to any prospective tenants in the future. (and wouldn’t it be ironic if he then turned to the ‘moz or Distilled for ORM advice?)

  • lisa

    I’m truly speechless. I wish there was something concrete I could do to help you guys, but I will be thinking about you!!

  • Ben

    Wow. That sucks. What a dickhole.

    I have a bunch of rubbermaid bins ( I’m not using right now, that I’ve used tons of time moving. They’re fantastic, stack well, take a beating, etc. Let me know if you want to borrow them and I can bring them over this weekend. I’d offer to also help move, but I’m getting ACL surgery Monday and will be out of town for almost two straight months after that. :-\

    Chin up. I hope you and Rand find an awesome place. They’re out there, just takes some looking.


  • Sounds like the perfect opportunity to move to London for a year or two…

  • Wow So that’s what Rand was talking about at the conference. Carino da morire… I’m not sure if you heard or if anyone sent you a tweet yesterday, but Rand asked everyone to send you a tweet during the Distilled conference saying he loves you and he’s sorry.

    I thought wow this guy really knows how to use his social media influence when he mucks up. πŸ˜€ Of course we were not privy to why he wanted us to Tweet this to you, just that something went wrong. Well, then he got all shy & I think I saw him blushing… Not sure though since I’m 50 and I was sitting a few rows back and yes, my eyesight is failing me lolol. I’m glad I finally tripped over this blog explaining what this was all about.

    I hope you guys find a place, I know how stressful that can be especially if you are traveling. I would offer you one of ours anytime you need a place, but all three are in the Red Neck Riviera. Especially now that I know you are Italian that’s how we roll πŸ˜‰ Ciao bella!

    • Everywhereist

      Carissima Gabriella,

      Mille grazie per le gentile parole. Speriamo che fra poco troviamo un nuovo apartamento. E hai ragione – Rand e carinissimo. Per questo io lo sposato. πŸ™‚

  • That sounds horrible, but at least you know your renter laws. I can honestly say if something similar would have happened to me I wouldn’t be familiar with any laws to back me up.

    • Everywhereist

      Cornelius – I don’t really know any tenant/landlord laws, but the internet sure does! πŸ™‚

  • Sorry to hear this. Not what you guys needed, now or ever, but for what it’s worth, at least it’ll soon be behind you, and with some luck, you’ll have a new landlord with a little integrity.
    With the network you both have, I would think you’ll soon know of any gems in the area. And you can always remove a HUGE amount of the stress you’re feeling by hiring some movers for the pack/unpack (Starving Students used to have a very competitive service).
    Chin up! The nice thing about encountering the occasional dick landlord is, we eventually get to leave them behind us.

  • Argh! How awful!!! I’ve lived in lots of places, but we’ve had a deadbeat landlord only once, when we were first married. We finally own our own home after ten years. I’m SO done renting!

    Do you have to stay in Seattle proper? You might get some better deals in Tacoma, or even Fife or Federal Way. I’d suggest the Kitsap Peninsula, except it just occurred to me that with the Nimitz docking here for a while and the influx of people coming back from Japan, housing around here might get sparse. But it is definitely cheaper! And there are more landlords used to tenants being gone frequently and for long periods of time, because of the military. It’s a goodly distance from SeaTac, though.

    Also, are you familiar with Pre-Paid Legal? We pay about $27/mo to keep attorneys “on tap”, so to speak. I’d have been calling them as soon as that deadbeat landlord tried that on me! As a previous commenter suggested, sometimes a letter on official letterhead works miracles. πŸ™‚ They could go over any future contracts with you, too, before you sign them, to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. Terribly useful service. πŸ™‚ Anyway, I’m not a rep, but I know one, if you’re curious about it. πŸ™‚

    • Everywhereist

      Devon – thanks for the kind words. We’re pretty set on Seattle – we’d never even consider moving outside of city limits, or more than 5 minutes from downtown. Rand works near the Pike Place Market, and doesn’t have a car – so it wouldn’t really be an option! πŸ™‚ Though I know there are probably some great offers out there.

      As for a lawyer, a lot of our good friends are attorneys, and unfortunately, everything our landlord is doing is pretty much legal. It doesn’t make it suck any less, but it is legal. Ah, well.

  • You two have had a terrible run of luck lately, haven’t you? That’s the downside of renting–no long term security. It was probably a good thing for me to read this, as I’ve been thinking lately about selling my house. The downside of owning is being stuck in a particular place because you have a house and a mortgage there. Obviously there are drawbacks with both renting and owning. Anyway, very sorry to hear about this. I hope you find a bitchin’ place that you’ll be even happier with.

  • I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in downtown Seattle, but my husband is not a city person by any stretch. The closest we’ve been to living “in town” was walking distance from a Fred Meyer grocery store in Gig Harbor. πŸ™‚

    I hope you can find a great place and that your move goes smoothly! Goodness knows I’ve moved more in our ten years of marriage than anyone ought, and I’m pretty sick of it, myself. I told my husband that if we need to move in the next five years, it better be with the military so that I don’t have to pack again!

  • Garry

    Had a similar scenario. Ya know? If you can part with a mere $2500, have a professional moving company move all your stuff and unpack it, too. That makes it so you just have to ‘stage’ your stuff in the living room near the door and then unpack it in your new home. It’s the best money you’ll spend, ever.

  • I love that you are a Canon SLR user! Rebel T2i?

    • Everywhereist

      I believe so, but I’m too lazy to get up and go look. So let’s go with … maybe. πŸ™‚

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