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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33703
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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I have lived in my apartment months with no issues. However,

Customer Question

I have lived in my apartment for 6 months with no issues. However, one month ago when my new downstairs neighbor moved in, she has complained to management about my normal use of the apartment (hearing me walk, vacuum, do my laundry, and run the dishwasher) on a consistent basis. The apartment investigated and found nothing wrong on my part, but told her if she hears anything else to call the police. The neighbor then called the police on me at 6pm (yes, PM) after hearing me do my laundry and walking in my apartment. The officer investigated, found no wrong doing on my part, and let me know that walking in my apartment is allowed. However, the neighbor can continue to call the police at any time and they have a duty to come. I spoke with a person in the office and she took the downstairs neighbor's side saying I come home too late (11:30pm) and the neighbor can hear me walk at hours when she is in bed. The person in the office wanted to know what I was doing in my apartment at these hours; basically, I needed to provide reason for walking. Yesterday, the apartment worker and the downstairs neighbor came to my car window and were yelling at me. The leasing agent yelled at me in the parking lot and told me I was going to be evicted for not wanting to talk to this person. I am too scared to go back to my apartment. At any moment, I am going to have a complaint against me or the police called for normal use. What do I do now? Have my rights been violated?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 6 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

Expert:  barristerinky replied 6 months ago.

If you are simply living in the apartment and using it normally, not causing any extreme noise during any quiet hours, then it is the neighbor and the leasing agent who are in the wrong.

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They are harassing you, put very simply. And you have the legal right to file a formal complaint against them and ask for a restraining order to be issued against them having any contact with you under penalty of civil contempt and up to 6 months in jail.

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You have every right to live in the dwelling and use it normally, whatever time of day or night it is. As long as you aren't causing a breach of the peace, the landlord couldn't terminate your lease unless you were a month to month tenant.

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With that said, you can tell the neighbor and the leasing agent the next time that they speak to you that if they do so again, you will file a criminal complaint for harassment and obtain a restraining order against them. And if that doesn't get them to leave you along, you can actually file for one.

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I might also send a letter to the landlord letting them know that this employee is harassing you and you may have to take legal action if it doesn't cease. The landlord is liable for the actions of his agent here so the threat of legal action may result in the landlord putting the hammer down on the employee and telling them to lay off you or they will fire them.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
What are my options at this point? I do not feel comfortable living in my apartment anymore. I have been in a hotel since that day.Can I sue the other tenant? Or the leasing agent/company?
Expert:  barristerinky replied 6 months ago.

If it is the neighbor harassing you, then your recourse is against them.. So you would have to file a complaint for harassment against the neighbor and get a no contact order against her.

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If it is the landlord's employee who is harassing you then the landlord is liable under the doctrine of "respondeat superior" and you could sue the landlord directly. You could contact the landlord and tell them that if they agree to release you from your lease, you won't sue them for damages.

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But honestly, I am not sure that a judge would think it was justified for you to be staying a hotel after being yelled at by the neighbor and the leasing agent. He would likely ask you if you felt that threatened why didn't you call the police instead of moving to a hotel..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
My friend was on the phone with me as they were yelling. He heard me have a panic/asthma attack and called the police. The police came, told the leasing agent to not being the tenant to me ever again. I was not present for that conversation. They offered to take me to my apartment but just the thought of going back scares me. I don't feel safe anymore.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 6 months ago.

Ok, so what is your ultimate goal here? Are you wanting to get out of your lease? Sue the landlord and neighbor for money? Something else?

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Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Ultimate goal is to get out of my lease and have them pay for moving expenses, receive my deposits, and get a good recommendation. Would I be entitled to this? Could I get additional compensation?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 6 months ago.

Ok, if you contact the landlord and threaten to sue them for harassment of their employee, then they may agree to settle and release you from your lease.

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But I kind of doubt that a judge would order them to pay moving expenses or other damages unless you can show that the leasing agent harassed you numerous times after they were told to stop any contact with you.

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So if they confronted you once or twice, the police were called and told them to go away, and it hasn't happened since then, I see it is being pretty unlikely a judge would award damages. It just isn't severe enough behavior to warrant it. If it had been extremely serious, then the police would have issued criminal citations and written up a report that you could use as evidence. But based on your comments, it sounds like this didn't happen.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
My concern is, I told them numerous times I did not feel safe in my apartment, at least five times. I have two of those in writing via email. I spoke to multiple staff members including the managers, leasing agents, even the maintenance supervisor who I called after she called the police on me at 6pm (he was the only staff available.) They were all aware of the situation.
When this leasing agent came to my car, this was after my husband and I told her we wanted no contact with the downstairs neighbor earlier that day.
The leasing agent told me that the other managers were not going to get involved so I will receive no help there.
I feel the apartment failed to protect me and my quiet enjoyment of the premises. After they did their investigation and found no wrong doing on my part, they told her to call the police from now on if she hears anything. Even though the police also found no wrong doing, I am in fear of walking in my own apartment.
I have all the dates written down of when the manager spoke to me about this.
After the leasing agent told me the manager didn't want a part of this, it was clear that they are going to allow this woman to harass me. They do not want to be bothered.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 6 months ago.

Being in fear of having the police called on you when you have done nothing wrong is not something that would give you legal grounds to get out of your lease.. It is the neighbor who would be doing this, not the landlord. So your recourse would be against the neighbor by filing a harassment complaint and seeking a restraining order.

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The landlord is not legally responsible for the criminal acts of a third party (i.e. the neighbor) as only that third party can be held accountable for their actions. You are trying to hold the landlord liable because the neighbor is a jerk and likes to call the police and legally you can't do so.

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You can only hold the landlord liable if his agent is the one harassing you.

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I am sorry that I can't tell you that "sure, you can break the lease and move and they can't do anything" because it simply isn't true. If I told you something that isn't true, and you found out later it was wrong, then you would never use the site again. So telling you the truth, even if it is bad news, is the way I have to conduct myself.

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thanks

Barrister

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