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Patricia Hanlon

Cambridge, MA

  • 4.6
    Avg Score

  • Years Avg Stay
  • 3,000
    Avg Rent

  • Recommended
  • 5.0

    Responsiveness

  • 1.0

    Respect

  • 4.0

    Information

  • 5.0

    Condition

  • 5.0

    Pests

  • 5.0

    Safety

  • 4.0

    Social

5.0

Do not recommend

Posted 4 years ago

  • 0
  • 0.0

    Responsiveness

  • 0.0

    Respect

  • 0.0

    Information

  • 5.0

    Condition

  • 0.0

    Pests

  • 0.0

    Safety

  • 0.0

    Social

4.1

Lovely place to live, but problematic landlord

Posted 5 years ago

This is a lovely property, a condo on the first floor of an old but extremely well kept 'triple decker' home. The other two floors/condos were occupied by families with longer term friendships with the owner/landlord. A poignant comment in retrospect came from the realtor who showed us the place. The paraphrase: "Everybody knows everybody, and there's sort of a weird open door policy..." The other two couples living there comprise an odd quasi sort of Addams Family, and apparently seeking other tenants like them. At the time we signed the lease, we were told they were looking for a long term renter, as the previous two-three renters did not last and the one before us left before the lease was up (maybe should have been a red flag). We loved the physical space, but we appreciate -- and at the time desperately needed -- our privacy as we were brand new newlyweds. When we first arrived, one of the other couples met us, and the guy literally kissed my wife's hand (really?). They proceeded to walk us through the other two units (the other couple was out of town), as though they owned them both. But this lovely reception was short lived. Soon the landlord came and sat us down and gave us this sort of odd paternalistic counseling about being loud (the sound insulation between units is poor), implied we weren't helping with the trash, etc. Always these sorts of landlord counselings (others by email) were informed by "her family" that seemed to be watching the place (and us) from everywhere. We suspect it was actually coming from the same couple that had earlier greeted us so "warmly" - a retired couple, one of which tended the grounds, that lived directly above us - who often told us of previous tenants who (gasp) had a bicycle, and another whose baby cried all the time. About two months after the least started, we asked each of the neighbors if it was okay if we built a sukkah in an open area over bark in the back yard. Sukkas are small booths maintained 8 days a year as a jewish religious tradition. Both the neighbors emphatically approved, so we built what amounts to a small tent (no ground, plant or tree bent or broken). The next day I'm called by the landlord, ostensibly informed by "family who had walked by on the street and seen" the sukkah (never mind that it wasn't visible from the street), and we were made to feel like we had just tilled the whole yard ("The yard is for everyone to enjoy"). We apologized to her and acknowledged at the time that in retrospect we should have asked her before building the sukkah. The beginning of the end came about a month later. The prospective renter should read the lease carefully: "The Leasor may enter upon the leased premises, to inspect the premises, or to show the premises..." This seems reasonable enough on the surface, but the wording was broadly interpreted. Once, early in the lease, the landlord came to repair something. She entered, and when we weren't there, she removed a package of our furniture pads from the cupboard, and stuck them onto our furniture. Uh, a little bold?!? When we complained and told her she could have asked us to stick on these pads, she asked me to "see it through her eyes" (the eyes, apparently, of the poor forgotten homeowner). After that, we couldn't help but wonder just how far she had forayed into our cupboards and closets. After that there was a lot of nit picking about details (some stuff on the deck, complaints about basement storage - specifically allowed under the contract). Requested repairs were always slow and on the landlord's schedule, not ours, which was an annoyance but not a major issue when staying in such a nice place in such a beautiful location. But the end was the weirdest. We had been on an international delayed honeymoon for two weeks. We got back, were on a very nice high, and two days later she notified that she wasn't renewing the lease. It felt like a big dagger through the heart and a sort of trivial (but extremely costly for us) form of rejection. We asked her why she was not renewing. We learned from an attorney friend that she owes us no explanation for not renewing, and that's fine, it's her house. But she gives us this story about her ailing mother who needs to move in ("and there's other family who really could live in the space"), and "the family" wants her to let her move into the unit we are occupying. We were unhappy, but what do you do? She needs the place! Turned out we couldn't get a new place to live until a month after the lease ended. I literally begged her to allow us to stay on in the transition. First, she tells me that she feels no obligation to respond to my request. Okay. She's under a lot of stress over her family situation, she says, and she needs to push forward with arrangements. Her nephew was moving in 8 days after our lease ends and would be living with and caring for her mother, who will come in shortly after. She then offered to let us stay until the day before for $200 a day (effectively $6000 a month for a place we were renting for half that price). We paid her, because we really really needed the place to stay. Since then, we've been in an Airbnb and then stayed at a friends place for three weeks, waiting to get into our next place. I got a text from her a couple of weeks ago, "thanks for leaving the place in such nice condition! Where do I send your deposit?" Then yesterday, on Zillow, up comes the advertisement for our former home, big as life, seeking a new tenant -- same rent per month as we had paid, starting Aug 1. Sigh. We really don't get it. We are two highly responsible adults, both professionals with excellent credit, neither with any history of problems with rental homes and indeed one of us maintains rental real estate. We took immaculate care of the charming little place and payed all bills and rent on time. The transition into the place was quite stressful, as we each had maintained homes in other cities and it took some months to move our things in, three total moves by movers and a fourth move to a storage facility. I'm trying to "see it from the homeowner's perspective, but between moving in, settling in, and then moving out we easily paid $30K. For us, it is nothing short of a major financial setback. Perhaps the next renter will be perfect for the situation. But there was a steady trail of mail for former tenants that rolled into the place while we were there. What happened to them? If you are looking for "open doors" and a family-like relationship with other buiding tenants, then this may be just the place for you. If privacy is important to you, you may want to consider the realtor's prophetic early warning for us.

  • 0
  • 5.0

    Responsiveness

  • 1.0

    Respect

  • 4.0

    Information

  • 5.0

    Condition

  • 5.0

    Pests

  • 5.0

    Safety

  • 4.0

    Social