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How would you handle my lying, cheating landlord?

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Hey Mark,

Do you ever feel like you're doing the right thing, but when it's open to scrutiny, you feel exposed and overly self-conscious? In the current place I live, there is no air conditioning. It's been a hot summer thus far and my office has heated up to 85 or 90 degrees (F) [29.4 or 32.2 C].

The landlord provided a portable air conditioner that was grossly underrated. When I discussed this with him and how inefficient those are (they actually add heat because the compressor is inside), he insisted that I buy a bigger unit, but wasn't willing to offer more than $100 towards a device that would cost $500. When I suggested a window air conditioner, he told me not to install one. He told me this story that it destroyed all of his windows and created leaks into his homes. When I searched Google for evidence of this in other people's homes, I was unable to find any.

Likewise, at the same time, he had told my neighbor that his wife was a real estate lawyer. When I looked into that, it turns out it was completely false. Not only does she not work with real estate, she's not even a lawyer. The guy is telling lies to get whatever he wants. Despite knowing this, when he comes around to mow the lawn, I pretend I don't notice him.

I feel self-conscious, like I'm doing something wrong, but rationally, there's no basis for it. He's clearly acting inappropriately. How would you handle this situation?



This question was submitted by 'Dan'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Dan and thanks for this question.

It has been said that the mark of a true civilization is not in its buildings, art, music, or the science, but simply in how well human beings within that civilization treat one another. It sounds like your landlord is acting in uncivilized ways. He may not be a psychopath, but he is behaving psychopathically; so he, at the very least, has elements of the psychopath within him.

Psychopaths have cognitive empathy, but not emotional empathy. What that means is that they know what you feel (perhaps more than you do yourself sometimes), but they don't care. Psychopaths are great at spotting vulnerabilities and using them against the people who exhibit them.

Somehow, he has twisted it to induce you to feel guilty. Try to see how he has done that or what, within yourself, leaves you open to feeling like you are the one who has done something wrong.

A landlord is not just a 'lord', but should also be a 'servant' in the sense that they are supplying a service. This guy seems to have forgotten that or just doesn't care. So how do you make him care?

First, I would always refer to him, to his face and in writing, as the 'service' he provides. If his motivation is almost entirely selfish, then trying to appeal to any better nature (if there is one) won't work. You might also need to be prepared to leave so that he is not 'holding you over a barrel'. If you have an alternative, then you'll have the power of the sense of not having anything to lose. He will sense that you don't care so much.

So here are some steps you can take:

  1. Find an alternative place to live, even if you don't wish to move there. Give yourself 'invisible' (to him) options.
  2. Respond to him in writing regarding what you've researched online about the window air conditioner. Give him the links and ask him to supply you with links to detrimental comments about this air conditioner.
  3. Also, and this is important, send these emails to additional recipients so that he knows this is a public discussion. These might be other tenants or a genuine real estate lawyer (not his bogus wife). I suspect a guy like him will be more willing to spend money to protect his reputation than to help another person be comfortable in the heat! I think he'll only want to make you more comfortable if doing so helps him be comfortable.
  4. If this doesn't work, you could buy the $500 machine, send him a copy of the receipt, and deduct it off your rent. In this way, it's down to him to chase you if he can be bothered. If he tries to claim you haven't paid rent fairly, you can point to the email exchanges you had with him. It has to be made difficult for him because, by the sounds of it, he's not going to be motivated out of empathy or fairness. And, as they say, you won't change a lion into a vegetarian by throwing veggie burgers at it.

There may be no easy answer, but for the sake of your self-respect, remember you have done nothing wrong and he has.

I speak as a landlord myself in that the tenant's comfort and satisfaction should be paramount.

All best wishes and I hope this works out!


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - August 8th, 2014 in

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