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This question is about a very common problem aka "the landlady with trust issues". I and my partner live in an apartment owned by an absurd person to say the least.

We have been very careful, punctual and attentive all this time in order to reassure her that we are not going to

  • Destroy the apartment (in fact we have worked quite a bit to repair, paint it and make additions without charge).
  • Forget to pay the rent and bills (we pay rent many days before the deadline and we call her in order to give her the money).
  • Cut her off from having access to the house when she wants to inspect it (in the beginning she kept coming in the apartment to get the rent).

The issue now is that when she communicates with me (curiously not with my partner) she asks for the maintenance fee bills, even though I have already given them to her the previous time and when I mention that she gives me a suspicious look, asks me if I'm sure and says she will look into her papers to make sure I really did. Last time she even asked for the receipts (of fees I paid) that have my name on them which she has no right to have nor I can trust her with them. She also gave me the same "advice" she has given me a million times about how not to do damage to some doors. These are only a few of her irrational and recurrent remarks.

As you can imagine this is really frustrating given we are model tenants and have tried so hard to win her trust. I don't know if she has memory issues and can't remember how we have behaved until now, what repairs we have done and what papers we have given to her or if her motives are "darker" in nature. Please keep in mind we can't leave the house until the contract's expiration (for legal and personal reasons).

I really want to find a way to rebuff/avoid the absurd demands/remarks she makes which she repeats with every given opportunity.

Any help will be appreciated.

NOTE: More on the landlady's character - we have observed that she lies occasionally and with no hesitation in order to hide her true intentions or have her way. So asking her about the reason she asks for documents that don't belong to her will be to no avail.

  • 2
    Is there anything that suggests this is more than just forgetful behavior or an ingrained pedantic personality? That doesn't invalidate the question, but it does change the answer. – Flater Jun 1 '18 at 12:58
  • Relating to what @Flater said, have you tried politely asking her if shes forgotten about the repairs you did? In my opinion, I think she has had bad tenants in the past and wants to make sure you won't damage her property. – TheRealLester Jun 1 '18 at 13:02
  • @Flater Well she seems to collect information (e.g. our job addresses giving the explanation that they were needed for the contract - but were never used in the contract's text) and a little more which I reluctantly gave away due to my partner really liked the apartment. We also learned about a trial she was involved in but never found out what was the case. She has also lied in many occasions. Maybe all these seem too much but they might as well mean nothing. I just want to protect myself and my partner in case they actually do mean something. – clueless Jun 1 '18 at 13:10
  • also what is a "maintainance fee notification" ? – peufeu Jun 1 '18 at 14:57
  • @peufeu I am not asking for legal advice just interpersonal handling of the situation. FYI asking for receipts or job address belonging to another has no legal basis. My main problem is that she asks things that I have already provided or taken action about them. It is the bill of the maintainance company. – clueless Jun 1 '18 at 15:00
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"I really want to find a way to rebuff/avoid the absurd demands/remarks she makes which she repeats with every given opportunity."

A landlord / landlady is in a position of authority over you, so if they have idiosyncrasies, provided they don't cross certain boundaries or infringe your rights, you just have to live with them - or rather, work with them.

If you know that she is going to ask you for certain documents every time she calls, then have those documents ready in a place where you can grab them quickly - by the door, for example. I admit I don't exactly know what you mean by "maintenance fee notifications" (I'm guessing some documentation to show you paid the maintenance fee?) but if you do receive and hold these documents then just put them in that safe, convenient place whenever you receive them, so you are prepared.

When she asks for these, show them to her - but if she is not entitled to have them then tell her so.

Sorry, I need to keep these for my records.

I think it is important for you to sound efficient, and business-like. The more organised you are, the less likely she is to hound you and try to pull you up on this kind of thing.

I appreciate this is work for you that is probably unnecessary and that more reasonable landlords would not expect you to do - but as an example: if you know that every time you buy age-restricted products you are going to be asked for ID, the most obvious thing to do is have your ID on you and ready to show. You can't really complain that you don't have the ID handy when you know it will be expected. And if you accept that this is the process you have to go through then you can be ready for it, and it won't be so difficult.

If the landlady has some kind of problem with her memory as you mentioned, she is more likely to remember conversations and actions repeated exactly, so make sure you say the same thing and show her the same documents every time.

If she really does have "darker motives" as you suspect, such as trying to catch you out on a technicality, showing her that you cannot easily be caught out this way may well silence her. Rather than looking for a way to evict you, she may just be doing this because she enjoys criticising others - sadly some people are like this! I have found through experience that the best way to deal with people like this is to play along. If they have petty concerns like damage to the doors, you will pacify them far quicker if you acknowledge their concern rather than challenge it or give them any reason to believe you don't take it seriously.

If you say:

I won't damage the doors

.. she might think you're not taking her concerns seriously.

Better to say:

I will be careful

You've saved yourself a word, and you have reassured her.

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    Authority? Not from my perspective. You're the landlord's customer. They're not your boss or an authority over you in any way. – ell Jun 1 '18 at 15:17
  • @sgroves At the same time, you are living on their property - a bad landlord still has a lot of power to make your living situation miserable, and OP says they are stuck there until the lease is up. – Em C Jun 1 '18 at 16:55
  • "A landlord / landlady is in a position of authority over you". I guess that depends on where you live. Here, in Germany, I would not tolerate nor have to tolerate such behaviour. She has no authority over me. It is her property, but she can only react if she has good cause to suspect something wrong. And she can only inspect the property after she makes an appointment, not just when she likes. If the contract is fulfilled, the rent paid on time and if you follow the house rules, they have nothing to complain about. As others say, it is a business relation, no more. – Rudy Velthuis Jun 2 '18 at 21:12
  • @rudyvelthuis I agree that it is an arrangement you choose to be in. Like a job, you accept the job but may have a manager who is senior to you and you have to respect their authority. If this was an advice page I would tell the OP to leave - but it isn't, it's an interpersonal skills site. The OP has already told us he CAN'T leave at the moment and just wants to know how to deal with it until then. – Astralbee Jun 3 '18 at 7:09
  • @Astralbee: a manager has authority over you. A landlord, at least in Germany, hasn't. Big difference. I never said they should move out. – Rudy Velthuis Jun 3 '18 at 11:14
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I've definitely been there and dealt with that. Pushy landlords/ladies are typically just trying to protect their investment property to insure that they'll continue to be able to make money on the property.

There are of course slumlords/ladies which tend to be much worse. They're sometimes overly concerned about the minutia of the property because they're trying really hard not to have to spend any money on maintenance and/or repair.

The worst case of this that I've dealt with was actually someone running a scam. I was renting from someone who had no legal right to the property, they had set up a fake property management company and "accumulated" a few "abandoned" properties in a bad neighborhood and started renting them out. They were very particular about picking up the rent and utilities payments in person and in cash, and were a little too concerned about how the property was maintained... I had no idea that there was a problem until the city turned the water off. Apparently they were pocketing all of the cash and not paying the utilities. They were trying a little too hard to avoid repairs because that would cut into their pocket money.

Here's what I learned from that experience and other horrible renting lessons. Keep your documents, and ask your landlord/lady for clear, dated receipts for everything. If they ask for a receipt or document, give them a copy, never the original. Read your lease agreement carefully, if anything looks odd or you don't understand it fully ask a lawyer. Your lease agreement is the only outline of what's expected and necessary in the situation. Verbal agreements aren't enough, never rely on them.

Anything that you payed for is your document/receipt. Not theirs. If things go bad you're going to need proof of what you payed for and when. If there's no provision that they're allowed to routinely inspect the property, written into the lease, you don't have to let them do that.

If they get pushy about things ask them to go over the lease agreement with you and show you where it says that you're obligated to put up with whatever they're doing.

I fully realize that this sounds harsh and impersonal, but keep in mind that this isn't a personal relationship, it's a business relationship. Your landlord/lady isn't your friend. You're just contractually obligated to each other for the duration of the lease. So again, know what your contractual obligations are and what they are not.

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