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I recently moved into a shared home where my landlord is one of the roommates. Shortly after her husband passed away. Understandably she’s been upset and stressed. Also I was told it was the husband who generally took care of things around the house, like repairs. She had been staying with family for a bit but now is back. During her time away her son dropped by and told me to contact him if there are any issues. I told him the Wi-Fi hasn’t been working properly (I tried fixing it myself and called the ISP but they don’t speak to someone not on the account). The son replied his mom is under too much stress right now to deal with it, which I get.

My question is how long should I wait, or how can I tell if she’s ready to be informed of some of my concerns regarding the rental? I have a lot of trouble knowing when and how to “cut someone slack”. For example the past two days there have been renovations/cleaning/redecorating which I hadn’t been informed of and I couldn’t use several parts of the house and even in my room it was very noisy. I would like to have the conversation with the landlord that I expect advance notice when things like this are happening but not sure if now is the right time given her husband's passing (I actually mentioned I didn’t know this was happening and they said “it wasn’t supposed to happen today”). Also, it’s insignificant as I never watch it but during the renovations the TV has been removed and it’s technically in my lease. I don’t want to nitpick, especially given the circumstances, but things like this make me concerned they aren’t taking the rental agreement seriously.

Another factor making things difficult is the landlord is almost always surrounded by guests/friends/family when she is at home. I don’t really think it’s appropriate discussing these things in front of them and when I tried in the past they butted in and interrupted. Would it be impersonal to just start using email even though I literally live with the landlord?

  • The son told you to contact him re house issues, presumably he’ll tell you when to revert to asking her? – Spagirl Aug 6 '18 at 7:59
  • @Spagirl I was under the impression he meant contact him in her absence – refbobby Aug 6 '18 at 8:53
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As in many situations, here the "golden rule" is a good guide:

Treat others as you would like them to treat you.

In this case, imagine the person you are closest to just died. How long do you think it would take you to "recover"? A week? A month? Never?

It's not about how much time you should wait. It's more about consideration and courtesy. While the real-world responsibilities don't go away when we mourn, it's simple courtesy to allow the grieving person as much time as they need to get themselves together. Some people recover faster than others, and some deal with grief by immersing themselves in their work or household chores. You never really know how long it will be.

I would not bother the mother. Instead, since he has already offered himself as the go-between, I would contact the son. Let him know that you want to give his mother the space she needs, but the ongoing renovations and lack of expected services (like the wi-fi and the TV) put you in a bind, because they are part of your lease and you rely on them.

Perhaps suggest they put the redecorating on hold until the mother feels able to supervise the process, and is available to discuss the situation with her tenants. If that's not possible, then I would just put up with it, assuming it won't take more than a week. Renovations are a pain, but thankfully they are temporary.

Also, mention that you are available to help with the wi-fi if the son can just talk to the ISP to allow you to manage the repair. Be considerate and polite, but still firm about the need to take care of it. For example:

Please let me help with this? I only want to take the pressure off of your mother in this difficult time, and I would really like to keep this from becoming a more serious issue. It's such an easy fix, it would be simpler to just get it done, don't you think?

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    for what it's worth, the son also lost a family member. If not the father, then at least the step-father. This may also take some time to process and mourn. That doesn't make this advice less sound :) – Vogel612 Aug 6 '18 at 13:15
  • To what extent should I continue to talk to the son? Technically he is not the landlord and doesn't have the official power. I would like to avoid the situation where he gives me permission to do something or tells me something the actual landlord disagrees with and the actual landlord may be completely unaware that he said to contact him about issues. – refbobby Aug 10 '18 at 0:09
  • @refbobby That's a good question to ask him. – Andrew Aug 10 '18 at 2:37

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