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Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

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Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Old 03-10-14, 11:52 PM
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Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

I haven't been on here in a while because of school, but had this problem come up today for the 2nd time in a year:

I've lived in my current apartment for close to 12 years. Always paid the rent on time, never had any conflicts with the neighbors, mostly a good tenant. HOWEVER: my building has changed owners at least twice since I've been here, and the current people think I'm a slob. I will confess I'm not the greatest housekeeper. I don't think my place is unsanitary however- it's not like some of those pictures you see on the internet, there's never been a problem with mice or insects.

For the first 11 years I lived with an air conditioner that didn't work right. Every year I complained, and either nothing happened or they tried to fix the old one in here which is a lost cause. Last year, they finally had a group of workers come in and install a new unit. It's worked great, EXCEPT that about a week afterwards I received a letter from my landlord saying that the workers had reported to them I hadn't been keeping my place in good enough order, and that if I didn't make "drastic improvements" in 2 weeks they'd evict me. (One of their objections was a pet rabbit, who I found a new home for. I loved him a lot but I couldn't get evicted because of him.) Place was eventually checked out and seemed good enough (though the person who checked it acted a lot like my mom, saying stuff like "gee, you sure have a lot of movies.")

This month, a maintenance person came in to replace an outlet in the bathroom- apparently there's a special kind you need next to the sink to meet regulations that wasn't here before. He was nice, and I was nice to him, and unlike the air conditioning guys I didn't have junk in the middle of the floor he needed to step over. Regardless, today I got another of the SAME letter they had sent me before, saying basically this guy had told them of problems and that I have two weeks to shape up or be evicted.

Again, I'm not arguing that I'm a bad housekeeper, though especially this time I didn't think I had anything too far out of line. I'm mainly pissed because I would have rather these maintenance people (who weren't exactly squeaky-clean looking themselves) tell me "the management would be mad if they saw this- you need to fix this" rather than go behind my back like this. I also think that since I've lived here so long, the management probably wants me to leave so they can charge more money to someone else who moves in. I want to move to a bigger place eventually but just don't have the money or time to do that right now.

Has anyone else had a problem like this? Last time this happened someone told me I should have seen a lawyer, and I definitely intend to get legal help this time. Again, my place is cluttered but not unsanitary, and I have the floor clear enough to walk through as they told me the first time. When I'm taking classes and have other stuff to do, I tend to let stuff pile up and not get to cleaning until break, since I would rather have my place a bit of a mess than be behind in my classes (though I've had to waste today dealing with this.) How bad a housekeeper does one have to be to warrant being evicted?

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03-14-20, 11:24 PM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Hey Alan-- I'm glad you're working on the things that will hopefully keep you in your place (at least until you're ready to leave).

I don't lurk in many Otter threads, but this one has intrigued me since I found it years ago. It's been said here that you have some condition/tendencies (sorry, not sure of the right word) that may make it tougher to just take the plunge and straighten-up your place, but I hope the feeling of accomplishment (as well as the support you get here) helps you keep going.

It seems as if your collection (or really "accumulation") has taken control of you as opposed to you having control over your collection.

I can relate. I loved the "Show us your collection" threads and the hundreds/thousands of neatly displayed titles in the pictures and it was something I wanted my collection to look like. Combined with the deals threads, and I was accumulating by the dozens every month.

But I ran into some financial struggles a few years ago that I am still dealing with; to the point where I am in a spot where I need to move before I get deeper in debt (don't worry, the movie/comic/book buying dropped to nearly zero when it happened; it was regular life that made keeping up with my payments nearly impossible). Anyway, I spent most of a week and a half just getting my accumulation out of my house. I did work during that time too, but I was awake two hours before I needed to be and stayed up hours later than I should have all to get my crap out of my house, so I could sell it. It sucked. Dozens of trips to a storage unit (in February in Wisconsin; it was warmer than usual, but standing on a slab of concrete in 40 degree weather is still cold as Hell) where I could keep it until I can properly go through it and cull-out stuff (and, frankly, remember what I have as it's an accumulation that goes back about 35 years).

I moved 40 long boxes of comics, 5 bookcases with books, 3 bookcases with DVDs, 1 bookcase with CDs. Additional boxes and boxes of trade paperbacks and books, magazines, boxes of posters, boxes of action figures... Other than work, I did nothing other than move stuff out of a single room in my house for eleven days. It was brutal-- and I had so many moments where I was embarrassed that my collection got away from me like that. I touched every single BluRay, DVD, CD, TP, and book twice: once to pull it off the shelf it was on and put it in a box, and then out of the box put it back on a shelf in the storage unit (because even though I saved a stupid amount of boxes over the years to use to ship stuff I sold and intended to sell, I still had nowhere near the number of boxes to keep it all long-term). There is not much more hard reality that things got out of control than touching... every... single... piece... of media-- TWICE-- to move it.

So now I'm typing this post in the room I cleared-out. It is so big (18' X 12'), and I can't help but remember how excited I was to have my own room for my stuff almost 20 years ago when I bought the place. I had plans to put a nice TV and disc player in it; I had a desk I could work at. I could put up some posters and some comic artwork I picked up.

But I needed shelving for my comics, so I got a great racking system that took up a few feet, then I added some bookcases and bought more until I had the eight I moved a few weekends ago. I confiscated some coffee tables, so I had a work space for selling things (but ultimately ended up being where I could put new things until I got them to a better spot). The desk started getting used as another storage surface. As for putting up any posters or artwork: no way as there were no walls left once all the racks and bookcases went in.

I ended up with a room that was about 2'X12'' by the time I had to clear it out; I literally couldn't go from one wall to the other without moving something(s) out of the way. It was nearly impossible to sit in my small easy chair and do anything even as simple as watching a movie in it because my stuff overtook me (I didn't even have the room to have my legs up). What a waste of a nice room and the big dreams I had for it. All for some things I just couldn't get rid of-- even though I knew in my heart I'd never be able to read or watch them all. The funny thing is: right now, I feel the best I've felt in this room in about fifteen years-- and there's almost nothing in it right now. I'm using the desk for its intended use here for the first time ever. But it's too late for this room and this house; I have to try to get a fresh start with a new place (that will not have its own room just for my stuff).

You've gotten some great advice over the years in this thread (and it was something I really tried to learn from as well-- but I let work and (non-clinical) depression get in my way the past few years when I finally saw how bad things had gotten), so I don't really have any advice to give you other than tell my story and hope you don't have to go through something like it. It's all just stuff, Alan. Some stuff can be really important; no doubt. But too much stuff makes it difficult for anything to be important or special because there's just so much of it.

I am really happy you're making progress, and I really hope it satisfies your landlords. But when you get your place straightened up front-to-back, don't stop. Go to the beginning and start over (it'll be much easier the second time-- and you don't want to let things get bad again). Go through your doubles and get rid of them. Get rid of anything you have a better version of. Get rid of anything you won't digitize in the next few years (I understand the desire to not lose it, I really do, but the 250th most-important thing you want to put on YouTube just isn't going to be gotten-to). Give yourself some actual, physical, room. It really will make you feel better. I know what it's like to be surrounded by your accumulation: it's this point of stress you may not even realize you have, but once it recedes, you'll realize how much energy it stole from you. And take it from me: moving all that stuff suddenly is more than you'll want to do. Even if you don't have to do it suddenly, it's still going to be a bitch to move.

And if/when you get a bigger place, you'll find you just won't have the proper time for all of it. I went from sharing an apartment with my wife to having my own room for just my stuff!!! But I never found the time to really, properly, go through it all. I made headway once in a while-- and then added more and more and more. You have an attachment to things that I can understand-- and I don't think you can disconnect from those attachments like most people can; getting rid of things will always be a struggle. So don't let yourself get attached to every new thing. Get attached to being able to live comfortably with a number of things that you can live with.

Sorry for the long, rambling, post. You have been very courageous to put yourself out there in this thread, and it has helped me and others immensely. I just wanted to contribute finally and tell you that things can happen that are out of your control. You still have some control over your situation, so please continue to do something with it. We all want to see you succeed. The biggest thing I have gotten from this thread is just seeing a community of people root for (and well-intentionally chastise and guilt) you. I've actually become a bit invested in your journey, and I so want to see a positive result in the end.
Old 03-11-14, 12:06 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

You shouldn't let him near your computer room.
Old 03-11-14, 12:25 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Sounds like your landlord is fucking with you for some reason.

Unless your apartment is a real pigsty, I don't see one, let alone two, repairmen complaining to your landlord.

Post some picks so we can judge... "I will confess I'm not the greatest housekeeper," can cover a lot of territory.
Old 03-11-14, 12:26 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Yep, that picture was from a set I remember a few years ago. My place is nothing like that. Pics coming up.
Old 03-11-14, 12:35 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

OK, not saying I'm proud of this but here it is:
Old 03-11-14, 12:42 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Cords in the middle are from the vacuum cleaner, which I keep plugged in all the time so I can vacuum whenever I need to. I've been OK keeping up on that. Those are Ikea shelves on the left (full of laserdiscs) with more in crates in front of them which I know need to be better organized, all the DVDs in the background are on shelves attached to the wall. Not saying this is out of "Better Homes and Gardens" but I don't think this is 'unsanitary' or a 'fire hazard' to get evicted over. The kitchen floors (to the left, which you really can't see) could use a good mopping, but I've seen far worse. I honestly haven't had time to do it with all the other crap I have going on right now. That Sunkist box is there because I recycle my soda cans in those and take them out when they're full. Bike has to be there because it'll get stolen if I keep it outside.

Last time they threatened me, there were many boxes in the middle here. (And something they took out of context- when they installed the new air conditioner, I had to move a shelf I originally had on the left that had all my LDs on it, and the damn thing collapsed when I moved it! This resulted in my having to scatter them across the floor until I put the new shelves in.) I had a pet fence around the area in the front left here where the bunny lived, but I found a new home for him given that they objected to that.
Old 03-11-14, 12:43 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Do you think you pay below market rent? Back in the housing boom, it was common for landlords to kick out renters and sell apartments as condos.

Maybe it's a bad smell. Put in some of those plug-in air fresheners.
Old 03-11-14, 12:45 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

This is the letter they emailed to me today, with names changed to protect the guilty:

Dear Resident,

Upon a recent maintenance inspection of your unit it was discovered that you are not in compliance with your lease agreement. Clause 11 of your lease agreement clearly states the unit must be kept in clean and sanitary conditions. It is as follows:

Resident agrees to keep the premises in a clean and sanitary condition. Resident agrees to leave the premises in the same condition as it was received, subject to normal wear and tear. Except as prohibited by law, Resident shall keep the premises, furnishings, appliances and fixtures that are rented for Resident’s exclusive use in good order and condition. Resident shall not cause or do damage in any way to the building exterior structure. Resident shall pay Owner/Agent for costs to repair, replace, or rebuild any portion of the premises damaged by the Resident, Residents guests or invitees. Owner/ Agent does not insure Resident’s property. Resident is not a co-insured and is expressly excluded from any insurance policy held by Owner/Agent, which is now in effect or becomes effective during the term of this Agreement.

This includes keeping floors and surfaces clean as to not attract pests or damage the owner's property. Also all appliances shall not be shut off for any reason without prior consent of the owner/agent. Blankety-Blank Property Managers will inspect your unit in 14 days from receipt of this notice. There must be drastic improvements in the cleanliness of the unit. Furthermore, units are not to be used for storage. Please remove all the excess items in your unit that are a fire and pest hazard. If drastic improvements are not made, Blankety-Blank Property Managers will serve you notice to vacate your unit.

Thank you in advance for your compliance!
Best Regards,
Anna Morphic
Property Manager
Old 03-11-14, 12:46 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Full blown wonderland for your cat.
Old 03-11-14, 12:47 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

There's no real smell in here, though I'd be a bad judge of that (The person who inspected the place remarked there was no smell last time though.) I think I am paying below the market, though my rent has gone up $100 in the 11 1/2 years I've been here, hence my suspicion that they want to give me the boot so they can have someone else move in and pay more.
Old 03-11-14, 12:51 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

You ever have to fix your bike and lay the chain on the carpet?
Old 03-11-14, 12:52 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

And what the hell, I'll share the response I sent back:

Dear Ms. Morphic,

I am writing in reply to the "Warning Letter" I just received. I had tried to call you but it seems you have left the office for the day. Let me first say that I am not intentionally trying to cause any problems, but I must say that I am very taken aback at now being twice warned about my "cleanliness" after my apartment had been visited by maintenance personnel who then reported the "issues" to management. If they had instead confronted me directly and told me that there was a problem, I could have taken faster action to set right any problems and see that things be kept in better order. The last maintenance person to visit was very friendly and I did not expect anything like this to result.

I have lived in this apartment for close to twelve years- longer than I have lived in any other residence in my life. For the most part I enjoy this area, and this apartment was the best of the many I had checked before making the decision to move in. A lot of changes have taken place since then; the company I had been working for when I moved in is now out of business, and as it stands now I am in the process of completing school after a 15-year absence very close to finishing this time. When I am able, I plan on moving to a larger residence, but that is still at least a year in the future at this point as I finish out the last of my classes and successfully enter the new career I have selected.

I know that this building has changed owners at least twice since I have lived here- to be honest, the management present when I first moved in (Pigsty Properties) was very lackadaisical and many areas of the building were in poor shape- in fact, I may well have been one of the "cleaner" residents here during that time judging from what I saw. I know that my housekeeping is not the greatest, but before Blankety-Blank Property Managers took over I had not had a single complaint about the upkeep of my apartment here, nor had I ever had a single similar complaint from management in the four apartment residences I had lived in before that. I have already been taking greater care to keep my apartment clean since my warning last year, and am now extremely discouraged and disheartened to have received a similar warning.

I would also like to make you aware that not only had I never had any formal warnings before last year's, but that in the close to twelve years I have lived here I have always paid my rent on time, despite the fact that for the first ten years the air conditioning system had never functioned properly and I spent several very hot summers here as a result. (Sammy, my cat who moved in with me, passed away on an especially hot day, July 5th 2007. Although the veterinarian did not suspect the heat was the cause of his death, I can never help wondering if adequate air conditioning might have gotten him through that day.) I do greatly appreciate the new unit that was finally installed last year. I had also had an ongoing problem with the lock to my front door for a while that twice left me locked outside as I waited for maintenance to come fix it, and one instance (on Christmas Eve, no less) when I was unable to lock the door from the outside and could not leave as a result. There was also an incident about two or so years ago when my rent check had somehow not reached your office (I had given it to the then on-site manager Jenny Talia), and I first received a letter informing me that it had not been received. I immediately checked with Ms. Talia to make sure she had delivered the check, but a few days later came home to find an eviction notice on my door. I felt this could have been handled in a less threatening manner considering that this was due to someone else's mistake and that I had never paid my rent late in the past.

After my warning last year, I took a number of measures to better keep my apartment in order- one of those was to rent a storage unit where I now keep many of my excess items. The other large objection was a pet rabbit, a friend's whom I had been taking care of and was very fond of (my friend had not been caring for him adequately and I was very happy to give him a more loving home), but I found him a new home in order to gain favor with your company (my two cats did not get along with him well either). I was also very accommodating of the member of your management who subsequently inspected my apartment last year (I am sorry I do not remember her name.) She was pleased with the cleanliness of my apartment, but I still felt very threatened- so much that when she expressed a desire to remove the Oleander tree on my back porch, I voiced no objection despite really wishing to keep it. Last August the tree was cut down, and the results were worse than I had anticipated. In addition to the light and heat from the sun now entering my living room (which was perfectly shaded by the tree before), the lights from the apartment building next door shine brightly into my apartment at night through both windows- I had to spend approximately $150 on new curtains in order to keep this light out in order to sleep and to keep some of the sun out of, although the atmosphere will never be the same as it was before the tree was cut. I also experienced a severe depression for several weeks after the tree was cut. I had hoped that my not objecting to the tree being cut would have kept me from further scrutiny, but as I see now this is not the case.

I apologize for my causing this second warning and I intend to make an even greater effort to keep my apartment up to your company's standards of cleanliness, but I am very hurt that again I am being threatened with eviction after second-hand information, rather than being confronted up front about it and hearing my side of the issue. I feel that having the tree outside cut down has been more than adequate "penalty" for any of my wrongdoing. I realize that I have lived here a long time, and that my leaving would enable your company to renovate this apartment, but my financial and employment situation require me to stay here just a little while longer and I should have the legal right to do so.

I hope that we can civilly discuss these issues and come to an understanding where I am not subject to any further warnings. In the meantime I am extremely busy this week, with two exams coming up this week which I was already very stressed about before being confronted with this matter, and taking the time to write this response has taken an equal amount of time from preparing for them. Doing poorly in my academics would be a huge setback for me right now, but losing my home of nearly twelve years would be one even greater than that.

Sincerely,

Alan Smithee
Old 03-11-14, 12:53 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Never fixed my bike extensively in here- carpet was new when I moved in here, will probably have to be replaced when I finally move out but heard it's standard to do so every 10 years anyways. It's as dirty as it looks in the picture.
Old 03-11-14, 12:59 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Going to sleep now- really don't need this shit today, as I have to pack and be up early Wednesday for a flight (first time to the east coast in 22 years!) come back Friday and then study for 2 tests by Monday morning.
Old 03-11-14, 01:01 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

The bike just brought back memories of a roommate long ago that did that.

Your place does seem cramped (that doesn't mean it is uncleanly) with all of your movies. Would the room look dusty to an outsider? You have many dishes in your sink?
Old 03-11-14, 01:11 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

I'm sorry for your situation, but that letter is going to do you no favors. When communicating with these people you need to be concise and reasonable. A long, rambling accounting of every major and minor problem experienced (including a theory that the apartment is responsible for the death of your cat) is unlikely to be read in full and allows them to immediately place you the "troublemaker/nutcase" file.

Please do not send anyone else who has power over stuff like your job or your apartment letters written out of frustration or emotion. They will never work in your favor and only damage your position.
Old 03-11-14, 01:12 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Honestly, it sounds like a busybody property manager that wants you out of the building for some reason. Is your residence associated with criminal activity, or perhaps something else that might have led to this letter? Has the neighborhood around you been gentrified since you began living there?
Old 03-11-14, 01:31 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

you might be a hoarder.
Old 03-11-14, 01:44 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

OK, not quite to sleep yet so I'll answer/comment:

No dishes piled up in the sink, it's reasonably clean. Guy didn't really see much of the kitchen anyways, except might have seen that the floor needs mopping. I included the "long, rambling" details in my response because I think having lived here a long time with minimal trouble should account for something, and they (the management) have not exactly been perfect either. My cat died before this company took over but it did happen here and was very devastating- cats are my family and always will be. Many people would not have gone without air conditioning for as long as I did anyways. Bottom line is I'm human, I've had a human existence here and they should be human in dealing with me.

There is little criminal activity here, none in the building that I know of other than someone a few years ago who other residents suspected of drug dealing. (I did have my car stolen a few years ago, when parked out front. Whole 'nother story!) The neighborhood is already pretty well "gentrified", though when I moved into this building it was kind of sleazy looking (courtyard had a swimming pool filled with dirt!) and when these people took over they've tried to make it look more upscale. I'm white by the way- and I know someone who lives here who is black, and has lived here longer than I have and also keeps her apartment rather cluttered from what I've seen (she also collects laserdiscs crazy enough!) I just asked her if she's ever gotten any grief from management and she said no, now I'm thinking they may be leaving her alone so they won't be accused of racism, but I'm fair game. Yes, I'm a bit of a hoarder (though I've seen the show and don't think I'm that bad), but I shouldn't be evicted over that.
Old 03-11-14, 01:52 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

That part in their letter about "appliances shall not be shut off"- when they put the new heating/air conditioning unit in (in the area behind where this picture is), they disabled the old unit which is still in the wall on the left and shelves are now in front of it. Power has been cut from it and the gas line was turned off. The fuse box is also on that wall- when the guy was here he asked me to turn some switches off (they're behind some of the laserdiscs on top), and I commented that the old unit in the wall was disabled because a new one was put in- just making conversation and to explain why shelves were in front of it should he be concerned with that, and he probably mis-heard me and told them I shut it off for fun.

Also remember now getting a notice to everyone that smoking is not allowed on the premises, period- now that's something I wholeheartedly agree with, but still think is a bit strong and wasn't even sure if that was enforceable. I'm the cleanest person they could hope for in that regard, as I don't smoke and I don't even drink alcohol.
Old 03-11-14, 01:59 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
OK, not saying I'm proud of this but here it is:
How big was the earthquake?
Old 03-11-14, 02:04 AM
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
Never fixed my bike extensively in here- carpet was new when I moved in here, will probably have to be replaced when I finally move out but heard it's standard to do so every 10 years anyways. It's as dirty as it looks in the picture.
My first thought was this: How much of their issue is tied to normal wear and tear over an abnormally long period of time? Apartment carpeting and wall paint is VERY cheap and low quality. 10 years is NOT the life expectancy of those materials -- more like 2-3 years at best. If there has not been any painting done or carpet replaced, I would suspect this is part of the issue. This is especially likely since you have had a number of pets there.

I know pictures can be deceiving, but that picture does not help your cause (neither does your letter -- do NOT send it). In that picture I see an apartment overrun by movies/CDs to the extent the shelving is creating a maze which would be a significant fire hazard. I see boxes and random stuff all over. Even the movies/CDs on the shelves are haphazardly stacked in some areas.

Trust me, I understand. My place is not much better after long weeks ... I don't think it necessarily looks unsanitary, just sloppy. Seriously though, take a Saturday afternoon and spend it cleaning. I'm betting you won't even get through three commentary tracks before it is done.

BTW -- congratulations on going back and finishing up your education! It is a very rewarding feeling when you finally get there!
Old 03-11-14, 02:16 AM
  #23  
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
OK, not saying I'm proud of this but here it is:
Dude, that's a tinderbox waiting to go off at any minute. Clean that shit asap!
Old 03-11-14, 03:34 AM
  #24  
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

Gets letter from landlord about questionable living conditions.

First response? Post online. Second response? Consider legal action. Only in America.

Just take a few hours and clean the fucking place. Problem solved without involving the judicial system.
Old 03-11-14, 03:59 AM
  #25  
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Re: Landlords on my case about my cleanliness!

I'm pretty sure an eviction notice would stand up in court with that picture. Sure, it may not be "dirty" in the sense that there is trash or food laying about but it's very cluttered and a reasonable landlord might conclude it poses a fire or pest hazard. It certainly is not in "good order," which is what the quoted provision from your lease requires. I'm sure the new owner is lying awake at night wondering just what the hell might be found under almost 12 years of your stuff. So yeah, the letter emphasizing the length of your tenancy was not advisable.

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