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My husband and I rented a home starting in February 2008 from my cousin’s mother-in-law who was moving out of state. There was no written lease between us, just a verbal agreement that we’d pay $ 500 a month plus all utilities.

Because the house was very dirty and needed some TLC, she waived the first month and a half rent and no security deposit, so we took the time to clean the home from top to bottom, painted all of the rooms, and did some minor necessary repairs. The house is now completely liveable because of the things we took the time to do.

We knew at the time that her home was not established as a rental property, however her insurance company soon found out that she was renting, and raised her rates on her.

So now we have been in the house for over 7 months and yesterday we recieved a letter in the mail from our city’s building department. There were two tickets (in her name) with the letter. One for failure to register a rental property and the other was for the failure to pay rental inspection fees.

My husband called her about this matter and she said “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it”. My husband then asked her if she wanted to come and pick up the letter/tickets and she said no. (She has been back in town to take care of her sick mother). So by her not wanting to come and pick up the letter and tickets, that pretty much told us that she doesn’t care.

So yesterday evening I got ahold of my cousin (who is my landlord’s daughter-in-law) and spoke with her about it. I found out from her that this is not the first contact she’s had with the building department about the rental inspection. She was notified before and failed to comply. My cousin told me that our landlord said she wasn’t going to worry about it.

The house does have some flaws and things that need to be put up to code. I know the house would NOT pass a rental inspection and our landlord does NOT have the money to bring anything up to code. (I know because the house was so filthy when we moved in, and we also had a mold/smell issue that developed after two months that she couldn’t afford to have dealt with, so we payed to have it fixed with our rent money).

Yesterday I put a stop payment on our most recent rent check we sent to her, as I’m concerned that we may have to find another place to live. I haven’t notified our landlord that we’ve done this yet, but we’re positive that we want to move.

A part of me feels guilty for not giving her the rent check, but another part of me feels that she’s being dishonest about things and because of her actions, we will end up out on the street anyway.

What should we do???

Should I send her the rent payment and tell her that it’s the last rent money she is getting from us and that we will be moving out (of course we’ll have to stay at the house until we can save a little more money, which could take a few months).

Or should we just not give her this month’s rent and find another place to move to in the next month?

I know you’re all probably thinking, why would you move into a place like that with no lease to protect you… but we honestly thought that because it was my cousin’s mother-in-law, this would never happen. And the rent was so cheap and we needed a house to go to fast. Now I feel like an idiot for even getting into this agreement…

So… what would you do???

Thanks in advance for any replies! I greatly appreciate them!
By the way… I live in Michigan (if that might help with any laws, etc…)

5 Thoughts on Landlord / Rental Inspection – what would you do?
  1. Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 6:58 am

    You made a verbal agreement to pay her $ 500/mo while you lived in the house. A verbal agreement is legally binding.

    Give her a full one-month notice (that’s all that’s required, as you are on a month to month tenancy) and continue to uphold your agreement. It seems you were fully aware of the condition of the house when you moved it – you can’t up and decide 8 months later that she scammed you…

    If you’re really worried about an inspection forcing you out of the home, let her know that you will be paying your rent at the end of the month, as you are not prepared to pay in advance for a service that may never be rendered.

  2. Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Well, my guess is that she’s not taking it seriously because she doesn’t think the city is serious. I live in a college town where there are A LOT of rentals and A LOT of landlords who didn’t take this seriously until the city started taking some DRASTIC actions and made examples of certain people.
    If I were you I would pay her the rent you owe but find somewhere else to live as quickly as possible. By putting a stop-payment on the check you are possibly creating family turmoil that will last much longer than this rental issue.
    And regarding the verbal rental agreement…sometimes a handshake amongst family members is good enough so don’t fret about that. I would have done the same. But things have changed now and it’s time to move on. Do the right thing, pay the rent, and tell her ADIOS!

  3. Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

    You are on a month-to-month tenancy and you must give 30 days notice that you are moving out. Until your move-out date you are still liable for rent. If you don’t pay she could evict you and/or send you to collections, I don’t know how friendly your relationship is and whether that is likely.

    Now if you want to take this to the next level, you may have cause to break the lease because she is not obeying the law. You would hire an attorney, bring that to the court’s attention and they may let you out of the lease and she would be in big trouble. But you’d have to ask an attorney what your options are.

  4. Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I would continue to pay rent and leave it be. Your not the owner and putting a stop payment on your most recent check is bull. Do you expect to live there for free.

    Your COUSIN isn’t the Landlord so if you have issue’s discuss it with your LANDLORD.

  5. Reply
    July 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Yikes! Always get something in writing. It is her issue, and not yours. I would move asap, and you promised to pay her, so I would send it.

    And I know; it’s family and all that; I understand and appreciate it. But to cover all, get it in writing.

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