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Renter Horror Stories: Crazy Landlady Turns Dream House Into a Nightmare

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Curbed Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible New Orleans apartment experiences past and present. This week, in honor of Renters Week, we're having a rental horror story showdown across all Curbed sites, with the winner receiving a staycation. Up now: a "dream house" quickly becomes an actual hellhole. The worst part? The renter is still living there.

We moved in our "dream" home on Paris Avenue on April 1st of this year. It was my birthday, and I was so excited to be moving into such a large, well-lit, nice home in time for it. We knew that our landlady would be moving down here from Chicago at the end of the month, to live in the top half of our home, and that was fine. We had a great rental property manager who would be who we called for any issues we had, who we would pay our rent to, and who would be responsible for all maintenance. Our first month here was fantastic! We had a couple of maintenance issues with the plumbing, and our great property manager got a plumber out immediately, and once he fixed our tub, we didn't think anything else about it.

Then she arrived. Her first night here, we helped unpack her moving truck, I brought her a bottle of wine, which I shared with her, we talked, and everything was great — we were fast friends. I didn't see her the following day, and that was fine, I was busy with work and with my toddler, so no big deal, right? The following day (her third day in Louisiana), I was informed that she wanted to do a walk-through of our part of the house. It's her house, so I had no problem with that.

She informed me that she would be taking my pantry doors in my kitchen down to use in her part of the house. I wasn't exactly pleased with that prospect, because her plan was to just leave my pantry open. I have a toddler, so no bueno, but I figured I could just put up a baby gate. Not ideal, but again, not the worst thing in the world. It's funny how those "not ideal" things add up.

We got to the bathroom. She looked at our tub, the tub that had been fixed by the property manager's plumber, and completely lost her mind over the new spigot and faucet that had been installed. She called the property manager, furious that the property manager had the tub fixed "without her knowing about it." Reminder: the property manager's job was to fix any maintenance issues we had with our house without it being an intrusion on the landlady's life. So, over this one issue, she fired not just our property manager, but the entire managing company, aka the company that wrote our lease. I later found out that psycho landlady stalked our property manager over this one little issue, followed her places, to the point that the now-former property manager had to take out a restraining order on our landlady, the same landlady now living above us.

The day after that, we were informed that we were not allowed to park in the back parking area, because that's her "guest" parking. When we rented the place, we were promised off-street parking. The day after THAT, we were informed that the half of the double storage area we were using wasn't ours after all, that she needed the entire storage space. She relented, and allowed us to have one small corner of the storage area. She padlocked it, so that anytime we need to retrieve something, we have to wait until she is home, and ask her to unlock it in order to get any items we have stored. A week after she arrived, she decided that we needed to pay more than the $250 pet deposit we had already paid for our cat and our dog. She said it was supposed to be $250 per pet, which was NOT what our lease read. She said that she would be re-writing our lease, but that we could pay $175 for our dog instead of $250. Keep in mind, at this point, we had paid two months of rent at $1,400 per month, a security deposit of $1,400, and a $250 pet deposit, so $4,450 of our money is tied up in this house that is rapidly becoming hell on earth.

Little did I know, it was JUST getting started. I told her that I would pay the $175 when I got paid the following week, just to get her off of our case. I literally just wanted to keep the peace. May 10th was when the leak started. An area just above our bathtub started dripping, approximately where her bathroom upstairs was situated. Crap. Great. Just fantastic. We call and tell her. She insures us that she will have someone come in and "take care of it." She comes and takes a look for herself, just to assure herself that it really was leaking, because apparently we were all just imagining the drip, drip, drip into our bathtub every time she used her tub. May 11th, I get woken up by our roommate, telling me that we have no water. Our water has been completely shut off. I text Crazy Landlady to see if she has water, thinking maybe a water main got hit, or she had turned it off to stop the dripping under her tub. She tells me that she has water, and doesn't know why ours would be off, and that I should probably call the Water and Sewerage Board. So I do. I'm told that they received a stop service call from our landlady for our part of the house, but that I could open up an account in my name, and they could come out later that afternoon to turn our water back on. At this point, I am furious, because she acted like she had no idea why I didn't have running water in my house. Most houses in New Orleans include water, sewer and garbage as part of the rent, and nowhere in the lease did it say I would have to pay for my own water. But again, whatever, trying to be the good person in this situation, so I get the water turned on in my own account, and go on with my life.

May 12th, I left my house to go and do grocery shopping with my son while my fiance was at work, and our other roommate was visiting family. When I get home, my door is wide open, my dog is in the front yard, and a guy I don't know is ripping a hole in my ceiling with a claw hammer to get to the pipes under landlady's tub. I was never called or even texted that she would be allowing someone into my house, and she isn't down there. I'm home with a man I don't know, and I have my child with me. Luckily he doesn't interact with me. He finishes with whatever he was doing to "fix" the leak, and leaves, leaving a huge hole in my ceiling above my bathtub, that showers dust and debris into the tub anytime the bathroom door is closed. She tells us she will have someone else come in the next day to fix the hole. No one comes the next day, or the day after that.

May 15th: my payday. I wake up at 7:30 a.m., because again, I have a toddler. I had six different text messages, each increasing in ferocity, wanting to know when I would be paying the extra $175. Literally 10 minutes after opening my eyes, I get yet another text
message (text message number SEVEN before 8 a.m.) saying that I had 24 hours to get my dog off of the premises if I didn't pay her NOW. At this point, we are truly stuck in this hellhole. She has all of our security deposits, we still have 10 and a half months left in this lease, and I'm living below the most psychotic person I've ever had the misfortune of knowing, including my ex-husband! I respond that as soon as the bank opens at 9 a.m., I will get her a cashier's check. She responded that she wanted cash. I told her no, because I wanted a receipt of what I was paying her, and why. She got pissed off, and wanted to know why her writing out a receipt wasn't good enough. I was very polite, and just told her that I wanted every transaction to be recorded with my bank, for everyone's security, including hers. This seemed to mollify her, and she said OK. I go to the bank, get the cashiers check, and come back home.

I text her at 9:10 a.m., to let her know that I have the check for her. She tells me to just drop it in her mail slot. So, the same check that she sent me over 10 messages in a one-and-a-half-hour time period wanting, she just wanted me to drop it in her mail slot. OK. Whatever, lady, fine. So I drop the check in, and go about my work day.

Fast forward to today, June 2, 2015. The day before, on the 1st, we pay our rent again, we're doing a pretty good job of flying under her radar, just staying out of her way, but there is still a gaping maw situated right above my bathtub. I'm scared to death that every time I take a bath, a rat or a snake will climb out of the hellmouth poised above my head. It's truly terrifying. So, she texts today that she is going to come fix the hole. She brings in the following items: a huge ladder, a towel, some cleaning spray, a pair of scissors, and … clear packing tape. No plaster. No drywall. This woman literally cut around the ragged edges of the hole, cleaned it with some cleaning spray, made a GRID out of clear packing tape, and then lightly spackled around the edges of the hole. And I kid you not, I have no idea what she used as spackle, because I didn't see her bring any in with her ... for all I know, that's my toothpaste around the edges of her tape job. I am cry-laughing as I type this, because it's better than actually crying.

She told us that the entire ceiling is soft, and will need to be replaced, but that she "can't afford such a big project right now." So, to sum up: we pay $1,400 for a house whose entire bathroom ceiling is possibly going to collapse any moment now. We pay $1400 to have no reasonable peace in our home, to get texts day and night, including bizarro texts at 1 a.m.! We pay $1,400, and don't even get BASIC utilities covered (again, most places in New Orleans cover water, sewer and garbage). We pay $1,400, and we are stuck, stuck in this hellhole, because without our deposits, we have no way of renting anything else.

I need that staycation more than I need air, because even two days of escape from this place would be amazing.