Friday, August 11, 2006

when home can't be fun anymore

i found a note from my landlord taped to my (and everyone else's) front door this morning. in the past few months, quite a few kids have moved into our complex. this was great news, because when we first moved in, blake was the only kid and never had anyone to play with. well apparently now he can't play at all.

the note said that the kids must stop riding their bikes, playing ball, playing catch, riding skateboards, or playing AT ALL in the front driveway area. i saw my landlord and i ran to talk to him about this. i mean, this is our home, and you're telling me that my kid can't play outside?!!!! so i asked him if this meant he can't ride his bike at all, or we can't play catch with the football, or what exactly it meant. another mom saw me talking to the landlord and she hustled over to voice her complaints as well. you know what our landlord did? he talked down to her. he told her he wasn't going to listen to this. he told her if she didn't like it, to start packing and get out. he was a complete and total dick to her. if i hadn't witnessed it, i probably wouldn't have believed her if she had told me herself (she's a little wacky). but he walked away from her. he wouldn't even have a conversation with her. OR ME. he refused to talk about it. he told us to "play in the backyard" to which i replied, "I DON'T HAVE A BACKYARD!!!!!" he tried to tell me that having our kids play in the driveway area was like having them play in the middle of a busy street. i countered that bullshit with, "no it's not. it's like having them play in a cul-de-sac." because that's exactly what it's like. watching out for cars and getting out of the way when one drives in. he said we can't allow the kids to do anything. allow it AND GET EVICTED! EVICTED BECAUSE I WANT MY KID TO PLAY??? evicted because my kid is playing with other kids?!?! and apparently, people have complained. who complains because kids are playing? isn't that one of the best parts of summer... hearing kids laughing and playing together?

it just breaks my heart because it kills me daily that i don't have a house for blake to live in. or a neighborhood for him to play in. or a backyard for him to run around with a dog in. you know? and when all these other kids started moving into our complex, it took some of that guilt away. he may not have a "neighborhood" but this was almost as good! kids to play with out front. and they all play together. just like i did as a kid. and now they can't. or we'll get kicked out. and i just don't understand who does that? fine, the devil's advocate in me understands that as a landlord he has a responsibility to all the tenants. and he's responsible for what happens on his property. but there has to be some middle ground here. why do the kids automatically lose all of their rights? why do they get everything taken away from them? i mean, to tell them that they can't even ride their bikes around? i just don't understand how someone can be such an unbelievable dickhead that he refuses to even converse with me about it. how do i explain to blake that he can't play outside anymore? how do i tell him that? *cries*

54 comments:

Stephanie A. said...

That's insane and I can see why it would break your heart. If the kids are being careful and mindful of others, what's the big deal?

I'm sorry Jenn. Maybe this will blow over after a few weeks and slowly the kids can start playing again. My old apartment complex realized the need for kid-play and they ended up clearing a grassy area and put in jungle gyms, etc. It was really nice and the kids LOVED it. I would ask him if there's at least a section where the kids can let off a little steam and play with their buds.

norcalgirl28 said...

I cannot believe what I just read. Especially knowing exactly the area you are talking about. If there are other kids, the people coming in know to watch for kids, just like in our court. There is plenty of room to play catch and ride their bikes. I wonder if there is someone in the city that you can talk to about this, kind of like a go between, arbitrator/mediator? This is totally unbelievable that a few people are destroying a way of life for, it sounds like, a lot of the residents. I cannot comprehend this act of your landlord. He, obviously, doesn't have kids?

Anonymous said...

omg jenn! and the thing is that is not even a busy area at all. i saw like 2 cars the whole time i was there. AND they're not oeven going fast. any kid on a bike or playing has plenty of time to move out of the way. that is so ridiculous. now where is blake gonna play??? on your back porch? for the love of god. that is total crap. i'd be so mad. maybe you can petition with other people who HAVE kids. poor blakey

and blogger looks weird and wont let me post with my name so this is from me, becks :) lol

Piece of Work said...

that is totally shitty. Sucky sucky sucky.

Sarah's Mama said...

Ugh..what an ass! I found you through looking up Blogher pics and I am so glad I did. You are adorable! Blake is lucky because he has a great family....doesnt matter where he lives.It's fun to play outside but maybe make some play dates with some of the other parents and kids and head to a park or movie or even a pizza party in one night. Whatever you end up doing I hope ya'll have fun. Tell your landlord to go suck it! Jerk!

mothergoosemouse said...

Is that even legal? And even if it is, there's no way he'll want to deal with the difficulty of enforcing it.

I say, play away. But is there a lawyer in the house who can advise?

wendy boucher said...

Wow, that really burns me up. I can't believe he wouldn't even talk to you about it. I hope you all get something worked out soon.

blackbeltmama said...

Screw that! That is ridiculous! This post got me so mad. Our apartment complex tried to tell us the same crap when we lived in an apartment a few years ago. They were all pissed off about sidewalk chalk. So STUPID! I wrote them a letter about it and completely ignored their little letter. Kids have rights too. That's a bunch of crap. I'd be happy to forward you that letter so that you could write one of your own.

chris said...

Oh I am so sorry. That totally stinks for all of you.

Maybe in a couple days you could approach him again alone and ask him where exactly he thinks kids should be playing. Perhaps his note was a knee jerk reaction to something someone else had said to him earlier.

I hope you are able to resolve this with him.

Eileen said...

Sucky, dude. Reminds me of the early '80s when my brother was a toddler and every time he'd run around the house, a natural thing to do, our downstairs neighbor would *thump thump thump* on her ceiling, like, "Stop that racket already!" This would happen constantly. Why you gotta punish us for having a kid run around? Argh.

Melissa said...

That is INSANE. Blake has every right to play outside, as do those other kids. I would say find some one who knows a lawyer and have them write a letter. It is illigeal to evict someone for having kids play in the area. If they were destroying something it would be different. That is just crap. Ahhhhh. People are so dumb sometimes. And then doctors wonder why kids are overweight.

alison said...

I'm sure he will lighten up after awhile. It can't be good for business either if people looking to live there find out that their kids can't even play outside. After he cools down, maybe you can approach him again and find out exactly who in your complex started this. It's ridiculous to expect kids NOT to play outside. He obviously doesn't have any kids himself. What a grump.

Mieke said...

Jennster,
I found your blog not too long ago and am so entertained by you! I too, encountered a similar situation at my old apartment complex when my daughter was smaller. I told my landlord it was like freedom of speech, freedom to play! As long as the kids aren't being distructive, they have every right to play. It sounds like discrimination to me and I would contact a lawyer. Does it say anywhere in the lease agreement that kids (or anyone) cannot be in the common areas? I say PLAY ON, KIDS! And tell your landlord you'll be glad to take it up with a lawyer! Your an awesome mom!

DD said...

If it's not in your agreement, he can't evict you. However, I'm guessing he's going to amend it.

Probably what has happened is that someone did get hurt in the parking lot and his complex was sued (or if the complex is part of a large "chain), and he is only following the rules of the owner. Because you lease, you probably aren't required to carry home-owners insurance for accidental injury. The complex does.

So even if someone was drunk and fell off the sidewalk, technically that person can sue the complex for medical under a no-fault claim. Initially no-fault claims do not increase premiums, but enough of them and they get to be a detriment.

I would recommend going over the manager (he's just a messenger) and contact the owners and ask what they can do about providing a play area for children. If you don't get the response you want, stop spending your lease money there and find a complex that is more child friendly. Yes, easier said than done, especially coming from a stranger, but you should consider it if only for the sake of Blake.

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

Oh.My.God. Are you kidding me? This is the meanest thing I have ever heard. That landlord must have been picked last in gym class to play softball. What dickwad. Is there a tenants rights group you can contact to get some pro bono advice? Or maybe just a petition? Or maybe a sign on his back that says Kick Me?

Lisa

1girl2boys said...

Oh man, I've totally been there and it sucks. My daughter had nowhere to play. She didn't learn how to ride a bike until she was 8 because she never really had anywhere to practice. I'm so thankful now we finally have a house.

Is there any other apartment complex you can live in that's more kid friendly.

Koenig rugrats said...

I dont think that is legal. What is he going to do? Evict everyone that has kids?

Magnolia Mom said...

That is just crazy! I think all the tenants need to get together and do something about it.

Suebob said...

I don't think it is legal either. I will ask Mr. Stapler, former attorney at law (he worked in real estate).

Elizabeth said...

Check in your phone book for a Housing Resource Center, a Landlord/Tenant Dispute Center, or something similar. Or call the State Housing Commission and ask for a referral. Even if a few residents did complain about the kids making noise, unless the lease says kids aren't allowed, I don't think the landlord can actually evict you for letting your kids play.

Mayberry said...

Aw, that sucks extremely! It's not the same as if a child was being noisy inside and a neighboring tenant complained. Come on, this is a common area! I hope it blows over, for Blake's sake and all the kids'.

Izzy said...

What. the. fuck?

Is it specifically stated in your lease that kids can't play outside? Because if it isn't, he may not have grounds to evict you. Furthermore, at least in Florida, it's really hard and very expensive to evict someone.

None of that changes the fact that he was a big gaping asshole about the whole thing, but from a legal standpoint, you may have more rights than you think.

And I know you feel really bad but in less than a year, you'll be married. Maybe you guys can buy a house or move someplace more kid-friendly?

I'm sorry he upset you like that. If I was there I'd kick his ass for you.

melissa b. said...

oh my god, I can't believe that. Backyard!! What the hell!

I hope you call around your city offical directory and figure out what you can do. I mean, when the angry goes away. Because I'd be angry for a while!

Karl said...

What a prick. I seriously doubt he has legal legs to stand on. Kids can't play in their own yards? Bullshit.

Mommy off the Record said...

That is unbelievably *f*cked* up. I HATE landlords. HATE them. They are fighting with used car salesmen for last place on my shit list.

I am so sorry this is going on. Is there any way that the parents can organize and write a letter to the apartment owner or something?

Oh, I see other commenters have said similar things. Contacting a lawyer for advice might be good too. Maybe Mr. Stapler will have some words of wisdom.

carrie said...

Sounds like Mr. Nasty Landlord is wearing too-tight pants and likes being called "goldie" if you ask me. What a bully.

I agree with the advice about this even being legal. How does the man plan on controlling every inch of the pavement? How does he know that it is only the kids who live there that are playing in the common area, it could be anyone from all around 'cause kids like to flock to those types of "safe" areas to *gasp* PLAY!!! You have every right to pursue this further, and I would.

You are the only advocate for your child. I hope that he pulls his head outta his ass!

Carrie

Self-Proclaimed Supermom said...

All of the parents need to get together and sign a petition.

That is complete and utter bullshit.

Hugs.

Meg said...

Wow. That's hard for any kid to swallow, but especially a young boy and his pals. That's crazy.

Most apartment complexes are just run by the property manager. See if you can't get to his higher-ups (owners, for example) and tell them what's going on. I have a feeling this dickhead is simply on a power trip, so if you contact the right people you might be able to get things done. It's worth a shot, at least.

Her Bad Mother said...

What a fucking tard. That can't be legal.

Fight him.

Random Musings Of My Life said...

I vote that every chance you get send him out to play and ride his bikes.
I also recommend you talk (most will do it for free) to a lawyer about your rights, he can NOT (read the landloard tenant act for your state) evict you for having a child its discrimination of a sorts. He was well aware of the children situation and can not change his mind about it now. And anyways just let him try to EVICT anyone with children that would me he would need to evict them all.
its not going to happen call his bluff

jess said...

I can't believe you have no other avenues to fight this? Is there some sort of landlord/tenant dispute resolution?We have that in canada we very specific laws on either side - to protect both.

Kristin said...

2 years ago when we put in our pool, our neighbors (for whom this is a summer home) complained that, and I quote, "The sound of the children playing in the pool when we have our windows open is going to disturb us."

Needless to say their argument didn't fly, but I was SHOCKED that they even tried it!!

Kristin said...

my guess is that your landlord is worried about being sued... either by the parent of a child who gets injured, or by a tenant who has someting broken... in any case, he is an asshole and should be able to broker some sort of respectful compromise between all his tenants!!

good luck!

CAT said...

I think you need to move to an apartment complex that has a PARK already installed in the courtyard or find a small rentable house with a backyard. Fuck the landlord------he is capable of evicting you if you complain too much.

Denise said...

Does the dickhead own this property himself or is he just a manager? What about your lease? Do your signed legally binding contract specify where kids can or cannot play? I'm not sure about the laws in your area, but I don't think a landlord can just stick a note on your door and that be enough to change your lease agreement...if there are specification in the lease.

He's an ass...I hope he develops a flaming case of hemorrhoids!

Heather said...

It sounds to me that he needs to make an "area" just for the kids to play in, since it sounds like there isnt one now. Usually apartment complexes have an area set aside just for kids. Now that is sounds like he has kids around, I think he needs to create a kid friendly area for them to be in, since what they are currently doing is against his wishes. What a dick head.

kim said...

what an asshole Jen, it sucks you have to deal with someone like that for a landlord.
ive written in the past about the homeowners assoc in a joking manner but they really are far from a joke. we have Evil Betty from down the street whos life mission is to keep all the children from having ANY fun at all and we live 2 blocks from the neighborhood elementary school! she is verbally abusive and rude to the children. she has actually told a few of the kids that live down the street that this cul-de-sac is off limits to them they must all play in front of their own homes. ladyyyy they live on a busy street and they are playing street hockey!! i guess it would make it much more interesting to dodge cars whizzing past you while you score as opposed to playing safely out of the way.

sorry i guess you can tell this subject pisses me off. the kids have the damn right to be KIDS !!!

Megaland said...

isn't that a form of discrimation?? i don't think that's legal at all. check out nolo.com and see if there's anything about it there. seriously jennster, there are a lot of laws that protect the renters and you should really look into it. that's some f*cked up shit...

Megaland said...

so i was reading something about how the landlord can only evict you if you violate the terms of the rental agreement? if this note was put on the door...it's not a legal document...look into it girl and get the neighbors to lobby together...

Angry Dad said...

Sounds like you've already had lots of good and cool advice. You know we're all right behind you sista! A smidgeon of me understands where he might be coming from, like you said, but he sure had a crap way of NOT saying it.

russ said...

where is the nearest public park?

Mary Tsao said...

That sucks.

Especially when I think back to when I was little and we *did* play in the street. I think if kids can't play in the street (or in driveways) nowadays, it's the fault of shitty drivers, not kids just trying to be kids.

Society is so anti kid! I repeat: that sucks!

Mother said...

Don't take this as anything but a landlord being an idiot. Just because you have to live there for whatever reasons has nothing to do with what kind of person/mother etc. you are.

From everything I have seen and read, you're an awesome mom. AND I would research this further - it's just ridiculous.

Do you think someone living there has complained? Maybe if they limit it to a certain time?

mollymcmommy said...

thats insane.
i agree with others, no way can that be legal, there is just no way.

m

Jenn said...

I would re-read your lease. I can't imagine how it's possible that you could get evicted for that. Doesn't sound legal. Unless there is some waky laws in Cali. I would ask a lawyer...(Minnehaha Mama is one I believe)....and if they can't evict you for it (which I can't believe that they could) I would just ignore it.....fuck him!

Nikki said...

You have got to be kidding me.

Time to move sweetie.

Christina_the_wench said...

*racks shotgun* Want me to take care of this?

creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

What!!??

Hey, I have rentals and what he's doing it out of line.
Call your local city hall and talk with the Housing department.
They can refer to your local laws (maybe to a landlord-tenant attorney) and depending the size of the building he could be breaking the law.

Domestic Chicky said...

Sorry, not enforcible. What a jerk to think he can dictate to you where your kids play, etc...and to talk down to anyone is inexcusable.

Jill said...

Hey Jenn,

I think Tony's suggestion makes sense. First of all, you should verify the terms of your lease to see if there is anything in there prohibiting your use of that area in any way. I would bet that there isn't.

Second, you should speak with the Department of Housing. I would bet that what he is doing is a violation of your right to the use and enjoyment of your property. That's a real cause of action for which you can seek damages.

Furthermore, if this guy wants to evict you he is going to have a seriously difficult time doing so. It takes a long time to actually evict someone (for more info on this, you can email me) and he needs GROUNDS to do so (i.e. just cause would have to amount to not paying rent, damaging the property etc.)

Essentially, this sounds to me like the guy's either just an ass or he's worried about potential liability if one of the kids gets hurt. If liability is his concern, you should check your homeowners insurance to see if it would cover an injury to your son on the premises. If it would, that would strengthen your argument that he needn't be concerned (since ur carrier would pick up any potential claim). (sorry this is so long--GOOD LUCK!)

Jill said...

**Sorry, I have to add this**

My comment was blog-Jill and not lawyer-Jill, k? (I'm not licensed in Cali so please just perceive it as friendly advice) Thanks! :)

Kevin Charnas said...

jesus...people need to lighten THE FUCK UP!!! I'm on my way, Ster...I'm packing the car and I'm driving up there and am going to teach your landlord how to chew pavement.

Dustin said...

i found a note on my pillow this morning telling me that you still havent updated your damn blog yet

Virginia Belle said...

Ugh, what a crappy situation. i'm really sorry you have to deal with assholes. if he can't do anything about it, he could have at least been nicer. how rude to just walk away from someone. What are you supposed to do? Lock the kids inside? What if two kids are talking in the driveway--is that playing? Walking home from school from the bus--is that playing?? They need to define exactly what is off limits or else this will be a big mess.

Ideas:

1. Get all the kids and moms together on Saturday mornings. Walk to his house as a group, ring the doorbell and say to him "hi! you said we can't play where we live, so we are playing where you live. After all, you have a backyard." Then proceed to cause a ruckus.

2. Have a pizza party in the cul-de-sac, complete with picnic tables in the smack-dab center. invite every kid in the neighborhood, but make sure they are all sitting down quietly, eating. if he bitches, inform him that they are eating, not playing.

3. Call your local TV station or newspaper, tell them what's going on. If they make a story out of it, it will be really crappy publicity and he might change the policy. (We have a TV station here in town that covers stories like this. Maybe you do too.)

4. Like the others said, talk to a lawyer. Re-read your lease agreement. if it doesn't say anything about kids playing, i don't see how they have any legal action to take. When do you sign your next lease?

5. "Accidentally" hit a baseball through his window. "Accidentally" ding his car. "Accidentally" put crisco on the doorknob to his office. Get my drift? Don't leave a note.

Maybe it's time to buy a house, ster. i hate to say it, but maybe this is a sign.

Ok, i'm out of ideas.

this story reminds me of the Richard Scarry story. (did you ever read his books? we loved them as kids. his characters included Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm. if you don't know who i am talking about, there is a wikipedia entry on him.)

in the story, there is a grumpy old neighbor (I think his name is Mr. Grumble) that hates kids and yells at them all the time. the kids charm the crap out of him and save his life, and he realizes that he doesn't hate kids, he was just grumpy because he was lonely. then he and the kids are buds, and he throws parties for the kids all the time. the end.