I guess in the scheme of life there are worse problems we must endure, but I've lived in my rented, Los Angeles rent controlled Duplex for 34 years and the new neighbor of 2 years is really a dick.
Quick summary: The duplex shares a common wall (my bedroom wall is the neighbor's living room wall). I've lived through about 8 other tenants who have come and gone and when I was married in 1986 my wife moved in and when we divorced in 1989, she moved out. I moved a few pictures around and rearranged the furniture and started my life over again.
Two years ago a new tenant moved into the back unit (I live in the front). A woman and her two children, a son 13 and a daughter 22 with a boyfriend who comes by every day. They were all very nice and I was glad to have them moving in. I was (and always have) been a very respectful and mature tenant and neighbor. Letting them know that if I ever made too much noise or did ANYTHING at all that bothered them to please let me know and I would do whatever was needed to correct the situation.
They’ve never said a word to me about any problems so we were all good there I presumed. Anything they’ve ever done which was usually small but not always, I have been very polite about mentioning it to them and even asking if there was anything I COULD DO to help correct their banging noise that was keeping me awake at night.
Anyway, it turned out that she lied to the owner on her rental application and she had her husband secretly moving in with them. He moved into the back "spare room" attached to the garage where I park my car. A room that was built without permits and so nobody is even supposed to be living there. However, the new landlord of just 3 years didn't do anything about it because he was happy to have someone moving in at the crazy rent that he was charging.
I had been there since 1981 and survived a new owner 8 years earlier who tried to evict me for about 5 years with the excuse that she was going to move her family in. I won that in court because it was obvious all she wanted to do was get me and the other tenant out and rehab the property and then move other tenants in at a much higher rent. She bought the property, gave my neighbor and I both a check for $1800 and said we had 30 days to move out. My neighbor cashed his check and moved out. Today he lives in someone's garage that was converted into a room. I gave my check back to the landlord and got an attorney. Then when she failed to get me out she lost the property and the bank foreclosed on her. For the next few years, the bank owned the property.
Then the bank also tried their best to get me out by trying to get me to sign a one year "guaranteed lease" which I did not sign because they planned to get me out or triple my rent after the one year. They apparently thought I couldn't read (nice try Bank of America).
So needless to say, my rent was very low compared to the new tenants who were moving in over the past decade and especially the new family that just moved in. They were charged a rent that was about 3 times what I was paying for the same size one bedroom one bathroom place.
Before the new landlord actually purchased the property he knew he was making the purchase from the bank with a "tenant in place" (me). He actually tried to get me to voluntarily increase my own rent by $200 a month. I told him I would consider it but would need to consult my attorney first.
After escrow closed the new landlord asked me about that voluntary rent increase and I told him that I would personally have done it but that my attorney told me not to and I had to follow my attorney's advice.
It all adds up though. The neighbors had their unit completely re-done floors, walls, electrical, paint, modern air conditioning and heating the works. And my place is the same as it has been for 30 years.
Not complaining though. I do most of my own work and don't mind doing it. So where the landlord loses in rent with me, he makes up by not having to spend a dime in repairs or upgrades on my unit (which were mandated by the court by the way 8 years ago in my battle with the previous landlord but never done).
Still, I now have a landlord who for the past 3 years now would not be very upset if one day I accidentally slipped on a banana peel and broke my neck or if I were to bite into a poisonous apple and fall asleep indefinitely so he could finally move a new renter in and charge 3 times the rent that I am currently paying. I've also got a dude living in the back non-permitted unit who acts like he wants to fight with me every time we happen to cross paths.
I've tried to mention this to the landlord and ask for mediation assistance towards a peaceful resolution but landlords are notorious for not wanting to get involved in tenant disputes so I have no help there. Besides, the landlord would probably love to see this guy murder me in my sleep so he would finally be rid of the notorious tenant who is milking rent control for all its worth.
Hey, I just stuck it out for 34 years. You do that and you’ll understand what it feels like to believe you’ve earned some measure of tenure in a rental that you’ve likely purchased already over 34 years of paying rent.
So the neighbor is making my life a living hell and I feel like I can’t even walk my cat like I’ve been doing for the past 4 years in our joint tenancy back yard because this guy lives back there and is always home (does anybody work anymore?). I'm purposely not going into the details of our feud because when it comes right down to it, any feud is just that. A dispute over A, B and C and an unwillingness to compromise out of stubbornness and/or immaturity.
My trouble is that I'm beginning to worry that this guy's sophomoric mental state could lead to him starting some kind of physical confrontation with me and I feel like I should carry a weapon around with me when I walk to my car which is in the garage that is attached to the spare room in the back where he lives. In other words, I feel the potential danger all the time now and I want to be able to protect myself if he does try to start something with me.
I've tried to contact his wife and ask her for help and/or advice but she doesn't respond to me. Perhaps because she feels she needs to support her husband (who lives in the back guest room for whatever reason as opposed to in the main unit with her and the kids). So I understand that but any tension between her husband and I only adds tension to her family as a whole. It must.
So I'm dealing with an immature man in his early 50's, and his wife in her mid-40's who is unwilling to assist in the matter even to help minimize the stress and prevent potential future confrontations and possible bodily harm to her husband or myself or both.
Why am I posting all this? Because I'm at my wits end and just in need of feedback I guess. I’ve lived in what I have considered “home” for nearly all of my adult life and I now feel like a prisoner in that home.
I’m worried about going outside to take my cat for a simple walk out of fear for what the neighbor might try to do. Even though I’m not afraid of a physical confrontation with someone, my years of growth and maturity have taught me that there is usually nothing good that comes out of something like that.
I've considered contacting the police and/or filing a RO, but that usually only makes things worse in a feud between two men and it never prevents physical confrontation if that is what one of them wants. So I haven't contacted the police, the landlord won't help me except to simply say to "stay away from him" and I do that anyway. But there are times when crossing paths are unavoidable.
I really don't want to have to forfeit my use of the yard just because I was unlucky enough to have a rogue neighbor move in. A yard that I've been enjoying for all these years.
So I'm really in need of some friendly advice and thoughts... WHAT WOULD YOU DO IN MY SITUATION?