Our landlord re-listed our house yesterday afternoon. We did one showing yesterday evening and have two more this afternoon, maybe three. He will have a new tenant and a new lease most likely by this weekend, and his rental income stream will continue on seamlessly. We will get our deposit back.
When we gave the landlord our notice the other day he exploded, and threatened to take us to court over the lost rent. Brett dealt with him calmly and firmly, but told him we would still be moving at the end of the month and why. We offered to do anything we could to help him find a new renter. We realize now that the explosion was most likely just his initial reaction to the news and that he needed to blow off steam. We hoped that after he had calmed down and thought things through he would back off with the threats and see the sense in quickly finding a new renter. In fact, in our phone calls with him yesterday he was very kind and apologetic, and thanked us over and over for showing the house for him. Still, his initial reaction made for a tense couple of days.
Although we were breaking the lease, it turned out our landlord had broken it first. Although he is the property owner and can sell his home at any time for any reason, there is a clause in our lease that states For Sale or For Rent signs could be put up and showings held during the last 30 days of the lease. Our landlord chose that number of days, we all agreed and we all signed. Any change to that time though without putting it in writing was a violation of the lease, which is what happened when he listed the house a full eight months before the end of the lease and put up signs and started showings, and long before we gave our notice. We couldn’t have blocked or stopped his listing the house, but we could have requested a change in the terms of the lease at that time (to month-to-month) so that we could look for a new home and not have to worry about breaking the lease.
Our “big stick” so to speak though, and what we think got our landlord to calm down, is that the rental apartment below us is illegal. It’s a very nice place, fully permitted as far as the construction and plumbing, but it’s not permitted to be used as a rental. It’s an ohana, an attached dwelling for use by extended family members. By law, an ohana is not allowed to have a full kitchen, and can contain only two of the following three items – refrigerator, stove, or sink – the rationale being that family members eat together and don’t need a full, separate kitchen. The apartment below us however has all three of those items as well as plenty of counter space and nice cabinets – it’s very obvious there’s a full kitchen to be used separately from the upstairs home, which shows that the apartment is being used for something other than as an ohana.
There are many illegal ohana rentals all over the island (as well as many legal ones), and some provide much-needed housing in the very tight rental market here. Others serve as vacation rentals. Usually with an ohana rental everyone looks the other way – they are part of island life. Still, if you have an illegal ohana rental, the last thing you want to do is tick off your tenants or your neighbors because they are the ones who will report you. I don’t think we would have actually reported our landlord, but we might have made him think we would if things had escalated too much further over our leaving.
(By the way, the unit downstairs is also what’s going to make this property very difficult to sell. A buyer cannot get a mortgage for a property with an illegal rental unit, nor can a buyer use the expected rental income from the unit to help qualify for a loan. The buyer for this property will most likely have to pay cash and waive the inspection, but anyone with that amount of cash can find a much nicer property around here for the price, even one that includes a legal rental unit.)
Anyway, we will help our landlord find a new tenant for our house (which is a legal rental), and get started on our move over to the new house. We meet with our new landlord tomorrow afternoon to pick up the keys. He asked for yesterday and today to do yard maintenance and a deep clean for us, although I’m not sure what there is to clean. The place was already immaculate.
All’s well that ends well . . . thank goodness!