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'AITA for not telling my roommates I am the landlord?' 'I can be strict.'

'AITA for not telling my roommates I am the landlord?' 'I can be strict.'


"AITA for not telling my roommates I am the landlord?"

I (F28) got a job when I was 17 and lived at home saving as much as I could until I was 26, at which point I bought a small apartment for myself with a small mortgage. (that I could afford whether I rented or not).

It has two rooms, one is bigger with an ensuite and the other is a single. I didn't want to live alone for safety reasons, so I posted about getting a roommate (them having the ensuite). I got lots of messages, but when people found out I was the landlord, they usually left the conversations.

I was very upfront that I wanted clean/tidy/organized/quiet/non-drinking people and my sister said that was probably sending a "toxic message" since I was also the landlord. So I stopped mentioning that and very shortly after I found people.

They're a really nice engaged couple (F29 and M28) and though I wouldn't say we are close best friends, but we are friendly, have dinner together sometimes and the living situation has been really nice. The rent was on the cheaper side of average in our area, we split bills, streaming and internet etc. But they did not know I was the landlord.

I will fully admit, I can be a strict. I hate things being messy/disorganised/loud, and especially since I am the owner, I want things sorted quickly to avoid damages. So a few times I have scheduled "checks" to get things rolling if they're being pushed aside and mentioned I might have to complain if things weren't tidied up properly.

Recently, the girl had some health issues and has been working less, which means they have been struggling on rent payments. Again, I don't need their money to pay off the mortgage, but have been using it to help give me some extra money.

I decided to come clean and mentioned I would cut the rent payments fully until she got better and found stable work again. They were nice about it and took the deal until she got better. They then moved about last month and I went on the search for new roommates.

They started trashing me to everyone they knew about how I lied about being the landlord, was a strict pain in the a$s b-ch, was trying to steal their money in a cost of living crisis to pay off my debts etc.

Word has gotten around and I've actually stopped taking enquires. Some of my friends and family members are saying I was an ahole and should have been honest about it from the get go, others are saying I didn't owe them that information and ended up doing them a favor. I don't really know what to believe. Was I the ahole?


They were paying for a single room together like what someone alone would have been paying, it wasn't doubled because they were two people, I didn't need the extra money, I just wanted to live with people to feel safer at home. What I was doing was legal where I am (I checked beforehand). No I wasn't ridiculously strict (they could have a drink, just not parties and big groups) and I did give good timelines for any 'inspections' far above the minimum requirement.

Just for clarity, for damages I meant things like a window being left open and it rained so water damage was a concern. Breaking the front door lock after using the wrong key and it needing replacing. Replacing their toaster because the wires were exposed and I was worried about a potential fire. Their habit of leaving the stove turned on with nothing on it.

Noise and stuff wasn't an issue, it was just something I put in the ad to deter party people. Mess only became an issue if it was left there for a few days/a week in communal areas and was getting in the way.

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

forgeris said:

Ok, let's look at this differently - there is someone who is happy with the rent cost, happy with the rules, they sign up papers(???) and live in without knowing that their roommate is the land lord, they get by fine for a long time, then they learn that they were always be living with the person who owns the flat and go crazy about it. If you are not legally required to disclose who is the landlord when renting out in your country then NTA.

Ask yourself why would someone be fine with paying that amount of rent and becoming friends with their roommate but the moment they learn the truth it is not fine? Because they would feel entitled to your assets, and even if they pay below average rent they would consider you ripping them off and start to guilt-trip you...

...into lowering rent and would consider that they might be such a good friends to you that you need to let them live together for free forever and babysit their upcoming babies too and pay for their college as you are such a big home owners. Next time just say that you are land lord and try to not to befriend your roommate to much or they will want to become your best friends to live for free.

psycholinguist1 said:

Ok, first of all, yes, your tenants are absolutely AHs. They were totally happy with the arrangement in every particular except for the piece of information that you owned the property, and then freaked out when they learned it.

How is taking a fair rent that they were happy to pay 'stealing their money in a cost of living crisis to pay off your debts'? Wouldn't that equally be the case if the landlord were some anonymous third party? How is it worse if it's you?

HOWEVER, tenancy is a legal contract, and parties in a legal contract should know who they're contracting with, if only because, in the worst case, they need to know, e.g., who they must report to licensing boards or local governments if the property is unliveable, or who to sue if there are violations of tenancy agreements, that kind of things.

If landlords want to remain anonymous, they can hire management agencies to operate on their behalf and protect their identity. If you did not do that, then you should really disclose to your tenants who the landlord is that is legally the other half of the tenancy agreement.

I suppose you could argue that the tenants should have insisted on that kind of information when they moved in, and if they didn't, then they were tacitly waiving that right. However, that feels a little bit sleezy to me. Something that is the right thing to do shouldn't have to be insisted upon before it is granted. It should be granted upfront.

Really, the key fact here is that, when your tenants learned the information that you withheld from them, they were upset. This is important. This means that you withheld information that would have changed their decision, and you withheld that information in the first place...

...because you knew it was likely to change their decision to your detriment (because it would have prevented them from agreeing to the tenancy that you wanted). That's uncool. So ESH: you for withholding information that you knew was important to them; and them for reacting the way they did when they learned it.

Cats-in-the-rain said:

YTA. But I would say you more than your tenants. You withheld material information that affected whether someone wanted to live there. Of course they’re going to be upset. Personally, I never want to live in the same apartment as my landlord. I do not want to share a living space with someone who is in a position of power over me.

Living as a landlord without disclosing it to your tenant is the equivalent of a landlord installing CCTVs in the common areas of the apartment without telling the tenants. Because you’re able to see every single thing that your tenants do. Not everyone is able to live comfortably in that kind of environment.

CakeEatingRabbit said:

YTA / ESH. This really reads like you terrorized them a little. You say you are strict about everything being organizes and noise because of damages. That's a straight up lie. Music or a TV or whatever doesn't do any damage.

You wanted the money but not actually compromise and living with people and you used your power over them. Now you are doing something VERY kind. But for the question asked yta.

Useful_Experience423 said:

YTA. You lied to and deceived them for financial benefit. One kind act of reducing the rent doesn’t absolve you of prior sh$ttiness. Not only did you lie to their faces for you do sound like a strict pita, so maybe what they said was justified. Own your actions.

Gandalf_The_Wise_Cat said:

YTA. So you just wanted to leech off of someone else’s income because you wanted some pocket cash? You admit yourself your strict and a pain in the ass to live with and would low key threaten them if they didn’t do something exactly the way you wanted. That’s the reason people don’t live with landlords. The person who has the ability to snatch your housing away is living with you and basically spying on everything you do. Get a job and stop relying on other peoples income.

cobaltaureus said:

YTA, who did your roommates think they were in a contract with? Who did they think they were paying to live there? Is this even legal? Of course any person would react poorly to finding out the friendly roommate they had was actually the landlord and didn’t bother to tell them. Telling the truth from the beginning probably would have resolved this.

Possible-Compote2431 said:

YTA The "inspections" were a bit too much. I can see why they felt tricked. I think you are better off being honest even though it might put off some people those it doesn't will not be that hostile to the set up. There's also the fact that there are different rights and social expectations in a strict tenet agreement or when being a lodger (living with landlord) so the whole interaction was fake.

While the opinions were fairly divided here, most people weren't on OP's side for this one. What's your advice for this situation?

Sources: Reddit
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