Thatz Not Okay: Is My Landlord's Boyfriend Spying on Me?

I moved into the second bedroom of a house owned by a woman my age. It quickly became apparent that she was anorexic, controlling, and neurotic.

She has gone home for three weeks, but her boyfriend continues to come over when she is not here. It is clear to me that he has been instructed to check up on me. Last night I came home to find him asleep in her bedroom.

I have found another place to live. She and I have no contract. She returns in eight days and I can move into the new place seven days later. I do not want to email her notice because I fear her boyfriend will be "looking after" me every day. I have determined that it suits my best interests to wait until she returns and explain that I am not giving her notice because this is an unacceptable, inappropriate invasion (but only the final in a heap of straws). I also intend to demand my deposit back. Is that okay?

Thatz not okay.

Based on your description of events, here is what the owner of the house has done: display abnormal eating habits, either ask or allow her boyfriend to stay in her home while she is away for the better part of a month, be neurotic in a non-charming way.

Here is what you are planning to do: abruptly move out without informing your landlord of your plans, demand she pay you because you didn't like living with her.

Suffering from anorexia doesn't make a person a bad landlord. Not requiring their tenants to sign some sort of legal document prior to move-in does, but not in the way you mean it.

If your landlord's boyfriend is fast asleep by the time you get home, he's doing a piss-poor job of monitoring your movements. And if you're the one doing bed checks ("Last night I came home to find him asleep in her bedroom"), doesn't it sound like you're the one spying on him? You're a fan of intrigue: have you considered the possibility that he was just pretending to be asleep for the four hours you stood at the foot of the bed watching him?

I can see how you might be uncomfortable with a man you don't know particularly well hovering in the shared kitchen every morning. That's the kind of thing you should tell your housemate, not start hatching conspiracy theories about.

It's not unusual to ask someone to keep an eye on your home if you're going to be out of town for an extended period of time. Since it's your housemate's home, she probably has an interest in its continued functionality—especially since someone else is paying her to live there. If, say, the plumbing suddenly breaks down or a chair explodes, she will probably feel better knowing she's installed a proxy to handle the situation.

And if she really did send her boyfriend to check up on you, who could blame her? Your read of situations (311? My landlord barely touched her dinner. And there's a spy in my home!) sort of makes you sound like a lunatic. She was probably worried you'd eat all her sweaters and then burn down the house because a goblin told you to.

If you are counting on the lack of a written agreement to allow you to suddenly vanish from your apartment without giving prior notice, it seems ambitious to think that the woman who owns the home will give you your deposit back just because you "demand" it. How do you envision that playing out?

I'm ghost! I'm out! I got a new lease on life but not an apartment because I don't do paper! Give me my deposit! I've got a big pile of straws!

With no contract, can you prove you gave her a deposit in the first place?

You say you don't want to email your landlord a move-out notice because you "fear her boyfriend will be 'looking after' [you] every day." What's he gonna do? Hang out in the house while you are there? It sounds like he's already doing that. Are you worried he's going to kick it up a notch and start REALLY hanging out? Like sitting backwards on a chair, watching 4-hour blocks of Pawn Stars, microwaving popcorn so the whole house smells like popcorn-type hanging out? Or are the ominous quotation marks around "looking after" meant to imply that it is a euphemism for something else? Are you worried he's going to murder you every day?

If you fear for your safety, you should get out of the house as soon as possible—even if it means crashing with friends until your new place is available. But you sound more annoyed than afraid.

It's entirely possible that this woman really is a nightmare to live with. If so, you should practice enumerating the myriad ways in which this is true, so that you find yourself with a more sympathetic audience next time you complain about her (particularly if the situation escalates to court). For instance, instead of detailing a complicated and tenuously legal escape plan that makes you sound neurotic and controlling, you should come up with a few examples of her own neurotic and controlling behavior, and share them.

As a rule, it's better to end on good terms because you were the bigger person rather than bad terms because you wanted to leave the image of your middle finger hanging in the air like a light painting long after you've gone.

Don't forget to take your straws with you when you leave.


I was hoping you could help me out, if for no other reason than the fact that your roommate is my friendly neighborhood bartender. (I only know this because he mentioned it after noticing me reading Gawker at the bar one night, not stalking here…)

My wife and I got married 8 months ago and I am perplexed by the fact that a half dozen of my friends have not sent a card, nevermind a gift. These are guys I've known for no less than 15 years, they have good jobs and, to those whom are married, I gave decent if not generous wedding gifts. I know etiquette dictates that the gift is their attendance and that you have a year to give a gift, but still - nobody has so much as mentioned it, despite having seen each of them at least twice since.

I have repeatedly asked myself, "Are my friends cheap? Forgetful? Procrastinators? Do they think mistakenly we are rich or supported by rich parents?" If so, I don't really care. But as more time passes I've been stressing over more concerning, though significantly less likely scenarios: "They were all sitting close together, were their cards all lost or stolen during the wedding?" and, "Did I do something to piss them all off?" I feel like knowing the truth will put my mind at ease and I want to contact one or all of them and politely confirm that they have not given a card/gift. Is that okay?

Thatz not okay.

The first thing that is not okay is the fact that your friendly neighborhood bartender is apparently roosting in the walls of my apartment, scuttling around making scritchy-scratchy squirrel noises and living rent-free on my dime. I have two roommates: one is a small dog who can't mix a drink for shit, and the other is not a bartender. (Don't tell casual lies.)

People have a tendency to drag around the adverb "politely" and prop it up in places it has no business being, in the hopes that, when they describe their asshole intentions, they can fool people into thinking they are pillars of grace and civility.

However, just as you cannot politely murder someone or politely grab the last slice of pizza, so is it impossible to politely confirm that your friends have not showered you with the gifts you feel you deserve. That being said, if you do decide to politely accost them, remember to compliment something specific (I like your [brown] [shoes]. Did you get me a gift?) and don't forget to say "please" (I notice you haven't given me a gift PLEASE.).

For someone who claims to have met your friends, you seem to have no idea what they are like and very little confidence they know what you are like.

"Are my friends cheap? Forgetful? Procrastinators? Do they think mistakenly we are rich or supported by rich parents?"

These are things people generally know about their friends 15 years into the relationship. Do your friends know that you are the one who got married? Did they attend your wedding? Is it possible you are mistaking your good friends for the wait staff at the reception venue, who are under no obligation to purchase you a wedding gift?

Even if it weren't rude to emotionally strong-arm people into purchasing you linens, it hasn't been a year since the wedding. You yourself acknowledge that traditional etiquette dictates that people have a year to send a wedding gift. This, of course, is both a blessing and a curse for the gift-givers because people are lazy (I have a whole year to send a gift!) and disorganized (Wasn't there something I was supposed to do this year? Oh, right: Start saying 'Yes' to love.). But you cannot begin needling people for goodies while they are still in their one-year grace period.

Or ever, because it's rude. Gifts are, by definition, optional—otherwise we would call them payments.

If, after a year has passed, you still feel you have to ask your friends if you're wedding-Jewish because wedding-Santa sure didn't bring any gifts to your house—and you shouldn't; diabetics have to take insulin; you don't have to extort your friends for wedding gifts—I suppose the way to do it would be to have the whole gang over for a dinner (A Table 18 Reunion) that accentuates all the registry items you haven't received.

Offer them chips and dip, but then spoon the dip right into their hands because we never did get that Rachael Ray chip-and-dip set. Ask if anyone would like a smoothie, then inform them they will have to consume each of the fruits separately due to the fact we asked for but did not receive a blender. Maybe hold the dinner at an empty airport hangar and tell them it's your home. (We didn't get everything on our registry, but we do have two sets of Taboo.)

(By the way, what sorts of "decent" presents did you gift wrap for your friends' weddings? Two cereal bowls with a $10 bill stuck between them? A pair of nice hand towels where it's not totally clear if they've been used before? A silicone whisk, but not the one on the registry? If the phrase that leaps to mind when you are describing a gift you gave to a friend is "decent," consider just not describing the gift at all. )

You say yourself it is unlikely that a wedding phantom swept through your reception and snatched up all your pals' cards. Given that you have the type of personality which deems it appropriate to demand gifts from friends, it is slightly less improbable that you "did something to piss them all off," but even that is probably not the case.

In all likelihood, your friends are like everyone: they keep meaning to buy you a present. What happens next is one of two things: They send you a crystal decanter 19 months after your wedding, or they feel so guilty they never sent you anything, that they never send you anything (to avoid drawing attention the oversight).

There is one condition under which a little snooping is justified: If an item is marked purchased on your registry, but you never received it.

Apart from that, you must ask yourself whether the gains (6 moderately priced housewares) outweigh the losses (a half dozen 15-year friendships).

(Do consider that friendships fade but your Sur La Table immersion blender has a lifetime warranty.)

Thatz Not Okay is a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to caity@gawker.com with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."

Art by Jim Cooke // Source Photos via Shutterstock