Profile picture for shiva3000

Can a landlord do this??

My landlord is an elderly woman and she is a little "off."  She lives in our building and a tenant recently moved out.  The tenant was moving across country and was only keeping a mattress on the floor in the days immediately before his flight out of town. When he left, he left the mattress in the unit.  I know he should not have done that, but my landlord's reaction seemed a bit extreme.  She took his mattress, wrote his name, phone number, and graduate school program on it, and then put it on the street with a note saying, "[tenant's name] trashes your neighborhood."   

Can she do this?  I am really afraid of doing something that will displease her and it resulting in some type of puritan shaming ritual.  I just don't know if it's illegal to publicly defame and post an individual's name and phone number.

Thanks,
Jenny
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September 27 2013 - Beacon Hill
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Answers (10)

Landlord out of line here. Contact an attorney.
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October 30 2013
I would contact a real estate lawyer for this type of thing. We cannot really give legal advise here but I can agree that the actions of the landlord seem a little harsh!
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October 30 2013
I agree with many of the answers her. You can also call the real estate board and a local attorney. A
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October 27 2013
I believe The tenant could sue for defamation of character, but I would ask a lawyer
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September 27 2013

That's nutty. She should have disposed of it and sent him the bill. If the mattress was any good someone would have picked it up for free and she could still bill him.

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September 27 2013
Profile picture for sunnyview
No, your landlord did not have a right to do that. In some states you can state your negative opinion of someone or something and it is not considered libel/slander as long as it is mostly true.

In MA, the court says that even if your statement is true, but negative that you are not protected from a lawsuit for libel/slander. It is the only state where that is the case as far as I know. Truth is the past tenant is gone and it is a nasty thing to do, but has a pretty small impact in the larger world beyond the landlords front step.

Your landlord may be old and grouchy, but she hasn't earned the right to be the withered old B... in apartment 23. If it's still bothering you, watch the Departed a couple times. That always makes me feel better when I have an NEast Coast flashback.
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September 27 2013
Profile picture for shiva3000
Her age is completely irrelevant.  There is a cleaning deposit for the unit, it was well within her legal rights to have someone move the mattress for her and to deduct that expense from the cleaning deposit.

As for the posting, I did not make the tenant's name searchable by writing it in the message, so it will not come up if someone searches for that persons' name or phone number.

The question is:  Does she have the legal right to disclose a tenant's public information in this manner?
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September 27 2013
Profile picture for zuser20140120081814583
Your landlord put this information in a place where a few people might see it, and it will be gone in a few hours or days.

You put this information where many can see it permanently.  If you're so concerned about the former tenant, this seems like a very odd thing to do.
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September 27 2013
Agree with Tim and Rachel. It was not right of her to post that... but he's an evidently young male and she's an old woman. It was his responsibility to remove his possessions, not to leave a mattress for an elderly woman to get rid of. As far as defamation, if he's moved across the country, it's very unlikely that her posting his phone number will result in his being denied a new rental. Anyone who might call him would just be calling him, not anyone else.

If this landlord has been good and decent and fair, it might be nice to the other tenants to help her out with this. Good karma is often rewarding.
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September 27 2013
I think you answered your own question when you said, "I know he should not have done that, but my landlord's reaction seemed a bit extreme".

Leaving stuff for others to clean up is not the right thing to do.
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September 27 2013
 
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