Since September of 2006, I have rented an apartment with little to no complaints. I am a student, and I also have a co-signer on the lease. The landlord - who is not the owner but is apparently "entrusted" by the owner to maintain the property - also lived in the building, which is a converted row home. I always paid rent on time and never caused any problems, and felt my landlord was eccentric but whatever. I assumed maybe he was just more involved than previous faceless management companies I had rented from.
In 2007, I encountered some problems with my student loans which were paying my rent and my disbursement dates for payment were now off by a few days. He was aware that I paid my rent through said student loans. For the first time ever, my March 2007 rent was late, according to my lease which does not give me a grace period - it merely states rent is due by the 1st of each month. (Often, in the days leading up to the 1st of any month, my landlord would seemingly go out of his way to ask me when rent would be due.) As I was leaving on the morning of the 5th to go to work and to the bank to get rent, my landlord opened his door as I was passing by as if he had been waiting for me all day. He stated that I would have to have a money order for the $700 rent by that evening or a check for $725. My lease does not assign a late fee, and I was confused by this new $25 fee. I paid with a money order that evening.
In April, my landlord entered my home on the morning of the 3rd while I was asleep to inquire about the rent, which had not been paid yet. He had also left me a text message on my cell phone after 1am the night before and called twice in the morning while my phone was off. I was unaware of his entry until I was woken up and was clearly frightened - how would you feel if there was someone just in your home? I paid the rent later that afternoon and nothing was spoken of the incidents.
On April 29, I came home from a night out around 3am and he opened his door to discuss a few matters with me - a few things he needed that were in my apartment (namely an air conditioner that was given to me by him when I moved in but his girlfriend wanted it back - no big deal to me) and a few other things, including when rent would be paid. I felt as though this was an unreasonable hour for discussion and requested to go to bed.
At 1:06am on what was now May 2, he called me at a very unreasonable hour to remind me that it was garbage night (which I knew and put my trash out in the morning before work) and that he needed the rent in the morning so he could deposit it. Only one day had gone by - the due date. I said I would be speaking with school financial offices in the morning to get the situation sorted out and I would speak with him later, as I was sleeping.
On the evening of May 2, he called four times between 11:18pm and 11:41pm, which are unreasonable hours for contact. At this time on May 3, rent has not yet been paid.
Although I realize I am indeed late on my rent, and at fault, I feel as though he is unreasonably harassing me because he lives in my building. I feel disrespected and unable to live in peace - even when rent is not late. I feel like he is everywhere. There are other provisions in the lease - such as tenant will not smoke in property, will not block halls with possessions, will not have pets - that he has violated himself. Often, I have to move things from in front of my door that he is storing in or in front of the vacated apartment in the building. He also has cats and smokes inside often - I can smell it and have witnessed it.
I know that there are certain legal actions he must take if I have breached the lease. If my rent is late as stated by the lease, he must file a notice to quit, I have so many days to pay, etc. However, I feel as though I am merely being harassed and my tenant rights are being violated. I would go as far as to pay a late fee if that was the case, but I do not know what to do. He does not contact my cosigner when rent is late, only me.
So, is this legal? What are my options? Where do I go from here?