Is The Universe Trying To Tell Me Something?

I can’t decide which is better – not posting at all or posting about our current house drama. Trust me, nothing would make me happier than to post photos of Wito’s first birthday party (soon, I promise), but I can’t. Almost a week later, I haven’t even downloaded the photos from the camera. This house situation has us pulling our hair out in clumps. And to think of all of the blogs I’ve read recently about wanting to sell a house, wanting to buy a house, etc. We just want to STAY in our house.

When we received word that our place had sold as an investment property, we were thrilled. It was the best case scenario, actually – no moving, no more showings, and a 1-year lease from our new landlord ensuring this wouldn’t happen again in the near future. Music to my ears. In fact, if you saw me forcefully swatting the air this past week, I was probably high-fiving the universe.

We’ve had a slighty bumpy road with this property in the past year. The first time our landlord tried selling our house was when Wito was only 4 weeks old. When the Realtor called me about setting up a “schedule” of house showings, I nearly died laughing. A SCHEDULE? For a breast-feeding mother of a 4-week infant? Yeah, right.

We take exceptional care of this property. Our landlord continually tells us we are the best tenants he has ever dealt with. We spend our own money making improvements to this house because it’s our home. We really thought karma was on our side.

Until the call from the Realtor last night. It seems the house has some structural problems, which isn’t any surprise to us, given its age. Plumbing issues, large leaks, broken pipes – no biggie. I don’t mind the inconvenience of living in the property while the repairs are completed. Hell, we’ve already dealt with plenty. Painters + Plumbers + Realtors = Complete Nap Annihilation.

Then the kicker. The house has termites and needs to be fumigated.

Like this kind of fumigated.


We are an environmentally-friendly family. We eat organic. We use chlorine-free diapers and wipes. Wito plays with non-toxic toys on a non-toxic playmat. We use a green dry cleaning service. We do NOT use any toxic household cleaners (basically, all of the big-name brands).

Yet next week, our belongings will be enveloped in a mushroom cloud of lethal bromide gas. (Termite man – “Don’t worry! No residue!”, Whoorl – “That’s not what the EPA says…”)

This is rather disturbing.

When I explained our stance to the Realtor about toxic chemicals in our house, I asked for 30 days to allow us time to move out before the fumigation commenced. She briskly told me that wasn’t possible, the fumigation was proceeding next week and if we were to move out before then, we would be breaking our lease agreement and forfeiting thousands of dollars of our deposit.

Now, this just doesn’t seem right. We are currently attempting to educate ourselves on our rights as renters and working to stop this process from happening so quickly. If anyone out there knows anything about renter’s rights, I would love to hear from you.

  • Miguelina. (reluctant housewife)

    August 10, 2007 at 6:49 am

    I’m SO sorry. We know what it’s like – it seems like landlords lose it the second you have kids.

  • hello insomnia

    August 10, 2007 at 5:59 am

    That picture looks like they’re setting up a carnival, not a toxicity tent. Sorry about the realtor being such a bitch. I would look into tenant legal services because that kind of imposition is unusual and warrants at least some wiggle room in the lease.

  • jonniker

    August 10, 2007 at 6:04 am

    oh my God. That’s horrible, and no no, it doesn’t seem right, and I’m guessing that you could get some sort of injunction against it if you really pushed, but that’s just me guessing. JESUS. No. That’s wrong.

    On a lighter note, can I add how much I love you for capitalizing Realtor? HA! No one knows that tricky little rule, and yet you included it in a BLOG. LOVE.

  • Natalie 42

    August 10, 2007 at 6:08 am

    I agree with that wiggle room that was mentioned.

    It seems so ridiculous that you and your family have been so good to the house and the landlord, yet they refuse to work with you on this. In the defense of the landlord, termites can do a lot of damage in a very short amount of time and normally, yes, it needs to be taken care of asap (obviously). BUT, it seems incredibly unfair that the landlord wouldn’t meet you in the middle and isn’t giving you ANY amount of time to get your things out of the house. It’s just seems a tad unfair.

  • little miss mel

    August 10, 2007 at 6:12 am

    I don’t know anything exact regarding your rights here, but I know you guys have enough to stop this madness. I am sure someone here can offer the right advice.

    Hang in there. You guys have come THIS far in that house.

    Karma, yes!

  • SAJ

    August 10, 2007 at 6:21 am

    I had to sue a landlord once in small claims court and when we were in court it really did seem like the law was more on our side. There was a book I used to do my research. I’ll try to see if I can remember it. It was so long ago. I’m sorry can’t think of it off the top of my head.

    I’ll be rooting for us to stay neighbors but I’m with you that this house doesn’t deserve you. You’ve been too good to it.

  • amy

    August 10, 2007 at 7:25 am

    thats whack! hate to hear it. i would want my belongings out too before fumigating!

  • Heather B.

    August 10, 2007 at 6:49 am

    I want to hug you right now. I have absolutely no useful advice because I have yet to be in this situation and might end up being an apartment dweller for the rest of my very lonely life.

    But! I have pictures! I’ll send you pictures of a certain person who apparently doesn’t like chocolate, but is criminally adorable when showing his disgust.

  • Mere

    August 10, 2007 at 7:00 am

    I think you need to call the Realtor and tell her you need time while you speak with your lawyer. Has the house sold or is the work being done before it closes?


    That link says they have to give you 60 days notice. And the law is TOTALLY on the renters side.

    There are probably free or cheap tenants rights places in your area – I would contact them ASAP.

    Good luck!

  • sizzle

    August 10, 2007 at 7:05 am

    they can just do that?! i hope you find the loop hole because that seems downright wrong.

  • nabbalicious

    August 10, 2007 at 7:07 am

    I’m so sorry you guys have to deal with this.

    I found this:
    http://www.caltenantlaw.com/ResLaw.htm (scroll down to “fumigation”)

    I hope that helps you some. I guess it depends on how far you’re willing to take it.

    Meep. Good luck, girl. Let us know if you guys need anything at all!

  • Darren

    August 10, 2007 at 7:10 am

    I think you have the right to kick somebody in the balls.

  • sunny

    August 10, 2007 at 7:17 am

    what about contacting the EPA about business that use environmentally friendly techniques and products for fumigation?
    maybe you could negotiate with the owner on using a one of these firms?

  • Jamie

    August 10, 2007 at 7:27 am

    Where the hell is your current landlord in all of this? He/She could at least speak with the Realtor in question, and vouch for your excellent care and maintenance where the property is concerned. He/She no doubt made $$$ off of your good vibes and repairs in selling the place, they should AT MINIMUM be standing up for you.

    This is bullshit. Good luck, and keep us updated.

  • whoorl

    August 10, 2007 at 7:29 am

    Thanks for the links and ideas. Here’s where we stand as of this moment. I sent a lengthy email to the realtors with links to non-toxic alternatives instead of fumigation.

    I also stated that we would move forward with the fumigation if and ONLY if the owner paid for all of our porous materials (couches, mattresses, upholestered chairs, clothes, toys, EVERYTHING) to be packed, moved and stored at a facility. I also requested 5 nights/days in a comparable living situation.

    We’ll see what happens.

  • Kelly

    August 10, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Holy hell, that is horrible. Maybe you should just start pumping your cars exhaust into your home and let yourselves down easy.

    I really have no advice, no clue what the laws are in CA. There has to be a housing website with laws and regulations or even a number you can call to get advice. Hopefully, your landlord will oblige your requests, especially if you have been great tenants.

  • sunny

    August 10, 2007 at 9:03 am

    your email sounds like a good approach.

    I know you are very busy but I would be interested to hear about the non toxic alternatives you located (only when you have a moment – no rush)

    Good Luck

  • Kelly

    August 10, 2007 at 9:06 am

    BTW…totally unrelated. I had another dream about you…this would be two in one year, hopefully that isn’t too weird. Anyway, you, me and Amanda “Kicky Boots” decided to meet for the first time and we were at a big public pool (yuck…clearly a dream I would never go to a public pool!) and the kids were playing and we had nothing in common and nothing to talk about so it was wicked awkward and we just stared off into the water. That was about it, I woke up and felt all junior highish. Riveting, I know.

  • rebecca

    August 10, 2007 at 8:07 am

    Whoa. I can’t believe this. That totally SUCKS. I’m so sorry. :(

  • Angella

    August 10, 2007 at 8:20 am

    This sucks. And blows. I know nothing of the laws down there, but here in Canada the tenant has pretty much all of the rights. If anyone can handle it you can!

  • LVGurl

    August 10, 2007 at 8:47 am

    That totally sucks. Sounds like you’re in for a fight, though I certainly hope not. My last experience being a “good tenant” ended with our landlord thinking they could push us around. Oh, were they sorry. They almost ended up in small claims court.

    That Big Top picture frightens me, on many levels. 1. Because of GOD KNOWS WHAT could be blowing through your house, and 2. An episode of The X Files I saw years ago.

    Best of luck to you!!

  • Natalie 42

    August 10, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Well it sounds like you’re doing a great job dealing with the situation. I really hope it all works out and the landlord decides to…ya know, be a decent human being about the whole thing. *Sending good vibes to SoCal*

  • Jora

    August 10, 2007 at 9:20 am

    I’m sure you already know about this and have suggested it to your landlord, but just in case… http://xtermite.com/ We know some people who have had really good results with it. Although my husband and I are both lawyers, we don’t do anything in the landlord/tenant area. I would just keep the pressure on the landlord and try to buy time to move out. The termites can’t do anymore damage in 30 days v. 5 days (but I guess you’ve already thought of all these things).

  • Maggie

    August 10, 2007 at 11:03 am

    I am so sorry! Keep being the squeaky wheel and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you guys.

  • OMSH

    August 10, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Whoorl, seriously I would do the same thing. HELLO! They HAVE to consider you in this. Granted, it is their property, but you do have rights. Oh how I wish I understood those rights to advise you. Have you called a lawyer?

  • lisa

    August 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Sorry that this is happening….keep chugging along and stay strong! Be demanding and dont bend on stuff your not comfy with….YOU have rights….and deserve to be treated justly ….there is a baby involved and there has to be some type of justification for you….

  • whoorl

    August 10, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    First off, the internet rocks. Within an hour of posting this, I had so many emails from lawyers, realtors and concerned friendternets. Seriously, THANK YOU.

    No real update as of yet. I sent the detailed email to the realtors with our very reasonable demands regarding the fumigation. According to the last message I received, they are working diligently to work out something that is beneficial for everyone.

    Fingers crossed, everybody!

  • Annie

    August 10, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I am keeping my fingers crossed for you! I’m so glad that lawyers and such have leapt to your defense, and I hope they can find a way to help you.

    It’s ironic that the tent-of-poison looks so…festive.

  • Sam

    August 10, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    This is crazy talk. They wouldn’t be able to really AFFORD that investment property if you weren’t paying rent, right? Sending lots of good thoughts to you in all of this. I know all your hard work and good karma will win out in the end.

  • BeachMama

    August 10, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Wow, I would be freaking out too! Glad you are getting a little movement with the emails and hopefully all will work out in your favour. It all seems a little crazy. I guess the REALATOR wants their check, eh?

  • Susan

    August 10, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    You just tell them to ZIP IT. I’ve seen how that works.

    Fingers crossed for a toxic-free outcome. Also, you could move to Oklahoma! The house down the street from me is STILL for sale . . .

  • Sarcomical

    August 11, 2007 at 11:39 am

    dear god.

    i would be PISSED.

    i hope something turns your way soon with this situation, it really sounds unfair for your health concerns to be taken into consideration. people are asses.

    good luck.

  • 180/360

    August 12, 2007 at 3:40 am

    Ummm… that is like my worst nightmare ever! I too am equally ‘green’ and can’t imagine if that happened to me. I would want to move out, too. What if you said you have horrible allergies to that toxic substance which could send you to the hospital if you or your infant son inhaled or came in contact with it?

    That is terrible. Good luck with whatever happens…I will definitely send best wishes from here to you.

  • Lady S

    August 12, 2007 at 4:49 am

    Best of luck.

  • PandaWriter

    August 13, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    We live in Southern California, and use a service called “Gr33nL3af”. They use things like rosemary oil, etc. in their spray, all organic and safe. We have them spray once every three months outside the house, and once a year inside the house if needed (haven’t needed it inside in the last 2 years) and have had no more problems with black widow spiders, wasps, and ants. I’ll bet they do termite sprays too, if you do end up needing bug-removal.

  • […] Monday August 13th 2007, 7:13 pm Filed under: that damn internet, Being Mere When you decide to butt in to someone else’s life, someone you do not know, and you also decide to give advice, because […]

  • comfortablycrazy

    August 29, 2007 at 2:35 pm


    They use an orange extract to treat for termites, it’s supposed to kill the termites and eggs, with no tenting. just a lingering scent of oranges. (Which in all honesty is probably a lot stronger than “slight” but it’s better than a chemical smell any day.)

    I’m going to give this site referral to our landlord who insists that there aren’t any live termites in our apartment. Tell that to the egg sacks, yes plural, and winged ones who fall out of my kitchen counter daily.

    Anyways, I know they said they were going to spot treat so her is a possibility that may be a little more eco-friendly.

  • comfortablycrazy

    August 29, 2007 at 2:36 pm


    oops, linked to wrong site. :)