This thread is a disaster. December 27, 2005 1:11 PM   Subscribe

This thread is a disaster. It has such a long pissing match in it that advances nothing that I simply cannot see going click-click-click all the way through the noise to flag each off-topic post. I feel like I need a button for "there's so many violating posts in this thread I cannot possibly flag them all individually and still have time for 3 squares and 8 hours of sleep in a day." [mi]
posted by phearlez to Feature Requests at 1:11 PM (125 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I really believe in the "flag and move on" concept but I dunno what do to when it's that extreme. Do threads with multiple flags get examined in a larger sense or do Matt and Jess only scrutinize what's explicitly flagged? It would be nice to save my time and theirs by knowing that if I flag a few the thread as a whole will get a once-over and offenders killed.
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on December 27, 2005


Well, the offending posts killed anyway. I am presuming that neither Matt or Jess has The Button.
posted by phearlez at 1:14 PM on December 27, 2005


odd. i thought it was interesting.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:16 PM on December 27, 2005


Would you care to demonstrate which comments offended you so much? Are we suppose to say "lawyer up" and leave it, because none of us have any direct experience prosecuting and investigation drug crime, or because none of us are lawyers in a field specializing in property seizure?
posted by geoff. at 1:24 PM on December 27, 2005


I'm spending Christmastime with my family. I saw that thread this morning and removed some of the more pissing-match-oriented and/or devil's advocate posts. The ones that are left seem pretty focused on the question even if they disagree about what the best course of action would be in this situation. Generally if I see a few flags in a thread I'll read through the entire thing to see what's going on there.
posted by jessamyn at 1:38 PM on December 27, 2005


Anyway, this is sort of a double meta, isn't it? I see your complain is different but do we really need more than one Meta on the same thread?
posted by nkyad at 1:40 PM on December 27, 2005


Sure there's some pissing back and forth going on, but people are discussing the question. I see no "disaster."
posted by scarabic at 1:47 PM on December 27, 2005


What are you talking about phearlez? Which comments annoy you. I skimmed (OK, really fast) but saw nothing bad. Lots of different opinions, including different opinions about the ethics of growing, narcing etc. What is the problem
posted by caddis at 1:49 PM on December 27, 2005


Doesn't look like a disaster to me.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:53 PM on December 27, 2005


including different opinions about the ethics of growing, narcing etc.
posted by caddis at 1:49 PM PST on December 27


I haven't read the whole thread, and I don't presume to speak for phearlez, but I can see the problem with comments about the ethics of growing and/or narcing if they are in there due to the specific question.

The question asked for people to leave the pot is good comments out of the thread, and they don't help this person with this person's dilemma. So if there are comments about how ethical it is to grow pot, they are out of place. "Narcing is bad" is also out of place. This person is asking a question and doesn't need people trying to convince him that pot growers are ok and need to be left alone.
posted by dios at 1:59 PM on December 27, 2005


"Narcing is bad" might be out of place, but "be careful about how you go about narcing on people who might kill you and yours" isn't, in my opinion.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:03 PM on December 27, 2005


If one is referring to this callout, "narcing is bad" is just fine :)
posted by scarabic at 2:37 PM on December 27, 2005


dios:
The question asked for people to leave the pot is good comments out of the threadNot so.
Quote:
"Please no lectures about marijuana legalization or the futility of the War on Drugs."

I'd say you introduced some personal editorialising there. "pot is good" & "no lectures about marijuana legalization" are not the same in meaning, and "no lectures about marijuana legalization" is in contrast to "the futility of the War on Drugs" - but you left that bit out. Hmm.

Seems to me you took a balanced, neutral request, saw it as an anti-pot statement and have now posted that as a stricture for the rest of us and so to beat us with that interpretation, say that the odd pro-dope comment is out of line. Not cool - not fair & balanced either.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:46 PM on December 27, 2005


Seems to me you took a balanced, neutral request, saw it as an anti-pot statement and have now posted that as a stricture for the rest of us and so to beat us with that interpretation, say that the odd pro-dope comment is out of line. Not cool - not fair & balanced either.

Wow, someone's got an axe to grind...

For what it's worth, I agree with Dios. The poster didn't seem to want to bring any of the ethical arguments surrounding the politics of "the war on drugs" into the post. He's looking for specific advice about a specific problem - "what can I do about the people who are running a grow house in my apartment complex?" I think you're reading way too much into Dios' argument.
posted by SweetJesus at 3:10 PM on December 27, 2005


I dunno. I thought the thread was fully of silly advice on all sides, but the debate was fairly reasonable. There were a few people who didn't think Narcing was appropriate at all (Afroblanca nad Nixerman, I guess, who I guess missed the part about the leaves)

It's pretty much a bombshell question, and everyone is going to want to get their two cents in, but I didn't see too much acrimony.

Of all the threads on here, though I'd be willing to bet that this one (or the prescription one) gets matt a supena.

It seems clear that this guy has at least some qualms about narcing, or he would have already done it. I don't think it's inapropriate for people to try to discorage him from doing it, if that's how they really feel.
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on December 27, 2005


Wow, someone's got an axe to grind...

Really? What do you think that is then? Do you think I'm pro or anti dope/dios/fairness?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:20 PM on December 27, 2005


Really? What do you think that is then? Do you think I'm pro or anti dope/dios/fairness?

I meant the tone of the post and "fair and balanced" quip. It struck me as gratuitous, and meant to provoke a back and forth with dios. About what, I'm still not sure...
posted by SweetJesus at 3:38 PM on December 27, 2005


So let me get this straight, these dope growers, they're pirating OSX, and they want us to HELP?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:59 PM on December 27, 2005


Well, the real problem (and this happens with a lot of AskMe questions) is that the answerers focused on a single aspect of the question (the one they felt qualified to answer) and ignored the others.

The question that we chose to answer was largely an ethical one, where most of the other questions were technical ones.

If we revisit the text of the question:

What are my responsibilities as the complex superintendent?
technical question. Not really addressed in the thread. People seem to agree that you are responsible for the well-being of the other tenants, but no-one seems to have provided exact details (probably because there is not enough information).

Should I notify the police?
mostly ethical question. Addressed ad nauseam in the thread. It's possible this was not even meant as an ethical question, but rather, "Is this a police deal, or a landlord deal?"

If so, what do I tell them?
Somewhat technical. What do the police need to know if I contact them? What have I done that might interfere with any action they may take. Largely unaddressed.

Can I be held liable if I do and say nothing?
Technical question. Somewhat addressed. I didn't see any speifics.

Did my entering their unit compromise the evidence?
Technical question, largely unaddressed, although I recall a few posters saying "no, it shouldn't have a bearing".

What does this mean for my property values?
technical question. pretty much unanswered except for some supposition.


I don't really know why I typed all this out, but maybe if there are some people who can offer some more speific information on the unaddressed parts of the question, they should visit the thread and add their thoughts.
posted by fishfucker at 4:00 PM on December 27, 2005


er, ad nauseum
posted by fishfucker at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2005


SweetJesus:
I take your point. I think that thread - I am still reading it, it has grown like Topsy since I was there earlier today - has a remarkable breadth of opinion, with few axe-grinders and a consensus that says "hey, be careful - but turn 'em in". Very few comments so far seem to be pro-pot. The OP did not say s/he was anti-pot or pro-pot, but dios - you took the condition riding on the end in a particular way, and then promoted that. That is not a lawyer's circumspect attitude: more a partisan one. That is axe-grinding. I accept that the "fair & balanced" quip is a little snark (at opinion formers who claim to be neutral and inclusive, but demonstrably are not). It's not as funny on screen as in my head. For that - apologies.
Dear Lord, I never thought I'd address you again, since renouncing my faith in 1973. I am equally distressed that you are addressing me, and may be seeking advice when the therapist returns from Spain on Thursday. Amen.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:07 PM on December 27, 2005


What a crappy thread. There needs to be a limit on the number of times any one person can comment in an askme thread. A few people have commented in that thread several times and at least one more than ten times. It'd be one thing if it were a thread the original poster was commenting in to provide additional information and commenters were responding to that new information. But this is an anonymous thread so there's no new information. The question was asked. Answer it and get out. Stop speculating, stop arguing, stop chatting. Answer it and get out.
posted by TimeFactor at 4:41 PM on December 27, 2005


I guess this AskMe thread has a few difficult factors -

1) It's a divisive issue, one that people feel emotional about
2) It's posted anonymously, so the original poster has no chance to clear up any misconceptions
3) It requires advice that would best be given by professionals

TimeFactor, I assume you're referring to me as one of the multiple-posters?

I apologize if this is out of line. Mods, feel free to delete my comments. I won't be offended. Basically, I see a lot of people saying, "You have to call the cops!" and I'm saying, "You may not have to call the cops, here are some reasons why, and here are some alternative courses of action." People pointed out what they saw as flaws in my reasoning, and I responded.

Were this a thread on the Blue, I don't think that anybody would find fault in that. As an AskMe question, maybe it is a bit more of a problem. However, due to the three factors that I listed above, I would say that it was well-nigh unavoidable here.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:12 PM on December 27, 2005


Either a commenter is answering the question, or he/she is not. Sure, there are some ambiguous cases, but it doesn't seem to me that this is one of them. Making moral judgments about the asker's question as a supposed answer has been frowned upon time and time again.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:29 PM on December 27, 2005


Afroblanco, the main problem with that thread is that you keep stating your point of view over and over again, and arguing with other posters. I don't think that's what AskMe's for, or at least, it is less effective when people do this. I think a thread reads best when people comment once - more if the OP has stepped in to clarify something and there's more information to work with - and then let other voices be heard. If your comment is valuable, stating it once will do: a cogent argument always stands out. But it seems to me that what you're mainly doing with your repeated posting in that thread is defending your position - which, as you say, would probably be fine on the blue. But on the green, it's a derail.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:34 PM on December 27, 2005


Sure, there are some ambiguous cases, but it doesn't seem to me that this is one of them. Making moral judgments about the asker's question as a supposed answer has been frowned upon time and time again.

Which case are you speaking of?

I did see a lot of moralizing on both sides of the argument ("The building could catch on fire!" vs. "He could go to jail!"), but I think that most of the thread was dedicated to answering the questions.

I saw a lot of infighting among the commenters (myself included), but I think that just comes back to the fact that most of the people in the thread (myself included) didn't have the expert knowledge needed to answer the questions. Lack of expert knowledge -> suppositions, emotional arguments, etc.

Also, one matter that wasn't clear in the original post - did the poster want to avoid calling the cops? I think that, had this bit of information been given, it could have changed the tone of the discussion, simply because the question that wound up being most debated was, "Should I call the cops or shouldn't I?"
posted by Afroblanco at 5:38 PM on December 27, 2005


hot soup girl - I thought I was being helpful. I apologize if I killed the thread. Mods - feel free to delete my comments.

(done)
posted by Afroblanco at 5:41 PM on December 27, 2005


I'm not a lawyer but the the laws of my locality are not Top Secret: around here a "superintendant" needs prior notice before going into a rented residence. The exception is "in case of emergency": no smoke or fire, no blood seeping under the door and nobody screaming, means no emergency. That is, in my locale the superintendent would have no right to just exploit the passkey and go traipsing in there in the first place.

Because the superintendant had no right to go in there s/he has no right to the information gained from snooping in the first place, therefore s/he has no right to do anything about it, not even blab it to us. S/he should not have this information at all.

(I've been told by a friend who's a lawyer that in my locality certain provisions of the lease might supersede the usual laws, but again this superintendant is not the person renting the place out. Whether s/he would be bound by any unusual provisions in the rental agreement between the lessor and lessee is debatable, but, in my non-lawyer's opinion, I would expect that a third party would not have more rights than the landlord -- so the Prior Notice rule should still apply; again I'm just opining here, there's a limit to how much free legal advice I can get.)

If the superintendant is so concerned about the safety more than the drug law then s/he should tell the grower something like "When I snooped where I had no business going I noticed you using electricity unsafely" and then give advice on how to do so without it being potentially hazardous. That is, admit to a "criminal" you've been snooping and advise him/her on how to break the law more safely. Note that this might expose the superintendant to danger from the potgrower (who would have told the superintendant if s/he wanted him/her to know), besides that it might even be even illegal to advise someone how to break the law in a better way (some places' laws might see it as joining a conspiracy), but if supervisor is truly concerned about the safety and not the legality then morally speaking the supervisor should be willing to risk life and legal hassles in pursuit of that safety issue. Right?

To recap:

1) superintendant got inordinately curious about what someone else was doing,

2) superintendant gave in to that curiosity and broke in to the place to do some snooping,

3) superintendant, having burgled and snooped, blabs to us about it and asks us whether s/he should compound that burgling and snooping with snitching.

The fact that this discussion has gone on so long puts the lie to any idea that Metafilter is some kind of Leftist Haven. There's no difference between the NSA sniffing out everybody's email and phone conversations and this kind of thing.
posted by davy at 6:02 PM on December 27, 2005


davy, do you doubt anonymous's assertion that he was doing sprinkler inspection?
posted by jessamyn at 6:06 PM on December 27, 2005


davy, anonymous specifically said, "every year the units need their sprinklers checked." Sure, maybe that's just a pretense the super made up, but maybe it's not. (Just today I had to let the pest control guys in to spray for bugs. There was a note on the complex bulletin board several weeks in advance that today would be the day pest control was coming to my building, which they do every few months. I didn't personally get a call that they were coming to my unit, but I can't say I didn't have adequate "notice" ahead of time.)

Why not assume good faith on the part of your fellow MeFite, instead of jumping to the conclusion that he had no business going in there?
posted by Gator at 6:10 PM on December 27, 2005


Just because there's conflicting advice (some of it clearly bad) and lots of unresolved issues in an AskMe thread doesn't mean it's a disaster. Just sayin'. We all know AskMe can't do everything.

Why not assume good faith on the part of your fellow MeFite, instead of jumping to the conclusion that he had no business going in there?

Well, I think it's fair to ask why the original poster didn't clarify the entrance issue via an email to the admins. It's an important question that gets to the heart of the problem; seems pretty obvious that the best way to handle the situation depends in large part on whether or not the poster entered the condo legally in the first place. Jessamyn, can you give us a hint as to why the poster follow up on that point easily?
posted by mediareport at 6:23 PM on December 27, 2005


er, "can't follow up on that point easily?"
posted by mediareport at 6:24 PM on December 27, 2005


Gator, it's probably illegal in your locality to molest children, and it's certainly a good thing to protect them. Why not assume good faith on the part of your fellow MeFite and let me install webcams in your home so I can help protect children from harm?

And mediareport, whether it's legal to or not, "Gentleman don't read one another's mail." No emergency means no moral right to go in there either. It was snooping, plain and simple.
posted by davy at 6:28 PM on December 27, 2005


That makes no sense, davy.

What the fuck is it with people jumping on Anonymous askers, reading sinister plottings into the most innocuous of phrasings? I think Matt was right, it's just bullying someone who can't (easily) fight back.

mediareport, the poor guy probably assumed he'd been clear enough in his original post: He's the superintendent. There's a yearly inspection of the units, which presumably all of the residents know about, as it would most likely stated in their leases and/or rules and regs. Looking over the rules and regs of my Association, sure enough, there's a clause about access. (This is separate from my rental lease, wherein there's also a clause regarding my actual landlord having access.) I'm actually an extremely private person, and just this year had a large dustup with my Association about certain construction crews who were being let free, unsupervised, to enter my unit without any sort of notice to me. But when there's scheduled maintenance, like this guy's sprinkler thing, you can't cry "Gestapo!" Well, you can, but it makes you look the fool.

Bottom line, it's bullshit to say no emergency = no access. Almost any place you rent is going to have some boilerplate in the lease or rules about access for routine maintenance and/or inspections.
posted by Gator at 6:41 PM on December 27, 2005


Yes Jessamyn, I see that as pretext. If s/he were only inspecting the sprinklers s/he would have ignored the "indications of illegality." It's not what s/he came to see, right?

Imagine you and I, during a walk to the store, stop by an ATM. You'd like me to ignore you punching in your PIN, to avert my eyes from what's not my business, would you not? I'm pretty sure you won't want me memorizing it and then posting to AskMe about whether I should trade your PIN for drugs.

As I see it it's the same principle: privacy and its reasons and uses.
posted by davy at 6:41 PM on December 27, 2005


It is illegal to grow weed. It is also, IMO, unethical to put others at risk for the benefit of growing weed. There is risk of electrical short, risk from the extremely hot lamps, and risk of health-endangering molds and mildews due to the high-humidity environment.

I am in complete support of growing your own -- in your own home or outside, in quantities for appropriate for personal use.

The apartment grow should be busted, both for the risk it poses to fellow tenants and because it is a commercial grow.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on December 27, 2005


Jessamyn, can you give us a hint as to why the poster follow up on that point easily?

nothing special except that it's an anonymous question and it's the Christmas holidays and I don't know about mathowie but I'm too busy being ignored by drunken relatives, fixing XP-gone-wild machines, and answering goddamned ipod questions to check email as much as I would in some normal routine day.

davy, people make all sorts of normal concessions to privacy in the name of safety, community and legality. We don't know the specifics about this situation. Your suspicions and interpretations are only that, and arguing moral rights arguments does not help anonymous figure out what to do. My PIN is UKE1. We don't all feel the same way about privacy as you do.
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on December 27, 2005


I saw a lot of infighting among the commenters (myself included), but I think that just comes back to the fact that most of the people in the thread (myself included) didn't have the expert knowledge needed to answer the questions. Lack of expert knowledge -> suppositions, emotional arguments, etc.

Then why keep commenting? You're arguing with people just as ill-informed about the situation as you are. Make your point and wait for anonymous, or a proxy, to provide further info. No one wants a random commenter to dominate or control the discussion, even as "devil's advocate."

davy, untwist your "live free or die" undies. Gator was simply citing an example of the standard no-access exception. Every city I've ever lived (including NYC, which has pretty strong pro-tenant regulations) allows the owner, or designate, access to your apartment under specific conditions. Mostly, this has to do with maintenance and the tenant has to receive prior notice, which may be a flyer in the lobby. Nobody's obliged to give you a personal phone call, or even a note on the door. When you give notice, the owner has expanded access to show the apartment to potential renters. Again, no specific scheduling needed. Despite all your spittle-flecked outrage, the anonymous poster's actions were well within his or her legal rights.
posted by vetiver at 6:58 PM on December 27, 2005


What the fuck is it with people jumping on Anonymous askers, reading sinister plottings into the most innocuous of phrasings?

It's two things:
1) Misinterpreting the choice to go anonymous as some kind of admission of guilt - like, if the person had nothing to hide, they'd post in the clear, right?
2) As you say: blind bullying. The person can't talk back and the answerers will never know who they are, so it's like the whole yelling-at-strangers on the Internet thing to a whole new degree.

You didn't do anything wrong, Afroblanca. Perhaps your point was over-made, but you hardly ruined the thread.
posted by scarabic at 7:01 PM on December 27, 2005

There needs to be a limit on the number of times any one person can comment in an askme thread.
A-fuckin'-men.
posted by cribcage at 7:02 PM on December 27, 2005


davy - checking the sprinkler annually is exactly the kind of tedious thing that building supers need to do. I think it's plausible. Anyway, I've been around this exact block before and I'll repeat that if you want to be helpful on AskMe then at least accept the basic truth of the premise of the question. The point is for you to be helpful to the questioner. If they are lying to you, you can't do that. So if you think they are, don't try. On the chance that you're wrong and they are telling the truth, you're making a dick of yourself. On the chance that you're right and they are lying: screw them, and nothing you say will be accurate or helpful. Which prompts the question: what does someone have to gain from lying on AskMe?

If this person really were an aggressive, judgmental busybody I don't think s/he'd be wondering whether to call the cops. The tone of the post suggests, to me: "*sigh* I guess it's my job to deal with this situation"
posted by scarabic at 7:08 PM on December 27, 2005


I should probably apologize for coming on a bit strong in that thread ('scooby doo', 'get a fucking grip' etc) - I did rather forget I was in AskMe.

Gotta admit, I would normally just find the naivete of some posters regarding the nature of grow ops quite, umm... quaint, I guess. But in this case I was quite shocked to see people so quick to give advice that seemed almost certain to lead to threats and intimidation at the very least.
posted by pascal at 7:20 PM on December 27, 2005


if you want to be helpful on AskMe then at least accept the basic truth of the premise of the question.

Exactly. That's what I meant by assuming good faith on the part of your fellow MeFite.

It's true that there has been the occasional bad-faith AskMe question -- the eBay scammer springs to mind, and "I got my girlfriend's sister pregnant *snort-teehee-snurfle-I-can't-believe-people-are-actually-answering-this*" -- but those are the exception, not the rule, and those bad-faith questions weren't anonymous, so there was, at least, some lasting value in outing the askers as assholes who abused the site.

With Anonymous AskMe, trying to detect possible ulterior motives and Machiavellian shenanigans is pointless at best: We don't know which member of the community it is; we can't say, "Oh wait, you were the one totally abused AskMe with a bogus question!" Assume it's the truth. Ask for clarification, sure, but if it's not forthcoming to your satisfaction, don't derail with hysterical accusations ("burgled"? The hell?), just move on already.
posted by Gator at 7:28 PM on December 27, 2005


I retract my uneducated comment in the AskMe thread. I wasn't aware that grow lights were such a huge fire hazard.

Upon reading the AskMe comments, I have to agree with the folks who suggested Anon contact a lawyer. It's unfortunate that these inconsiderate people are going to cost him something out of his pocket (for the lawyer consultation), and have created so much stress in his life. Perhaps he can get some guidance from Legal Aid, or get a free initial consultation with a lawyer.

As great as AskMe is, I think it's Achilles Heel has been exposed, and that is the "Law & Gov't" category. Unless actual lawyers and paralegals provide the answer, it's a bunch of speculation and uneducated (albeit with good intentions) advice.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:10 PM on December 27, 2005


"Gentleman don't read one another's mail."

Yeesh. There you go again, davy. You want to make moral pronouncements, I want to help the poster solve the problem with minimal harm to himself - and that means harm from the tenants or the police. Before weighing in on that, we need to know whether the tenants were in fact warned of the visit in accordance with whatever lease is applicable. Gator's assumption aside, it was *not* made clear in the post.

And thanks, Jessamyn; I was just curious if it was something specific to the poster. If he decides to clarify, that would help in getting more thoughtful, more useful answers, I think.
posted by mediareport at 8:12 PM on December 27, 2005


*its Achilles Heel...
posted by Devils Slide at 8:17 PM on December 27, 2005


Then why keep commenting? You're arguing with people just as ill-informed about the situation as you are.

Not defending my actions, only explaining them.

I've learned my lesson.

arguing in AskMe = bad
posted by Afroblanco at 8:17 PM on December 27, 2005


arguing in AskMe = bad

Pretty much, yeah, though you can find yourself there with the best of intentions. This is one reason why anon. posts are so dangerous: the poster can't show up to clear up question marks and sticking points. In absence of good information, speculation and even argument can blossom.
posted by scarabic at 8:58 PM on December 27, 2005


Good point, scarabic.

Matt/Jessamyn, do you guys know when the anonymous commenting feature will be available?
posted by Devils Slide at 9:10 PM on December 27, 2005


hoo boy! then we can really get our shit on!
posted by scarabic at 9:36 PM on December 27, 2005


Maybe it's not pretext. Maybe it is the super's job to once a year enter somebody's apartment to check the sprinklers and so on, for safety's sake. Okay, then be thorough, after all these days we can't be too careful: look through people's kitchen cabinets and dresser drawers too, just in case they're making bombs or WMDs in there, those might go off by mistake. Hell, it says on the label of most chemical drain openers "do not mix with bleach", so you better look around for unsafety in that too, to make sure that in case of earthquake the Drano and bleach don't spill and interact.

And if in the process of a thorough Safety Search we happen to see anything that looks slightly hinky to you, well, obviously one should post to a widely-read public forum for advice:

"Dear AskMe, while I was inspecting a tenant's sock drawer for evidence of an Al Qaida suitcase-bomb factory I came across a magazine with pictures of naked homos in it called Blueboy. Should I tell the police we have a child molester in our building? He must be a child molester or why would the magazine be called BlueBOY and not BlueMAN?"

Go on, keep ridiculing people who warn you against trading away your rights and freedoms (and mine too, though I, a fellow MeFite, repeatedly ask y'all not to); someday you'll find that your rights and freedoms are gone, and so is my vaunted "tinfoil beanie." And my last public message as they drag us off to the camps will be "I told you so! I told you so!" (Okay, I might be hyperbolizing a bit, but y'all get the point.)

And hey, as I've said before, there are plenty of countries where this "rights and freedoms" stuff is simply not an issue: the "God-fearers" might like Iran, the "leftists" might like Cuba or North Korea, the capitalist-roaders might try Singapore, for those who love a man in a uniform there's always Russia, and those who just like oppression for its own sake might feel at home in Myanmar.

Do note that certain Public Safety Monitors out there might be saddened to know that my penchant for popping off about "rights and freedoms" in public means I simply can't afford to do/have anything "criminal," just in case somebody wants to Ask Metafilter about what they find in my sock drawer; nevertheless, if a search ever comes true I will be insisting on a warrant and calling a lawyer, as advocating rights and freedoms for all in no way implies surrendering my own. (Sometimes I wish I could shut up long enough to set up a decent "grow op", but shutting up is one of the many talents I don't have an abundance of.)

And note also that I only made ONE comment in the AskMe thread, that as soon as I saw Jessamyn's request I honored it and came here instead, where "moral pronouncements" are "within the guidelines," to join a thread "already in progress."

And mediareport, my one answer did address Anonymous' AskMe question: to quote me, "I think you should say nothing to anybody about what I see as a victimless crime that should not be illegal; I don't even think you should have posted this." See?

And with that I tear my tipsy self away from this thread. If y'all want a full-time Antipollyanna you'll have to pay me.
posted by davy at 9:39 PM on December 27, 2005


Scarabic makes a good point, but we can't always take anonymous posts at face value (see the forged prescription thread) because posters usually have a self-serving bias. That said we established pretty clearly that the situation carries with it an unacceptable risk of fire. I may be wrong, but the ethics are pretty clear, it may have been wrong to enter the apartment under false pretenses, but it is equally as wrong to let a dangerous situation continue. Not to mention the duty he has to make sure the property isn't damaged (mold damage from the open skylight).

It's an unfortunate situation, and if it was anything but the highly contentious marijuana I think it'd be more cut and dry (ha ha ha). The best advice was to talk to whomever is above him about it, I don't think a personal lawyer is necessary, the condo board should have one on retainer or something similar.

As the fishfucker pointed out, the technical questions are not good use of AskMetafilter -- the very least because drug laws vary so much between communities.
posted by geoff. at 9:47 PM on December 27, 2005


davy the problem with your logic is that you can't undo a wrong with another wrong. Yes going through someone's sock drawer is wrong. Negligence is also wrong. The question is of course to what limits we should place on our safety and privacy (as we can see the debate on a national scale). Most likely if an illegal search was conducted to find the marijuana it would be thrown out. If he decided to just walk in and snoop around. Drug laws are constructed so this rarely happens, there just has to be a smell or unusual behavior. It's a complicated topic and I think you should stay away from using a bad analogy. Stick to the specific situation at hand or we can have thought experiments all day.
posted by geoff. at 9:54 PM on December 27, 2005


OK, I just checked the thread further down the page and Matt does address the anonymous commenting issue. There are pros and cons with the different methods and ways of doing this, which explains why it hasn't been implemented yet. It is quite a quandary.
posted by Devils Slide at 9:56 PM on December 27, 2005


Alright, I'll pop up again to say that I do agree it's rude to have a "grow op" that's a fire hazard in a shared building, assuming it really is. So abolish the law against growing pot and we'll see fewer potentially-hazardous "grow ops": you'll be able to have an electrician come in and wire your "op" according to the relevant safety guidelines. How's that for a solution?

G'night!
posted by davy at 10:12 PM on December 27, 2005


we can't always take anonymous posts at face value (see the forged prescription thread) because posters usually have a self-serving bias.

I saw that thread.

And all AskMe posters have a self-serving bias. It's about serving the asker. Is that not obvious? It's not about serving the asker, discussing surrounding ethical issues, and possibly intervening in the asker's life to discourage them from things you think might be morally wrong.

Help. It's about help. Be helpful. Be. Helpful.

That is all.

If you can't take it at face value, you can't take it. Move on. I totally agree that you can't take them all at face value, that some of them seek nothing but moral support for something reprehensible already said and done. If that's what you think: fucking flag it and move on.
posted by scarabic at 10:14 PM on December 27, 2005


g'night davy
posted by scarabic at 10:14 PM on December 27, 2005


g'night jonboy
posted by Mr T at 10:29 PM on December 27, 2005


davy, do you doubt anonymous's assertion that he was doing sprinkler inspection?

...davy - checking the sprinkler annually is exactly the kind of tedious thing that building supers need to do. I think it's plausible.
(4) The landlord may enter the dwelling unit without consent of the tenant in case of emergency or abandonment.

(5) The landlord shall not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant. Except in the case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least two days' notice of his or her intent to enter and shall enter only at reasonable times. The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit at a specified time where the landlord has given at least one day's notice of intent to enter to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers or tenants. A landlord shall not unreasonably interfere with a tenant's enjoyment of the rented dwelling unit by excessively exhibiting the dwelling unit.

(6) The landlord has no other right of access except by court order, arbitrator or by consent of the tenant
Revised Code of Washington 59.18.150 Landlord's right of entry — Purposes — Searches by fire officials — Conditions.

I'm with Davy on this one.

In Washington state, no apartment manager can go into someone's unit without prior permission unless there's an emergency--a fire, a burst pipe or a person or an animal in obvious distress. I doubt it is any different in Anonymous's state.

Anonymous had no legal right to go into that unit and he knows it. I can not believe he could legally let himself in to a a sprinkler inspection unannounced. That is something that can well wait on 24 to 48 hours notice. You simply can not let yourself into someone's unless you can offer 3evidence there was an apparent urgent need. Sprinkler inspections without notice don't cut it.

Nor do flyers in the lobby or laundry room. Here in Washington state you have to give the individual tenant oral or written notice at least 24 hours before you go in their unit. I doubt Washington state law is at all unusual in this respect.

At my place, the tenants have to give written permission to enter before anyone will come in to change a faucet washer. Managers simply can not let themselves in an apartment because they think something funny is going on. That is illegal entry pure and simple. Criminal aspects aside, one could get sued for real money for doing so.

If Anonymous is working for a property company or a tenant association, he will likely get fired unless he can finesse a big bust out of his illegal entry. He has to pray the neighbors are running a grow operation or he is toast. It's all or nothing for him. He raised the stakes the moment he let himself in--he had no legal reason to go into the apartment.
posted by y2karl at 10:36 PM on December 27, 2005


I said GOODNIGHT jonboy!
posted by Mr T at 10:40 PM on December 27, 2005


Except in the case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least two days' notice of his or her intent to enter and shall enter only at reasonable times.

Yep, I hear ya. But what's your point? You want to debate forever whether this person technically violated state law? The poster also said that the tenants were only around about once a week, so with a 48-hour notice rule it's highly probable that entry was made in accordance with the law but without their knowledge.

Shall we speculate further about the circumstances of an anonymous person who doesn't want to clarify them for us?

There are two issues here, just like there were with the prescription falsification thread, just like there were with the eating-disorder-boyfriend thread: 1) what do we speculate is really going on in the actual life of the poster 2) what can we post on this forum which will answer their question and help them

In other words: what's the Truth with a capital T and what makes AskMe helpful (including acknowledging its limitations)?

It's fascinating to see you two united, karl, but I know you can tell the difference.
posted by scarabic at 10:58 PM on December 27, 2005


But what's your point? You want to debate forever whether this person technically violated state law?

Fuck yes. I have managed more than one apartment building, scarabic. His back story was hinky from the git go. You have to give notice. There was no emergency--even if it took two weeks, he had to give notice to the tenant personally. An annual inspection can wait far longer than a couple of weeks. A sprinkler inspection could wait until the tenant received proper written and oral notice. A flyer in the lobby is not notice. You have to provide a paper trail for yourself in any situation where there might be a dispute between you and the tenant. You try to cut corners and the tenant can sue, sue, sue. The courts do not look lightly at these things. That's how it works here and I suspect that's how it works in Anonymous's state.

In other words: what's the Truth with a capital T and what makes AskMe helpful (including acknowledging its limitations)?

Unless you believe in the Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, the guy broke the law.

That's what I thought when I read the question--unless they have some very novel laws in his tate, this guy has confessed to commiting a crime. He broke the law, went into someone else's apartmetn--where he had no legal right to be--and found out something in the process. Then he came to AskMetaFilter for an opinion on what he found when he trespassed on to someone's property--which rented or not, was, for the purposes of his entry without notice, their property at the time.

It's a big deal. There's no way Anonymous had any legal right to go into that apartment. It's flat out illegal--for many a good and obvious reason. Trespass is trespass--not just a techincal violation of state law--even if you are the manager and have a master key.

If he made an illegal entry--and the evidence thus far suggests to me that he did--what right does he have to ask for advice on what he found out in the process without that being a factor ? What right, in giving their measured opinions on what he should do about what he found, do people have to ignore the fact that he probably broke the law to find out what he did ? I am just not sure where the Truth with a Capital T is there.
posted by y2karl at 12:03 AM on December 28, 2005


Good point, y2karl, but it's not completely sure that he didn't provide notice, is it? Doesn't he just have to slip it under the door? Maybe he did and they hadn't been there in a while. Without clarification, we just don't know.
posted by cell divide at 12:32 AM on December 28, 2005


what would bob marley do ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:47 AM on December 28, 2005


Maybe.

Maybe a pop-up davy appears and blows smoke out his ass. Maybe y2karl never lived in the same state as anonymous, and so has no clue what the law there is. Maybe they'd both feel so much better if anonymous' building burns down so he can't violate the sacred rights of the noble pot farmers. Maybe I'd feel a lot better if there weren't so much baseless speculation in AskMe. We'll probably never know, will we.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:02 AM on December 28, 2005


y2karl, this is a condo/co-op, not a landlord/tenant thing. Condos have their own separate but screwy system. In the Upkeep Clause of the Condominium Act of your state, it has this to say: "The association is responsible for maintenance, repair, and replacement of the common elements, including the limited common elements, and each unit owner is responsible for maintenance, repair, and replacement of the owner's unit. Each unit owner shall afford to the association and the other unit owners, and to their agents or employees, access through the owner's unit and limited common elements reasonably necessary for those purposes." As defined in your state, the condo sprinkler system would seem to fall under "limited common elements."

The sprinkler check was a yearly, scheduled maintenance for all the condos, handled by the Association, and there's no reason to just assume the guy was making shit up.

Also, paragraph (1) of the Landlord Access statute you linked to has this to say: "The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, alterations, or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors." The fact that these tenants are absentee tenants would seem to activate the "impracticable to do so" part of paragraph (5) regarding notice. If this were a landlord/tenant thing, which it's not.

Like I said before, I'm an extremely private person and I will and have gotten into it with any stuffed shirt from the Association who tries to tell me, "Hey, those guys can go in your unit whenever they want." But it's unreasonable to expect that the superintendant shouldn't be allowed to do his scheduled maintenance on your unit, like he has to do for every other unit, just because it doesn't appear to be an emergency situation.
posted by Gator at 5:10 AM on December 28, 2005


I suspect Gator is right and the inspection was both legal and predictable (the condo rules made it clear there would be yearly inspections). We'll probably never know the full truth about this case. But I thought I'd point out that even though y2karl and davy (strange bedfellows indeed) are probably both wrong, y2karl made a convincing case based on his own experience (which happens to be inapplicable because this is a condo situation); davy made an unconvincing one based on his laudable but over-the-top paranoia about privacy (dude, go get a cabin in the Idaho backwoods if you don't want nobody knowin' 'bout nothin').
posted by languagehat at 5:43 AM on December 28, 2005


You're right, lh. I, too, would like to give some props to y2karl for (a) not derailing anon's thread in the first place and (b) not being kooky in expressing his opinion here. Well done, sir.
posted by Gator at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2005


And, again, the specifics of *this* condo situation are *not* clear in the original post. It's an odd detail to leave out of the story, which is in large part responsible for the unhelpful discussion.
posted by mediareport at 6:00 AM on December 28, 2005


what right does he have to ask for advice on what he found out in the process without that being a factor ?

He paid his $5? :)

You may be right, you may not, karl. The details *aren't there.* There simply isn't enough information to make the determination. Which brings me back to my point: let's not debate it. If you want to not give the person the benefit of the doubt, that's fine. I have no problem with that here. What's a problem is rushing into the AskMe thread and interrupting the normal flow of answers with a bunch of accusations of possible wrongdoing.
posted by scarabic at 8:26 AM on December 28, 2005


...which you didn't do but davy did.
posted by scarabic at 8:27 AM on December 28, 2005


Let's say you're right, though, karl, and the guy did break the law, and that was clear. How about offering something helpful like "whoa dude, you're already over the line so be careful with what you do next?" If he did enter without proper notice, breaking the law, does that make him open season? Or does it make him someone with a problem who needs help solving it?
posted by scarabic at 8:29 AM on December 28, 2005


But it's unreasonable to expect that the superintendant shouldn't be allowed to do his scheduled maintenance on your unit, like he has to do for every other unit, just because it doesn't appear to be an emergency situation.

...Doesn't he just have to slip it under the door?

People are having such a hard time wrapping their heads around what is a given to me:

You can't go into people's apartments without their express permission unless there is an emergency. Period.

The occupant, renter or owner, has to be notified and he or she has to give his or her express permission. Permission to enter has to be a matter of record. There is no room for passive notification--they have to know why you are going in and when and they have to agree to it each time you enter. Slipping a note under the door does not cut it. If the police need a warrant to go in, where does any one get the idea that there is a lesser standard for private citizens ? It was an illegal entry.

It's not rocket science to figure this one out. You have to make sure the tenants get the notice if you run an apartment building. There is no way the law covering a condo, where the units are owned outright by the occupants, are going to be less strict. If an officer of the law has to get a warrant to enter, and has to show probable cause of a law being broken to get that warrant, no representative of a condo association can walk in unannounced for a trivial matter that could wait on making sure proper notice was given. There is no fudge factor for people who are not officers of the court. The law is always stricter for private citizens. He was not a police officer with a warrant and there was no emergency--there is no way he had a legal reason to go into that apartment. He was trespassing.

And, again, the specifics of *this* condo situation are *not* clear in the original post.

That's why I brought this up. There is something very fishy about Anonymous's story. Sprinkler inspection ? How many buildings in your experience have inside sprinklers ? Where do they have them ? In the common areas--hallways and laundry rooms. You almost never see them in living units even if the building is a really old one. Older apartment buildings sometimes have them but a sprinkler in an apartment is by far the exception rather than the rule. Condos are supposed to be in better shape than the average apartment building. I find the whole sprinkler story very bogus.

"The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, alterations, or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors."

What that language means if the tenant can not legally refuse entry after the landlord has given proper notice. In those situations where a tenant still does not give permission, you would advised to show up with a police officer and try to work something out. Even if you do, that doesn't mean you will get in the apartment. The police will try to help work things out but they are about to go into someone's apartment without permission, a warrant or probable cause that would stand up in court. But you ask for their help all the same because you will be making yourself a case for keeping the security deposit or recovering what their intransigence costs you in lost rent or extra repairs if you have to take them to court.

There was no emergency stated, so there was no legal excuse for him going into the unit without express permission.
posted by y2karl at 9:11 AM on December 28, 2005


As I read the question it is BOTH a condo situation and a landlord-tennant situation. Anon is the super hired by the condo association. The unit in question is rented out to whomever is running this operation. Anon is not the landlord OR the landlord's representative, but there is a landlord involved - the legally registered owner of the unit in question.
posted by raedyn at 9:18 AM on December 28, 2005


As for my advice, it would be Don't trespass, dude--not unless you want a world of trouble.

He could very well call the police, get the guy busted and the people in the condo association could very likely end up demanding he be fired because he has a proven track record for waltzing into people's apartments without their express legal permission.

It's a very hinky story and, for that alone, I am not surprised people went off on it.
posted by y2karl at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2005


There is no way the law covering a condo, where the units are owned outright by the occupants, are going to be less strict.

I'm sure you're very well-informed on a lot of topics. This isn't one of them. Condominium associations are governed by a Master Deed and a set of By-Laws. They vary from one association to another, and unless you've read them, you cannot say what constitutes a valid entry to a unit. Unless the units are rented out under Section 8, the rules governing apartments are completely irrelevant.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2005


Sprinkler inspection ? How many buildings in your experience have inside sprinklers ? Where do they have them ? In the common areas--hallways and laundry rooms. You almost never see them in living units even if the building is a really old one.

This level of guesswork is just paranoid. Whether you're correct or not I don't see the reason to treat AskMe participants with such distrust, especially where the facts are lacking. In absence of the facts, I like to give the asker the benefit of the doubt. It gets back to the whole "be helpful" thing.

Anyway, I think we're talking at cross purposes here. You've been a super and are examining whether an infraction took place, without enough information to really know. I'm saying keep the questioner's interests paramount. Not really the same debate, so I think I'll bow out now.
posted by scarabic at 9:52 AM on December 28, 2005


They vary from one association to another, and unless you've read them, you cannot say what constitutes a valid entry to a unit.

I fail to see how any agreement can legally allow, without there being an emergency, anyone not owning the unit to enter it unannounced and without prior express permission to enter from the owner. What owner would sign an agreement giving a stranger carte blanche permission to go onto their property for a trivial matter ? It is illogical.

This level of guesswork is just paranoid.

No, it is not. It's a very fishy story. Your level of bending over backwords to make excuses for it is just pronoid. He had no legal right to go into the apartment.
posted by y2karl at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2005


Ok ding dong... we got it. Bad move on the super's part. But now what should he do? That's what the AskMe thread asks.
posted by Witty at 10:17 AM on December 28, 2005


" Unless the units are rented out under Section 8, the rules governing apartments are completely irrelevant."

Uh... Wrong. The grower is renting from the condo owner, which means that he's covered under rental privacy laws. And the laws in my state are very similar to those in Y2Karl's.

"You've been a super and are examining whether an infraction took place, without enough information to really know. I'm saying keep the questioner's interests paramount."

The asker's interests are impacted by the possible illegality of the asker's prior actions. The fact that he or she may have acted illegally (which is why the asker should get a lawyer) or in breach of the bylaws governing the association necessarily impact the decision to involve the police.
posted by klangklangston at 10:20 AM on December 28, 2005


thank you y2karl and klanklangston for posting totally reasonable comments to that AskMe thread.
posted by jessamyn at 10:29 AM on December 28, 2005


What owner would sign an agreement giving a stranger carte blanche permission to go onto their property for a trivial matter ?

Probably no owner would, but you are the only one positing that as having any relevance here. Owners do agree to abide by the by-laws when they purchase a condo, and those by-laws do take precedence over the regulations that govern, say, apartments. If the by-laws say that maintenance can enter a unit without notice to check a sprinkler system, then the unit owner has already agreed to allow that, by buying the unit. The regulations that restrict government bodies like the police do not necessarily restrict private enterprises like condo associations.

I ask you, before you make more impassioned statements about what must be true, and how implausible the stated situation is, please ask some friend who owns a condo if you can read their master deed and by-laws. As it is, you don't know what you're talking about. After reading the documents, you will at least know what the rules are in one condo association. As it is, you don't even know that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:33 AM on December 28, 2005


Ok ding dong... we got it. Bad move on the super's part. But now what should he do? That's what the AskMe thread asks.

Be less stupid in the future. Don't break into people's apartments.

If a burglar was arrested for breaking inot a house, could he cop a plea by turning in someone else whose house he had burgled for something illegal they were doing there ? Can evidence obtained by a criminal trespass made by a private citizen be used in court ? If the police went in without a warrant or probable cause, the evidence would likely be thrown out in court. Could they then arrange for a burglar to break in and then tell them what he found ? I don't know what is legal here. But I can't see how it could be allowed. It seems to me that it would be far too easy to abuse such a situation.

Look, I can think of any number of perfectly legal ways to have forced the issue in the situation Anonymous described, given his suspicions, prior to his letting himself into the apartment without permission. He chose instead to go off half cocked, break the law and muddy up the whole situation. He needs advice from a real life lawyer.
posted by y2karl at 10:41 AM on December 28, 2005


The regulations that restrict government bodies like the police do not necessarily restrict private enterprises like condo associations.

I am not inclined to think they could possibly be less restrictive but thank you for sharing your speculations on the matter all the same.
posted by y2karl at 10:43 AM on December 28, 2005


The grower is renting from the condo owner, which means that he's covered under rental privacy laws.

If those laws apply at all, they apply to actions between the unit owner and the renter. The owner's contract with the association is not affected by any other arrangement the owner may make. Condos are not apartment houses. Even if every unit in a condo building is rented out, it is still not an apartment house, and it is still governed by the association by-laws.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:46 AM on December 28, 2005


My "speculations" are the result of my having owned condos in two different associations, and having served on the board of directors of one. What do you base your speculations on?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:47 AM on December 28, 2005


Being y2karl most certainly.
posted by Witty at 10:51 AM on December 28, 2005


I find it hard to believe that people who are not officers of the law have any legal authority to enter a private home without permission for any matter that is not an emergency. I would like to see a link to any sample association bylaws or anything else that suggests otherwise. And who would sign such a thing if they do exist ? Who would give strangers such carte blanche permission to enter their house ?
posted by y2karl at 11:11 AM on December 28, 2005


There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, but

There

is

no

carte

blanche

permission
.

You are the only one saying there is. Any permission there is was agreed to by the unit owner. I don't know what that permission is, and neither do you, because we haven't seen the condo documents. Until you do, none of what you are saying here has any basis.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:19 AM on December 28, 2005


And who would sign such a thing if they do exist ?

For example? Elderly people who don't want to have to deal with upkeep and maintenance themselves. And it's not "carte blanche" access -- if it were, I sure as hell wouldn't have moved in here myself. There's a big difference between, "I can enter your unit anytime I want for whatever reason I can think up," and "We've scheduled routine maintenance on Buildings A, B, and C for the week of [insert date]."

y2karl, as I linked to upthread, your own state has a whole separate chapter in the statutes dealing with condominiums as separate and unique dwellings, authorizing Associations to set their own bylaws. Doesn't that, at least, tell you that condos don't work the same way as regular apartments?

I still don't see what the point is in calling out anonymous for failing to cover his AskMe ass by explicitly adding the words, "I duly notified the tenants" to his question. Even if he had said that, he still could be lying, and we'd still have no way of knowing, so why not just take the question at face value and assume it's in good faith?
posted by Gator at 11:26 AM on December 28, 2005


Because he wouldn't be able to flaunt his supposed knowledge otherwise. Taking the question at face value would have meant joining the crowd with "cops" or "no cops" type answers. See, by suggesting that the superintendent broke the law, he could throw in a whole new angle on the problem and reign as supreme authority on said angle... which conveniently and ultimately squashes anything anyone else may have suggested prior. It's a power move, that's all.
posted by Witty at 11:47 AM on December 28, 2005


Anonymous expressly went in to snoop. He then gave us all what his rationalization was for doing so if the matter came up later. But by his own admission here, he did not go in to the apartment to inspect the sprinklers.

I happen to think cribcage had it nailed here:

(1) Consult an attorney. Your first four questions have no place on an internet discussion forum.

I think that a reasonable argument can be made that, by admitting to what he did online and why he did it, he made everyone who read his account a party to an illegal act. It was dumb to do it the way he did and dumb to then blab about it where he did. He could have been smarter that that. That is my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
posted by y2karl at 12:23 PM on December 28, 2005


Anonymous expressly went in to snoop.
See, this is why we can't have nice things - you're making shit up. This is what anonymous said:
every year the units need their sprinklers checked and when I went inside to check my suspicions were confirmed.
He didn't go in because he was suspicious, he went in because he was supposed to. If you don't beleive him fine, but saying he went in expressly to snoop is bullshit. Nobody expressed that except, again, you.

I think that a reasonable argument can be made that, by admitting to what he did online and why he did it, he made everyone who read his account a party to an illegal act.

Well, obviously such an argument can be made, because you've done it. We part company on the reasonableness of it, though. I think it's so fantastic as to be laughable. I did, in fact, laugh. Please keep it up.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:42 PM on December 28, 2005


How many buildings in your experience have inside sprinklers ?

Every room of our apartment has a sprinkler head. It was built in the last 7 years.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:57 PM on December 28, 2005


"Hmmm, these brand-new tenants are acting very shifty right from the get-go. I want to snoop in their unit, but I'd better wait almost a full year until the annual sprinkler inspection -- that way I'll have a plausible excuse. Yessssssss, I'll bide my time, and when sprinkler inspection season arrives, I'll CRUSH THEM LIKE ANTS and look like a hero! Mwahahaha!"

Yes, very reasonable.
posted by Gator at 1:07 PM on December 28, 2005


"How many buildings in your experience have inside sprinklers ? "

I work in affordable housing management, and we recently had a fire that destroyed a building with 8 apartment units. The complex was originally constructed in the 70's with no sprinklers and because of recently updated building codes in that particular city, we have to include sprinklers as part of the reconstruction. Sprinklers are not unusual.

Also, 24 hours notice is what we are required to give when entering units for routine inspections or maintenance (sprinklers, fire extinguishers, pest control, smoke detectors, etc). We leave a notice on the resident's door 24 hours prior to entering the unit, except, of course, in case of emergency. This is included in the lease and is part of local tenant landlord law. Have some of you never rented before?
posted by chiababe at 1:40 PM on December 28, 2005


I blame myself for this thread turning into a callout pileon pissfest too - I shouldn't have buried the real question I had in mind, which was this:

I really believe in the "flag and move on" concept but I dunno what do to when it's that extreme. Do threads with multiple flags get examined in a larger sense or do Matt and Jess only scrutinize what's explicitly flagged? It would be nice to save my time and theirs by knowing that if I flag a few the thread as a whole will get a once-over and offenders killed.

Jess, Matt - should I be flagging every single apparently offending message or do y'all typically "get the gist" if there's a lot in a thread?
posted by phearlez at 2:00 PM on December 28, 2005


He didn't go in because he was suspicious, he went in because he was supposed to.

It is not so clear when you read what he wrote:

My wife and I own a condominum and I am the complex superintendent. Our neighbors moved in about a year ago and my wife and I became suspicious when they gave conflicting and elusive answers about their professions. They moved in the middle of the night and in the year they've been here we've seen them a total of three times. Their skylights are left open even in pouring rainstorms and it's obvious no one is living there.

I am not the landlord of this unit. At the HOA meeting my wife told the owner of the unit (the landlord) how odd it was that we'd never seen the tenants of the unit and the other weird things and he just said "that's just the way some tenants are." Since I am the superintendent I have the master key and every year the units need their sprinklers checked and when I went inside to check my suspicions were confirmed.


My reading of his account is that he was suspicious of his neighbors and he went in--without permission from the landlord--to snoop, not to check the sprinklers. Checking the sprinklers was what his excuse was for going in without permission. He certainly gave no explanation regarding whether or what proper notice might be required in such a case. As I have said, my experience is that there has to be an emergency for a stranger to go into a person's house or apartment without their express permission. That is why I find his story less than honest.

And, later on, he specifically asked :

Did my entering their unit compromise the evidence?

If he was so sure that what he did was so plainly and obviously legal, why did he feel he had to ask if he had compromised the evidence ? It is not cut and dried at all.
posted by y2karl at 2:11 PM on December 28, 2005


"If those laws apply at all, they apply to actions between the unit owner and the renter. The owner's contract with the association is not affected by any other arrangement the owner may make."

The laws regarding adequate notice, at least in my state, supercede any agreement made with outside parties.
I base my opinions on being on the board of a 350 unit housing cooperative currently looking at the legal processes involved with varying options of privatization, and previous employ doing copy editing at a housing law office. If the poster was in Michigan and did not provide adequate notice to the tennants he broke the law and is liable for penalties including fines and a revokation of his rental license (something that everyone must have legally, but many don't).
posted by klangklangston at 3:30 PM on December 28, 2005


Rental license? klang, for the fourteenth time: it's a condo! Condo associations don't need rental licenses, and whatever the owner does with an outside party (that's the renters, not the association), it does not alter the owner's obligations to, or agreement with, the association. If he has some obligation to give his tenants two weeks' notice before he goes in the unit, that obligation is not binding on the association or its representatives.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:59 PM on December 28, 2005


I ran this by various people here today--some attorneys at the Attorney General's Torts office, the owner of my building and the Rental Housing Association of Seattle. While no one claimed any expertise on the specific laws, there was a great deal of agreement. No one thought it was a good idea for him to have let himself in the apartment the way he did. Having done so, however, and found out what he did, the consensus was he should tell the owner of the unit what he knows if he tells anyone. Talking to an attorney before talking to anyone was considered a good idea by everyone. He has a master key to the unit. Whoever finds out what he found out is going to have a lot of questions for him regarding that.

Without prompting, nearly everyone essentially made the same comment: revealing his story in such detail to a bunch of complete strangers online and asking for their advice was as questionable as his letting himself in the apartment in the first place. I concur with that. Neither act was well considered. But, you know, intelligent people can differ on anything. We all look at the world through the wrong end of our own telescopes.
posted by y2karl at 5:08 PM on December 28, 2005


Hey languagehat, fuck you very much. That's the kind of gratuitous personal slur I get from that dipshit scarabic, with whom I'd thought a truce was going.

As for "personal experience," I've been a tenant all my life, and I've been happy to have had a few superintendants/landlords with stands like y2karl's. And as for "strange bedfellows," y2's one of my fellow MeFites that I agree with pretty much most of the time, at least on legal/political/social issues; he comes pretty close to being what I'd call a "True Leftist." Whether we'd get along in person I think would depend a lot on what kind of day we each had been having, though I can tell you right off that I'd feel quite comfortable renting from/through him sight unseen. ("Here's what I need, what do ya got?")

And there are some fellow MeFites who would constantly disappoint me if I expected other than vapid catty bullshit from them. Please, don't let me know if y'all're ever in town.

So are we through with "personality issues" in this thread?
posted by davy at 7:03 PM on December 28, 2005


Jess, Matt - should I be flagging every single apparently offending message or do y'all typically "get the gist" if there's a lot in a thread?

I think I mentioned this someplace else, I can't speak for mathowie but I definitely get the gist if I see one or two comments excessively flagged in an AskMe thread.
posted by jessamyn at 7:36 PM on December 28, 2005


with whom I'd thought a truce was going

C'mon davy. I'm trying. All I did was crticize something you did, not who/what you are. Come now, we've certainly been around the block enough times to allow some back-and-forth without calling off our general truce and calling each other dipshits. Right? Right?? Don't leave me hangin' here, buddy...
posted by scarabic at 8:19 PM on December 28, 2005


That's the kind of gratuitous personal slur

languagehat is having an unusually off day. Happens to us all...
posted by mediareport at 9:44 PM on December 28, 2005


languagehat is having an unusually off day.

Agreed. If anyone has been keeping up with languagehat elsewhere on this site, you'd know to cut him some serious slack this week/month.
posted by jessamyn at 9:48 PM on December 28, 2005


It's plainly illegal to enter someone's apartment without notice, but I doubt he would ever suffer consequences for it, since he found a grow-op. .
posted by delmoi at 11:58 PM on December 28, 2005


Whether what anonymous did was illegal or not, I can't say that I feel much sympathy for him/her.

(something about curiousity and its toxicity to felines)
posted by Afroblanco at 12:31 AM on December 29, 2005


That said we established pretty clearly that the situation carries with it an unacceptable risk of fire.

Well, "established" is a very strong word. How many grow op fires are there each year? How many grow ops are there? Without knowing these things we have no way of knowing how much of a fire risk there was. And if they were using florescent grow lights, there would not have been a risk of fire. The anonymous super didn't see any of their setup, and unless they hacked the electrical system there's no more risk of a fire then a bunch of computers.

Of course if they were using halogen lights, it would be a different story, but we simply don't know. Grow ops burn down occasionally, and so do other things, but that doesn't mean that every grow op is a fire hazard.

Maybe I'd feel a lot better if there weren't so much baseless speculation in AskMe. We'll probably never know, will we.

The fire hazard thing was just as much baseless speculation as anything else.

If a burglar was arrested for breaking inot a house, could he cop a plea by turning in someone else whose house he had burgled for something illegal they were doing there ?

If the prosecutor was more interested in prosecuting the burglee they might do this.

Can evidence obtained by a criminal trespass made by a private citizen be used in court?

Of course it can.

---

Kirth Gerson: If there are laws regulating the interaction between landlords and tenants, its pretty obvious that those laws apply even if you are renting an condo from a condo owner. I don't know why you think they would be different for the tenant who for all intents and purposes is living in an apartment. The law always overrides any contract.

Serving on a Condo board doesn't really mean that much, unless you've spoken to a lawyer about this specific thing. Landlords break the law all the time, often without even realizing it.

Apparently y2karl has run this by some lawyers so that pretty much settles it, no?

--

Also let me say that's its not exactly clear that the super didn't give proper notice. although if it had been me and I had given notice I probably would have called the cops (and then refused to testify it came to that, I guess)
posted by delmoi at 12:42 AM on December 29, 2005


Well, actually if someone trespasses at the request of the police then the evidence they discover can't be used in court. As long as they're acting on their own, it's fine.
posted by delmoi at 12:43 AM on December 29, 2005


Apparently y2karl has run this by some lawyers so that pretty much settles it, no?
No. Unless you know exactly what the form and content of y2karl's "running it by some lawyers" was, it's just more noise. In fact, y2's much more subdued presentation of what the lawyers said sounds like they didn't give him a lot of encouragement. Or maybe they just weren't interested, because after all, no one claimed any expertise on the specific laws.

Serving on a condo board doesn't make me a legal expert. I don't have to be one to know that people continuously quoting landlord-tenant regulations are talking through their hats. For instance: If there are laws regulating the interaction between landlords and tenants, its pretty obvious that those laws apply even if you are renting an condo from a condo owner. I never said they didn't. They do apply to the landlord/unit owner. They do not necessarily apply to the condo association or its agents who, as I keep pointing out, are governed by condo documents that none of us has seen. Since none of us has seen them, we cannot make any judgement as to whether anonymous' entry to the unit was justified. Making judgemental pronouncements about the propriety of that entry is engaging in fantasy. It actually makes me wonder what the judges are smoking.

The fire hazard thing was just as much baseless speculation as anything else.
As may be, but I never said anything about that, so aim that thing somewhere else.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:39 AM on December 29, 2005


Hey languagehat, fuck you very much. That's the kind of gratuitous personal slur I get from that dipshit scarabic, with whom I'd thought a truce was going.

Jesus, davy, take it easy. If I'd thought a mild tweak like that would offend you so terribly, I wouldn't have said it, but somebody who dishes it out as copiously as you do should be able to take a little of it, dontcha think? Yeah, it seemed to me that you were over the top in that thread, but I generally agree with your paranoia about privacy (which is why I called it "laudable"). I don't think I've ever used personal slurs about anyone around here, and I certainly wasn't intending one against you. I join scarabic in his plea.
posted by languagehat at 5:49 AM on December 29, 2005


They do not necessarily apply to the condo association or its agents who, as I keep pointing out, are governed by condo documents that none of us has seen. Since none of us has seen them, we cannot make any judgment as to whether anonymous' entry to the unit was justified.

Keith, I understand that but no matter what agreements are made, they can never supersede the law. The condo agreement is in addition too, not superseding whatever law governs these things. It's actually a somewhat interesting question, and I don't claim I know the answer; however I do find it very unlikely that entering an apartment without at least posting a door thing or calling them is probably not legal. It hardly matters at this point though; the growers will be in no position to sue him.
posted by delmoi at 7:34 AM on December 29, 2005


"Rental license? klang, for the fourteenth time: it's a condo! Condo associations don't need rental licenses, and whatever the owner does with an outside party (that's the renters, not the association), it does not alter the owner's obligations to, or agreement with, the association. If he has some obligation to give his tenants two weeks' notice before he goes in the unit, that obligation is not binding on the association or its representatives."

Kirth, stop being retarded. The rental license is needed by the OWNER OF THE CONDO (I put it in caps because you seem slow) to RENT to the GROWER. The LAWS that GOVERN that arrangement CANNOT LEGALLY be superceded by the association, no matter what the obligation to the association the owner has. If the condo owner wants the association to provide maintenence, the owner has the onus to make sure that the maintenence provided conforms to the law. By entering without notice (which is unclear from the poster's question), the OWNER can be held liable, and may even feel it actionable to sue the condo association for exposing him to that liablity (winnable is another thing, but worth suing over is a much lower standard).
As Delmoi pointed out, the chance that the growers will sue is slim, to say the least.
posted by klangklangston at 7:54 AM on December 29, 2005


Woah! I didn't realize this thread is still running around. But that is one neat feature of the "My Comments" page. I like that.

A couple of things:

1. The rights of a landlord are entirely dependent on the statutory law of the state that the tenancy is in. Thus, and to that extent, any analysis by any of us is not going to determinative of the issue because every state has different property codes. What landlord can do here in Texas is going to be different than what a landlord can do in Washington. Some states have more rigid protections of tenants; some have more rigid protections of landlords. We don't know from the question what state this person is in, so we can't answer the question, and karl's analysis is wrong unless it is in the same state.

2. Although property codes vary from state to state, there are some general rules we do know: the property code will proscribe some conduct regarding entering on the land, but allow other if it is contained within the landlord-tenant agreement.

3. Landlords will have some required duties to enter premises, with or without permission of the tenant, but usually have some notice requirement.

4. The superintendent is the agent of the landlord, and thus stands in the shoes of the landlord for various fixes.

In sum, I will tell you this: none of you are right. Or, each one of you may be right. We have no way of answering this question. And people arguing about what landlords can or can't do better be within the same state and basing their analysis on the same landlord-tenant agreement, because otherwise it is a pointless endeavor. The law varies state to state on this point, and the landlord-tenant agreements vary within any given state.

Apparently y2karl has run this by some lawyers so that pretty much settles it, no?
posted by delmoi at 12:42 AM PST on December 29


Wow.

y2karl claims to "run this by some lawyers" and the matter is settled.

Yet everytime I comment on something legally related, suddenly I'm some asshole who is trying to lord over people by appealing to authority.
posted by dios at 8:00 AM on December 29, 2005


y2karl writes "Sprinkler inspection ? How many buildings in your experience have inside sprinklers ? Where do they have them ? In the common areas--hallways and laundry rooms."

All new buildings housing more than a certian number of residences (I think it's more than 4) here are required to have 100% coverage. I don't know when the law went into effect but it's been keeping my BIL, a sprinkler installer, busy for the last five years.

y2karl writes "What owner would sign an agreement giving a stranger carte blanche permission to go onto their property for a trivial matter ? It is illogical. "

Are you kidding? Developers have set up HOAs that restrict what color you can paint your house, how many people can live in each residence, what grass you can plant, the age of residents, how long guests can stay, what kind of shingles you can use, how large a TV you can have, etc. etc. Heck I've ran afoul of a HOA that prohibits parking a pickup in a driveway between the hours of 10PM and 7AM! I've seen no limit to the insanity that can be perpetrated on others by busy bodies thru HOA.
posted by Mitheral at 8:00 AM on December 29, 2005


dios writes "We don't know from the question what state this person is in"

We don't even know if the poster lives in a state, he could be a resident of a province or some other regional body.
posted by Mitheral at 8:05 AM on December 29, 2005


The LAWS that GOVERN that arrangement CANNOT LEGALLY be superceded by the association, no matter what the obligation to the association the owner has. - klangklangston

You are correct.

Landlords will have some required duties to enter premises, with or without permission of the tenant, but usually have some notice requirement. - dios

Also correct. The notice may have been given in the lease agreement. If I owned a condo and was renting it out to someone, knowing my condo bylaws warned me want the condo superintendant would be entering during week X to inspect something, I would put it clearly in my lease agreement with the tennant: "Building management will be entering during week X for purpose foo". That would be giving plenty more than the 24 hr notice required where I live. Where you live the requirements may be different.

We don't know if that happened in this circumstance, and because it's an anonymous question we likely won't. My point is only that we don't know if the requirements for entering the premesis were met or not. It could be either. So wasting our time debating if it was OK or not is... well, a waste. We can't know. It's not helpful to anybody for us all to sit here screaming at each other until we're blue in the face, particularly over an unanswerable question. Please stop with the insults and all that.

It's a legitiamte question for people answering in the thread to raise: "Did you enter legally? Are you sure? Here's somethings you might have not thought about re: notice required etc" And the answer may change what the appropriate course of action is. But trying to surmise the answer to those questions is guess work, unhelpful, and negative. (Negative because it's turning into personal insults).
posted by raedyn at 8:38 AM on December 29, 2005


If anyone's interested in another pointless "I ran this by some people" story...I just called the Sheriff's Office (no, of course I did not call 911) for my area and ran a hypothetical story by some people (a dispatcher, a deputy, and a communications officer who was in the Civil Division, who all seemed grateful for the brief opportunity to chuckle). My story was, approximately:

"I live in a condo. I rent, I don't own the unit. Now, if it says in the condo bylaws that there's, say, routine maintenance that will be conducted on all the units at specified times, and there's, say, a notice on the Association Bulletin Board that the units will be inspected on such-and-such a date, and if I'm not home when they come in my unit and haven't been contacted personally, or anything like that, is that, like, breaking and entering? Invasion of privacy, or something?"

All three of the people I talked to -- law enforcement personnel, all -- said at first that condo associations are private entities, so it probably wouldn't be a case of breaking and entering or invasion of privacy. All three of them repeated, several times, while I tried to clarify the story for them, "It really depends on what it says in the bylaws or Association Contract." I said, "What about the law, or landlord/tenant stuff?" The deputy said to me, "It's a private entity, it's not like someone renting out a house somewhere. That would be different."

Ultimately all three advised me to contact an attorney, as it sounded like any such complaint would be a civil matter, but the attorney would have to look at the bylaws and see what that contract says. Basically, they were telling me, if the bylaws of the condo association -- a private entity with which you enter into a contract when you agree to the bylaws -- specify when and how the maintenance guys can come in, and they come into your unit according to those bylaws, you got nothin'. "You could file a complaint with the Civil Division if you felt that they entered your unit outside the rules of your Association, and we could investigate that, but it depends on what it says in the bylaws." And that's the story from my state, which of course is different from y2karl's and klang's and delmoi's and possibly anon's as well.

If we take anonymous at his word (and I still don't see why the hell we shouldn't, all sorts of extrapolating and assuming nefarious motives aside), he was most likely not violating any laws, nor is he likely a tortfeasor. (Shoutout!)

It's a legitimate question for people answering in the thread to raise: "Did you enter legally? Are you sure? Here's somethings you might have not thought about re: notice required etc"

That's fair enough. I think, though, that "Your story is fishy" and the like are neither fair nor helpful.

In conclusion:

"LIKE ANTS!!!"
posted by Gator at 8:46 AM on December 29, 2005


If we grant that your "landlords have to give notice" stuff is all 100% correct, will you stop whining about it? The superintendent poster is not and was not an agent of the landlord/unit owner. He works for the association. He says he entered the unit on association business. He doesn't say whether notice was given, and we don't know whether it was given or even required.

dios, I have no doubt that everything you wrote in re: landlord obligations is correct (except for your #4), but it doesn't matter, since it was not a landlord or landlord's agent who entered the unit. Thanks, though, for pointing out (again) that the noisemakers don't even know what state the incident happened in, so they can't know what laws apply. Thanks also to raedyn and mitheral and others for pointing out the same thing.

Oh, and thanks to klangklangston for bringing the discussion to his usual level of discourse. It's always a treat.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:08 AM on December 29, 2005


Y'know, not to restart the fracas or anything, but here's the bitter irony of the matter -

Say Anonymous hadn't gone into his neighbor's appartment. He could have called a contractually-mandated building-wide sprinkler inspection two weeks in advance. The growers would have their chance to skedattle. If they didn't leave, Anonymous could have, very legally, entered the appartment and found the plants. Then he could have appealed to the landlord or police without any problems.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:19 AM on December 29, 2005


Exactly. If he had been smart about it, he could have handled the situation without involving himself personally. Not to mention avoiding the part about asking a bunch of complete strangers on an internet forum what he should do next.
posted by y2karl at 11:29 AM on December 29, 2005


Aww, Kirth, I try. I mean, at least I can spell Keith right. What's your usual standard of discourse? I'm having a hard time finding one to hold you to. Is it officious or condescending? Or perhaps whining on MeTa about year-end lists? Just tryin' t' pin ya down, Kirth, so I can try harder to meet your rigorous standards.
posted by klangklangston at 2:56 PM on December 29, 2005


Anyway, like I said I think it's totally irrelevant wether he entered the building illegally or not, since the pot-growing is a much greater crime.

I think (although it's a bit fuzzy) that being involved in a criminal action basically voids your rights to be protected by the law in that action, so running a grow op could possibly strip you of your right to sue the super for entering the building. Again it's something I'm not sure of..

I worry about this landlord though, it seems like he could get his condo confiscated.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on December 29, 2005


Damn... you all still whittling this one down? Shit. Clearly there isn't a pot smoker in the house, with these kinds of attention spans at work.
posted by scarabic at 7:58 PM on December 29, 2005


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