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Author: Subject: For those of you who rent your house, does your landlord know of your chemistry interests?
Electra
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 00:28
For those of you who rent your house, does your landlord know of your chemistry interests?


I had an incident in the not so distant past of my landlord noticing my lab equipment, panicking and calling the cops. Fortunately I was able to talk on level with the cops and get them to put their guns away, and got them to leave after having them inspect my lab and explaining to them my reagents.

I am considering moving to a new property and debating whether or not to tell the landlord of my hobby before moving in, perhaps even invite them to come look at it if they please. I just fear that this may cause some landlords to immediately say no out of ignorant fear.

What do you guys do? Is your landlord aware for those of you renting? From what I understand quite a number of members here have had run ins with the cops due to their unusual chemistry hobby.
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 01:16


I don't have much experience with this directly, but I am sure you would be viewed less guiltily if you were completely honest and up front with them and I think with some luck you could find a landlord who wouldn't care as long as you guarantee no lasting damage or anything like that. I was a little unsure from your post about whether you were moving because of this incident? Personally I don't think something like this is extreme enough to warrant moving, but I guess if you are thinking about it anyways this is a good thing to consider.



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Electra
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 02:07


That incident happened a long time ago, not recently. I am moving for work/school related reasons.

It's not necessarily that I am trying to hide my hobby, but then again, no renter has any obligation to tell the landlord what they do in their personal space as long as it is legal and isn't causing any damage to the property.

The only concern is, the areas I am looking into are very limited in available houses, so it may not be worth the risk of having a landlord immediately decline me.

Then again there's also renters insurance which I could mention to the landlord. It sort of exists for the sole concern of if a tenant happens to cause property damage.

I am generally curious about those that have told their landlord of their hobby, and how exactly they went about doing it.

[Edited on 23-1-2016 by Electra]
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Electra
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 02:15


Perhaps I could tell them a month or two after moving in when I happen to run into them, after the lease is signed.

That way, I will come off as honest and reassuring, yet, even if they do have an issue with it, there's nothing much they could do about it. It couldn't get me kicked out being legal. My lawyer would have a field day with that. It's slightly passive aggressive and clever, but no real foul is occurring. As long as rent is payed, I can't see them having an issue.
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Oscilllator
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 03:26


I agree with Electra. Telling your Landlord about it in a polite and friendly manner is almost certainly the best way to go about it.
I also think you should offer to give them a bit of a tour while you're running an experiment, even (and perhaps especially) if they are uncomfortable with your activities.
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Electra
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 03:36


One potential issue is that I have noticed some leases forbid the storage/handling of flammable products, which it's almost impossible to do organic chem without them. Even though there's gasoline in everyones car. They could potentially use that as a route to get someone evicted, unless you lied to them and said you don't use anything flammable.

Though, I doubt many landlords would want to kick out a tenant who pays the rent on time anyways. So that's probably a paranoid concern at best.
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 08:25


My landlord OK'ed putting in a fume hood (still in the planning stages, *sigh*), but I imagine that is very much an exception...And as far as cops go, keep a legit, bound, written in ink logbook. My notebook has saved me TWICE from cops and fire chiefs looking for my "meth lab".



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JJay
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 08:34


No, my landlord does not know, but I avoid doing dangerous work with chemicals at home.

I was doing some chemistry in a public hackerspace a few days ago and had some unexpected visitors. One was a likely homeless person who left after I explained that the ethanol I was distilling was not drinkable, and the other was a likely cop who looked bored after he saw my notebook.

[Edited on 23-1-2016 by JJay]
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Etaoin Shrdlu
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 10:04


Quote: Originally posted by Electra  
Fortunately I was able to talk on level with the cops and get them to put their guns away,

They had to put away guns? For a teeny potential drug lab with a non-violent suspect? What the hell exactly did he tell them?

I never told the landlord I rent the house from, but he must know because he's been in the basement to fix water before, and I have plenty of glassware and reagents on shelves down there. He does know I'm a chemist though.

Either he believes I'm legit or he just doesn't give a damn since I'm clean and pay on time. :D

EDIT:
Quote: Originally posted by Electra  
One potential issue is that I have noticed some leases forbid the storage/handling of flammable products, which it's almost impossible to do organic chem without them.

I'd like to point out that those hazardous materials clauses cover so many things it's almost impossible for a person not to use many of them in the course of normal life. All the ones I've seen would forbid such terrifying things as printer ink, paint, perfume, drain cleaner, vodka. They're not there as an excuse to kick you out, they're there to place liability on you rather than the landlord if something happens.

This also means almost no landlord will modify the lease - that can put liability back on them. They don't want to know nor talk about the can of lighter fluid that everyone has.

EDIT AGAIN: In the US, if a landlord does try to kick you out for owning a reasonable amount of flammable material, but not his other tenants (and believe me, they all have it), you could likely argue discrimination.

[Edited on 1-23-2016 by Etaoin Shrdlu]
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JJay
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 16:33


Where I live, only industrial districts and certain business districts are zoned for labs. These are areas that already have heavy exposure to fumes from automobile traffic or industrial plants, so a lab isn't going to stink up the neighborhood to the point where someone's quiet enjoyment of the adjoining property is an issue. On the other hand, even if your landlord is ok with you synthesizing hydrazine and boiling off excess bromine in your basement, there may be legitimate reasons as to why that can't be permitted under your lease. Of course, if your chemistry activities are confined to things like boiling red cabbages and synthesizing sodium acetate, it's a non-issue.
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Etaoin Shrdlu
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 17:15


Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
Where I live, only industrial districts and certain business districts are zoned for labs.

Hilariously, I live in one. The USPS won't let me sign up for automatic package tracking because I don't have a "real" residential address. And yet, Aldrich has figured out it's a house.

That said, in the zoning codes for my city, the only thing relevant to home labs is the general injunction against producing obnoxious noise, fumes, etcetera, things that would bother the neighbors. It strikes me as pretty weird that your code would specifically prohibit them.
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 17:31


Quote: Originally posted by Etaoin Shrdlu  
Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
Where I live, only industrial districts and certain business districts are zoned for labs.

Hilariously, I live in one. The USPS won't let me sign up for automatic package tracking because I don't have a "real" residential address. And yet, Aldrich has figured out it's a house.



I had a similar problem with one supplier who all of a sudden refused to send me any more orders. I think the problem might be related to haulier company's fears and the added liability insurance cost of delivering perceived 'hazardous' materials to domestic areas.

[Edited on 24-1-2016 by blogfast25]




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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 17:40


I take care of many apartments, houses and offices and I would never have a problem with someone that liked chemistry. And even if I did I would never tell anyone like the cops about their hobby. There are privacy laws that protect renters that are not doing anything wrong.

[Edited on 24-1-2016 by ScopeGuy2]
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JJay
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[*] posted on 23-1-2016 at 19:05


Quote: Originally posted by Etaoin Shrdlu  
Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
Where I live, only industrial districts and certain business districts are zoned for labs.

Hilariously, I live in one. The USPS won't let me sign up for automatic package tracking because I don't have a "real" residential address. And yet, Aldrich has figured out it's a house.

That said, in the zoning codes for my city, the only thing relevant to home labs is the general injunction against producing obnoxious noise, fumes, etcetera, things that would bother the neighbors. It strikes me as pretty weird that your code would specifically prohibit them.


I don't see where they are explicitly prohibited in the code, but they are explicitly permitted in certain areas, and a use/district matrix says that they are prohibited in several types of districts. The code is largely boilerplate from standards organizations, and it was updated recently, so I think a lot of cities have similar laws. They also include restrictions on how far buildings can be from the property line and similar prohibitions. Some uses require obtaining a permit from the zoning board, but here, labs do not - they are either permitted or not permitted by district.

Oh and residences are actually permitted in heavy industrial and general business districts, but people who live in them have to be accustomed to higher levels of noise and fumes - or have homes constructed to deal with the conditions found in those districts (soundproofing, air purification systems, etc.). I do most of my chemistry work about a block from a railroad crossing between a superhighway and a major thoroughfare. My closest neighbors are auto garages.

[Edited on 24-1-2016 by JJay]
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[*] posted on 24-1-2016 at 08:37


Nope. I've always lived under the philosophy that you leave me alone and I'll return the favor - This applies to landlords as well. If they never have a reason to investigate what you're doing on their property, they're generally more than happy to leave you be and accept your money every month. I had only one exception, that being the last place I lived - a pipe burst overnight while I was at work and the downstairs tenants freaked out - By the time the landlord showed up to investigate, I had it repaired - Long story short, he reimbursed me on the spot and offered me a job. . .

The problem here, a concern that many share, is that being up front and open is going to close a lot of doors before they ever open. The vast majority of people have no clue and are instantly going to think drugs/bombs/you name it. Legal or not, unless you happen to find a rental owned by some eccentric inventor, you are likely to be cycled to be bottom of the list.

. . . And get renters insurance. I carry a $10k policy with the sole named articles being my book collection - In all honesty, I could use more, but renters insurance is cheap peace of mind - for both you and your landlord. Piss easy to get, you can usually bundle it with something else, and absolute worst comes to worst your landlord can sue against it. You know that if something goes wrong you're covered, and your landlord knows that they can get more than your security deposit.




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