When Renting Goes Wrong: 6 Tenant Horror Stories
On paper, a lease seems like an airtight, simple agreement. The lessee either pays the rent on time and keeps the property in good condition or leaves. And if the tenant refuses to leave, the lessor has the right to evict the occupant. Simple, right? Wrong.
Due to eviction laws and other tenant rights, getting rid of a tenant who no longer pays rent is a murky, nightmarish process. The following are stories brought to you by the Internet, where simple lease agreements turn into veritable horror stories for the landlord.
Disclaimer: Because many of these stories were found on different Internet forums, the truth of all these tales cannot be 100% verified. That being said, enjoy.
Left With Everything But the Kitchen Sink
Members of the National Association of Independent Landlords submit stories to the organization about particularly harrowing lease disagreements. One angry landlord reported a story where he leased an apartment to a tenant that stopped paying rent almost immediately. When he went to check up on the property, he became suspicious that the tenant was also stealing appliances from the apartment.
He promptly called the police who arrived and questioned the tenant. The tenant accused the landlord of trespassing and even said that she did not recognize the landlord. The police sided with the tenant and the landlord had to watch from across the street as the tenant took off with the property’s washing machine.
It’s Coming From Inside the House
A property manager in Chicago submitted this story to Curbed in June. A renter had not paid rent for three months after losing his job. When the landlord tried to evict the man, he filed for multiple extensions and drew out the legal process for months. Finally, after multiple court appearances and eight months of nonpayment, the landlord was given control of the apartment.
Unfortunately, the story does not end there. The new tenants of the apartment complained to management about a strange odor throughout the apartment. Despite his best efforts, the property manager could do nothing to get rid of the smell. After multiple thorough inspections, professional carpet cleaning, replacing the HVAC filter and using deodorizing bombs throughout the apartment, the smell still lingered.
After a month of failed efforts, the property manager noticed a slight discoloration on the walls. What comes next is not for the squeamish. When he poked a few holes through the drywall, maggots crawled out.
After further inspection he found that the disgruntled evicted tenant, prior to leaving the unit, had placed packages of raw meat behind the walls throughout the apartment. All the drywall and insulation in the apartment and the surrounding units had to be replaced to get rid of the terrible stench.
This landlord venting to Tenant Horror Stories Magazine described the disastrous consequences of evicting two tenants. A couple moved into a unit after paying the first and last month’s rent upfront but afterward they never paid a dime. After going through the necessary eviction process, the landlord had to involve the police to remove the occupants.
What happened next makes a monster truck show look like a kindergartener’s tea party. After being told to leave the tenants broke off the door, poured paraffin wax down the drains, shorted out the electrical system and ripped up the carpet. And that’s not all.They stabbed holes into the drywall, poured battery acid on the tile floors, broke all the windows, sold the all the appliances and spray painted the walls.
The landlord has since left the rental business and never looked back.
This next story comes from a tenant horror stories thread on Reddit.com. A lessor in London rented to what seemed like a nice young couple, who diligently paid their rent on time in the beginning. During their lease, however, the woman got pregnant and quit her job causing the couple to no longer be able to afford the monthly rent. When the landlord tried to confront the tenants, they changed the locks and cut off contact with the landlord.
Apparently, tenants in London have the upper hand in eviction proceedings and the couple was able to stay in the apartment for eight months. This meant the part-time landlord was stuck paying her own mortgage, the rental costs of the tenants and expensive legal fees in the eviction process. And if all that wasn’t enough, the tenants decided to trash the place on their way out.
Here’s another one from the National Association of Independent Landlords. A man with nice clothes and a nice car applied to rent an apartment. The landlord wanted to run a background check but the man said he needed to rent immediately as his wife recently died. The sympathetic lessor gave the guy a break and let him rent the unit with no background check.
After the first month, the landlord stopped receiving rental payments. Turns out the tenant filed for bankruptcy prior to signing the lease and did not legally have to pay rent while in bankruptcy court. The tenant got away with living in the unit free for seven months.The landlord later researched the guy and found out he had done this repeatedly.
And that’s why you ALWAYS run a background check.
This last one might be the most shocking. One landlord from Reddit had a subletter in his apartment who would never pay rent and would only defecate in a box in the closet.
Turns out it was his cat.
Avoid Your Own Tenant Horror Story
Almost all of these situations could be avoided with proper renter screening procedures, background checks and looking for some tell-tale danger signs in the application process. If you or anybody you love rents out properties, make sure to take every necessary step to ensure that tenants do not behave like the ones in these tenant horror stories.
Lucky for you, Rentalutions provides software that make the screening process a breeze. From credit reports to background checks to application forms, Rentalutions takes most of the grunt work out of screening applicants.
While this software does most of the heavy lifting, it is also important to foster a personal relationship with the applicant in order to tease out the details that aren’t on a typical application form. Check out the most important things to look out for when screening rental applications here.