Publicly SHAMING an evicted former Tenant? Do it or not?

102 Replies

I've been a landlord since 2006.  Up until now I've never had to evict a tenant.  I've had people owe me what I would consider decent sums of money however always treated those tenants with respect from our first interaction to the last and I've always been paid back even when I didn't expect to.

My cherry was finally popped and I had a tenant I was forced to evict.  I'm not sure why - but he chose to appear in court to fight the eviction - the attorney assured me he has nothing to stand on and the "trial" is set for this coming Monday - curious as to whether or not he shows up.

That being said I'm from the midwest and most people in KS and in general in states touching us operate different than other places - we can still at times do business on a handshake and a man/woman's word.  I've lived on the East cost and had culture shock when I moved there a few years ago as it is completely different there.  Anyways when we started to have issues with  him I gave him multiple, multiple opportunities to work this out like gentlemen between us.  

The man is a pathological liar as well as his dirtbag family.  He's a Captain in the military and in his 40's and has been using the military card to get people to kiss his butt and I'm assuming getting away with scamming people like me.  Well he didnt expect me to take a stand and fight against his bullying so after he tried to stiff me for another months rent so eviction court we went.  We have control of the house back as I had reports from the neighbors he moved out and he also text messaged me he left as well as was shutting off the utilities - so per the attorney that was justifiable enough to change the locks.

So - some of the damage I was aware of due to a couple inspections on the house - last time I was in it was April - 

This house was immaculate from top to bottom and I'd finished it in high end finishes as this was the house my wife/I lived in and as I continued my RE career in Wichita I wanted it to be a show piece to other folks I'd do business with I knew what I was doing.  We didnt even finish the remodeling until after we moved and purchased our business out of town.  So everything in the house was new from windows, to curtains, curtain rods, appliances (a couple we never used) granite countertops, custom kitchen cabinets (beech wood - very hard wood)  fancy backsplash, doors, HIGH END custom trim, flooring the 33 cubic yards of concrete for patio/driveway etc.  

In 6 months they broke 3 light fixtures - I had reports their kids were spraying a garden hose from the outside of the house into the kitchen, broke a large kitchen cabinet door, broke several plastic pieces of a new higher end Fridge, fist sized hole in the wall, carpet stains and the entire house may need another repaint, damaged woodwork, scratched kitchen cabinets, stole the curtain rods, curtains my wife spent a lot of time picking out stolen, destroyed the back yard - let the weeds grow several feet tall in the flower beds etc.  

So given my track record of vetting tenants I'd been good - this guy is a pathological liar and a sociopath so he was able to pull one over on me - glad he's out.

That being said I'm debating pulling photos from their FB pages and coupling them with photos of how he left the house, and putting FB posts in several local landlord forums, social shaming forums, and then paying $100 to advertise their misdeeds on FB, post the post on his military command's FB page, email it to their media relations etc - my whole reasoning is obviously I'm angry I was lied to, and to me the biggest deal of all is trust was broken which where I live is a HUGE deal and by the time this is done he's going to owe around $3-5k which to me is not an insignificant amount of money and I know with his Captains salary and BAH he can more than afford to pay me back.   

Part of me thinks I'm wanting to do this due to being betrayed but the other part of me is that he has a bullying mentality (he's a very large built imposing military man) and I dont think anyone has ever stood up to him and it's time to take a stand.  The second motivation for doing this is to motivate him to speak to me and work out a payment plan so as I remove the posts. 

Please give opinions to the ramifications of doing this and if it's a bad idea - due to our US societies love affair with the military I'm afraid this can backfire on me - if he wasn't in the military I wouldn't have second thoughts.  (No offense to the military folks on here - my dad was in for 17 years and many other family members have served - however the current military folks are far different from the old school ones and feel it's everyones right to kiss their butt and they can get away with anything - dont get me wrong there's a lot of good ones and they outnumber the bad by far - but we cant dispute today's generation is far different than many years ago)

Updated 5 months ago

I will not publicly shame the guy - read the rest of the thread - interesting discussion though - hopefully I've provided some information if necessary on how to garnish a military members pay for monies owed. I'm hoping he doesnt force me to take all the steps - we shall see.

I think you are letting emotions guide your decision making process, and in business that is never a good idea. What financial benefit will shaming him bring? Absolutely none. If it doesn’t bring a financial benefit it’s a waste of time and energy. The attorney said he has zero ground to stand on in this case. Make sure you keep it that way. Don’t give him anything to sue you for....like defamation of character. Beat him in court, lick your wounds and move on. I know it’s hard not to take it personal, but that’s what professionals have to do. Don’t act like your tenant.

You could probably get sued for something like that. It also sounds petty. I wouldn’t do that. Evict and be done with it

I guess I got the idea from other local area businesses (mainly bars) that have done the same thing - anytime a patron is caught on security cameras doing something egregious and causing damages they will post it out on social media - usually the person is quickly identified and they end up making amends and paying for the damages.

All I'm seeking is our money back without having to lose half of it to a collections agency and secondly for him to knock his bullying off.  He's attempted to bully us starting about a month or two after he moved in.  (I forgot to mention we agreed no pets on the lease though I wouldn't have cared if any moved in with the proper deposits - I was assured no pets would be there - 2 mos later a pitbull and a small dog show up and I have video they are in the back yard for weeks - he continues to lie they are not there even after they were seen at a property inspection for HVAC)

@Shane H. that certainly sucks and I have had dirt bag tenants as well and to this day if my wife utters their names it ticks me off all over again, sounds pathetic but its true.  

Defamation of character is real and he could sue.  Military or not I do my best to never put myself or my business in harms way.  If you want to go after the money he owes you then that is a possibility, but even that may be worth too much time, energy, and money to do.

Bottom line, he will get his so don't sweat it.  Your obviously the bigger man so let him live out his dirt bag existence and hopefully he will have a "coming to Jesus" moment and realize what he is doing.  But don't give him the satisfaction of bringing anymore harm to your business than he already has.

I sympathize with what you've gone through. It's awful to have someone trash a property that you have put so much effort into making into a nice place for someone to live.

My advice is to try to stay as objective and unemotional as possible. Renting properties is a business and any decision made for emotional reasons instead of business reasons is probably a bad one. Of course, if I've had a terrible tenant, I will be honest about it when asked for a reference. However, I wouldn't go out of my way to shame a person. 

There are multiple ways that attacking the person's reputation could backfire on you. Remember that one military benefit is free legal council. Do you have free legal council if he comes back at you?

Keep it professional.

Document everything including photographs and itemized bills for repairs.

Submit him with the bill, If he fails to pay contact his commanding officer that will get the situation rectified!

I evicted a military person too, and took him to court.  I told my story and when it was time for him to tell him he said two words, "All true."  I was shocked as I expected some kind of sympathy act.  That should have been my first sign that I was screwed.  I won in court and started garnishment proceedings.  What I learned was I could not collect because the military will NOT garnish a military member, they are protected.  So no wonder why he was so smug in his confession.  I hope you don't run into the same problem I had collecting, it truly adds insult to injury.

With that being said, if you felt the need to post on this forum and ask whether you should do this or not, that means that in your conscience mind you know that shaming him is the wrong thing to do. 

1.  Don't lower yourself to his standards.

2.  If he sues you for defamation of character, I very much doubt the judge would be impressed by your actions.  Why compound the problem?

3.  Be thankful that you have only been taken once.  It goes with the territory.  

4.  I purchase everything used, but in nice condition for my rentals (except the roof).  That way if something gets destroyed, the impact is not as great.  I would leave the showpieces for flip houses. No one will appreciate the high end finishes as much as you do, unless they are buying them.

5.  Remember, anything you post on FB is permanent, whether you delete it or not.  

 I recommend you think of the medical arena and evaluate it this way.  When you get a deep cut, do you think picking at it is going to heal it?  What do we usually do in this situation?  We try to mend it with either stitches, medicine, or bandages, in an attempt to make it heal so it'll go away.  Picking at it and making it fester will only hurt you further and it could lead to scars.  Same goes for this situation.  I recommend you mend your wounds and move on. ;-)

Personally, I wouldn't go the public shaming route.  I just don't think it'll help.  Your primary goal should be to recover the money that's owed to you for unpaid rent and damages, and you have options available to you to do that.  Small claims court is at the top of that list.  I've had to go down that road one time with a tenant who left owing unpaid rent and intentional damage totaling almost $6k, and I was able to collect every penny of it through the small claims court process. 

Another option is to report the debt to the credit bureaus so it appears on the tenant's credit report through a service like Rent Recovery Service or AOA Debt Reporting.  It only costs a small fee to report it and you don't even need a court judgment to do it.  Plus, it'll be on the tenant's credit report so you do a service to other landlords (at least the ones who bother to screen their prospective tenants).  And who knows, maybe someday he'll need/want to get that off his credit report and decide to pay you off.

But I wouldn't go the public shaming route.  I just don't see it helping the situation.  If anything, I see it making him want to dig his heels in and fight you every step of the way because now he's going to feel like he's the one who was wronged. 

Anyway, just my two cents.  Good luck and hope it works out for you.

Sounds childish to me.

i get it. ive been there too! i would like to offer an alternative.

breathe.

you have a finite amount of mental and emotional energy. do you want it all wound up in this mess? go to court, get whatever justice you can, then move on. he has taken enough from you already; don’t allow him to take one more ounce of your peace and tranquillity.

breathe :-)

@Shane H. Absolutely no good intelligent reason to go down this path sir.  We all want retribution for things done wrong to us, but leave that for the movies.

What would you gain by publicly shaming him if only for a little momentary satisfaction?  Not only could this very seriously come back to bite you, but it could impact your family in unexpected ways too.  I'm also guessing about 30 sec after you did something like that, you'll regret it.

It's just the cost of doing business with the general public.  Learn everything you can from this and move on, but DON'T put you, your family or business in jeopardy because of one lowly jerk on the planet.

You all are right - I wont go the public shaming route - it does give a hint of satisfaction to think about it - as I've stated a few local area sports bars have done this with great success when things are damaged or stolen.

I just got off the phone with an old college friend that has been an attorney in the Marine Corp JAG division.  He's provided me with some actionable steps and after hearing his position I'm fairly confident the eviction on his record and forthcoming small claims court judgement will make his life difficult enough.  Not really wanting payback - dont want him to victimize someone else and to be a MAN and pay his debt.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

I evicted a military person too, and took him to court.  I told my story and when it was time for him to tell him he said two words, "All true."  I was shocked as I expected some kind of sympathy act.  That should have been my first sign that I was screwed.  I won in court and started garnishment proceedings....

 I recommend you think of the medical arena and evaluate it this way.  When you get a deep cut, do you think picking at it is going to heal it?  What do we usually do in this situation?  We try to mend it with either stitches, medicine, or bandages, in an attempt to make it heal so it'll go away.  Picking at it and making it fester will only hurt you further and it could lead to scars.  Same goes for this situation.  I recommend you mend your wounds and move on. ;-)

Lisa I think it matters as to what is going on with the military member and where they are stationed, going overseas etc.  Here's a site if you have a court order for garnishment - you can submit it there - maybe this will help.

https://www.dfas.mil/garnishment.html

Next step for me is email blasting his chain of command once I have the eviction finalized and small claims court decision.  

I agree buying used is great - but it depends on your market and this was going to be a primary residence for a while - live threw a curveball at us and it ended up a rental way sooner than we anticipated.  I am going to and will set myself up in the market as having the nicest rentals for a perceived value.  My chosen market differentiator.  

I'm pretty laid back until something like this happens then my determination kicks into hyperdrive.  Purchasing our business was a result of something similar.  I'll succeed one way or the other.

Originally posted by @Kyle J. :

Personally, I wouldn't go the public shaming route.   I just don't see it helping the situation.  If anything, I see it making him want to dig his heels in and fight you every step of the way because now he's going to feel like he's the one who was wronged. 

He's been playing the victim for 3-4 mos now - I'd assume if he shows up Monday he'll do more of the same.  

I think that you're on the right track now, Shane. We've all been there and sometimes we want to lash out in anger. As others have said, these things go with the territory. One of the negatives of being a landlord is finding out what some people are really like. Try to think about some of the gems you've had as tenants. I tend to think that karma catches up with people, so don't worry, the man will eventually get all he deserves.

Oh, and your question wasn't about this, but in your original post, I got the impression that you may have gone overboard on the finishes for the unit. Sadly, few renters will care for a property the way that you will. When choosing finishes, try to think about durability, cost effectiveness and whether the finish will pay for itself in extra rent or longer life. Don't get into the mindset of making it as nice as you would your own home. The counter tops, cabinets and flooring are ASSETS. They provide value in terms of making the space habitable / rent able. 

I'm almost wondering if the house it "too nice" to be a rental. Have you considered selling it and buying something else? I would rather have a tri-plex with three little low-end units than one big beautiful SFH. I have never had any difficulty renting low-end apartments. Many working people just want something affordable and clean. There is always a big market for that.

@Rhonda Wilson

They are not too nice - most of the items chosen were chosen due to quality and indestructability - (from hardwood cabinets with solid boxes (no mdf so much more prone to resist water damage), prehung doors with solid oak jambs to resist damage or if they were damaged they are repairable vs engineered wood most folks put in etc - and I bought all of it for very good prices, sometimes for the same or less than the poor quality products or just mere dollars more - hard woods much more resistant to damage except for my one cabinet door and I know how it broke - I actually hypothesized it may happen when I did the kitchen layout due to how a door opens but did not think I'd find anyone dumb enough to make it happen.  Well winner winner chicken dinner on the first try.

So all of it can be fixed - and with not that much difficulty.  Wichita is pretty competitive - if I dont put higher end finishes you wont attract the best tenants - again, my present scenario hasn't been the norm.  I'm thinking in 12 years I had a pretty good track record - I just ran up on a sociopath and had a lot of other things going on such as relocating for our business buy etc and this one slipped through, but that's how these types of leeches work - they seek out someone that has their guard down and take advantage.  My previous job was sussing out BS for 13 years and I got pretty good at it.

@Shane H. Id Treat It lIke a breakup. What happens when you bash the ex gf? You end up looking like the dummy, and you open up those doors to more pain.

Oh man. I understand WHY you’d want to, but don’t do it! There could be ramifications for your actions down the road, and it’s bringing you down to their level.

At some point—They’ll have to explain to their last tenancy to their next landlord, hopefully, and you’ll be able to warn them when they call you.

If you need to vent, maybe type everything up, or write whatever you would to “publicly shame them”, save the doc, read it the next day, and then trash it. Sometimes just getting it all out there on paper is helpful, even if no one else ever sees it. Then make your peace and move on—you’re above revenge!

Sorry again for the crappy situation you’re in. Sounds like a nightmare.

@Shane H. Good choice. Glad you had an attorney friend inside the military to share some perspective. This to shall pass.

Pride is a *****. Sue him for money owed. Dont repeat same mistake. 

@Lisa Kovac This must be something new; when I was in the Navy, late 1980s-early 1990s, guys got garnished all the time. In fact, the "buy here pay here" places used to Target squids because they were guaranteed to get paid. I had several buddies on the "automatic payment plan" through garnishment, for cars and rent arrears and child support (and one guy on alimony that took almost his whole paycheck). Back on topic: glad you came to your senses. I totally understand what you wanted to do but it serves no long term purpose for your business. You want to make money and have low stress. Be glad he's gone, go the legal route to recover what you are out, and move on.
Originally posted by @Shane H. :

I guess I got the idea from other local area businesses (mainly bars) that have done the same thing - anytime a patron is caught on security cameras doing something egregious and causing damages they will post it out on social media - usually the person is quickly identified and they end up making amends and paying for the damages.

...

There is a big difference between these sorts of public businesses and your rental home that is private - something that was done in public view in a business does not carry any expectations of privacy.

In your OP, you wrote: "... I wanted it to be a show piece to other folks I'd do business with [that] I knew what among I was doing. ..."

Take no offense from this, but time to be blunt. Shaming the evicted tenant certainly does not illustrate that you "know what you are doing". Likewise for your screening of this tenant; regardless of having a good "track record of vetting tenants", you seem to have missed something important. So time to evaluate your tenant selection and screening practices so you don't get bit again - this IS the most important part of the rental business.

Even if the military won't garnish the husband, if his wife was on the lease perhaps you can garnish her wages. 

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