What's Your Tenant Horror Story?

27 Replies

Years ago, I had a tenant who's toilet got plugged - but they continued to use it until it overflowed on a weekend and I was the only maintenance guy we had. It was the last toilet I ever worked on... and probably the worst experience of my life!

What's your worst tenant horror story? And what did you learn from that?

I had a tenant whose kids were deliberately flushing tampons down the toilet to clog the sewer line. (We found the bag of empty wrappers.) They actually did it twice, until we caught on. It resulted in broken sewer lines, raw sewage and fecal matter everywhere, and city code problems. It was a nightmare, but at the end of the day I should have screened better.

not a tenant but a neighbor horror story:

i got a voice mail. my tenant said, "um, scott, i had an issue w/ the neighbor can you pls call me?" towards the end of the conversation, she was beginning to cry.

i called her back. "scott, i just hung up w/ the police."

neighbor: why you be sending electrical currents thru the wall & keep shocking me?

tenant: um, what do you mean? there's no electric thru the wall?

neighbor: yes, it's you! you keep sending the currents & shocking me & i'm tired of it!"

tenant: well, i don't know? i turn off the tv when i'm done. i turn off the lights when i go to bed?

(neighbor then takes out her phone, puts it in tenant's face, snaps a photo, & leaves)

whack job city...

One time in the late 90's, I was enjoying a nice Saturday morning on my computer and drinking coffee. I got a call from a really good tenant that there was a problem with the house. The house was a two bedroom ranch on a crawl space. The furnace was old AND in the crawl space. (Note to all - don't buy a house with the furnace in the crawl unless you're getting a super deal).

My tenant went on to say that the furnace was making a "gurgling" sound and the entire house was filled with steam like a sauna. I told him to go outside and look into the crawl space. He did just that and told me it was full of "water".

I drove to the house, making up new swear words along the way. When I got there, I made a B-line (whatever that is) to the crawl space door. When I looked in, the entire crawl space had at least eight inches of some type of fluid. Just then, I heard the toilet flush and could see it all bubbling up into the crawl. This is when my morning went from bad to worse. The crawl space was full of human S#@*.

I called my plumber and he said he would be right over. I've been using this guy for 15+ years and he LOVES to work. I once called him at 8am on a Sunday that I had a problem with a house and he was there by 8:30. (No, you can not have his number).

This next paragraph is all alleged speculation.

A guy that looks like me went to a place that rents pumps. He rented a two inch pump with hose and purchased some thick rubber gloves that cost $12. He then took the pump to the house and pumped all of that feces into the street.

Once the sewage was evacuated from the crawl space, the plumber found two problems. #1 - The sewer line was full of tree roots. #2 - Some mental midget had placed a homemade wooden cap on the cleanout next to the main stack. Had they used the regular kind that screws in, all of that sewage would have backed up into the bathtub and I would've gotten a call right away and avoided the entire crawl space fiasco.

A couple of funny things happened that day. The plumber was going to the store to buy some stuff and wanted me to hand him the cap so he could use it to size the proper one. I was still wearing the $12 industrial gloves and he reached out with a bare hand to grab it. I told him it was covered in (expletive). He replied, "That's ok. I'm not having lunch for a while." The other funny thing that happened is when I was allegedly returning the pump, there was a guy at the rental place renting a 32 foot ladder. The worker asked him if he had a vehicle big enough to handle it. He relpied, "I've got a Dodge Neon. It will be fine."

A couple years later, I had tree roots in a sewer at the house that I used to live in. I called the plumber out to fix it. I wasn't home, but my wife was. He was thirsty and she gave him a glass of water. When I found that out, I made sure that she threw that glass right into the trash.

I had a tenant that was a hoarder. We ended up evicting her and her boyfriend after 3 months. They left everything in the house.Piles and piles of trash and food.
They also had 2 dogs and 2 cats that they never let outside. They did not change the litter box when it was full, instead they just placed another one next to it! Then they stopped doing that. The dogs used the whole house as a giant puppy pad. :-/ It was by far the most discusting experience I have ever had.

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Originally posted by Rob K:
...

My tenant went on to say that the furnace was making a "gurgling" sound and the entire house was filled with steam like a sauna. I told him to go outside and look into the crawl space. He did just that and told me it was full of "water".

...

Rob K be glad that the guy who looked like you didn't get a steam bath there ... :)

Originally posted by Rob K:

(....)
I drove to the house, making up new swear words along the way. When I got there, I made a B-line (whatever that is) to the crawl space door. When I looked in, the entire crawl space had at least eight inches of some type of fluid. Just then, I heard the toilet flush and could see it all bubbling up into the crawl. This is when my morning went from bad to worse. The crawl space was full of human S#@*.
(...)

...good one
thats why I stay away from houses. condos are where the real money is ..u pay ur HOA dues + lower taxes and you sleep well. There are places where condos are not so popular ...anyways ... I still dont get why people would buy 3flat. 1 big building with 3 units in it..all 2 BR ..1 in the "basement" we call it here in Chicago "garden apartment" - hard to rent, especially in winter.
...in OK hood such a 3 flat would cost say ...+220K to start.. either foreclosure or short sale. While you can buy 3 different 2BRs condos each in different building for 60K max..you diversify your risk not having all your $$$ tied into one building. you pay lower taxes and share the risk and cost of maintenance with other owners...rental pretty much the same ...900-950 for 2BR in OK condition ..does not matter if its a 3flat or bigger building (bigger building gives you actually more privacy if the thing was built as a condo ..not apartment turned into condos)..you tell me where I am wrong...

Originally posted by Lauren Fugate:
I had a tenant that was a hoarder. We ended up evicting her and her boyfriend after 3 months. They left everything in the house.Piles and piles of trash and food.
They also had 2 dogs and 2 cats that they never let outside. They did not change the litter box when it was full, instead they just placed another one next to it! Then they stopped doing that. The dogs used the whole house as a giant puppy pad. :-/ It was by far the most discusting experience I have ever had.

yep...this and other examples thought me one thing: "rent is payable on the premises in person by check or cash" This gives me opportunity to get inside and check on my place. prevention of such problems is the key. just because the rent flows to your bank account via some cozy ACH does not mean ...that the same amount will not flow OUT of your bank account when u have to restore ur place to livable conditions

Remind me not to get in a sauna again. It could be a s***tbath.

Tasty.

I worked for a large property management company before I had my own business and I have many horror stories. Here are two:

I got a call from a hysterical tenant. She said the upstairs neighbor was throwing magnets on her steps. I went out to investigate and almost lost my lunch. It turned out she meant to say maggots!

The upstairs neighbor had not taken out her garbage all winter, but had thrown it out the window onto the porch roof. When the spring thaw came, it became infested with thousands of maggots and they rolled down the slanted roof onto the porch steps below.

There was a family who didn't pay rent and called codes. There was a lengthy list of violations, some of which he had caused himself (holes in walls, excessive trash, etc). Still, it is the landlord's legal responsibility. They would make appointments with maintenance and not let them in. Since they changed the locks and had dogs there was nothing they could do.

After they were evicted, I got a call from a social worker. She was looking for a home for a large family who had to leave their house because there was terrible codes violations the landlord refused to fix. I bet you can guess who it was!

It's because of experiences like this I now screen tenants really, really well.

Great question Brandon! I made the mistake last year of renting one of my houses to a couple of guys in their early 20's. I thought by having one of their mom's sign on the lease as a responsible party that it would deter them from causing any major damage. Since I'm contributing to this great read, you can probably guess that I was wrong...and I was. While they were responsible enough to pay the rent on time & give a 30-day notice of their intent to vacate at the end of their lease, they also left me with close to $6000 in damages. When all was said & done, we had to replace all of the carpet, a refrigerator, microwave, patched several holes in the walls, hauled a garage full of trash away, had to pressure wash the stench out of the garage & repainted 70% of the interior. These guys were only there for 1 year. Fortunately, the mom was extremely apologetic & agree to pay for the damages, however, it took her 6 months to do so as she was not wealthy by any means. I'm also pretty sure it was the last time she'll ever sign a lease for her son...lol!!! Good times!

Hey @Brian Padgett - I feel like I've lived the exact same story.Maybe a couple times... I feel for ya.

I'm much stricter on guys of that age now.

I rented out my 3 bedroom house to 3 different people. A gothic couple, a redneck, and a gangster black guy. They didnt last 1 week together until the cops were involved. I've since stepped up my screening process.

John Espinosa - that sounds like the start of a joke! "A gothic couple, a redneck, and a gangster walked into a bar..."

(And are you related to Glenn Espinosa?)

Brandon Turner , lol yea I know, but hey true story. And yes, Glenn is my brother.

About 6 years ago when I was barely starting out as a landlord, I received a rental app from a nice young lady. She was a registered traveling nurse, with what seemed like a really clean, cut & dry history. Everything looked perfect, so I rented to her.

Long story short, when I evicted her a few months later for non-payment, I found out that the local police was watching the house since it appears that the traveling nurse gig was only a cover while she was running drugs for a living.

Do you guys know how much coke it takes to clog up the main sewer line? Well, I found out. What an education this was…

It's not good for my mental well-being to try to remember disaster stories! Let's just say that I've learned a few lessons along the way!

I had a tenant attempt suicide in one of my units. He went in to a coma and was not discovered for several hours. Fire dept. smashed in the door because he had food on the stove when he swallowed a handful of pills. Burned the entire kitchen - and the rest of the unit needed to be gutted due to smoke. He was not successful and somehow thr smoke did not get him. After all that - he lived.

Hey @Tim Walls did you agree to help pay for some councelling...:)?

WOW where to start. I've had 4 evictions in the last 2-3 years. Each one required a dumpster and repaint and replacement of floors. Each one $3-5k in losses. They basically wait till we finally get a judgement then they take off with the clothes on their back and leave everything else behind.

The worst one was when I took over after my old man passed on. A 2 family property with a 2br/1ba. There were 3 people living there. Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Girlfriend's 4 yr old daughter. That place was literally a pig pen. Garbage, car parts, broken windows and doors. I must of spent $5k out of pocket and I did all the work. I took out 3 truck loads including a utility trailer with those loads of Garbage and Broken Furniture. I just couldn't believe how much stuff was in there. As bad as I thought the clean up and repair was, I couldn't stop thinking about the little girl growing up in that. I had a son the same age. To this day I wish I did a site inspection and called child protective services on them.

The latest one I evicted last week ended up being a drug junkie. Was a corrections officer, had a great job till he messed it up with drugs. No great surprise when he vacated with his clothes and left all his furniture and stuff behind. At least this was a one bedroom so it all fit in one truckload.

I am advertising it this week and so far received a little over a dozen calls with maybe 2 that after prescreening on the phone seemed ok. We'll see after Credit, Background and Income verification says.

I had a tenant where every time I would go over to the property it would smell of weed very bad. I also saw a machine gun with a silencer on the table one time. I was honestly to afraid to report anything in fear of retaliation. Fortunately they failed to pay rent so I had them evicted. Only time I was ever glad I didnt receive rent.

I'm a Leasing Manager in a pretty amazing and unique building, not to mention expensive. One day while on my way to our model apartment I notice the worst smell coming from down the hall. It was a Monday,I asked the doorman if he could help me figure it out. He replies that it was bad all weekend. Then a neighbor walks by with her little boys and say, "It smells because of Mr. Stinky down the hall!" Mr. Stinky? They pointed me to the apartment and then it started to make sense. "Richard" was an older man, living alone. He rarely left the apartment and would let anyone in. We new he was mentally unstable, because every now and again he would stop by the office and tell us that the government was "watching" him and that the super was in on it. I grabbed the super and we knocked on his door. What I witnessed next will leave a mark in my mind forever. Richard let us in, starting with kitchen... piles of garbage, used toilet paper and what I first thought was dirt on the floor, Richard explained to me that was human #%#!! He said the super was going in every night and using his kitchen floor as a bathroom. And smearing it all over the counter tops, appliances etc... We found the same condition in the bathroom. The rest of the apartment was piled up with garbage bags and dust. We had just had a REALLY hot couple of days so the smell was REALLY REALLY bad! No windows were open! None of the AC's worked!

Here's the kicker, when the social worker from adult services showed up and asked that I bring her to his apartment I told her, "It smells really bad so be prepared." She said , "I don't have the sense of smell, so it won't bother me. And so you know, here in America people are allowed to live however they please, so don't think just because I'm here he will be leaving with me. People with mental illnesses have rights too." My response to her was, "All that may be true, but if he is living in an unhealthy environment and hurting himself and others, it is your responsibility to get him the help he needs, I hope that is why you are here. Not just to file a report."

In the end he did move out of the apartment a few months later. It took social workers and lawyers cooperation, but he did move out.

From my understanding Richard was not like this when he moved in (Before I started working at the building) and he always paid his rent on time.Something snapped. His mental illness progressed over time. I found out later that he moved into a hotel.

This was the most disgusting experience I've had in property management and maybe the saddest.

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