These are real stories from real property managers and landlords across the country who wanted to shared the horrors of rental management in honor of Halloween. These stories are shared anonymously and any names have been changed to protect the tellers and culprits of these management nightmares.
Had a tenant from a new occupied property we took over crawl into a tunnel he made in his 2nd floor bathroom into the 1st floor drop ceiling of the neighboring unit. He made plywood bridges to crawl on and made peep holes to view the female tenant. He made a noise and was discovered. He said he was looking for his cat at 2am.
I had to clean out an out-of-state property that was so disgusting, I’m sure the health department would have required hazmat suits to enter the property. Upon opening the door, the smell just about knocked me down. There was a sofa left behind (I can’t imagine why they didn’t want it anymore) that was covered with dog feces. The dogs had not only used the sofa but the entire basement floor to do their business and it was smeared all along the baseboards and on the walls. There were roaches and roach droppings everywhere and several dead, dried up mice behind the appliances. Thick yellow grease covered the kitchen back splashes and even the ceiling. I can even begin to describe the bathrooms, in part because I have managed to suppress that memory in the dark recesses of my mind. We had to haul out bed bug and mysterious substance laden mattresses, along with an array of other filthy items strewn throughout the house. The worst part however, was an unplugged freezer filled with (no, surprisingly not body parts) meat. The tenant claimed that it was there when he moved in and he didn’t think he should have to pay for the electricity to keep it running. So the contents had been rotting for two solid years! Opening up that freezer was definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do as a landlord.
One story that makes me smile every time I think about it was the tenant who complained bitterly of a noisy dish disposal among a list of several other things, angling, I suppose to get his deposit back. He had never reported the problem, but he said it made a terrible sound every time he used it for the entire length of his stay. Upon his moving out, I turned it on and sure enough, there was a very loud and annoying rattle. I turned it off, reached in my hand and pulled out a thin and mutilated penny which had obviously been banging around in there for a very long time. I turned the disposal back on and it purred like a kitten. I had to scratch my head and wonder if he had ever even thought to check it out.
I had just replaced the flooring in one of my nicer town homes. Soon after, I was able to get an additional $100 per month more than the previous rent and was riding high. Within 3 weeks, I was notified that my tenant was arrested for drug possession and child neglect. In addition, the home was trashed…literally! There was garbage everywhere, maggots, flies and gnats. The placed smelled terrible and I was horrified. Nothing like this had ever happened before, but I learned some valuable lessons.
My renter horror story comes from a new portfolio of 10 units I recently picked up the contract on. The owner (an 80 year old lady) had been allowing a tenant to serve as her “property manager”. She brought me on after finding out some of the shenanigans he’s been involved in. Upon taking over I find out that this “manager” hasn’t paid his rent in ten months and owes over $16k in rent. I also find out that he’s been giving the owner fake lease agreements that don’t start until months after the tenants moved in, so he was collecting rent and pocketing it. In some cases he was pocketing the rent and saying the tenants didn’t pay (proved later by money order paystubs provided by the tenants). The real fun part is that he was also serving as the handyman, so I have been managing these units for 3 months now and I am STILL getting work orders called in “well, Jim was supposed to fix this”. Worst part is having to deal with the owner’s frustration as she learns all of this and is upset at the outflow of money to fix everything. It was so bad that he would even buy things for units, like a new hot water heater, and send the receipt to the owner for reimbursement but then return the item to the store and just keep the cash without ever fixing the problem. Not to mention, it cost over $1,000 to clean up what he did to the property he was occupying himself.
I once had a tenant for three years that was very quiet, paid his rent on time, worked a great job and never caused any trouble. That is until his new neighbor complained that a horrendous smell was wafting into her home and we discovered it was coming from his home. Upon inspection (with gas masks), we discovered that he was a hoarder of food and cigarette butts. As in 3 YEARS OF FOOD AND CIGARETTE BUTTS! A mop and broom were pried against the refrigerator & freezer to keep the rotten food inside. There wasn’t a space left in his kitchen that didn’t have rotten food oozing everywhere – cupboards, counters, floor. There was standing putrid liquid on every surface in the kitchen and clouds of hovering flies. And then two piles, two feet tall, on each side of his recliner, of cigarette butts. Next to the front door, he kept his dry-cleaned suits sealed in bags and a spray bottle of Frebreeze air freshener that I imagine he sprayed on himself when he went to work. Icing? There was a blow-up doll in his bedroom. He was given a notice to move and we were sure we’d have to completely remodel, but when we did a move-out inspection, the home was spotless. Bizarre-o.
Had a female tenant, with one child. At some point, she sneaked her boyfriend into the apartment. Turned out he had been a convicted drug dealer, in parole violation… SWAT came, busted in the front and back doors, bathroom screen, and threw a smoke bomb into the tub. All needed fixed and they tub had a scorch that went through the porcelain down to the iron. had to submit an insurance claim… got canceled.
I forgot to include the big dirty handprints that were on the wall where he was held and cuffed.
We’re always collecting renter horror stories to share with the community. If you have a tale like the ones above, share your story in the comments.