Investing in rental property can be very lucrative, but you'll think twice about that after reading these horror stories!
Near Death Idiots
“A few years ago the very early morning hours of July 5, I awoke having to pee. I shuffled to the bathroom and on the way back to bed I passed my husband in the hall on his way to pee in his bathroom.
And then we heard and felt a loud, concussive BOOM! It was actually uncomfortable to feel because it almost felt like my heart skipping a beat because of the pressure. Also, we’re adults living in the post-9/11 world so we were immediately concerned. I even said, ‘That was a bomb!’ Car alarms throughout the neighborhood were going off like crazy. It was warm and we had our windows and sliding glass door open, and I heard a guy scream, ‘CALL 9-1-1!’ And the guy is close.
Turns out, some idiot in our apartment complex was wasted on the Fourth of July and duct-taped a bunch of fireworks together. He then set it down in the middle of the street and lit it, only it went off much faster than he’d anticipated. There was wire shrapnel everywhere. Embedded in cars parked on the street, embedded in trees 30 feet away from the blast site. The street. Holy smokes the street. It looked like a cartoon with a black blast smear in the middle of the street, right on the yellow line!
Oh, and the idiot blew his lower leg off and had shrapnel embedded in his arm. He coded in the ambulance but they managed to bring him back.”
Kate The Nightmare
“My dad owns quite a few apartment buildings throughout Colorado. One summer while I was in college, he was between managers for one of his 80-unit properties, so I acted as the stand-in manager until he hired a new manager. I can’t say she was the ‘worst tenant’ per say, but I have a few funny stories surrounding one woman named Kate.
One day we were served a notice that Kate was taking us to small claims court. Why? Because her in-unit washing machine was not working. Had she reported the problem to management? Nope. The maintenance man and I entered the unit that afternoon to fix the washing machine. The problem? It was unplugged.
Same summer. My dad awakens me at 2 a.m. saying the local police department is at the apartment on a report of shots fired. When I arrive at the apartment, the place is lit up like Christmas with squad cars; there must have been 20 officers at the scene. What prompted the call? Kate and her bimbo friend were walking back from the bars hammered. They heard two loud pops and decided someone was firing at them. What actually happened? Two guys launched a bottle rocket from a nearby balcony. Also worth noting that this happened on the Fourth of July.
The unit that Kate lived in was townhouse style, with the first floor consisting of a one car garage and a staircase leading up to the living area. My dad’s manager was posting a few available units on Craigslist when she happened upon another curious posting. Kate had posted the garage for rent on Craigslist under the premise that somebody could live in the garage and they would be able to come upstairs to use the kitchen and restroom. The manager immediately marched over there to notify Kate that her posting violated the lease, which specified no subletting, and Colorado housing code, which specifies a maximum occupancy of two people per bedroom plus one (Kate lived in a one bedroom with her husband and child). Kate was unable to comprehend what the manager was saying; she just kept repeating, ‘But think of all of the extra money we could make each month!’ My dad said she simply could not wrap her head around the fact that her idea would be violating a legally binding agreement AND state housing code. They had to get her husband involved to have her remove the post.
Kate called on Christmas Eve one year complaining that the heat would not turn on. My dad is a good guy and does not mess around with things like tenants being without heat, so he immediately got up from the holiday dinner with extended family to fix her problem. The issue? The breaker for the HVAC system was flipped.”
Look For The Warm Roof!
“When I was young, my dad owned three duplexes in a row. One winter (around 1995), he noticed that the energy bill for one of the units was exorbitantly higher than the other units. He was curious about their energy consumption and paid a visit to the property one day while the tenant was at work. He entered the basement and stumbled upon hydroponics galore. He said that there were more than 30 ‘illegal’ plants, each with their own UV lamp and watering system. While this kind of thing is legal in Colorado now, it certainly was not 21 years ago. He told the tenant that he would be entering the basement in two days with a maintenance man to perform ‘routine boiler maintenance.’ When he returned in two days, the plants and hydroponics systems were gone. Growing up, my dad always told me you could identify a grow house from a mile away because it was the only house in the block that did not have snow on its roof.
My dad leased two or three units to the local Mormon church at the 80-unit apartment complex I helped manage for a summer. The idea was the church would house their missionaries in my dad’s units while they completed their mission. As a result, the apartment inhabitants would rotate every year or so. Well, one rotation, my dad had a particularly ‘un-Mormon’ batch of Mormon missionaries. This batch threw ragers so loud that the noise could be heard four buildings away; they were also known to frequent the local ‘ladies of the night’ and associated substance scene. As you may imagine, my dad had quite the uphill battle to fight when it came to addressing the missionaries’ extracurricular indiscretions with the Mormon church. I believe he eventually did successfully evict them, though.”
Two Insane Nightmares
“I have a couple tenant nightmare stories.
In 2007, an older couple decided to quit paying their rent, but they had pretty good excuses, so I didn’t evict them until after three months of not paying. Finally went down to the courthouse to file an unlawful detainer on them.
We had our day in court. The female, who was usually dressed nicely, with fake nails and an expensive weave, showed up looking like an old hag. The guy was using a walker (eye roll – this jerk didn’t need one). They claimed I was a slum lord and never fixed anything, but I had receipts for every repair including a new AC unit.
After I got the judgment against them, I tried to garnish the man’s wages, was told he worked for the Coca-Cola Company. It turns out they’d never heard of him, but after a little digging I found out they had both been arrested for selling the other thing with the same name. The officer showed me mugshots dating back to the early ’80s! They also stole the refrigerator.
Another nightmare: This past summer, I had a family of seven move into a five-bedroom house. They paid their deposit and the first month’s rent. That’s it. Haven’t seen another dime from them. To top it off, they didn’t get the power switched into their name so I got a $400 power bill. About a month ago, I called the water company, turns out they never had the water turned on, so they had been stealing water. The water company pulled the meter.
When I gave a 24-hour notice to do a walk through (with the police present), the woman answered the door told me, ‘You can’t come in, and we’ll get out when you follow all the procedures and the sheriff kicks us out.’
I think they’ve done this before.”
The Police Get Involved
“We had a young couple move into a house. They were young and were using benefits to pay their rent, but the landlord wanted to give them a chance.
Two months later, we got a call from a locksmith contracted by the police. The police raided the house the night before because the young man was slinging illegal substances. They smashed the front door frame out of the wall and the locksmith was called in to make good.
We called the girl. The young man was in police custody and she couldn’t afford the rent, and she wanted out of both the tenancy and her relationship.
We made a house visit to check the state of the door. It was bad. They had a dog (in a house with a no pets policy) and it had been shut in a bedroom a lot. Feces and chew marks/scratch marks everywhere. And they had smoked (no smoking policy) and the house stunk of stale smoke. The landlord agreed to let them out of the tenancy and get the house back on the market. It cost thousands to fix everything. New front door, redecorate all new carpets. It was just about ready to advertise when we had a call from the neighbor. There had been a disturbance the night before and he had to call the police.
The young man, upon being released from police custody and unable to get back with his girlfriend, had broken back into the property a couple of days earlier to squat. He then had a visit from his supplier he owed a lot of money too. His supplier ended up stabbing him. He almost bled to death on the brand new cream carpets. Once we’d got MORE new carpets in, and fixed the broken window from where he’d broken in, we found a new, reputable tenant. A nice young man who was an abuse counselor, which turned out to be good because a lot of the local addicts didn’t get the memo about their dealer being arrested and then stabbed, so he had a lot of visitors in the beginning but knew how to deal with them.”
So-Called Friends Trash A Place
“My parents have owned properties for a while, so there have been quite a few troublesome tenants, but the one that I’m personally invested in is the last one to grace our property. They decided to rent out my childhood home and I suggested it to a coworker. I worked with this woman for several years at that point and thought she and her family were decent people. I trusted them.
They brought bed bugs into the place and did quite a bit of damage to the walls. They also pulled out and sold 100-year-old hardwood trim, removed the central air unit and sold it, and messed the place up. They then proceeded to skip town after being kicked out once they found out that their wages were being garnished.
Having tenants leave behind a pile of trash, horrifying bathrooms, and holes in the walls is common, but I hold a bit of a grudge on this one.”
Leaving His Mark (And Some Dead Fish)
“This happened to my friend’s rental. Guy gets evicted. Instead of trashing the place like a normal jerk, this guy cut off chunks of drywall, put dead fish in the walls and sealed it back up. He was a carpenter.
The owners couldn’t figure out the smell for weeks. They repainted, got it professionally cleaned a few times, searched endlessly. Eventually, they figured something died in the walls, and started knocking holes in the wall. Turned out to be that piece of trash move by the tenant.”
A Trashed Apartment And A TV Appearance
“My mom had some tenants in a rental property who apparently were serial crap sacks and would live in a place until they got evicted, then move on to the next one. They’d do things like not pay rent while claiming the air conditioner was broken or some other property related issue then avoid letting it be examined or fixed. Long story short, after getting evicted, they waited until the last minute to move out, left a bunch of their stuff behind, and filled a microwave with hot dogs which they left to rot.
While my mom was in the process of getting a court order, the TV show ‘Hot Bench’ (a Judge Judy spinoff) called and asked them to come on. Everyone got flown out to Los Angeles, and my mom got her money and the crap sacks got berated on national daytime TV, so I suppose it worked out in the end.”
Kevin And His Secret Roommate
“I was a landlord when my girlfriend moved in with me, and she had an empty condo. First, two renters were fine, but then there was Kevin. Kevin was a single male, had a good income and seemed like a perfect tenant. We get into month three and the rent checks stop coming in. So we go to the condo to find out what is happening. First off there is a nice new flat screen TV, but no furniture and a giant beanbag chair. We ask ‘where’s the money?’ Kevin looks frantically through his Bible and is all like, ‘I lost the money order, sorry.’ Angry, we do a little more looking and it turns out he has a roommate, a silent, muscular man. Ok whatever, but if you have a roommate you got to tell us Kevin so we can put him on the lease.
Long story short, Kevin stays silent, and a few days later we come by to serve him papers and to begin the eviction process. Kevin’s no-named roommate turns out to be a felon who is out on parole. We were right across the street from a school, old Kevin was violating offender legislation. Thank goodness he left without much of a fight and were able to dump the condo at a modest profit.”
The Most Manipulative Tenant Ever
“I have a crazy/manipulative tenant. She looks after the place well, but I wonder if the psychological damage is worth it.
Early on in the tenancy, she complained about the shower curtain sticking to her. It’s a shower-over-bath setup, and since she pays her rent reliably and keeps the place clean, we pay to have a glass screen put in.
We specifically instructed that the glass screen goes in front of the shower head. After it’s installed, I get a complaint from her about how she has to turn the shower head 45 degrees to stop the water hitting the ground. I go to inspect and find that the glass is inexplicably at the other end of the bath.
Turns out she’d insisted that the installer ignore our instructions and put it there, for whatever reason.
I told her that since she’d countermanded our instructions on something we were paying for that was now a permanent fixture in our property, she was lucky we didn’t charge her for it and that she was going to have to live with the setup she’d insisted on having.
Later, she asked if she could put a cat flap in the back door. We agreed, on the provision that she pay for it herself and that it be a proper cat flap, not some dodgy-DIY version.
She puts in a rubber-flap cat door, which I wouldn’t have gone with but whatever. We let it go.
Little did we know where this was leading.
After the first winter in the house, she emails us copies of her electrical bills and says that the house needs better heating because her bills are too high.
Looking at the bills, we agree that the house must need better heating, and we invest in an expensive system.
She tries to tell us where to put it and we tell her that the installers have designated spot X as the most effective and that we’re not open to alternatives. We instruct the installers to refuse to shift the unit to another location unless they deem it to be superior because she’s not paying for it, we are.
After the installation, the installer says to us, ‘Hey, just to let you know, the reason her bills were so high last year is that she pulled the cat flap into the ‘open’ position and left it hooked up that way all winter.’
Yes, she created a deliberate hole between inside and outside, left it fully opened for an entire season, then complained that her heating wasn’t effective, all so she could score an expensive new heater that wasn’t required.
At this point, I started thinking, ‘Is she really that manipulative? Would anyone deliberately freeze themselves just to make me fork out thousands of dollars for new heating? Is it really that important to her to screw me over for no purpose?’
Surely, surely not.
Next, she asked for permission to get a dog. We said, ‘yes.’ She then told us she’d purchased a puppy and it would be ready in three months – but oh, hey, that side fence needs replacing or else he’ll get out.
The fence would have needed replacing within seven or so years anyway, so we figured ‘Okay, that’s probably not entirely unreasonable’ and agree. We’re not keen on the way she’s manipulated things by getting us to agree to a pet and then using that to pressure us, but we take the attitude that if we get the fencing job over with now, it’s done and won’t be a problem later.
Then she says that the neighbors are addicts and so she wants the fence extended down the driveway to stop them hovering near her car. We can see her point (the neighbors definitely are criminals and constantly in trouble with the police).
Fair enough, we think, so we say we’ll look into doing that as well.
The addicts are evicted a few days later (hurrah!) and Social Services put the house up for sale.
We put the fence on hold until the sale goes through.
A nice bloke buys the house and starts renovating it for his family. Great guy. We replaced the fence at our expense and he helped with the labor.
However, we’re not learning fast enough. In fact, we are total idiots, because it seems that now she’s not getting that dog after all. The dog ploy was sufficient to get the fence replaced; no dog necessary now.
She has a shiny new fence.
But she’s not happy.
No, she wants that fence extension put in.
‘But,’ we point out, ‘the new guy is a quiet family man and no threat to anyone. There is no need for a fence extension, and so we will not be putting one in. You have a brand new fence; be happy.’
She is not happy.
She sends me a text about a week later saying that she needs the fence extension put in, because ‘The Police are all over and there are dead bodies in the street.’
I’m floored by this. Aside from the now long-evicted ferals, the house is on a nice street mostly populated by retirees. It is not, by a long stretch, any kind of ghetto.
I ring the new neighbor to confirm, and he says that no, there’s no police anywhere and that the street is, as usual, quiet.
He questions whether perhaps my tenant is schizophrenic.
Who knows? Maybe.
I think more likely she’s just compulsively manipulative because she’s got a clear end game in all of this and she’s showing remarkable dedication to coming up with complete nonsense to achieve it.
But anyway, back to the ‘police in the streets and dead bodies everywhere.’
Turns out, there was an accidental carbon monoxide death of two people on a boat moored at the nearby bay, and police were attending the accident.
No crime. Nothing but a tragedy a couple of blocks away, which was being attended to very respectfully by the authorities.
I tell her that no fence extension is going to be forthcoming.
End of story.
Or so I think.
A few weeks later, she tells me that she needs the fence extension because the neighbor’s gate keeps swinging into her driveway and hitting her car.
I pop ’round to speak with the neighbor, and while I’m there he demonstrates that the gate cannot, in any way, enter her driveway, even in a gale, even if he swung it hard, it cannot enter here or there; it cannot enter anywhere on her property – because the gate is inset from the end of the fence and there is no way for it to swing past that point.
At this stage, I told her, through gritted teeth, that I have spoken with the neighbor and that her car is safe from his gate.
In the three years she’s been with us, she hasn’t had a rental increase, and she’s always paid substantially under market rate because it was more important to me to get someone who looked after the property than to get the best price for it.
However, the next time I get some made-up psychotic nonsense from her that’s designed to manipulate me into yet another expensive and unnecessary upgrade, her rent is going to suddenly go up to market comparable.
If I have to put up with any more of her crap, by god she’s going to start paying for it. And if it means that she moves on and I take my chances with a new person, then so be it.
I’ve already checked with the tenancy tribunal here and I can put the rent up by $50 a week to match the market rate without them so much as blinking.
She’s gone radio silent for a few months now. I hope maybe she’s finally worked out that she is on a ridiculously sweet deal and should quit while she’s massively ahead.”
A Completely Crazy Neighbor Ruins Everything
“I had a tenant call me because the toilet needed fixing. I came over to check it out. Simple fix; just needed to run to Home Depot. Then she says there was something else.
It was the across the street neighbor, a 20-year-old male. He was apparently off his meds and was performing theatrics, a bonafide drama king throughout the night: yelling, screaming, pacing in and out the slamming the front door. He was schizophrenic to my untrained diagnostics. All hours, for three nights and days, just ranting. My tenant felt concerned and nervous. I suggested calling the cops for noise complaints.
I took off to Home Depot and got what I needed, returned to find the guy was outside yelling about aliens and Queen Elizabeth invading. No biggie. I go inside and fix the toilet. I reassured her that he seemed harmless. I ask, ‘has he made any threats?’ She says no. I decide to scope out the fellow. I go outside, made friendly eye contact, a smile, a wave, and a ‘Hi.’ He proceeds to go on a barely coherent rant, barely acknowledging me but did say, ‘hey you,’ as I was walking back into the house. I reassure them of his concerning the mental condition and promise to figure a way to contact his landlord and advise calling the cops if it went past midnight.
I leave and now he is on my property, ranting like he’s in a play. This frightens the girls, so, having enough and being Texan, I kindly request, then kindly advise him to return to his property. He doesn’t acknowledge, so I call the cops for trespassing.
Cops show up and he runs inside. He doesn’t make any direct threats, and as the cops say, ‘it’s not illegal to be crazy inside your own house.’ Nothing can be done. Now, the other neighbors are scoping out what’s going on, with the cops called. I speak with them about the current situation, calm them down. One lady was going to look into Mental Health Hotlines.
Things calm down for a few days. I’ve never met the crazy man’s landlord and had no contact. I wasn’t sure how to reach out, as all I knew, the landlord lived in California. I poke around on some public records but get no real results.
Friday approaches, it’s SXSW Interactive Festival and I’m the CTO of a virtual reality startup. Our investors are hosting a Roof Top event, we have some B-celeb musicians with record labels reps, guests, our company, and of course our big donor-investors.
I’m key to the tech operation of the event; a bit stressed showing off some hot new finicky tech. I get a call from another neighbor saying that the crazy guy was out ranting, and a jogger passed by and overheard the crazy cry out, ‘I’m GOING TO RAZE THE GREEN HOUSE DOWN.’ The jogger stops and says, ‘excuse me?’ Crazy has gone aggravated and repeats ‘I’M GOING TO RAZE THE GREEN HOUSE DOWN.’ That was my house and so the jogger informs the neighbor who called to inform me. NOT THE BEST TIMING DUDE. This was one of my major events of the week.
I duck out to the bathroom to call the cops again. Fortunately, it was nearing the end of the event, so I pack up the tech to the extent that required my attention, informed the Party VIPs of my exit and booked it to my property. Three cop cars are there and the crazy guy ran back inside. Again, there’s not enough to bust in.
I speak with everyone, give them the news, my plan for next steps, and calmed them down. The lady looking into mental health got a number but didn’t have it on her. I said I’d come back tomorrow. She also gave the news that the guy was living alone. He was dumped by his mother at that house because she was also not mentally fit to care for herself, let alone him. Crazy runs in the family, I guess. The father was a wealthy contractor working in the Middle East that disowned him but had the obligations to pay his rent and bills. There was a guy that came by periodically to ‘provide food’ and make sure he was okay. Great, so the crazy dude had no responsibilities. And only had the one visitor per a week.
The next day I drive by and see the visitor. I stopped to speak with him, informing of the ruckus the crazy guy was causing. The visitor said he’s got meds, but was beyond his duties to ensure he takes them daily. He shared with me his business card and left swiftly.
I go over to the neighbor with the mental health hotline number and said, enough is enough, one more outbreak and we’ll call them. After chatting, I’m walking back to my truck.
The crazy dude has a samurai sword and swinging it while reciting his theatrics. He stood in my way of my truck. While on the phone with 911, the dude goes ‘KILL ME, KILL ME, KILL ME NOW!’ and runs into the house with the sword.
I explained the history to the 911 operator and the sword. Ten cop cars show up in a standoff. I walk to one and he busts out of a trunk what appears to be a weapon. I’m thinking great, we’re in Texas and they won’t tolerate anything. It’s about to go down.
The crazy dude eventually comes out of the house in his mad hatter ways and gets tackled. Thank god there were no weapons involved. The cops see the sword on his couch and enter. The crazy guy gets arrested and I will say, they must have had some mental health training because they handled him with utmost professional kindness and caring manner.
I calm the neighbors and tenants. Days go by, and the dude turns up again, but much more sane. At this point, the girls are seeking to break the contract to move away from him. Thanks, buddy.
A week goes by, he’s starting up again, but soon after the kid disappears. The last anyone saw of him was with a backpack packed up and was planning on walking to a festival? There were no festivals that I knew of going on in the state. He had left all of his belongings. His father had auto pay going for many many months. Not my problem. Eventually, new neighbors moved in.
We need better social mental health care in Texas!”