Everybody who has ever rented has had some experience with a landlord that didn't go as planned. Sometimes it's due to greed, other times it's due to incompetent behavior. These stories highlight some of the most egregious examples of bad behavior by landlords to their tenants, and at the end of this piece, y'all might be wanting to organize a tenants' union. Content has been edited for clarity.
"The landlord I was renting from promised me a unit in a quiet area of the building, then held outdoor concerts outside my window all summer! They wouldn't let me move out before my lease was over without a penalty of 2 months rent plus forfeit security deposit, which would have cost me a few thousand dollars.
This landlord also towed my car from the resident parking lot two days before I moved out for having a flat tire without notice, to the furthest auto shop in town even though there was a shop right across the street. The worst part? Towing companies charge by the mile. I had happened to walked outside when they had my car on the tow truck, and even asked them to please take it to my mechanic across the street instead and they wouldn't do it.
Apparently a car with a flat tire is considered inoperable. Leaving an inoperable vehicle more than 24-48 hours makes it an abandoned vehicle, and leaving an abandoned vehicle on property can be considered 'storage' by the property owner. It is illegal to tow the car without at least one notice to the owner that the tire is flat before towing, though. Ridiculous, right?!
I was so close to making an official legal case against them. It was incredibly stressful, feeling trapped living there and not being able to leave. Where I live that penalty for breaking the lease would've been around $3000."
"I never actually met this landlord in person, but we nearly ended up taking him to court. We complained about a ton of broken things that he would never fix. On the rare occasion that the landlord got things fixed, he hired an unqualified worker that he hired from the Home Depot parking lot. They were nice people, but our roof still had leaks after they 'fixed' it.
Being college kids, we went to the free legal council our university offered, hoping we had some options to get things fixed. The lawyer found out that the house we were renting had been foreclosed on 2 months prior and was owned by a bank. We were enraged, and immediately decided to stop paying rent to this guy while we got our things in order. About 6 weeks later, he comes by the house furious that we hadn't paid rent in over a month. My roommate simply said, 'We aren't paying you anymore, get the heck off this property.' This infuriated him and he started threatening my roommate until my roommate said, 'We know you don't own this place anymore and we're going to sue for the money stolen from us.' He shut up at this point and left, never to be heard from again. We didn't sue him because each of us were only out like $600 dollars (rent was stupid cheap for 4 college kids in a big city.
We made a deal with the bank to pay them the same rent we had been paying in order to stay until graduation in May. We were also responsible for cleaning up the yard and they would get someone out there to fix a few big issues (roof and plumbing) since they were going to sell the house anyway. We held up our end and enjoyed our last few months of college without a terrible landlord. We never got our two months rent back from him."
"The lease on an apartment I rented said that they would pay for water and sewer treatment. About 3 months into the lease, the water was cut off because they didn't pay those utilities. They insisted that it was a mistake to put it on the lease, and I needed to pay for the water and sewage. I ended up having to pay for the water and sewer but then when I moved out they billed me $1,500 for breach of contract. I was out $1,500 because of their breach of contract.
Seems the clause in the contract stated 'In the event of a breach of contract, the renter will be liable for a $1,500 breach of contract fee.' When I pointed out they were the ones in breach of contract they replied, 'The clause has nothing to do with who breached the contract, it only states that the renter is liable.'"
"The Landlord found out I was a renovation specialist. I had a long background in historic renovation and water/fire/storm damage. She asked if I would do little odds and ends around the place to fix it up. To compensate, she took the material and labor costs off of the rent or paid for materials to do the work. I did a lot for her; Refinished the concrete floor in the laundry room, replaced all door knobs with new style knobs that took 6 hours to complete per door because the things were ancient, replaced the front door, repaired walls all over and repainted the whole place, hung new cabinets, installed a new dish washer after basically redesigning the kitchen to accommodate the dishwasher, and refinished the ancient front entry door, rewired a few problem outlets/lights and switches.
When I moved in the place sat empty for a year and it was in rough shape. When I moved out the place was awesome, so awesome in fact the landlord rented it out for $300 more a month then I had rented it for. It also rented out 4 days after I moved out, she didn't have to do anything to get the next family to sign the lease
So few weeks go by after I move out and I'm starting to wonder where my security deposit is, because clearly I should be getting that back. I wish. Turns out I got a letter in the mail after another few weeks saying she was keeping the deposit because of a ridiculous list of minor or completely fake infractions. So I took her to court and won. Her argument was basically that renting apartments and keeping security deposits/ underpaid labor is how she makes money, and that it's her only income. The judge looked at her as though he was was holding back laughter before he ruled in my favor."
"My landlord didn't pay the power. Not, 'they forgot to pay the power.' Not, 'they were in financial trouble and couldn't afford to.' They just wanted to see if they could call the power company's bluff. We paid rent with electricity, gas, and water added on each month and naturally one day our power goes out. In fact The power company killed and locked half the breakers in every building. I call the power company and they tell me no one paid the electricity bill in 6 months. Even though we were giving our landlord money to cover the electricity the whole time we lived there. I call him up and he says he'll fix it, it must be a mistake. Nobody in the apartments believed that line but whatever. Two weeks later I'm threatening to take him to court and our power comes back on
I dunno if you've ever seen a riot take shape, but try cutting off the AC and refrigeration for a few dozen Alabamians in the middle of June in a heat wave. In those types of cases, it's too bad the power company can't switch it up a little. Instead of turning off the power of people who have little/no control over the payment, turn off the power in the offices. Or the residences of whoever was supposed to be paying the bill."
"They seemed like the nicest couple in the world when we first rented the place, they even invited us to dinner and we had a great time.
3 months in, we found out that they argue quite loudly and curse like truckers, not that big of a deal. Then my wife stepped on a piece of blue glass that was on our kitchen floor. We didn't own any blue glasses.
Sure enough, I remembered that dinner: they had blue glasses on the table. I setup a camera in the living room and over the next week, caught this guy in our apartment when we weren't home.
This creep was going through our dressers and playing with my wife's underwear. I caught him red handed and gave him a nice beating and called the cops.
He tried playing it off like he smelt smoke and wanted to investigate, then I played back the previous week's videos of him visiting on 3 separate occasions.
They locked him up, we found a new place really fast and never looked back."
"I haven't had a landlord in 21+ years and I hope I never have another one again!
When I was 12, we moved into our new apartment. It was a 2 family apartment house. We rented out the upstairs apartment and our landlord lived below us in the first floor apartment with his wife. We lived here for 15 years, and he was an absolutely terrible person. He thought nothing of invading our privacy, freezing us every winter, and refusing to make repairs or improvements on our apartment.
When we first moved in, we had the habit of leaving our front door unlocked , but only during the daytime and only when we were home. Our landlord took advantage of this and would frequently barge in without notice without knocking or ringing the doorbell. We'd be sitting in our living room watching tv or doing whatever when we would hear our front door being pushed open, someone barging up the stairs, and the next thing we knew our landlord was standing there in our living room with us. We got tired of this really fast. So we learned to keep our door locked at all times from then on, but even then he would still try to barge into our apartment. After this he'd try to open the door normally but when it didn't open he'd then press his body against the door and try to force it open or break it down. He'd try this for a minute or two before finally giving in and knocking like a normal person should. He did this for many years. I wouldn't open the door until he knocked on principle, I was so sick of his treatment of us.
Even though we both had mail slots in our front doors, the mailman would deliver the entire building's mail in one pile into the lone mailbox nailed up on the wall outside our front doors. If any of my family ever got to the mail first, we would separate our mail from the landlord's, leaving their mail in the mailbox. If the landlord or his wife got the mail first, they'd grab the whole bundle of mail and take it into their apartment. They wouldn't give us our mail until much later in the day or the next day or a couple days later, I'm pretty sure this was a felony!
While living at this apartment I briefly subscribed to TV Guide. Normally it came in the mail on Thursday or Friday. One week Thursday came and I couldn't find the tv guide in the mail when it eventually came. Friday was the exact same, no tv guide. Saturday morning the tv guide still hadn't come. Thinking it was lost in the mail, I went to the local grocery store on Saturday morning to buy that weeks tv guide. the next day my landlord slipped my missing tv guide into our front door mail slot. He had kept my TV guide in his room the entire time.
He also had an invasive habit of opening up our phone bill. We knew this because he was calling us on the phone every other day. We changed our number only to have him call us at the new number , even though we never gave him our new number. To avoid the harassment we had our number changed again, only to have him call again later at the new number after the latest phone bill came in the mail. We changed our phone number again and finally he stopped calling. I guess he got the message, it only took him months of incessant calling and number changing for him to get the hint.
One time we had family come over to the apartment, a few of my uncles and a cousin. One of my uncles went inside my apartment while I talked with my other uncle and cousin down the block from my place, alongside their parked car. They were facing my apartment while my back was to it. According to them they witnessed my landlord come out of his apartment, suspiciously look around, up and down the block, peek inside the little window in my front door, then he placed his ear against the glass window in the door for a minute or two before going back into his apartment.
The worst part of living in that apartment were the winters. The landlord froze us every winter because he gave us very little or no heat. Being a very old building, our apartment didn't have a separate thermostat of our own so that we could adjust the heat for ourselves. Our landlord controlled how much heat we got and when. Where we lived housing law stated that a landlord must turn on the heat in October and can't turn it off completely until April. No matter how cold it got, he wouldn't turn our heat on until the last week of October. And no matter how cold it still was, he'd turn it off for good after the first week of April.
On the rare occasion he actually turned on the heat it wasn't long before he turned it off again, about 15 minutes at best. After he turned it off, it would be a long time before he turned it on again. And it wouldn't be long before the apartment became frigid in the winter with that system of heating. When he eventually turned the heat on it was basically for celebration, but basic necessities shouldn't have been cause for celebration.
I became so accustomed to freezing indoors that it never failed to take me by surprise that whenever I went to visit a friend or relative's house during the wintertime no matter what day I was visiting or what time of the day it was, I always felt incredibly warm in their house. It was so freezing in our apartment that I was used to going to bed fully clothed, complete with stockings. I would use the kitchen stove to try to heat up the apartment basically every other day in the apartment. I'm surprised the gas bill alone wasn't enough to convince the landlord to put the heat back on. I'd open the stove door, turn it up full blast, then close all the doors in between the kitchen and my bedroom so that the heat would travel up the hallway and into my bedroom. I almost started a fire because the landlord was too stingy with the heat.
Oh, you can be darn sure he kept his apartment nice and toasty warm all day, every day during the winter. How did I know? At the bottom of our stairs, behind our front door was a very small radiator. This particular radiator wasn't connected to our other radiators in our apartment upstairs, it was connected through the wall to his radiators in his apartment. And it was this little radiator that was on most or all of the time at the same time while our radiators were off. That bottom part of the stairs was the only place in our apartment that was consistently warm all winter long. Sometimes I would sit down there with a book just to keep warm for a little while.
One cold winter evening I was returning home from a friends relatively warm apartment. I was walking home from the bus stop. As I reached the front of my apartment house, i turned my head and saw my landlord through his living room window. He was adjusting the thermostat on his wall and had his shirt sleeves rolled up as if he were in the tropics. I thought to myself, 'Yeah, but I'll bet my apartment is like a freaking freezer.' I entered my front door and that little radiator behind his door was going full blast. I climbed the steps up to my apartment and sure enough the place was freezing, no heat was on in my apartment at all. As a matter of fact he wouldn't turn on the heat for our place until 5am the next morning. That night, like many other nights before and after it, I slept fully clothed to keep warm while I slept.
I had a really stupid landlord."
"I used to get medication shipped to me. It was a self administered injection, with a spring loaded needle casing. I had a safe disposal method, etc, all set up. It was a medical issue for an long term illness that I was living with
Each month these little coolers of medicine went to the main office of my terrible apartment building. For the first year everything was fine, but then my building was sold to a new company and we got a new moron running the place.
The first time my medication got shipped to me, I went down to get it from the office like I always did. First off there is a massive sticker that says 'Refrigerate upon delivery.' It's medically important because otherwise the medication might denature and become potentially dangerous. The previous people always popped it straight into the fridge that was set up in the office for me, a basic courtesy that meant a lot to me. This new manager wasn't considerate, She left it in the sweltering back room instead. Rude and inconsiderate, but I could deal with it. It was only for a little bit each day and although it was probably endangering me I could attribute that to genuine ignorance as opposed to serious malice.
I went to the office that day and the when I asked for the meds, she did the thing where she mimed like she was handing it to me and then pulled it back when I reached for the box. She then asked me, 'Are these needles? Are you having needles delivered?'
I was like, 'That's not any of your business. Give me my medication, I need this.'
She kept holding on to it and said, 'Well, some of the neighbors are concerned because needles usually mean narcotics.'
Are you kidding me? My neighbors have never seen my needles and even if they did, you can't actually see the needle part because it's all encased in a spring loaded tube. There is no way my 'neighbors are concerned' about this, they have no clue that this is something I have as a genuine medical necessity. And how the heck did she even know there were needles unless she was snooping through my packages?
I told her again that it wasn't any of her business. She finally gave me the box, but she gave me the stink eye every time I received my medication after that. I'm not sure which was more painful; the injections or the treatment. "
"Last November I get a knock on the door of my 'newly renovated' basement apartment from the fire department saying I'm living in an illegal apartment and will be evicted in 3 months if the landlord doesn't get the place up to code. The landlord kicks me and my girlfriend out in February for 'just a couple of weeks, but we'll say three just to be safe.' I ask if I have to move out any furniture, and he says, 'No, the contractors will just work around it, no worries your apartment will be good as new by the time you move back.'
I then spent 7 weeks living illegally in my buddy's basement 30 minutes away, paying rent, and commuting to work. Finally, in April, landlord gives me the ok to move back in, saying the place looks great. Foolishly, I believed him.
When I got back, the entire place was filthy. There was thick drywall dust on every surface, some of which I swore was asbestos. There were paint cans, tools, and piles of garbage in every nook. Paint splattered on the floor, windows, and even all of my furniture including the mattress. Some of my wooden furniture had scratches in it, and the shoe rack and shower curtain were completely destroyed in the renovation.
I argued with him about this for days, and he gave me $150 for cleaning and damages. This alone would be laughable because of how little this was in comparison to the value of everything that was trashed. Being a landlord he then jacked up rent by $100/month because the 'apartment is so much better now.' After all the inconvenience, a month of rent given to him despite my not living there, the hassle of arguing with him and the pittance he gave me, I had my rent prices increase!"
"I lived in a few different apartments while I was in college and all my landlords where cool except one. I lived in the first floor of the building while he lived in the second floor.
He has many 'interesting' stories but there is one that stands out.
One day, all of a sudden I found small black things that looked like burnt rice through the living room floor. At first I wasn't sure what it was and swept it up with a broom. Not long after I found the same in a desk I had in the living room. At that point, my roommate realized it was rodent droppings.
We called the landlord to find an exterminator, and he just told us 'I'll be there in a moment'. About 15 minutes later he comes down with a small carton box full of fruits filled with rat poison to put around the apartment.
I looked at him in disbelief and he just proceeded to let us know that his pet snake had died and decided to release the rodents he had to feed it as he had no longer use for them and was sure they would just go and live in the woods peacefully.
Still in shock, I asked him to leave and dealt with the issue myself.
I didn't accept his offer to renew the contract and left as soon as possible."