So You Think You Can Landlord? A Tenant From Hell Story

by Mike Holman

Warning – this post is not suitable for family viewing!

I originally rejected this post and then decided to run it – then I rejected it again and finally decided again to publish it.  It’s not the type of post I really want to publish, but it does contain a good lesson for prospective landlords.  The item in question will not be mentioned by name here, although I have provided a link to the Wikipedia description so you can find out what it is.

This article was written by Rachelle: a real estate guru who works as a property manager and helps investors find rental properties in Toronto and surrounding areas.  She has recently started a very interesting blog called Landlord Rescue.  You can subscribe to the RSS feed here.

Check out Rachelle’s other “Tenant From Hell” posts:

This is a story about pushing the envelope of Landlord & Tenant Act, and of the system of protections in a rental building breaking down. Staff can be manipulated and make rental mistakes.  In this case we escaped relatively unscathed except for my coworker’s ego and some of her innocence.

The Humongous Electric [item]

As soon as I entered the office, a veritable mob of staffers assaulted me. I knew it was big trouble because ten people were in my office this morning.

There was a call at about 4 am about leaking water. The super played detective and followed the clues until he found the source of the water. He then observed a delightful scene. The bathtub was running full bore and the drain was plugged with cigarette butts. There was about 2 inches of water throughout the apartment. There was also a man.

In spite of the super’s knocking and shouting “Management” the man was passed out cold.  He was lying in the kitchen on a blow up mattress. He was very naked. Supers never like to find naked, passed out, obese, middle-aged men in a flooded apartment. They hate it even more if they can see an extra-large plastic pleasure prod right beside the naked man still plugged into the wall.

Now he was in MY office telling ME that I have to do something. I haven’t even finished my coffee. Then the rental agent comes over. She’s shuddering because she’s heard about the “device” found beside the guy. Every time she says the word [item], she turns a bright shade of red. I ask her for the file on this guy. I’m giggling delightedly to myself since the rental agent and I have what can best be described as a rocky relationship. I’m enjoying her embarrassment.

The File

I get the file on our newest resident… there’s nothing in it except for a lease and it isn’t signed. No ID, no work history, no previous landlord, no letter from the bank. Nothing.  There is a receipt for payment of first and last. What this guy was doing in our building with nothing but respiration to recommend him? I dig deeper, it turns out she gave the guy a break because he just got out of the mental hospital and he needed a place to stay right away. He didn’t have any of the paperwork, but he was supposed to bring it to her before the first of the month.

Literally all that is required to move into our building is a pulse and first and last. No wonder the eviction department (me) is so damn busy.

The Action Plan

I sigh and shake my head a little. I tell everyone I have a plan. I ask where [Item] Guy is. They tell me he went out. I’m guessing he’s gone to get more beer and cigarettes.  I explain that because it’s before the first and we didn’t charge him prorated rent, he’s not officially our tenant yet. Everyone breathes a giant sigh of relief.  I tell the super to change the locks and post a note on his door telling the new non-tenant to come to the management office.

Getting a check issued

My request to head office to issue a check for us to refund our non tenant’s money ASAP was met with protestations of impossibility. In buildings we only issue checks to pay bills 90 days old. I tried to do this once with my hydro bill and darkness ensued, but buildings get away with it all the time.  The list of reasons why it wasn’t possible was very long.

I called the owner of the building and tell him about his brand new tenant. I convey my regrets that I wasn’t able to get rid of him because the head office had assured me that it was impossible to issue a check. I described the plastic [item], it was huge, it was electric, it would cost a fortune in hydro. I described the flood, four floors damaged etc. Yes, it was indeed his very first day in the building. “What would the future hold”, I idly mused? “Oh well it’s too bad” I apologetically said as I hung up the phone.

I wait by the phone … about 2 minutes later it rings. It’s the exalted head accountant on the phone. It seems that they have a check ready.  A miracle has occurred, the angels are singing and my plan gets a new lifeline. Alas, another problem rears its ugly head. “How are we going to get this check to you?” the accountant with the MBA asks me. (Head office is 20 blocks away) I’m glad I’m talking to the smartest guy at head office. “I’ll use my car and drive over” I carefully enunciate.

The Tenant Reappears

After a drive, I return to my office with the check. The rental agent is talking to someone about an apartment. I notice that she’s not making eye contact with her potential tenant at all and she’s trembling. The guy has a bag from the liquor store with him. It’s [Item] Guy!

The rental agent keeps talking about the nice apartments we have and how he can get an even better apartment to rent because he had a flood in his apartment. I can’t believe what I’m hearing and my brain is melting a little. I call her over to my office.

“Thank God” she says.  [Item] Guy has been talking to her since I left. She’s afraid to tell him that’s he’s kicked to the curb. “He did just get out of the mental hospital” she says. She’d rather sit there and rent him another apartment for two hours while shaking and shuddering than tell him the truth.

“Do I have to do every single thing around here? I didn’t rent to this weirdo you did” I tell her.  She begs me to tell him that he’s not moving back in. By this time I’m fed up and just want this crap finalized.

The Brush Off

I break the news to him. You’re not moving back in here. You caused thousands in damage with your flood. I hand him the check and tell him to take his stuff. He gets really mad at the rental agent and starts screaming at her. I tell him it’s time to go and he leaves. He doesn’t take any belongings and never came back.

Can it really be over?

A couple months later, I notice that the apartment is still empty. I ask maintenance why it’s not available. He starts telling me what a problem he’s having.  “The cleaning staff won’t touch IT,” he says. So he can’t get the suite renovated or cleaned because the giant electric [item] is still in the apartment.

Now it’s over

I’m thrilled. I sneak to the apartment throw a towel over the problematic device, unplug it and chuck it down the garbage chute. I don’t tell anybody.  I snicker randomly for the next few days and wait.

A couple days later the maintenance manager comes into my office. He’s very concerned.  “One of the staff must have stolen the [item]; it’s disappeared.”  Staff theft is a big concern in buildings. I tell him that someone must have needed it badly and to look on the bright side of things. Now we can clean and rent the suite. I’m keeping a straight face somehow; as soon as he leaves the office I start laughing so hard the tears are rolling down my cheeks.

I never did tell them… until now.

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