Evicting A Senile Old Lady – A Tenant From Hell Story

by Mike Holman

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Most “tenant from hell” stories involve bad people who don’t pay their rent.  This one is a bit different…

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.

If you haven’t read Rachelle’s last post then check out The Stripper With Dirty Feet – A Tenant from Hell Story .  A great read.

Most tenants who can’t pay their rent are very dysfunctional.  How people act in one area of their life reflects in other areas.  It follows that the people who are being evicted are usually the same people who cause damage, break into cars, do drugs, run guns, store stolen cars in the parking garage and cause trouble.

This isn’t a story about those people, but rather an eviction I did that had a real impact on me as a person because I had to make a decision to betray a friend’s wishes for her good and ours.

Mrs. R and the Flood

Every building has a person who comes to the management office on a daily basis.  These residents break up our day, inject a bit of humour, and keep us up to date with the building news.  Usually seniors, they are on watch for every single going on.  If a dog does his business in the elevator, they’ll tell you.  Other people call them busy bodies but generally property managers like them.

In one building I worked in, we had a 96 year old lady exactly like this – let’s call her “Mrs R”.  Every day Mrs. R would read the Toronto Star and then she would bring us the paper so we could read it too.  She would tell us about her arthritis and how much it sucks to get old.

Show and Tell

One time Mrs. R showed me her bed sore, right in the management office.  She pulled down her pants and showed me her ass.  We even got the whole thing on video because the office had security cameras.

Mrs. R took a real shine to me.  I was her favourite.  After all she showed ME her bedsore!

Every two weeks, her daughter would come to see her and bring her food and take her to the doctor or hairdresser.  Mrs. R was getting really old – at 96 she was doing pretty well, but she needed a walker, and she also wasn’t very hungry. She was skinny as a rail and her daughter brought her container after container of food trying to fatten her up.

Mrs. R couldn’t eat all the food and she didn’t want to make her daughter mad.  She would come to the management office with her little containers of weird food and give them to me.  At first I politely refused. Then I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. So the edible deliveries continued the entire time I worked there until she got evicted.

How lies lead to more lies

The whole food gift thing got very complicated. Every day I would go through an elaborate charade – get the food, dump it, clean the dish, all while keeping a sharp eye out for Mrs. R.  The longer it went on the worse it was.  My subterfuge had taken on a horrible life of its’ own.  It got worse when she asked me to comment on which food I liked better or how great certain recipes were.  The other staff would snicker at my inventive replies and my awkwardness.

I really loved Mrs. R.  She was funny and witty and sharp as hell.  She never forgot to pick up one single plastic dish.  She shared her life with us.  Every one in the office liked her.  Religiously she came to see us.

Life was getting harder for Mrs. R as she aged.  Her daughter lived in the boonies and couldn’t visit very often.  Mrs. R forgot her pills or took them twice sometimes.  She was having a hard time getting around and she was getting frightfully thin.

The Fateful Event

One day we got a call from the 12th floor. Water was pouring into someone’s apartment.  The super sprung into action to find the source of the leak.  He followed the leak to the 18th floor, right into Mrs. R’s apartment.  She forgot to turn off her kitchen tap and flooded six floors.

Later Mrs. R calls down to the office.  I sent the super up to her apartment again.  He talks to her for a while and then comes directly back to see me.  Apparently Mrs. R was drying off her socks and pants in her oven and they caught on fire.  That’s what got her evicted.

The Eviction

Nobody wants to evict Mrs. R, but it’s the only way we’ll get her out of the building and into a home where she can get better care.  Her daughter’s been trying to get her into a home for years, but Mrs. R is stubborn.

The next day I gave her a form for impaired safety.  This woman who brought me food and the Toronto Star, I evicted using the same form as I used on the gunrunner and the guy who punched our accountant in the face.  I had to keep the mask intact as I told her she was being thrown out of her home of the last 32 years.  I had to wrestle my own feelings of wretchedness as I stripped away the last bastion of her independence.

Then I held her as she cried and wondered what to do.

And that’s the sad story of how I came to evict Mrs R.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mr. Cheap

Definitely sounds like a rough experience. As you say, I’m sure it was the best thing for her (she would have accidentally killed herself left alone).

I can’t understand why people cling to “independence” I’m ready to have someone cook and clean for me NOW (how old do you have to be to move into an old age home anyway?).

2 Mike

@Mr. Cheap – You can get someone to cook, clean and do many other things for you. You just have to pay them. ;)

3 Rachelle

You could also marry a domestically inclined woman :)

I wish I were a better writer… lots of things that happen in buildings are incredibly funny. You have an almost endless stream of weird people coming to look at apartments, you learn about people’s personal lives, the owner is always cracking the money whip.

Like one time we had a couple strippers come to rent an apartment. They were both wearing shirts so see through we could see their nipple rings! The owner saw them on the security cam and called us into the office and told us if we rented to them we were fired because this was a family building.

So… we sent the building accountant to show them the apartment. :) He was happy for a whole week.

4 Bucksome Boomer

This was such a moving story. The hardest things to do are the right thing and you did right by Mrs. R.

5 Rachelle

Thanks Boomer. No one ever feels good about these situations it’s heart wrenching.

I think it’s a lot harder to be a building legal rep than a regular paralegal because you know the people. Most paralegals just see the person the day of the hearing and never again. If you work in the building you obviously know a lot more about the person. That makes it harder.

Some people you get close to and I really believe seniors have earned the right to good treatment and respect. I can’t tell you how hard it was on me and even the owner of the building. His Dad used to bring him to the office when he was 2 and he’d known her since then. Ethically I’m not comfortable forcing people into decisions of this magnitude either.

6 Janette

It hurt to read this.
I feel for you, her daughter and Mrs. R.
It is tough to get old. It is sad when the placement is in a nursing home and not a family home. I really don’t like our society much when it comes to the elderly.

7 Rachelle

Janette,

The end result was much better for Mrs. R. Her daughter lived about two hours away and had applied for her to go into a home about 5 minutes from where she lived. She was able to visit her all the time. Just think of the hassle for her daughter to cook and pack all that food up and drive it to Toronto every couple weeks. Then she would take her to get her hair done or the Dr too. She was a great daughter but she was 70 ! Mrs R also had a nurse come once a week to help her but it really wasn’t enough. So it ended well for everyone except for me. I had to buy my own Toronto Star!

8 Nicole

That is so sad! But I am really glad it ended well. Assisted living situations and living close to family can really make a positive difference. Probably worth the price of the Star in peace of mind.

9 Patrick

@Mr. Cheap: This may require some imagination from us young whippersnappers, but I would think you’d feel differently if accepting help meant admitting you can no longer cope on your own, and will never be able to cope on your own again. I’m sure it must feel like you’re willingly putting one foot in the grave.

10 Mrs. Accountability

Poor Mrs. R. But I see Rachelle commented that things turned out much better for her in the end since she ended up living closer to her daughter. I just heard a sad story the other day from a woman who is nearly 100. She has an apartment in an assisted living building, pays over $1000 a month of her own retirement funds and has been robbed several times by the people who run the building. She says she can’t keep any cash on hand because they sneak into her room at night and steal her money. Recently her entire purse was stolen and she asked if I could take her to the bank on the corner and they knew her by her first name there. I guess she fell one time at her house and her son then forced her to move into assisted living and he never visits her. Sad. Makes me really happy that my mom took care of my Grandma for her last ten years when she had Alzheimer’s. I would never want to be a landlord. Not the job for me, for sure. Thanks for the story.

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