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.
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.