Tales of the Catman
Throughout my time writing for Canadian Apartment Magazine, I have heard my fair share of tenant-landlord horror stories. Most recently, I interviewed a woman named Stephanie*, whose family experienced a true “tenant from hell situation at a very unfortunate time."
Stephanie’s family was living in two properties sitting side by side. After her father David* fell ill, Stephanie’s mother decided that she wanted to move the family entirely to one house, which meant that one of the properties would be vacant. As a temporary measure, David agreed to rent the property to a tenant whom the family had never met, and under rental conditions that the family was unaware of.
Unfortunately, David succumbed to his illness and passed away a few weeks after issuing the agreement, leaving the family in a state of turmoil and oblivious to the rental arrangement made with their new tenant. The new tenant, Nathan*, approached Stephanie and her mother and explained that David had made a verbal agreement allowing him to renovate the basement of the property to create another rental unit, and that the renovations would be on the family’s dime.
Being in the state that they were, Stephanie and her mother agreed to these arrangements and passed their hardware store account over to Nathan to get supplies.
Over the course of four months, $12,000 in material was billed to the family business. The hardware store wanted to collect its money and because of a long-standing relationship with the store, Stephanie’s family was obligated to pay. Meanwhile, Nathan had finished the basement apartment and had begun to collect rent, while at the same time neglecting to pay his own.
Stephanie decided that the only way to get rid of Nathan was to sell the house; the family offered him $2,000 for his “troubles” and asked him to leave. After finding a buyer, the family had to undergo the task of closing the property. This is when they discovered that Nathan had erected a large shed in the backyard, which he had been using to breed cats, which he sold to pet shops for extra income. He had – bit by bit – taken down the entire lattice on the deck, which had been relocated to the shed and used to build a wall. There were bags of cat feces strewn over the property, frozen to the deck and chucked into the ravine.
After all was said and done, Stephanie’s family was out about $40,000 in rent, damages and hardware bills. Nathan had taken advantage of the family at a very unfortunate time in their lives, and ultimately added more stress to their already pained situation.
Because of the ill-timing of Nathan’s rental, minimal precautions were taken to avoid a “tenant from hell” situation. Having to deal with this kind of tenant can be easily avoided, and here’s how:
Get it in writing: Ensure that you have a written contract to document all agreements made between you and your tenant. Things to take account in the written lease include: names of all tenants, limits on occupancy, terms of rental, deposits/fees, entry notice and restrictions. The contract should be fully understood and signed by both parties to avoid conflict.
Screen your tenant properly: Credit and background checks tell you much about your tenant’s past and help you make an educated decision whether or not to rent to them.
Look into hiring a property management firm: Handling a rental property on your own can be a lot of work. If you do not feel like you have the time or energy to properly look over your property, there are many property management firms available to help you with this task for a percentage of the rental income.
*names have been changed to protect identities
Do you have a Tenant from Hell story that you’d like to share? Please send it to Canadian Apartment Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be drawing for fabulous prizes down the road, and if your story is picked for publication on this blog, you’ll be entered in the draw. Good luck and send us those stories!
Welcome to the Tenant from Hell Blog!
This is designed as an outlet for property managers and landlords to share their ‘tenant from hell’ horror stories, photos and (in the future) videos.
We urge you to tell us about some of the horrific, strange, absurd and in some cases hilarious dealings that YOU’VE encountered with that Tenant from Hell.
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