Terrible Tenant Tales: First “Real Home” Becomes Real Nightmare
Any landlord will tell you that no one tenant is the same. Some tenants are very dependable and straightforward, paying their rent on time and leaving no mess. Some, on the other hand, might cause the occasional issue with noise or not picking up after their dog, or being a day late on their rent. And some tenants can turn out to take advantage of a rent payment system in place and miss rent on purpose. But what about tenants who not only miss rent but make a literal mess of things for a landlord?
You can only do so much when it comes to vetting and approving the right tenant. They may have a good rental history and great references, but everyone should be handled as an individual and kept to the same standard.
Here’s a look at a tenant who, for ten years, paid rent on time and in full. Then, one day, that regular payment just stopped.
Read our past post on how unpaid rent could have hurt more than a landlord’s own finances.
What Went Wrong?
After living in small apartments for most of her adult life, this renter was happy to finally be in her first real home, a four-bedroom house rented out by a landlording couple. She was a single mother of four who found herself on and off Section 8 classification from time to time, but this never disrupted her regular payments.
One month, after 10 years of paying on time, her payment didn’t come in. While a day or two is okay in general, it was out of the ordinary for this reliable tenant. One month led to two months, which led to three months. After attempting to reach out to the tenant multiple times, the landlords went to the property only to find that she was gone. The tenant’s daughter and her boyfriend were living there with their kids, and the tenant’s other children were nowhere to be found.
After three days of notice, eviction proceedings began. When those who were in the house left, the landlords went through the home to get a clear picture as to what needed to be attended to. They discovered that the stove was gone without explanation and the bathroom wasn’t cleaned, probably for years. The carpet throughout the house was filthy—carpet that led those inside to a bedroom where multiple dogs must have stayed. The house had a no-pet policy in place, and for good reason, because while there were no dogs in sight, the stench and filth of years of feces and urine from dogs were left behind.
In the end, the home needed to be gutted, replacing everything from the ruined carpet to the chewed up walls and floors. It took months to repair and cost the owners more than $4,000 in total on top of four months’-worth of rent.
How Can These Situations Be Fixed or Avoided?
Even though the tenant paid on time and was consistent in her payments for 10 whole years, it didn’t mean that moving forward she could be dependable. The landlords gave her a break and some time to pay, but after those chances ran out, they took matters into their own hands. Having a literal mess on their hands, the landlords were left out in an unfair and avoidable situation.
A thorough screening process was in place, but this could only go so far as to who the renter was at the beginning. While getting a rent payment every month is the basic expectation that a landlord should have, in this situation, for instance, checking in on the issues that were discovered later on could have helped limit the damage.
From discovering dog waste on the property to examining the general state of the house, the landlords could have helped to avoid some of the mess. Regular check-ups as well as ensuring the home with the right coverage can help landlords in the same situation avoid costly claims and avoidable liabilities.