Tenants destroyed their landlords' peace of mind and property with paint, noise pollution, and refusal to pay rent

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Growing up, I lived with my parents on the first floor of a three-family house. My parents rented out the top two floors until multiple unpleasant experiences with their tenants caused them to abandon the idea of renting out their apartments forever.

Most of my parents' tenants were extremely inconsiderate. They came up with plenty of ideas that made my family miserable. One night, we heard a loud pounding on the floor above us that kept us awake for hours.

The following morning, when my mother asked our upstairs tenant about the noise, the woman was indignant. "What in the world were you building at midnight?" my mother asked her. "It was very jarring. We were trying to sleep. It was the middle of the night."

"I was dismantling a wooden crate," the woman replied. "Don't complain. I did it on the countertop instead of the floor so I wouldn't disturb you."

On another occasion, my parents had to raise the rent on one of their tenants. When the tenant asked why her rent was being raised, my mother told her that the water bill had skyrocketed since she moved in and they would have to raise her rent accordingly.

The woman objected. "I only use hot water," she replied, "and I pay for the hot water myself because it comes from the gas company."

My mother tried to explain that the woman was paying the gas company for the gas that heated her water, not for the water itself, but the woman didn't understand. "I paid for that hot water," she insisted, "and you can't tell me otherwise."

Other tenants stole light fixtures that were hanging in our basement when they moved out, hid two large dogs in an apartment whose lease stipulated "no pets," and turned the only bedroom on the third floor into an indoor garden complete with grow lights and a watering system that soaked into the carpet and rotted the floorboards.

Overflowed toilets, excessive nails embedded into drywall, garbage stored in piles instead of being dragged out to the curb, broken linoleum, scorched countertops, cracked porcelain, shattered windows, and layers of general filth awaited my parents with just about every tenant's move-out day. My parents never recouped money for any of their losses.

And my parents certainly weren't the only homeowners to rent out their property to bad tenants. My former in-laws owned a gorgeously restored century-plus-old Victorian house with hardwood floors, doors, and staircases. Their tenants covered every wooden surface with thick layers of white paint. My in-laws felt devastated.

They evicted their paint-loving tenants who hadn't been paying the rent; they probably spent all their money on paint. It cost them a small fortune in court fees to get the tenants off their property, and an enormous fortune to undo all the damage they had done to the interior of the house with their inexpert "renovations."

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