March 26, 2016 8:00 am
Updated: March 29, 2016 10:34 am

‘We were naive’: Canadian landlords share their worst tenant stories

Landlord beware. Having a tenant can be more than you bargained for.

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Having a tenant to help pay the mortgage may seem like a good idea, but it’s not always as simple as collecting a rent cheque. In fact, for some homeowners, it can turn into quite a (pricey) nightmare.

When we asked our readers to share their worst housing horror stories, we also received submissions from landlords with tales of troublesome tenants.

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One had a “bowel movement” in one of the washing machines after being kicked out for not paying his rent. Another fought his eviction for two years. And a third, apparently, caused $20,000 in damages.

Here are highlights from five other terrible tenant tales.

‘Feces and urine had to be chipped off the toilet with a stick’

Laura made the mistake of renting to a co-worker and not taking a damage deposit from him because he was in a tight financial situation. When he moved out three years later, she was “left with hundreds of holes in the walls… A car battery was left in the closet and exploded all over the flooring and walls.”

“His dog peed so much when the laminate flooring was lifted there were actual puddles of urine underneath,” she wrote. “The toilet was so filthy that feces and urine had to be chipped off the toilet with a stick.”

Walls had hot glue on them, and the light fixtures were either broken, missing or had things glued to them.

“And to top it off, once vacated there were 11 trash bags of garbage and bottles removed!”

It cost her a week’s salary to replace and fix everything.

‘Next thing you know prostitutes are living there with pimps’

Pat Pelletier and her husband had a couple “total disasters” while taking care of a 52-unit building.

“We had two incidents where a nice-looking, well-spoken person had rented an apartment and then it was handed over to ‘friends,'” she wrote. “Next thing you know prostitutes are living there with pimps and everything.”

The worst, though, was when they rented to a young woman whose mom had plenty of suggestions on how to make the building safer.

“Not two weeks later, the building had the equivalent of a SWAT team descending down on it to capture a fugitive that the daughter was harbouring. My other tenants were scared half to death.”

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‘We were naive, thinking that we were protected by our lease’

Sarah and her husband were also duped by a seemingly polite and quiet woman with a sob story.

She told the couple that she and her brother were moving from Quebec to Saskatoon for job opportunities. Her story was that their parents died when they were young and her grandmother, who’d raised them, recently passed away.

The couple offered her the place out of sympathy.

“We were naive, thinking that we were protected by our lease. It should be simple, we thought: break the rules and you’re out of here. We had no idea.”

The problems started the first night, when the smell of marijuana began to waft from the basement suite. The couple’s requests for her and her guest to stop seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Sarah soon suggested to her new tenant that she find a new place, even offering to refund her entire first month’s rent and security deposit. The woman wasn’t a fan of the idea.

“Suddenly, it became obvious that other things were going on in the basement.”

At least five other people had moved into the suite within days. Sarah said she called the police but nothing happened.

“Tearful and tired, I learned my only options were to ask them to stop breaking the lease rules. If they didn’t stop, I could ask them to leave at the end of the following month. I also had the option to put into motion an eviction, which would require a hearing date and writs and the sheriff. We decided to do both.”

No one showed up to the hearing. The girl who had initially rented from them had disappeared. Her friends still remained, though, and had to be kicked out by a sheriff.

They managed to do a lot of damage in the three short weeks they were there.

“There was old, rotting food everywhere. There was garbage left in piles. There were empty bottles and cans strewed in every room. The bathroom was disgusting. Nearly every wall had been marked [or] dirtied in some way.”

“I think people who don’t have rental suites look at landlords and think they have it easy… But it’s not just easy money. In fact, doing our taxes this year, we spent almost as much on the suite as we made in 2015. Broke even. That would improve when we’re not making major repairs and it isn’t empty for a few months, but it’s still disheartening.”

READ MORE: Landlord and tenant rights: what to do with a rental nightmare

“I get that tenants need protections, but landlords need some, too. Especially when it’s just a young couple trying to ease their mortgage payments…We’re just two young people trying to own property in our outrageously over-priced city.”

‘I legally had to let her stay there even though I was in fear for my life’

Kendra Bovingdon had a tenant who lasted in her basement suite for only seven weeks.

Two days after she moved in, police were called to a large fight between her and two of her guests that had spilled into the yard. The tenant allegedly assaulted one of them. Police were then called and she was issued an eviction notice.

“I have hundreds of documents and police reports compiled while preparing to take her to court… I was told by police that I legally had to let her stay there even though I was in fear for my life.

She argues that tenancy laws are very much in favour of the tenant “and make it difficult for landlords to take any sort of action.”

‘There is zero protection for landlords’

Crystal’s tenant also left her place “in shambles.” She drove out to the property after he hadn’t paid his rent in months. Her locks had been changed so she had to crawl through a window to get in.

“The smell was so bad I figured there was something dead inside.”

She was right. After tripping over garbage bags, finding dishes in the sink with slime, mold and crusted on rotten food — she discovered decomposing mice.

There were also five geckos and snakes (all still alive) in a room. She found someone who specializes in the reptiles to come and take them. He told her they hadn’t been fed in a while and had mold in their empty dishes.

“He took them, but not for long… The tenant called the police on me saying I and stealing his stuff,” she said. “Meanwhile I have done a bunch of trips to the dump to take the garbage and put the dishes into the dish washer four times… I found a mouse nest out of dog hair under the stove.

Shortly thereafter she received a call from police who told her to give the lizards back.

Her tenant also served her with a formal complaint through the Residential Tenancy Dispute Service. While she fought the charge and won, she still hasn’t received a penny.

“The system sucks,” she said. “Waste of time and money. Court wont help you… There is zero protection for landlords.”

SOUND OFF: Do you have a housing horror story of your own? Share it with us using the form below.

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