5 of the Worst Landlords Ever (And That’s Saying Something)
Landlord is not a particularly popular occupation. Just from a language basis, referring to yourself as a “lord” is going to naturally engender some resentment, as it has since the days of serfdom. There’s also the default annoyance attached to anyone that your primary interaction with is when you hand them hundreds or thousands of dollars twelve times a year. When someone controls whether you sleep in a bed or on the street, it’s going to be hard to have super chill interactions with them. Landlords themselves lament and moan about being the enemy, but I’m sorry, them’s the breaks. It’s like a college RA that’s upset that they don’t get invited to parties. You might be a cool narc, but you’re still a narc, dude.
However, some landlords take it truly to the next level. Drunk off their tiny amount of power, like a megalomaniac lightweight, they can turn any dwelling into their own little Stanford Prison. Here’s 5 truly awful landlords.
Thomas Daley was the owner of a group of apartments in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The tenants of those apartments, as chosen, of course, by the landlord, were overwhelmingly single women. If your Skeevy Sense just went off, you are absolutely correct. In 2008, a tenant’s boyfriend was changing a lightbulb in one of the apartments and spotted a video camera hidden in the wall, which is not where video cameras go when they’re recording anything good.
They called the police, who ultimately tracked down thirty-two different cameras hidden in Daley’s apartments. These included some that were behind doorbell chimes (hey, that’s just for security!) and some in other places, like behind the faucets in tenants’ bathtubs (hey, that’s just for… bath… security?). When they busted Daley they also uncovered that he had over 20 years of recordings stashed away in a room that, I presume, would make a blacklight explode.
Lloyd Satchwell And Esmay Notice
One of the most common knocks against landlords is that their relationship to their tenants can become warped, or that the landlords can stop seeing their tenants as humans and simply as part of their property. If you want to see this taken to the grisliest extreme, let’s look to the truly gruesome twosome of Esmay Notice and Lloyd Satchwell.
Notice owned a building that contained two tenants, Duane Wilson and Lori Mercer, who were refusing to pay their rent because of repairs that needed to be made to the house (which is completely legal). The easiest solution here would probably be to repair the house. Instead, after threatening the tenants didn’t work, Esmay Notice decided to cut her losses and get out of the real estate business by burning the building to the ground while it was occupied for the insurance payout.
First, she offered a friend $200 dollars worth of crack to burn the house down, but even while actively fiending for crack cocaine, they refused when they found out the house would be occupied. You know, because that is pure, pitch black evil. So Notice’s husband Lloyd decided to start the fire himself, which resulted in the horrific death of two grandparents and their one-year-old and three-year-old grandchildren. I would convert to Christianity tomorrow if the Pope could send me evidence that these two are in hell.
Blackstone & Private-Equity Landlords
These last two entries have been single, human villains, someone who could be written off as a creep or a psychopath, a failure in individual human morals. However, if these are small, episodic nightmares, there exists a forever looming Big Bad behind the entire housing market, that’s only growing, fueled primarily off of the future of the population. This is specifically the boom of private-equity landlords, national corporations that purchase foreclosed and available single-family homes with dregs of their limitless liquidity, and then rent them while holding on to them as valuable investments. The mortgage is covered by the tenants and often the responsibility for repairs and upkeep is left on their shoulders under threat of eviction.
If you ever wanted a prime example of rampant capitalism spitting directly in the face of the classic American Dream, this is it. You might get a white picket fence, but you’ll never own the house behind it, and if you don’t paint it regularly, you’ll be summarily kicked out for the next supplicant they can find. These firms buy up the middle-class, single family homes that used to be the end goal of the American family or exist as generational homes. Private-equity firms too, unlike human owners, do not sell and they do not die. These houses will likely never hit the open market again, and their share of the nation’s family real estate is only growing.
For the single families renting these homes, if you thought regular landlords had a penchant for dehumanizing tenants, imagine when there’s no human brain or morality to appeal to at all. Your personal life is now a fluctuating figure in a private-equity firm’s earnings report, one cell in a spreadsheet that makes a spider web look like a tic-tac-toe board. Anyway, this one wasn’t very funny, so here’s a YouTube compilation of people getting hit in the nuts.
Let’s dial it back slightly to another corporate landlord that’s a little less likely to make the light in the back of your eyes go out. International burger company McDonald’s is omnipresent throughout the world, making it hard to go more than a couple miles without access to a broken milkshake machine. What’s lesser known about those arch-crowned fry palaces, though, is that McDonald’s, in a brilliantly evil form of vertical integration, often owns the actual real-estate of the stores they franchise out.
McDonald’s is unique among restaurant businesses in this regard, as many don’t want the added risk of property ownership. However, when you’re riding the unquenchable worldwide need for fries that McDonald’s is, you have pretty much a guarantee that any location you open is going to make money. They have a devilishly clever M.O. in how they manage this as well. McDonald’s will obtain the property their restaurant operates out of the good old fashioned way, with cold hard cash. They’ll then lease that property to the franchisee, but not at any flat number: instead, they’ll charge between 8.5 to 15 percent of the restaurant’s revenue as “rent.” This probably doesn’t seem that bad through a cloud of numbers, until you realize, to give a specific example, that they’re collecting 8.5% of the $2 million a year revenue, coming out to about $15,000 a month, for the use of a space they pay $2,400 a month for. That extra $12k or so is piped directly back to Papa Mac’s coffers.
The stories above are terrible. There is no denying that. However, to engage in humanity, to be one of the wretched monkeys on this earth cursed with shame and uncertainty, the price of admission is high. Experiencing greed and cruelty are the price of admission for the development of civilization.
Animals, on the other hand, experience a direct, unfettered connection with the land, a give and take of sustenance that can subsist through millennia without outside interference. They do not live on the land, they live with the land. Which makes the efforts of one single, calculating raccoon all the worse. That raccoon is the despicable Tom Nook. This wolf in men’s clothing, it is not hyperbolic to say, has forever severed the nature of the connection between nature and its creatures, and for that, he should be executed in the town square. The bells he hoarded should be melted down and cast into an obelisk to stand forever as a warning.