5 Unsettling Realities Of Being A Landlord
Landlords: At worst, they're despicable buttgoblins who take all your money, and, at best, they're pretty OK people who still take all your money. Taking your money obviously makes you unhappy, but there are tons of things you do that make them just as miserable. We interviewed three property managers -- Marie, Nicole, and Jenn -- and asked them about the worst parts of their jobs.
The Apartments Are Left In Horrifying Conditions
One of the roughest issues for a property manager to deal with is hoarding. They're in no way qualified to address the mental health problems going on underneath it, but they very much have to manage the actual, physical problems. "Dealing with hoarders is difficult," Jenn says. "It's different from people who just aren't clean. You become a therapist. You have to phone the people who help with hoarding issues. We had an older man who collected newspapers. You could barely walk through his apartment because of all the newspapers ... We had to deal with it because it was a fire safety issue, and there were bugs. You have to take a gentle hand."
"I'm sorry sir, but if you haven't solved the March 12, 1974 Junior Jumble by now, you never will."
When people move out, sometimes they forget things, or, more likely, "forget" things. "We would find garbage bags left behind all the time," Marie says. "One was full of rotting meat. Tons of people leave absolutely disastrous fridges full of rotten food behind. [Another tenant] had a toddler and had this horrible pile of used diapers in a corner of a bedroom. The wall had turned black behind it."
"Society's got my nose, and they refuse to give it back. They'll pay ... They'll all pay."
It's not much to ask of people not to grow poop mountains, but at least it's clear what they're doing, if not why. In some situations, you don't even want to know:
"There was a guy who was really reclusive and just kind of weird ... He had dug a dent mark in his forehead and painted blood streaks around it to make it look like he was shot in the forehead," remembers Nicole. "He was eventually arrested, and, when the maintenance supervisor went into his apartment, nailed inside his door was a crucifix that had a bat corpse nailed to it."
Well come on, Nicole, that one's obvious -- you were renting your apartment to Deadshot.
He never misses a shot, though he's sure going to miss that security deposit.
We Don't Want To Evict People (But You Can Skip Out Right In Front Of Us)
You did it again: You blew all your rent money betting on BattleBots -- "SawZalls was due for a win!" -- and, now, you might be evicted. It's not the end of the world:
"People don't realize that if they come to us, we can work something out with them," Marie says. "We can work out a payment plan. Landlords have the power to do that. Evictions are very expensive, and we would prefer not to go through with them."
But, since tenants never come to her when they can't pay, their hobo fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, what do you do in the event of an eviction? Well, you could always run, but you know that never works. They must have some sort of system in place to track down and crucify people who flee an inevitable eviction or -- wait, they don't?
"We can't do anything about people skipping out," Marie says.
"You can explain to them the legal repercussions, but you can't stop them."
Since most people don't know that, "most of the skippers would just quietly slink away into the night," Marie says. "Most of the time, we don't bother and just let them leave. It's easier to send them the bill later ... They use the stairwell to move even huge furniture, so we won't know they're skipping. Honestly, we would have rather they use the elevator instead of potentially damage the building or themselves -- we would rather you go out the front door than sneak out the back."
Hey, speaking of back doors ...
There's A LOT Of Nudity And Boning
When you're dealing with people in their own homes, you're going to see sides of them they don't show in public. Specifically, their butt sides:
"There was one guy who was an exhibitionist," Marie says. "When he gave us his notice to move out, we had to start showing his apartment to prospective tenants. The first time, he told us to come in, and we found him sitting on his couch, naked and masturbating. He promised not to do it again, then he did it again. I stopped showing his apartment. We had another tenant, an older lady, who liked to be naked when the super came in. He just pretended she wasn't naked. He said she seemed insulted when he didn't say anything."
Then, there was Captain Porn. "Someone started leaving DVDs of burnt porn movies here and there in the building, sticking them to elevator doors and walls, apartment doors, etc.," Marie says. "We have no idea who Captain Porn was." Hopefully, he's still out there, spreading the love like Johnny Appleskeet, because it's important to have a purpose in life.
He's the hero our sexy parts deserve, but not the one we need. Because we have YouPorn.
There was also boning everywhere. Not just in people's apartments -- there was one couple who gave the term "breaking and entering" a whole new meaning. "We did have a couple who liked to sneak into other tenants' unlocked apartments to have sex there," Marie says. "And, of course, sex in the lobby, the balcony, the pool, the elevator, the roof ... basically, no one is having sex in their own homes."
They probably would have gotten away with it if they didn't blast that damn Aerosmith song every time.
We would say "get a room," but ...
There Are Hilarious Feuds
Tenants are people, and people are assholes. "We suspect someone used to put dried spaghetti in the door locks of his neighbors to keep them locked out," adds Marie. "We found dried spaghetti in several people's door locks on the same floor. He was known for being a big grouch who was always complaining about his neighbors, especially one guy who used to prop open his door when he cooked. Spaghetti Guy hated that."
"Decadent, mouthwatering aromas? Not on my watch, asshole."
"We had two young women who had moved in the building at the same time," she continues. "They were BFFs, but, for whatever reason, they had huge fights and started hating each other ... One had apparently threatened to break into the other's apartment once a day and break exactly one of her dishes. Every day. The threatened girl asked us to give her a new lock, which we did, and then asked us to install locks on her cupboards to protect her dishes. She ended up locking them in her bedroom. They were both about mid-20s, but they would burst into the office wailing like toddlers and screaming over each other. 'SHE SAID BUT IT'S NOT TRUE AND SHE'S MEAN AND MY DI-I-I-ISHES!'"
How have we not revised the Geneva Conventions to ban this bit of Scorched Earth?
"Then, there was a middle-aged woman who started feuding with one of her neighbors over a parking space. She started leaving frowny faces in condiments on his apartment door -- one day ketchup, one day mustard, one day mayonnaise. She kept denying it was her, saying we couldn't prove it. One day, finally, a tenant saw her doing it and turned her in."
The Guggenheim immediately bought the door for $50 million.
Sure, she says she was just trying to augment the natural flavors of his door, but that's not going to hold up in court.
We Can Deny Your Application For Any Reason We Want
A big issue in the property management business is the discrimination against potential or current tenants, usually on the basis of race, religion, or family status. This is, obviously, way illegal, and, of course, our sources would never discriminate against somebody unfairly. But, they do know how it could, in theory, be done:
"We can totally discriminate against people," Jenn says. "There are definitely 'adults-only' buildings. You can't advertise it, but you can just say, 'I don't like this tenant' and refuse their application. If they ask, 'Why can't I apply?' you can just say 'I don't know, my head office makes that decision.' The head office has the legal background to work around that. As long as you don't imply why you're refusing them service, you won't be legally liable."
"Probably just a ... paperwork thing."
Why, hypothetically speaking, one could even abuse this power to discriminate against the most oppressed of all groups: the assholes:
"I could send an application to the back of the wait-list if someone is a dick," Nicole says. "People who come in and ask about what the demographic is like, that's kind of a red flag ... I had a guy in my office who trapped me for nearly 15 minutes once to go on a classist, sexist tangent once he realized the property was affordable housing. He started off by saying that people like him needed subsidized housing because he was laid off and needed a leg up, and he seemed sincere and grateful at first, but when he realized we didn't actually have anything available, he started going off about single mothers having too many kids they couldn't afford and depending on government assistance and his tax dollars. Then, he asked me to put his name and number down on my wait-list."
"Unless Obama and his fellow gay communist lizard thetans won't let you!"
Obviously, Nicole dutifully put that number down because she's a professional. Sadly, the assholes often have their applications "misplaced" into "the garbage can" where they are then "urinated upon."
If you read it long enough, you'll start to see why Manna is the worst tenant ever on her Twitter.
For more insider perspectives, check out 4 Things I Learned When I Tried To Sell A House On My Own and 6 Things I Learned Owning A 'Haunted House' On Reality TV.
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