A Landlord's Worst Nightmares, And How To Solve Them

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landlords-nightmare-9415655Most landlords fear disaster tenants and have probably had their share of horror stories from living arrangements gone wrong. Even for the most seasoned of landlords and apartment communities, there are horror stories terrible enough to make any leasing agent squeamish. While you’ll never be able to fully predict how a tenant will treat your property, there are some steps you can take to screen your tenants properly and hope that you avoid having to deal with any of these situations. Screening tenants can reduce the risk you’ll have to deal with any of these problems when finding a tenant for your rental property or apartment or rental property. The following are some of the worst incidents a landlord could ever encounter and ways they can handle the problem.

A Crime Scene/Death At the Property

While not a common problem many landlords will likely encounter, what would happen if your property were the location for a homicide, suicide, or an unattended death? Landlords in this situation should first call law enforcement when they realize there has been a death on the property. To many people’s surprise, law enforcement does not handle removing any of the after effects that come with a homicide, suicide, or unattended death. Most law enforcement will recommend a crime scene cleaning company to handle removing bio-hazard waste properly and restoring the property fully. This isn’t a task that anyone other than a certified professional should handle. Even though a space might look clean to the untrained eye, a crime scene cleaning company will know how to deodorize, sanitize, and fully remediate properties where a death has occurred, making the space livable again should you chose to rent it out in the future.

Running a Daycare or Pet Watching Facility Inside an Apartment

Kids and pets are the two biggest culprits for stains, so image the horror a landlord could face upon discovering a tenant has been running a daycare inside the rental property. Finger paint on the walls, dirt embedded deep in the carpets, ripped curtains, torn blinds, sticky hand prints on surfaces, and stains from pet accidents are just some of the potential damages that can come from either one of these operations. Rental properties are typically zoned for residential use, commercial use, or a mixture of both. Unless you have zoned the property for commercial use, your tenant will be in violation of zoning issues, which can land you both in a lot of trouble should the tenant running the business get turned in by another unhappy tenant in your building. Even if the property is zoned fully for commercial use or for partial commercial use, there might be limitations to the number of customers that can come in and out of the unit on a regular basis. Should you find yourself in this situation, the best bet is to tell the tenant to take their operation to a properly licensed space – and make any necessary repairs to your property. If they fail to comply, eviction might be your next step.

Theft at the Property, Stealing Furnished Furniture

Tenants might have invested in rental insurance, but what happens when there’s a break-in and the furniture that you provide in the unit goes missing? Or, what happens when your tenant is the one removing furnishings from the unit? While uncommon, it has been known to happen. One Naples, Florida, landlord realized more than $3,700 in furnishings went missing after a tenant moved out, removing rugs, tables, kitchenware, and more.

To prevent this kind of theft happening in your rental property, make sure you do a full background check on any prospective tenants moving into the property. This will help ensure that even if something does go missing after tenants move out, you increase the chances of recovering your missing items and pressing charges against the tenant. You’ll also want to ensure you have insurance both on the physical building you’re renting out, as well as its contents. This will make sure in the event anything happens to the interior or exterior of the property, you won’t be left paying for the repairs.


Having messy tenants is something that often comes with managing rental property, but nothing can prepare you for walking into an apartment where hoarding has taken place. Hoarding isn’t simply storing excess over a period of time, but many times there is often bio-hazard waste or even animal feces that accumulates over years of debris and filth. The smell that comes from hoarding is not something that is going to be easy for anyone to handle, and your maintenance crew likely won’t be able to tackle this task on their own. Simply removing trash isn’t going to be enough to repair the damage that comes after years of hoarding. You’ll need to call in a professional clean-up crew to fully remove all the filth and deodorize and sanitize the unit if you plan on renting it out again in the future. You will likely have to deep clean or remove carpets, and the walls will need a lot of TLC as well. This will be an expensive and time-consuming process, but it’s best to leave it to the professionals and not risk exposing yourself or your maintenance crew to possible contamination.

Crime Happening at the Apartment Complex/in the Neighborhood

Unfortunately, many times this is out of your control as a landlord. In the event of a crime either in your apartment complex or in the community where your rental property is, you’ll need to do some damage control to make sure that your current and prospective tenants don’t think this is something that happens regularly. If a high-profile crime happened in the area, it’s going to take time for people to get the image of crime scene tape and police near your complex out of their mind.

About the Author: Brian Russell a freelance writer for New American Funding, a Fannie Mae Seller/Servicer, FHA Direct Endorsement — HUD Approved, and VA Automatic direct mortgage lender with over 400 employees. The company is licensed in 21 states, including Colorado home loans, across the nation and offerings a variety of home loan options, including FHA, Conventional, VA, HARP 2 and Jumbo Loans.