Pissed Off at Tenants

This post has been a long time coming, so let me back track a bit for you. It was during 2009 my former business partner managed to find some contacts within Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) that needed housing for individuals.

In 2009 I was renting out over 50 furnished rooms in nine different properties throughout Calgary. These were ideal cash cows during the economic boom as they were safe secure places for working men to stay when they landed in Calgary. However, as the economy faded in 2008 and 2009, these workers dried up and we went from having people on waiting lists to over 50% vacancies.

At the time this new source of tenants seemed like the perfect fit for us, single men looking for housing and guaranteed payment via government checks. Unfortunately, in hindsight this fits into the EPIC FAIL category.

Since it looked so good, I jumped in hard and leveraged the contacts I found to find even more groups in similar circumstances. This included some youth groups, contacts at the Salvation Army, the Women’s shelter, the Kerby Center and just about anyone else I could find.

Now the majority of these didn’t pan out as our offering didn’t fit their requirements, but we did get about 12 different individuals in through the various resources. That’s where the wheels started to fall off.

It’s an example of my intent and the intent of the individuals not being in harmony. I was under the impression I would be able to help people who needed to get off the street, individuals who were in a rough spot of their lives and were looking for a hand up. Instead the majority off the individuals I found were people looking to avoid responsibility, trying to avoid work and trying to get as many handouts as possible.

Yes I have just generalized an entire group and I will likely get all kinds of flack over this, but I was hit with a horrible realization. This realization was that the majority of the people I was trying to help improve their lives, were perfectly happy with their lives and had no intent of changing anything.

Just to do a rough recap, of the 12 “tenants”, I had three that left when their money ran out, the other nine I evicted. Of these nine, perhaps you recall some of these memorable stories:

Bad Tenant – Off to The Courthouse!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Drunk Tank

I didn’t write previously about the tenant who I found passed out in the living room one Saturday around noon. I couldn’t wake him by shaking him and actually gave up when I noticed the steak knife in his pocket. I also didn’t talk about the 18 year old kid who couldn’t get out of bed until 11 or later every day, but couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t able to get a job or the tenant who seemed responsible, but when he left I found empty zip lock bags used for pot and ashes all over his room.

However, the one that takes the cake currently and is the gist of this email is one of my most frustrating. This particular fellow was in his late fifties or early sixties (it was hard to tell) and had been living on the streets before he had to go into the hospital for health problems.

One of the Social services departments contacted me and I actually gave them a discount to help this individual out. So in he came along with his guaranteed government payments.

The problems were, he lived by his rules, not the house rules. He was smoking in his room almost immediately, he was a slob and no one would use the bathroom after he was in it, you don’t even want to see the pictures! At one point Karen and I arrived at the house and one of the other tenants pointed out the downstairs bathroom was plugged for the last four or five days. This was the second time it was plugged in the last few months. Last time a cigarette wrapper was found blocking it.

When we talked to this guy downstairs, we discovered he was using it anyway. For those of you susceptible to queasy stomaches, you may want to skip the rest of this paragraph. Consider yourself warned. When we looked at the toilet it was completely brown and dry and caked on the inside and the bathroom reeked! I almost threw up on the spot. We had to call our plumber to come snake it out, but there was no way we could have him snake it in that condition, so Karen had to clean it ( as I could barely enter the room!).

Once Ken the plumber came in and snaked the pipe he again found a plastic cigarette wrapper stuck in the toilet. This along with all the ashes around the toilet and the cigarette burns on the floor just continued to confirm he was smoking in the place. So after all this later in the afternoon I showed up with his eviction notice.

Now, I had his 70 year old sister’s number and called her to update her on what was happening. She was such a nice lady and was being absolutely burdened by this miscreant. So she said she would contact the appropriate services to find him a new place. Which was part of the upcoming issue.

You see he didn’t fit in to any of the systems and found himself in the cracks between. CUPS couldn’t help him as he wasn’t homeless, Social Services couldn’t help him as they didn’t seem to know how to classify him and then just before the eviction date, he ended up in the hospital, so now I had to wait a bit longer.

When he finally came back he was on oxygen which represented an even bigger problem as he had two or three oxygen tanks in his room, some type of oxygen cart to drag around and now he had even fewer options as he couldn’t even go to the drop in centre now.

To make things worse the other downstairs tenant began sleeping on the couch upstairs since he was worried the “guy smoking with oxygen on would blow me up”. Now no one wanted to be around him and if I evicted him he would most likely end up dead on the street.

I could already imagine the process of going to the RTDRS to do an eviction and when the hearing officer discovers he would be living on the street and most  likely dying I would immediately lose the eviction. Never mind the point that I couldn’t live with myself if I knew someone was going to die via my actions ( a few more months into this however my standing on this did sway a bit).

At this point I knew the only way to get rid of him was to follow up with his sister and see what I could do to help or hassle some of the other agencies for assistance. Again CUPs couldn’t do anything since he wasn’t homeless, the social agencies couldn’t decide who was going to look after him and it all became a frustrating process.

Along the way I also discovered that when he wasn’t feeling well (or was simply to lazy) he would simply pee in the garbage can rather than get up and walk the fifteen feet to the bathroom. This dragged on for several months until finally his sister was able to get him placed in a group home which is exactly what he needed.

Fast forward and he is finally gone, so we go into his room and it reeks. It’s so bad we decide we have to get rid of the mattress and box spring and once we have everything cleaned out I began to steam clean the carpets, but cannot seem to get some of the stains out. So I leave it to come back and try again the next day.

When I come back the next day and open the door, I am hit with an overwhelming stench of urine. After opening the window and letting some air in, I proceed to steam clean for another hour. Wondering if perhaps the cleaning chemicals had interacted with the stains causing the smell, but then realizing most likely he had spilled his garbage can on more than one occasion and possibly even had just peed in the corner. Who knew what he did in that room and my speculations only grew worse as I couldn’t get the stains out.

I came back over several more days with stronger cleaners and while I managed to clean some of it up, I was left with only one solution, remove the carpet. Which brings us to the picture at the top of the post. Want to take a guess what all the yellow stains are?

After pulling the carpet I had to get all of my clothes washed as I stunk, just like the carpet. It’s incidents like this that really make you wonder about people. Do you have some tenant nightmare stories? Anything you can send me to top this one or that you simply want to share?

About admin

Bill has been investing in Calgary Real Estate since 2003 and has been writing about various Real Estate topics since shortly after he started. With a significant amount of Real Estate transactions and experiences he is able to pass his knowledge on to other investors and partners, and now you through his Real Estate blog. To automatically receive new posts, be sure to sign up on the top right of this page and I will send you a free ebook on Screening Tenants.
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6 Responses to Pissed Off at Tenants

  1. F. Wong says:

    I have a vacancy and was considering renting it by the room. Not any more.

  2. Bill Biko says:

    Hey Fay,

    Just to clarify, I have quite a few great tenants, I have just modified my rules for qualifying tenants. They need to have a job for one thing! Not living on some assistance program where they can sit at home or sleep in every day. That seems to be the biggest issue, if they are working problems seem to disappear.


  3. Annette says:

    I definitely agree with that comment. We have had a tenant for over 5 years, and recently he hasn’t been working. I’ve noticed in the past year plus that his phone calls and complaints have increased tremendously. He seems to have nothing better to do than find or create problems and then call to complain. He has called our office and the City of Calgary Bylaw dept as well as the police. There are other organizations he has claimed to call to complain to. Through my frustration I still chuckle when I think about his claims, but I’m still looking for a way to get him to move on.
    Fixed term leases are a great way to “test” a tenant just like you have a 3-month probationary term with a new employee.

  4. Bill Biko says:

    It’s ironic how as some people have problems with their lives (like not working) they put pressure on you. What exactly was he going to do if for some reason your property was shut down? Isn’t he aware a new landlord may actually call his references and his previous landlord? Perhaps you should remind him of that some day?

    As for fixed term leases they definitely work out better. I have heard of a landlord in Edmonton who does probationary leases. She makes the first term 3 months and if it works out extends it to six month terms. A bit more paperwork, but at the same time it also makes problems go away much quicker.

  5. Ron Longhurst says:

    Hi Bill. It’s just that guy from the past writing this.
    I’m concerned that this enterprise isn’t a happier one and less stressful.
    We’ve thought of buying in Calgary with this in mind, but your post here refreshes our worst fears. Back in Prince Albert, Sk we were aware of a lot of troubles like that but we had thought (not sure why) it would be better in Calgary.
    Lots of luck with your ventures.

  6. Bill Biko says:

    Hey Ron!!

    Good to hear from you. From all the negative articles it does appear that Real Estate isn’t that happy an adventure, but it couldn’t be less true. I actually do have plenty of positive experiences, but they are very boring reads in comparison to whacked out tenant stories!

    Real Estate has actually created a lifestyle we would never have dreamed of before for us and although the economic downturn has caused some new problems I really don’t think we would change much. Other than perhaps how we arrange partnerships that is, but we can talk about that once I find out if we will actually have to take a former partner to court to get our money.

    Also, since I deal with transient tenants in our rooming houses, I get exposed to the tenants with the least responsibility and the least regard for us for the most part. Again, I have had some fantastic tenants in these properties as well, but it’s boring reading about someone paying on time every week and fixing the vacuum when it got clogged. Wouldn;t you rather hear about the drunk falling off the balcony railing in front of me?


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