Tenant Nightmares: Have You Seen My Snake?

by Kristina Tahnyak on March 10, 2014 · 6 comments

My friend Mark told me the funniest story this week about his tenants and I just have to share.  Every time I hear or read a story about a tenant nightmare, cough cough wink wink to Sandy@YesIAmCheap, I am thankful that I still rent and have not jumped into the real estate business.

Have I seen your what?

Mark is in the middle of renovating his triplex.  He has a mid 40-ish single woman tenant upstairs and an older gentleman (I’m using that word loosely) tenant downstairs.  Mark lives in the middle apartment on the second floor but has been living on a friend’s couch while his apartment is completely gutted and renovated.

The woman upstairs is quiet enough and always pays her rent on time.  The man downstairs is a whole other story.  Earlier this year the male tenant told Mark that the home renovations  are making his apartment tremble and his $200 bottle of after shave fell out of his medicine cabinet and broke, so he refuses to pay his $600 rent…since January.

This older male tenant is retired and lives on a fixed income.  I highly doubt he has a $200 bottle of after shave, but I could be wrong.  I buy my boyfriends aftershave and the most I have ever paid is $18 at The Body Shop; if I buy it at the pharmacy it’s only $12.  Tenant nightmare number one.

Monday evening as the contractor was packing tools into his truck the male tenant comes out of his apartment and says “You are done for the day.  Did you happen to see my snake?”

How big is your snake?

The contractor’s reaction is priceless.  He asks “How big is your snake? Is it a small garden snake?”  The male tenant replies “No it is a python.  My friend was over for dinner and brought his two snakes.  When he left he only had one snake.  So please let me know if you find it.”  Tenant nightmare number two.

Now there are a couple of problems with this story:

#1: Who comes over to someone’s house for dinner and brings their pet snakes then lets them slither around someone else’s apartment?

#2: What exactly is the contractor supposed to do if he does see the python snake?

It’s a snake-atrophy

When Mark gets the call from his contractor he immediately freaks out.  In a total panic he calls the Police to advise them there is a python on the loose somewhere in the city.  They advise him to call the SPCA and The Ministry of Environmental Affairs.  Now the entire city is about to ransack Mark’s apartment, tear out walls and ruin his $25,000 renovation as they look for this missing snake.

The Police came to Mark’s apartment and questioned the male tenant about the missing snake.  He told the Police he has no idea what they are talking about because he never mentioned anything to the contractor about a missing snake.  Tenant nightmare number three.

Is this ground for eviction?

Now Mark has to decide if the man tenant was lying about losing the snake or if he is lying about never saying he had a snake.  Either way Mark does not want to move back into his apartment until this whole matter is cleared up and the contractor doesn’t want to go back to work until someone finds the missing snake.

If there is a missing snake does Mark have a legal obligation to tell the single woman tenant upstairs?

After being on his friend’s couch for three months during the renovation (one of which is a delay) and after being $5,000 over budget Mark’s home renovation his now on hold until someone finds this snake.

Total. Tenant. Nightmare.

Photo by TahnyaKristina

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathy March 10, 2014 at 8:59 am

I know that many people think having rental properties is a great way to get easy income every month but the first thing I did after acquiring my mothers properties was to begin selling them. I hated being a landlord and want nothing to do with the whole activity. Give me the stock market any day!

2 Kemkem March 10, 2014 at 11:59 am

Agreed. I have shed some of my properties, and will shed the last 2 this summer. It is a nightmare beyond all nightmares. It is not for the faint at heart. I am just tired!

3 Liam G March 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I’m a landlord with 5 units. The most important thing to do is to make sure to screen your tenants CAREFULLY before you hand out the keys. One month’s lost rent is worth finding the right resident.

Alternatively, there are property management companies that handle most of these issues. Before I purchase a property and I’m running my numbers, I always include property management (10% off gross rents), assuming that when I’m FI, I’ll use management companies.

My question to Mark is: why the heck didn’t the tenant get served an eviction notice in January?

4 Kristina March 12, 2014 at 11:16 pm

@Kathy and @Kemkem – I agree with you 100%. I don’t even want to own a home let alone rent it out to someone else. Just the thought makes me want to stop breathing.

@Liam – Mark tried to reason with the man but now the whole situation is way beyond that. There are also laws up here in Canada that prevent landlords from evicting tenants during the cold winter months. I will try to get Mark on here to answer questions.

5 kg March 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

If the tenant is month to month, give him his 30 or 60 day notice. If he is on a year lease, do not renew his lease and give him 60 day notice to vacate. I assume if he hasn’t been paying his rent that you have given him the 5 day notice to pay up or vacate. If he doesn’t vacate, contact a lawyer and start eviction proceedings. Next time screen your tenant thoroughly and make sure they understand that you need their rent to help pay the mortgage, taxes, insurance and other expenses. Learn everything you can about being a good landlord and become a member of a good landlord association even if you have to travel to attend meetings. I am a small landlord and have great tenants. You need to be polite and firm or some tenants will walk all over you. However it is the best job that I’ve ever had and I look forward to being a landlord into my 90s since I don’t feel like I can rely on the government to keep their promises regarding social security and medicaid. We paid into the system, the government raided it to pay for other things, and now can not meet their current obligations.

6 kg March 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

p.s. Hire a trapper or wildlife control company to get rid of the snake.

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