It isn’t hard to find lots of disturbing news stories about sleazy landlords—you know, the ones who turn off the heat in the dead of winter and water in the dog days of summer, and haven’t fixed or painted anything since the Ford presidency. And social media is rife with tenants complaining about such unscrupulous behavior. But what happens when the shoe’s on the other foot and it’s the renters who are causing trouble?
A new Facebook page called Disgusting Renters is giving embattled property owners their own space to vent frustrations about unsanitary tenants who leave their rental apartments looking like crime scenes, natural disasters, or special “Director’s Cut” episodes of “Hoarders.”
The page, which may prompt sensitive readers to don hazmat suits just for viewing purposes, is filled with photographic evidence of the stomach-curdling filth and grime left behind by these odoriferous occupants.
Created in April, the page already has more than 2,400 likes and dozens of vivid posts. Here are a few of the highlights (or is it lowlights?), carefully (and euphemistically) described to not completely gross you out, dear reader:
- A photo of a kitchen with a recliner in the middle of it, amid a several-foot-high selection of snack bags, empty soda cans, and even less palatable trash.
- A picture, simply titled “Wow,” showing a former yard taken over by any number of coolers, construction pails, and what appears to be a partly functioning aquarium.
- A bare mattress atop a soiled wooden floor with this description: “Bird feces all over the floor. The smell is horrendous.”
- An artfully shot photograph of hundreds of roaches swarming over a bathroom wall and toilet.
OK, we’ll stop right there. Sorry if we went too far with that last one.
The page was created by Milton, FL, landlord Craig Morgan, 47, after the mobile home he and his wife rented out was trashed by his tenants, a couple and their kids.
“It was horrible: bird feces, dog urine, dog feces,” he told ABC affiliate Weartv.com. (We’re sensing a pattern here.) “Trash left all over the floors, front porch.”
He told realtor.com® the flea-infested home had to be gutted and was sold last month at a $25,000 loss.
“I’m not doing any more rentals,” says Morgan, who owns a barn building business. “That sealed it for me and my wife.”
He urges other landlords to take precautions to make sure things like that don’t happen to them.
This is often easier said than done, especially for regular folks renting out a spare room or an investment home, says Stephen White, CEO of RentPrep, a Buffalo, NY–based company that provides background checks for landlords.
Potential tenants should be screened as carefully as possible before they move in, he recommends (not surprisingly given his line of work). Landlords should also check on the properties at least twice a year to make sure everything is as it should be and the tenants aren’t, say, rat collectors.
“Check the condition of the premises to catch conditions early before it’s too late,” White says. “The worst-case scenarios we see are infestations or things that have been let go for way too long.” He even describes a testing kit available to ensure that there are no working meth labs on the property.
The longer a problem goes unattended, the more it often costs to fix. And getting rid of horrible tenants can be extremely difficult as the eviction process can be both lengthy and expensive.
In the worst-case scenarios, landlords should consider offering problem tenants cash—usually recommended to be about a month’s rent—to get the hell out. And particularly embattled property owners can even add a cash bonus if the renters don’t do any further damage, such as flushing concrete down the toilet (true story).
“You don’t want to reward bad behavior, but at some point you have to stop the damage and try to minimize your losses,” White says.