13 outrageous tenant excuses
From rent-eating dogs to a mysteriously dripping roof, here are some of the most ridiculous reasons renters give for missed rent or damaged property.
Surely there have been cases where the dog actually ate the rent money, along with the kid’s homework.
But sometimes landlords have to scratch their heads and wonder. The evidence seems to point in another direction.
Most landlords are quick to say that they have many good, reliable tenants. If not, they’d find another business; tenants are their livelihood. But then there are the rest, that tiny percentage of renters who can’t seem to get it together and aren’t quick to fess up.
“Eighty percent of the people take care of the apartment, pay their rent and are no problem at all,” says Jesse Holland, president of Sunrise Management & Consulting, a residential property-management firm in New York. “About 15% have their qualms but do what they’re supposed to do. And that last 2% or 3% are the nightmares.”
And what kinds of things do these tenants say? Below are some favorites from landlords. Tenants take note: If you hear these lines start to come out of your mouth, stop and think a moment. Another strategy — the truth, perhaps — might prove more effective.
1. ‘It’s not a dog; it’s a barking cat.’
Hmmm … are you sure you want to make that your final answer?
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This was Barry Maher several years ago in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he owned a small apartment building. Dogs were not allowed, as outlined in the rental agreement. Cats were.
However, shortly after a young woman moved in, her neighbors complained about barking in the apartment. Maher called the tenant.
“She said, ‘Oh I would never have a dog. But what I have is a special breed. It’s a very rare thing; it’s a dog cat ... a mix of a cat and a dog.’
“It was so blatant and so crazy that I actually spent a moment thinking, ‘Is there really such a thing as a dog cat?’ ” Maher recalled. “And I’m really not an idiot.”
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A better strategy? Be fair to the animal, the building owner and fellow tenants and operate in the open.
“If she’d have come to me and said she wanted a pet, I would have explained exactly what the circumstances were, and how she could have gone out and gotten a cat,” Maher says. (See “Renting with a pet? 10 tips to get Buddy in the door”)
Instead, the tenant had to get rid of the dog (and, yes, it was 100% dog). “Eventually we had to get rid of her.”
2. ‘But you said I could paint it.’
Did you not know that it’s usually just walls that get painted? And in a color that’s possible to paint over?
“They had information they could paint the apartment and said, ‘We’ll do it ourselves,’ ” says Izzy Ginzberg, a landlord in New York and author of “The Top 10 Mistakes Real Estate Investors Make.” “I said, ‘Fine.’
“The entire thing was purple. The ceiling, the walls, the whole entire apartment was painted lavender,” he says. “They told me, ‘Yeah, you said we could paint it.’
“I have no illusions about them painting it back,” Ginzberg says.
3. ‘My grandmother died ... again.’
That’s strange: According to our files, your grandmother has died six times recently. At least according to the reasons you’ve provided each time you couldn’t pay the rent.
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The sudden need to pay for a funeral is a common claim for inability to pay, managers say.
Mark Kreditor, a broker with Get There First Realty, a property-management firm in Dallas/Fort Worth, says “We sometimes keep things in the file,” and in this case the same grandmother had indeed apparently received six funerals.
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4. ‘I have to move out. I’m allergic to pet dander.’
How is it, then, that you work as a groomer in a veterinary clinic?
This also happened to Kreditor. The problem is that once people sign a 12-month lease, there are very few ways to break it. So tenants must come up with their own — at times creative — reasons about why they must leave.
5. ‘The check may have bounced, but at least I paid.’
Actually, mailing a check that isn’t backed by real money isn’t quite the same thing as paying the bill. In fact, it’s not the same thing at all.
“People think they’ve paid the rent when the check bounced,” Kreditor says. “I say, ‘You could have written it out on the back of a napkin and it would have the same value as that check.’ ”
6. ‘I was the victim of identity theft.’
OK, that would seem valid, given your bad credit. Except for this catch: Your credit was just as bad before the date your identity was allegedly stolen.
This is a reason frequently given by prospective tenants to explain their poor credit, as well as by existing tenants unable to pay the rent, says Mia Melle, president of renttoday.us, a property-management firm in Southern California.
“It usually doesn’t make sense, because their bad credit goes way back,” Melle says.
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My husband and I rent a lot to a "friend" of my father in law. I absolutely did not want this person as a renter but this was done while I was gone for work. It was fine for several years while the renter was able to keep his job. The rent was paid on time, the property was kept neat and clean, and the gentleman was always polite and well-groomed. This was despite his rampant alcoholism. He then got fired for drinking on the job. He was 6 months behind on his rent and when the water line broke going to his house. We fixed it. I had a talk with the local bar owner regarding his patron. Good thing the bar owner was a friend of ours and refused to serve the renter until his rent was paid in full. Which was done within a week. Now his sister lives with him, the yard consistently looks awful, and we have caught her in our house shopping in the pantry. We can't evict them as they are now paying the rent in a somewhat timely manner. I am now raising the rent to be comparable to the same size of property in the same town. The late fee is going up and every time I have to clean up the yard, go to the dump, etc. the renter will be charged. I am seriously considering charging for the groceries as well.
After the 'issue' was settled, street gang renters were dragged (they could no longer walk) outside and layed out on the street among their belongings, to await maybe a good Samaritan to load em up for trip to ER? Ahh the good old days. No govt interference. Number of Lawyers per-ca-pita was low, and they demanded cash. Very few Lawyers in govt, rentals and taxes were low.... No National Debt... but that was..... 'Back in the day' ;>)
I have been in the pm industry for almost 20 years. Just when I thought I had seen it all.....a resident calls and says she has been in the hospital and can't pay her rent. Two days later she comes in the office and shows off all the clothes she bought at the mall saying what great deals she got. Gee...would I tell my landlord that my rent is gonna be late then go shopping??? Even to go as far as "showing off" clothes???? Unreal!!!!
The problem with most landlord - from my experiance - -is that they are going to rip you off on the deposit at the end of the lease. I am a professional person and I tend to pay my lease 2-3 weeks PRIOR to the due date.
I had to leave a home 3 months prior to the end of the lease due a job transfer. I moved in the middle of the month and as agreed with the landlord paid a full month's lease for the following month to cancel the lease. $2000 total. I had paid a $1000 deposit and a $400 pet deposit. I had the home professionaly cleaned when I moved out. I left the home in better condition than when I moved in.
When I enquired about my deposit refund I was told that the carpet had to be replaced because my (25 pound - well trained) dog had "destroyed" the carpet.
Pure **** - pure lies.
The landlord had re-leased the home one week after I moved out. So he got the lease money I paid for the next month plus the new tennant paid full rent for the month - - kept my deposit and completely ripped me off. Now I read about the problems landlord' face and I wonder about my $2400. I have no sympathy.
This is not the first time a landlord has ripped me off and I am sure it will not be the last
i am a landlord and it is something else the excuses i have heard, but my favorite of all is....my dog died and i have had it since a pup and i had it cremated and had to buy a box to put him in soooo i don' t have the rent....ooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh ok.
as i landlord i do my best to keep things in top running order and pay the mortgage. if everyone would just do their part, it is fine. can you just heard what the banks must hear when people can't pay their mortgage? oh me oh my..
sometimes the excuse is real although no so smart:
My wife mailed the rent check several months ago but couldn't get the stamp to stick so she taped it on. Well this does not fly with the USPS. The day the landlord called about the late rent the envelop was returned rejected by the postal service. We hand carried it to him and he was gracious but ... I "knew" he must of really been wondering in the back of his head if we were deliberately standing him up. We've never been late before.
Sometimes it really is "Weird Science"!
We lived in the same apartment for 7 years and every year without fail when it was time to sign the lease, the amount had gone up; We always paid on time never caused a problem and maintained our apartment. We'd get a promise that they would clean the carpets and it never happened, the AC barely worked but almost impossible to get the place cool. The final straw was a rent increase of 20% when a new owner had taken over. When we complained we got "we have to match the comparables" what a laugh, the comparables at that rental level had walls, security, a clubhouse and a swimming pool. We started looking and bought our own place for the same amount of a monthly payment, no noisy neighbors, big yard, and we can do what we want, work on our car, have a dog and two cats. Mean while the Landlord/owner, lost a good paying tenant that took care of the apartment and didn't create any problems.
I hope they get the tenants from HELL in all their apartments.
Now for a new twist all you business owners. I am a physics nerd technocrat in the telecomm business and we hear as much drivel from you owners as you do from your customers, only worse as many of you are masters of the pompadour of pomp with your easy money. At least 1 in 3 businesses make telecomm expenses last priority.
Property management firms are the worst, calling in behaving like raging maniacs, berating us as doing poor business when their ~$200-300 dollar bill for multiple phone and data connections and cable tv goes over 30 days deliquent and the connections are cut off. Boisterously proclaiming how vital those services are to our multi-million dollar operations, how dare you cut us off. Well now, multi-million dollar operation, your ever so vital comms necessitate MAKING THOSE EXPENSES PRIORITY NUMBER 1. PAY YOUR CHEAP BILL. Most billion dollar comm operations struggle to break even and are heavily leveraged in a now un-monopolized industry with bizarre synergies needed to glue it together with the appearance of seamlessness. Think about our interest expense. Your problems are not our problems and we pay big money for those phone numbers and IP's you believe are yours to keep.
But let there be a problem and heads must roll. Tired of the remarks that in this modern age there shouldn't be problems--talk about being uninformed. Over half the time the problem is on your end, your equipment, your property, your expense. I've seen property management firms in upscale regions of the country using 15 year old pbx phone systems springing leaks like there is no tomorrow and yet the problem is ours. They move on to the next over-stressed telecomm and the problem repeats and then want to come back to us as if nothing ever happened, provided we have the lowest rates at the moment.
You easy money types--lawyers, non-technical business entrepreneurs, athletic, acting and musical heros--with your 7-10 figure bank accounts, yachts, palatial estates, lapses of luxury and "intellectual" capital accruing wealth in perpetuity have it made in the shade without ever knowing it.
Lucky you us top 2 percentile brainiacs--scientists, engineers, doctors and technocrats-- don't unilaterally take permanent hiatus from our undervalued, overworked skills and efforts for this would depress your existence back to the stone age. We can invest billions and 10's of billions in R&D and have but a scant 20 years to recover it before others can copy on the cheap while musical, hollywood production and fiction writer "geniuses" make money after they are dead.
Come back down from the clouds already.