Disclaimer: Not for the faint of heart.
Owning rental property is a great way to generate passive income. But if you self manage your Orlando area rental properties, exactly how passive is that income? These are the stories of landlords who realized they’d gotten in over their heads too late. Gather ‘round the campfire to hear these self-managing horror stories.
- The Firestarter
One landlord of a multi-unit apartment complex received a panicked message about the building being on fire. Upon arrival, he discovered that one tenant, annoyed over a recent rent increase, took matters into his own hands. The tenant filled a garbage can with paper towels, soaked them in lighter fluid, then lit them on fire. The fire destroyed every unit and condemned the building. The arsonist found a new abode in the local penitentiary. Unfortunately, the other tenants had to be housed in hotels by the Red Cross while the owner found a long-term solution.
- The Meth Lab
After months of complaining about a strange smell coming from the first-floor apartment, one of the upstairs tenants mysteriously started seeing “demons.” Psychiatrists couldn’t find the source of these sudden hallucinations and tried to treat them with multiple cocktails of antipsychotic meds. Until one day an explosion in the downstairs apartment revealed the true source of the unholy ghosts: a methamphetamine lab run by inexperienced chemists. The explosion caused structural damage, a federal DEA investigation, and some expensive problems for an owner who failed to screen tenants. The good news at least was the demon hauntings ceased.
- The Kitchen Thief
When their lease ended, one tenant took everything, including the kitchen sink! Apparently they loved the kitchen in the rental so much they couldn’t bear to part with it. In true Grinch form, on the walls they left “nothing but hooks and some wire.” Without proper screening and oversight, the weirdo behaviors went unnoticed… until the weirdos walked off with everything. The owner was left with an unplanned kitchen renovation project, including fixing additional damage as a result of the heist. Plus, they lost months of rental income doing the home repairs themselves.
- More Bad Chemistry
One rental property owner created his own chemical disaster by improperly storing unmarked cleaning fluids. This is a terrible idea in your own home, but even worse in an investment property. A maintenance crew readying the unit for a new tenant collected the containers. During transit the containers tipped over, mixed together, and ignited. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the fire didn’t happen in the house. However, the police and fire company needed to be called to control the blaze in a hardware store parking lot.
- The Curmudgeon
And finally we’ve come to the unlucky landlord who got more than she bargained for when she bought an apartment building. A cranky older woman who was already living in one of the apartments began calling her almost immediately with complaints. She called to complain about too many homeless people in the neighborhood. She left the owner messages telling her all about the unpleasant smells coming from a nearby restaurant. She informed the owner her place was hot and stuffy, but then refused to turn on the air conditioning. The calls came at all hours. Some sounded like they could have been actual emergencies like water running in the walls that the owner came out to inspect. Eventually the owner had to go through the expensive process of evicting the non-stop griper.
Ask any landlord and you’re bound to hear dozens more horror stories like these. Don’t become the subject of the next one. Many of these problems can be avoided altogether by using a reputable property management company to manage your central Florida rental property. See how The Realty Medics can help you avoid these scary situations.
If you choose to self-manage, protect yourself by doing background checks (only 38% of landlords conduct them). Pay attention to red flags from background checks. Also think twice before accepting a tenant who only pays in cash or will willingly pay higher rent with no questions asked.