On June 16, 2021, the U.S. and world press enjoyed a media frenzy. A Colorado woman experienced every landlord’s nightmare. A tenant from hell left dead cats, feces, and obscene graffiti. Check out the photos below.
The UK Daily Mail news story headline claimed:
The Daily Mail didn’t pull any punches when declaring that the 3,598 square-foot home listed as an “investor special” included graffiti messages like “Evict Me Bitch”.
Landlords need to learn lessons from this wrecked home.
Tenant From Hell – Left Dead Cats, Feces, Obscene Graffiti – IMAGES
Colorado Springs home spray-painted by a former tenant who didn’t pay rent. (Courtesy: Mimi Foster) Licensed for re-publication. Copyright by PPMLS 2021
The above photo shows the five bedrooms, four bathrooms, three-car garage home in a beautiful Colorado Springs neighborhood before the vandalism.
Imagine walking into this home and facing:
- Rooms destroyed with a hammer;
- Walls spray-painted with obscenities in every room;
- Carpets reeking of animal and human feces;
- Rugs “saturated with urine”;
- A freezer filled with rotten meat requiring masks with filters to block the stench; and
- Dead cats.
Photos of a listing for a home in Colorado Springs spray-painted by a former tenant who reportedly did not pay rent. (Courtesy: Mimi Foster) Licensed for re-publication. Copyright by PPMLS 2021
The defaced Colorado Springs house. (Courtesy: Mimi Foster) Licensed for re-publication. Copyright by PPMLS 2021
As you can see, graffiti spray-painted in every room.
Before the eviction, the angry woman left a private message for the homeowner.
(Courtesy: Mimi Foster) Licensed for re-publication. Copyright by PPMLS 2021
Tenant From Hell Facts
How did this poor landlady end up with a beautiful home trashed?
The Washington Post news story headline blared:
Originally, it began as a comforting home for Suzy Myers whose family moved out in the mid- 2000s due to her health issues. She rented the home to a woman for 10 years without any problems.
Then, the original leaser disappeared with many assuming she died. A relative moved in and never paid the $2,800 monthly rent.
Worse, the new occupant put a new roof on the home. But, she never paid the contractor who filed a $38,000 lien on the property. Under Colorado law (as in most states) the actual owner of the property becomes liable for payment of the new roof. Suzy Myers couldn’t afford to pay the contractor. Now the property faces foreclosure.
However, near Halloween in 2019, the woman got evicted. Yet, within two weeks from her departure, the property manager let her back inside. That’s when the destruction occurred.
In the meantime, Suzy Myers, 58 years old lives in Arizona recovering remission from cancer. She hopes someone buys the home to keep it out of foreclosure.
The Tenant From Hell Home Listing
CNN headline blared out:
Mimi Foster, the real estate agent described her first preview of the Myers home as something she never encountered before. The horrible smell of feces and urine along with the year-old rotten meat overwhelmed her senses. The black-painted graffiti vulgarities in every room shocked her. Yet, the dead cats locked in one of the bathrooms horrified her. It looked like a “war zone”.
Despite the terrible condition of the home, facing a foreclosure meant listing the property for an “As Is” cash sale. Her property listing description honestly described the hell hole it became. The photos above all appeared in her listing. A dilapidated home with an asking price of $590,000. The listing describes it as a “little slice of heaven” stemming from a “tenant from hell”.
Ironically, the Denver TV News Channel story included this fact about the listing. Despite the rancid smells, profanity graffiti, and extensive damage, Mimi Foster claimed that she received “16 cash offers within the first 24 hours” of the listing.
Likewise, the Denver Post news story declared that the listing got over 150,000 viewers in its first 24 hours. Maybe the listing’s catchy headline perked the curiosity of so many viewers?
Lessons Learned from the Tenant From Hell Home Saga
Here are a few lessons to learn from this sad story.
1. The Benefits of Keeping Tenants Happy
A while back, we published a blog post titled, “How To Keep Your California Tenants Happy”. It explains:
- How to educate your tenants about your rules and expectations;
- Checking on your tenants regularly to get feedback and let them know of your availability when problems occur;
- Performing quick repairs so they aren’t inconvenienced long;
- Rapidly respond to tenants’ communications;
- Sending friendly reminders before rents due;
- Rewarding your tenants to show your appreciation with gift cards for birthdays and special occasions; and
- Regular property inspections (included in the lease) to see if any maintenance or repairs are necessary.
2. Attract Good Tenants
We published a post here titled, “Top Rental Features Attract Good Tenants”. Our post lists several important rental features that attract good tenants like:
- Quality nearby schools that good renters desire;
- Safety and security where renters feel safe in the unit and walking around the neighborhood;
- Ready to move in condition units attract good tenants who take care of the property;
- Close to work means a lot to good tenants who appreciate short commutes;
- Strategic upgrades like hardwood flooring, granite counters, covered patio, etc.;
- Include appliances making it convenient to move in faster;
- The top-quality neighborhood attracts better lifestyles; and
- A cooperative landlord means fewer problems for tenants.
3. Manage Your Rentals Efficiently
Our blog post titled, “How to Successfully Manage Your Rental Property” teaches you how to:
- Buy and repair rental properties;
- Set rental prices based on market research and list your expectations of tenants;
- Tips on how to find good tenants;
- Writing and reviewing tenant leases;
- Checking and maintaining your rentals;
- Tips on collecting rents;
- Eviction tips;
- Setting up a good accounting system; and
- Educating yourself about becoming a landlord.
Bonus: Read our helpful post, “How San Diego Landlords Handle Tenant Damages”.
4. Dealing With Late Payments
Next, our blog post titled, “What to do When Your California Tenants Pay Rent Late”. It shows you step-by-step what to do when your tenants either pay late or don’t pay.
Learning the laws and rules about late payments in California helps you to prepare. Such as:
- Understanding basic California Rental Agreements;
- Knowing California late rent payment fee rules;
- Learning California bounced check fee rules;
- Following California state laws about late rent payment fees;
- Understanding reasonable late payment fees;
- Resources for learning California rent control ordinances;
- Knowing how long to wait before evicting a non-paying tenant;
- Using the three-day notice to pay rent or quit law;
- How to serve a tenant with the three-day notice; and
- Tenant eviction rules.
Bonus: Read our post, “How to Evict a Problem Tenant in California”.
5. Buy Extra Insurance
The saddest part about this homeowner/landlord saga is that her insurance company rejected her claim. She didn’t buy extended insurance for vandalism.
Bonus: Read our post about, “Insurance Policies for Landlords”. We show you more insurance coverage options to pay for tenant damages.
6. Prepare Stronger Lease Agreements
How did a supposed “relative” of a presumed deceased tenant move in and take over the lease?
Probably, the relative was an illegal squatter? The lease agreement must contain contingencies when a tenant dies. It should become “null and void” ending the lease agreement. Thus, the stranger moving in would be an illegal squatter.
For more tips, read our blog post, “What to Include in Your California Lease Agreement”.
Remember the Property Manager of the Tenant From Hell Home?
According to the Daily Mail, the property manager claimed the tenant filed a motion with the foreclosure court asking for entry to the home “to get her things” after the eviction. So, the property manager let the tenant from hell back inside after the eviction. Yikes!
The error the property manager committed was not supervising the woman getting her stuff. Letting her back in after the foreclosure without watching what she did lead to the vandalism.
Hire A Professional Property Management Company in San Diego with No Tenants from Hell
WeLease Property Management services include everything a landlord needs in the greater San Diego area. We handle the entire rental process from:
- Advertising rentals;
- Interviewing tenants;
- Doing background checks;
- Signing lease agreements;
- Moving in Checklist;
- Collecting rents;
- Periodic inspections and maintenance;
- Making repairs;
- Handling tenants moving out;
- Cleaning up vacant units; and
Contact us for all your property management needs in the greater San Diego region. Our pre-screening tenants, background checks, and strong lease agreements help to avoid tenants from Hell!
Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger
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