Nightmare Tenants from Hell

It does happen. All too frequently, in fact: There are tenants from hell out there and unfortunately, at some point in your property investing career (especially if you're investing in rental property), you're probably going to get them.

Bribery is not just a tactic for getting the rent paid on time. It's a way of making sure that your tenants have it in their best interests to keep your property in good order and follow the terms of their lease.

We've talked a lot about being the "nice landlord" to get the best out of your tenants and your property. We've said you should respect and keep your property in good condition, and expect that your tenants will be more likely to respect having a nicer place to live in return.

Everyone needs a roof over their heads, but at some point you may feel not everyone deserves to have one...

...especially when the Tenants From Hell decide to move into your prized investment property, leave holes in every wall, pour lord-knows-what over your carpet, break wardrobes and let their animals dig, chew and defecate all over the garden.

In spite of your best efforts.

The horror: What the Nightmare Tenants From Hell can do to you

This is what the nightmare tenants from hell can do to your rental property... and this is just one room...

I've seen a few interesting cases over the years.

  • The nightmare tenants who left garbage and other unmentionables (yep...) all through the house and/or outside when they left.
  • The tenants from hell who lived with garbage all through the house and garden when they were living in it.
  • ...knocked holes in walls, doors, windows.
  • ...smashed up the kitchen, bathroom and/or built-in wardrobes.
  • ...lost their keys and decided that breaking in was a better option than calling the property manager or a locksmith, and then didn't tell the property manager that they had changed the locks (against the lease)
  • ...swung from the washing line and broke it
  • ...vandalised in other ways - including markers and spray-paint on walls and fences.
  • ...Kicking balls repeatedly into colorbond fences until they are covered in dents.
  • ...use the corner of the living room instead of the WC (strangely enough this came from my Mum, who used to clean an Arab businessman's apartment in London in the 1970s while she was studying)
  • ...ignore the No Pets rule and bring a very large dog and allow it in the house, or to dig up the garden, or keep cats who have lots and lots of kittens, and allow them to do as they please, where they please. (Carpet replacement time...)
  • ...invite their dodgy mates around to terrorise or burgle the neighbourhood.
  • Tenants from Hell who simply never pay their rent and won't leave.
  • Tenants who receive and eviction notice and take revenge (there's a video of that on You Tube I really must find and post here… but I won't scare you yet!)

Walking into your property and finding any - or even all (yep...) - of the above is a horrifying experience for anyone. The trick to dealing with the Tenants From Hell is not to lose your cool and think that everyone out there is like that.

After all, how many properties have you - and others you know - rented in your lifetime before you owned property, and always treated with respect?

The odds are, there are 90%+ decent tenants, like yourselves, and 10% or less who you'd really prefer were not living in your place.

On the bright side, you won't be forking over the dosh for free movie tickets and shopping vouchers when the tenants from hell don't pay their rent or pass their inspections!

But seriously...

What can you do when you get the Tenants from Hell?

Actually, that question should be rephrased: What can you do before you get the tenants from hell?"

Put simply: if you're serious about property investing and making an income from it, you should have insurance. The bond your tenants pay when they move in does not cover everything if they are less than exemplary...

  • Building Insurance - covering fire, flood, and other types of damage to your property.
  • Landlords Insurance - covering you for loss of rent, and for malicious damage caused by tenants who break everything in sight.

The bank will likely insist on you having building insurance for the simple reason that if the place burns down or is otherwise damaged, they need some way to bring the property back up to the value of the loan on their books.

Landlords Insurance is just common sense for dealing with cases where the tenants from hell move in and cause other kinds of damage.

So many property owners and investors are underinsured.

Have your policies properly assessed, don't cut corners, and have them reassessed every year or two to make sure that the value of the policy is keeping up with the potential cost of repairs if your tenants turn foul.

Most importantly: Make sure that the insurance covers the cost of replacing the building to the same size and specs, new-for-old, and with enough room for demolition costs (especially if the property contains asbestos).

There is a big difference between the value the surveyor placed on the current building, and the cost of having it rebuilt. In our first property, the land was valued at $208,000 at the time of purchase, and the buildings (house, garage and shed) were only valued at $50,000. The cost of building new, if the building was destroyed, would have been $150,000, plus about $20,000-$30,000 for demolition and asbestos removal.

Don't make it personal - or take it personally.

Make sure that you remember this is your investment property, and not something as "personal" as if you had someone break into your home and steal the family heirlooms.

Of course you should care about appearances, but it should, in an ideal world, be just like an invisible asset on the stock market - if something happens, you change tactics to fix it and move on. As with the rule about not personalising the decor, try not to get too attached to anything you put into an investment property, lest the tenants from hell get to it.

What happens when they do? You need to learn some tricks for dealing with bad tenants!

Got a question about tenants?

So... ask away!

Do you have a question about property investing that's not answered here or elswhere on this site?

Ask it here and we'll try our best to answer it for you. Sometimes there's some research involved, so please forgive us of we take a little while to post back.

Others can also comment (politely, please!) too and help you out. It's a bit like a forum and FAQ rolled into one!

Just remember, we're not financial advisers, so you should use the information we give here as a guide only (in relation to your personal circumstances) and see an accountant or financial adviser before proceeding further.

What Other Visitors Have Said

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We have Tenants that are GOING to Hell! 
(Hopefully). What do you do when.... 1. Our tenants won't pay rent, but they will pay for electricity, cable and water. 2. Police made a bust, …

I have given my tenant notice of eviction 
I gave my tenant an eviction notice after he and his gf (moved in and he refuses to pay the extra$250 my ad stated), had been violently fighting in my …

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Also on this subject:

Bad Tenants, and what to do once you have them...

Our Tenant Checklist will help you avoid putting these guys in from the start.

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