To rent or not to rent? That is the question.
If you don’t have the money for a downpayment on a house, you’re renting, and that means dealing with a landlord, or a landlady—maybe a landduchess or something. We’re not exactly sure how landroyalty works.
If you’ve got a good landlord, you’ll never have to worry about a leaking faucet or an unsecured window. If you’ve got a bad landlord…well, prepare yourself for a terrible time. We looked through Reddit for some of the best stories of awful landlords, then cleaned them up for grammar and readability. Before you fill out an application for your dream rental, be sure to keep these stories in mind.
1. Some landlords think that they can roam freely through the property.
“I was living there for two years with five other students without much trouble, except for the normal landlord [stuff] like unannounced visits and cleaning bills—for cleaning he did himself. Very poorly, I might add,” Reddit user Interpolator1236 wrote. “When I signed the contract, he very explicitly said that he was not allowed to visit unannounced and had to call in advance. Because he wanted to give us all the ‘freedom.’”
“So, apparently, others in my building had been complaining about him showing up for no reason. He just walked around and inspect stuff. Really weird.”
Weird and potentially illegal, but his unusual behavior didn’t stop there.
“This particular night, I was already in bed after a long day of studying and working,” he wrote. “I was not sleeping yet but was watching a movie with my laptop on my lap. Now, living with so many others made me used to all kinds of noise … But this time, I heard someone trying opening my door with a key. I always locked it.”
“I was really frightened when, all of the sudden, he was standing there. I could see by the reaction on his face that he did not expect me there.”
He confronted the landlord, who claimed to be looking for mold. That wasn’t good enough for Interpolator1236, who immediately started shouting and cursing.
“I came out of bed, and of course, the other people had heard me shouting and came to look at what was going on,” he wrote. “Then, they also started yelling at him. One even said, ‘This is last f****** time, you creep.’ This was the guy who was living there the longest.”
The landlord quickly left the house. Several of the roommates ended up taking him to court, but Interpolator1236 isn’t sure how the case ended.
“But looking his name up online gave a lot of hits of people complaining about him in other building he owned,” he added. “It was a real shame though because it was real fun living there. If you are going to rent, please check the landlord’s name online. If he’s bad, his name will surely pop up.”
2. In case you’re wondering, horrible landlords aren’t exactly a new development.
“I am an older man here. This was back in 1964 in Uptown Chicago,” wrote Reddit user Hillbilly_Heaven. “My best friend stayed in this really slummy apartment. My neighborhood was really poor, and most people were from Appalachia and didn’t know much about the big city, so we were all taken advantage of, big time.”
“Well, my friend’s apartment had a huge rat infestation, but the landlord refused to clean it up. He said if they reported him, he would kick them out. Well, my friend’s sister ended up getting bit by a bunch of rats one night—she was only 7 and had crawled behind the fridge while playing hide-and-seek. She ended up getting rat-bite fever. Her family almost went broke getting her treatment.”
We had to look that one up; rat-bite fever is a serious condition caused by a strep bacteria and characterized by fever, headaches, vomiting, joint pain, and a telltale rash. It’s treatable, but it’s not much fun.
“They didn’t sue the landlord, because he once again threatened to kick them out if they talked,” he wrote. “My friend’s father, my dad, and a group of 10 or so other guys ended up personally killing rats for about a week in order to clear the apartment. God only knows how many there were.”
“There were still rats, though, and the [infestation] returned to its former size within a few months. My friend’s family moved out.”
“Thank God the apartment ended up getting closed a few years later for severe health code violations (or something like that), but that was only after some old man got bit, didn’t get treatment, and died. The landlord was never prosecuted. The apartment was demolished in the ’80s.”
3. If you’re in an apartment from hell, be sure to keep records.
“The lease said three bedrooms and two bathrooms,” Reddit user Macabalony wrote. “All home-care fixes were to come from licensed professionals and in a timely manner. The shower floor cracks and the inner pipes to the shower are leaking; the housemates and I called to get it fixed.”
“Their response is: ‘No problem, be there soon.’ A full month goes by without it getting fixed, and the house is becoming more damaged. We call again, complaining that it needs to get fixed. They give us the same response.”
“After three months of waiting, they finally get around to coming and fixing the issue, but at this point, there was significant damage to the house. The landlord/company starts freaking out over the damage, claiming it was negligence on our behalf. They threatened to sue all of us.”
“What saved us was keeping transcripts of all of our communications, alongside timestamps and pictures.”
4. Over-attentive landlords can be just as obnoxious as negligent slumlords.
“My landlord came to check my room and kitchen every day,” redditor Cottonthings wrote. “Apparently, the person that rented before us had a huge hoarding problem and [they never properly cleaned].”
“The place was renovated after them, and my landlord was terrified something similar would happen. I was keeping my place clean so he didn’t have anything to complain about, but still, he kept coming for about two months after I moved in. Every day.”
“That’s not so horrible, except if you think some person is coming to check your place whatever time, night or day. Maybe you’ll wake up late at night and see some dude inspecting your flat.”
And when you agree to rent an apartment, you typically don’t expect your landlord to act like a parent.
“My landlord is constantly nagging at me,” joked jykeous. “And one time, he even locked me in my room for disobeying his instated curfew. He also insists I call him ‘Dad.’ It’s all very frustrating.”
5. When you’ve got a serious issue, you can’t just paint over it.
“I was a little kid at the time (7 or 8 years old), but my parents tell this story,” wrote iggymouse. “We moved into a complex of former military housing with a landlord who lived across the country from us. It seemed fine—until my mom and my 5-year old brother’s asthma started getting way worse than usual, and I, prone to sinus problems, got one infection after another within the span of a few months.”
“Then, we noticed anything we put against the wall anywhere would grow clusters of nasty black mold behind it.”
“Turns out, the landlord had painted over the toxic black mold, which was infesting the walls and foundation of the house. Then, knowing it was there, he rented it to a family with young children. A year after we moved out, we passed by there again and saw a little pink tricycle and a baby’s stroller out in front. My mom got out of the car and knocked on the door to tell the new victims how dangerous it was for their children there.”
6. Never count on getting your security deposit back…without a fight.
“I had an apartment with three others,” wrote papayakob. “We left the place in better shape than when we moved in. Out of a $1,500 deposit, we got $19 back. She charged us $800 for carpet cleaning, $400 for oven cleaning, $100 for ‘modem removal,’ which meant unplugging the modem that was there when we moved in, and finally $181 for damages to the common hallways (there was a window broken outside our apartment door, [but it was] broken when we moved in).
“We realized about a year later our city has a special board to dispute insane claims like that. It’s a college town, so it happens a lot, but by then, it was too late.”
In most states, landlords can only keep your security deposit for cleaning, to repair damage that isn’t due to normal wear-and-tear, and to cover any default on rent. Still, that doesn’t mean they won’t try to keep more, and many tenants don’t have the resources to fight a bad security deposit decision in court.
7. If you’re an animal lover, this is a tough one to read.
“My old landlord knew that I had a dog and that he lived outside,” wrote Epicdemic93. The “he” in that sentence refers to the dog, not the landlord (uh, we think).
“When [my landlord] was cleaning a load of junk the previous tenant of the [apartment] had left behind, he left the side gate open for convenience. He didn’t make any attempt to look and see if [my dog] was there.”
“Of course, being a dog and seeing an opportunity for some unsupervised freedom, he got out and was immediately hit by a car outside the front of the house. Luckily, I had some great neighbors who happened to be outside. Some went to check on him, and others went to talk to my landlord, telling him what an idiot he is—there were signs on both sides of the gate, tell him to shut it, plus [he knew that my dog was there].”
“Rather than admitting to his mistake, he got in his car and drove off, pretty much leaving my dog to die in the gutter. Even the guy who hit him stuck around to help to get him to the vet and went to check on him later. I think that if nobody was around, [the landlord] would have completely denied any knowledge of what happened.”
Good news, everyone: The dog’s okay. The landlord, however, is still a jerk.
8. This story contains a ton of British lingo.
We recommend reading it with a posh accent.
“In uni, I rented a flat from a private landlord with a couple of friends,” wrote stone_opera. “It was a nice, very old mews flat with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.”
For our American readers, a mews flat is an apartment originally used as a stable but since converted into a living space.
“The landlord didn’t live in the UK,” they write, “he lived in Turks and Caicos and had a friend who managed the flat while he was gone. We met him once; he seemed alright.”
“We lived in that flat for a year. We had a few boiler problems, but that was about it. We always paid our rent on time, and it seemed to be going pretty smoothly. Then, one day, the pipework got backed up. It should be noted at this point that our flat sat above a Chinese casino. We had disgusting grey water coming up through our washing machine, through our sinks and toilets and bath faucets.”
“Chinese casino” isn’t some weird British lingo; they lived above an actual casino. That will be important in a minute.
“We called the flat manager to try and sort out a plumber,” they continued. “Turns out that the landlord had had a falling out with his friend the flat manager, and the flat manager was no longer in contact with our landlord.”
“So we contact a plumber and explain our problem to him. The plumber tells us that he can’t come to the flat to inspect the pipes because he hasn’t got permission from the property owner. But he does tell us that the backup is likely being caused by the casino, and we should get them to hire a plumber to look at their pipes.”
“We go down to the casino and talk to the manager there. We tell them about our backed-up pipes and how the plumber said it was likely coming from a blockage in their pipes. The manager outright refuses to hire a plumber. He tells us that it’s our responsibility to get a plumber to confirm that it’s the casino’s pipes that are blocked.”
“We try in any way possible to get in touch with the landlord. No response for two weeks. At this point, rent is coming up, so we don’t pay rent, hoping that this will make him respond. He finally gets in touch with us and says that he will call a plumber to come to the flat. The plumber never comes—no one ever calls to say they are coming to inspect the flat. We wait a whole week before we try to contact the landlord again.”
“He never responded after that. We moved out a month later, we sent a certified letter to what we thought was his address. I kept the keys because I had no one to give them to.”
“About two years later, the landlord’s mum gets in touch with me, asking about the condition of the flat. I let her know that I haven’t lived there for over two years, and we left it after the circumstances that I outlined above. I tell her I still have the keys for the flat if she wants to go inspect it herself. I met up with her, gave her the keys, and she explained the situation.”
“Basically what happened was this: The landlord’s parent bought him this flat, then he f**** off to Turks and Caicos and couldn’t be [bothered] with the upkeep of the flat. When we contacted him about the plumbing, he basically just ignored the problem. His mum found out only because the Chinese casino was suing them for water damage caused by the flooding from the backed-up pipes. I can’t imagine what state that place would be in after two years with sitting grey water.”
By the way, “Sitting Grey Water” is a great name for a prog-rock band.
9. If you’re moving out, be sure to set conditions with your landlord.
That’s not to blame this Reddit user for her situation—she’s clearly in the right.
“My (now) ex, a friend, and I all lived in a house together,” wrote smw89 “We were moving out within a month. The house didn’t have air conditioning, and I was six months pregnant. I’m lying naked on my bed with a fan blowing on me. I hear the side door open and think nothing of it.”
“My landlord was showing a couple our house without contacting us prior—or even knocking. He opened my door, and they all walked in my room and saw me looking like a sweaty beached whale with my legs open and all my goods on display. I have never been more angry and embarrassed in my entire life.”
If we were her, we’d have used the opportunity to tell the new potential tenants that the apartment didn’t have air conditioning. We’re sure that they got the message.