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Real Estate Investor’s Nemisis: The Nightmare Tenant

by Sam Perren

745 words (4 minute read)

Originally Published: 2013-11-29



Hello loyal readers! The above photo was what I found when I Googled “nightmare tenant” and if you click the photo you will see that poor landlord’s story.

But the real inspiration for this post is from a recent conversation I had at the great REIN event 2 weeks ago.

A fellow investor shared a Nightmare Tenant story with me he just finished going through, and unfortunately when you invest long enough, mistakes can happen.

This particular tenant had not payed rent for 2 months, blasted the heat(doubled the utility bills from 300/mo to 600/mo!) so the downstairs tenant had to open the windows in winter to keep from suffocating, was harboring a criminal family member so the police had to be called, and trying to file grievances with the RTB with blatant lies about the condition of the property in an effort to get a decision from an arbitrator that supported her with holding rent until the “issues” were fixed.

Keep reading to learn more about how this investor dealt with the problem.


This investor is a seasoned business owner, and his only mistake in getting this terrible tenant was that he is terribly busy, and he trusted his long term basement tenant to rent the upstairs.

The basement tenant had no experienced in screening people properly, and unwittingly rented the unit to this professional tenant who undoubtedly moves from place to place and lives largely rent free thanks to her schemes, using landlords as a revolving line of credit.

The application was full of red flags “$100,000 income, self employed, no previous references” that should have merited more scrutiny, however on the surface this nightmare tenant looked great, smiled nicely and was nicely dressed and presented herself like a “young grandmother.”

The investor I spoke with was quick to act when things went wrong, a credit to his resolution and character.

Instead of hiding away and curling in a little ball, he immediately served eviction notice for non payment of rent, which she disputed on the grounds of the “repairs that needed to be done” in a 40 page document, 30 of the pages were photos.

She went so far as to take a photo of a tree “that will one day grow over the eves and plug them, and we will get water on us as we walk to the door.” The arguments were ridiculous, and full of lies, such as verbal promises that were never made, however this nightmare tenant knew that if she put up a bit of a fight, she might be able to stall things and live for free a bit longer. She even included a bill for her time to make up these lies, and a receipt for photocopies, expecting to be paid for these “expenses.”

The investor prepared a professional response, disproving each allegation methodically, and served the nightmare tenant as required, via the complex timeline and method the RTB requires. A phone hearing was scheduled for about a month later.

The hearing date came, and the investor held his ground and got an RTB decision in his favor to have her removed, however not before losing 2 months rent, and an expensive renovation as the nightmare tenant left the place in an absolute mess, destroying the carpet throughout, and leaving garbage everywhere. This preventable mess will cost $6-10 thousand, wiping out the profits for a good portion of the year.

Even the most seasoned investors can make the mistake of letting a bad tenant in, unless they methodically follow a proven system, every time.

I have since shared my best practices and forms with this investor, and he said he plans to use them once the renovations are completed and its time for a new tenant.

If you have any comments or stories about your experiences with tenants, I would love to hear them. One day I will share my Nightmare Tenant story.

I learned some valuable lessons, and if you ask me nice I will be happy to share them in a future post ��


Until next time,


About the author: Sam Perren has helped dozens of investment partners aquire real estate, representing over $16Million CAD in purchases with rental income of over $100,000/mo. If you'd like access to Sam's "deal of the week" please click here.