Top Ten: Stupid Things Tenants Say

Investing | April 15, 2014

Alright, so it seems many of my “stupid open house questions” aren’t that stupid after all!

Believe me, I understand the validity of some of those questions, but you have to put it in the context of a Toronto market, specifically in 2014.

But let’s move on to something even more inane: tenant complaints.

I always ask, “So, you wanna be a Landlord, do you?”  And this blog post going to highlight a lot of the menial crap you have to deal with on a regular basis.

I’ve held a few properties over the years, and dealt with a handful of tenants.  Here are the best/worst ten questions and complaints I’ve ever dealt with…


#10: “The building only supports Bell, and I prefer Rogers.”

Consider this a valid complaint, if you want.

But again – put this into perspective.

What the HELL is a landlord in a downtown Toronto condominium going to do about this?

Yes, many buildings are supported by ONLY one of Rogers or Bell.  This is what developers do to get deals on installation; they offer exclusivity to one carrier, and thus residents have no choice in which company they subscribe to.

But in this case, my tenant asked me if he could install a satellite dish on the wall outside the condo.

Yeah, sure.  Just drill it right into the brick, and point it toward Buffalo…

#9: “The washing machine is too loud.”

Oh, okay, no problem.  I’ll just run out and buy a brand new one.  Because this one is…….brand new.

This was the complaint I got in a condo with a brand-new stacked washer/dryer that had never been used.

I told the tenant, “Just put the machine on when you leave for the day, and you won’t have to hear it.”

She told me, “But then my clothes would be wet for hours and hours, and I like to put them right into the dryer so no mold develops.”

I thought that was stupid at the time, but now my wife tells me the same thing!

Still though – what can I do about a loud washing machine?  Do YOU want to be a landlord now?

#8: “I don’t like the way the concierge looks at me.”

Yes, I actually received a phone call for this one.

“Hi David, do you have a moment to chat?  Well, I’m having a problem in the building.  I just feel…..well, I feel as though the concierge gives me weird looks when I walk by.  He’s always smiling and nodding and stuff.”

Okay, but, aren’t most concierges supposed to smile and look up as you walk by?

Hey, I’m not a young, single girl.  I don’t know what it’s like.

But I had this complaint over and over for six months with this one tenant, and I can honestly say that the concierge was a really nice Russian guy who was polite and courteous.  He knew my name, always buzzed me in (even though I didn’t actually reside there), and yes – he smiled at me when I walked in!  Then again, Ted Bundy was apparently really pleasant…

I’m not saying she was wrong in how she felt.  But I am saying that as a landlord, you’re going to have to deal with stuff like this!

#7: “The rooftop terrace is locked for the winter!”

There’s absolutely nothing I can do about this, but it doesn’t mean a tenant won’t complain in an email.

This one was particularly annoying, since I received an email, that I could tell had been edited several times, written in a very professional manner which I felt the tenant was going to keep “on file” somewhere.

When you receive an MS Word document that has the date on the top right corner, and begins with, “Dear Mr. Fleming, I am writing to express my frustration and disappointment that the rooftop terrace at XX Street is locked for the winter,” you know that this person has something up their sleeve.

Sure enough, a month later, this tenant asked for $100 off the rent, for each month that the terrace was closed.

It didn’t matter that the rooftop terrace was closed, just like most in the downtown core, because it costs the condominium more money for maintenance (shovelling, salting, monitoring), and insurance (slip and fall, anyone?), and also because only a very small fraction of the residents want to go to the roof in January!

The tenant didn’t care.  I think he was just looking for a quick $400.

#6: “There’s bugs on the balcony.”

You’ve all seen my videos on midges, right?

If you haven’t click HERE.

I don’t know if this problem exists all throughout the downtown core, or just on the east side where I live.  But a few years ago, I had a condo at the neighbouring building, and my tenant found exactly what I found at my own place: a million midges.

I understood exactly what the tenant was going through, and I could sympathize.

But there’s still absolutely nothing I can do about this., nor should I be expected to.

#5: “The unit is too dark.”

Once you start actually living in a given condo unit, you’re going to undoubtedly discover a host of features or issues that you didn’t notice when you walked through for ten minutes a month earlier.

One of my tenants once complained that the unit was too dark.

“So go buy some lamps,” I said.

It seems like the solution to all of these complaints are so simple, and yet the questions and complaints are still voiced to begin with.

“Replace the 60-watt bulbs with 100-watt bulbs.”

Whatever happened to people wanting to be a “good tenant” and not bothering their landlords?

#4: “Somebody scratched my car.”

It sucks, but it happens to all of us in life.

And when it does, it shouldn’t be something that you email to your landlord.

There’s probably one person who could have scratched or dented your car, and that’s the person in the space next do you.  Unless you did a terrible parking job and left the rear end of your car hanging out six feet, in which case it’s your fault.

But when I got an email one day, reading, “David, I’d just like to bring it to your attention that I came out this morning and there was a huge scratch on the bumper of my car,” I wondered whether or not it was my job to do anything about it.

This was the first tenant I ever had, after all.

#3: “There are too many loud people in the building.”

This is a totally acceptable thought and grievance, but an invalid complaint.

Because seriously, what is anybody going to do about this?

Whether you live in a building, own in a building, rent in a building – whatever; you, can’t change the fact that there’s people making noise.  It happens in every building, some more than others.  But to call your landlord and complain?  Geez.

The issue I have here is that even if something could be done about this, why wouldn’t the tenant just complain to concierge or property management?  Why go crying to the landlord?

I live on the 9th floor of my building where the party room is located.  My expectation is that every weekend, people are going to be loud.  My expectation has not changed, as people don’t change.

So why would a tenant think any differently?

#2: “The air is too cold, and the heat is too hot.”

Yep.  This happened to me.

A tenant once complained that the air conditioning was way too strong and made the condo too cold, but also that the heat was too hot and that it “smelled funny.”

Can heat smell?

I guess so.  Think about the heat coming off your hockey gloves when you unzip your bag after a game.  Yuck!

I brought this tenant both a large oscillating fan, as well as a portable heater, but she still complained.  She said, “There must be something wrong with the ducts.”  So I changed the filter in the unit, but that still didn’t appease her.

I finally gave her a large cartoonish *Shrug* and said, “What do you want me to do?”  She actually never called me again after that.  Well, at least about that subject…

#1: “The hot water isn’t hot enough.  I like to take a steam shower in the morning because it wakes me up, and now I don’t know what to do!”

Come on.


What the heck am I going to do about this?

This tenant called me only two days after we entered into a one-year lease agreement, and essentially told me that unless I could fix the hot water “problem,” she wanted to move out, and move on.

“I’ve always had trouble fully waking up in the morning,” she told me.  “So I’ve found it easier to wake up if I take a 30-minute steam shower in the morning, as the steam opens my eyes, my lungs, and even my soul! LOL!”

I think she actually said “LOL” aloud.

And clearly, she wasn’t an environmentalist, or in any way green-friendly.

This tenant drove me nuts, and I think 2-3 of the other stupid comments above are from her.  But this one was, by far, the worst.  It just went to show me: a) how much time she had on her hands, b) her level of expectations, c) her lack of knowledge about the real world.

Did she really think I was going to check out the boiler room in the basement of the condo and somehow magically change the water pressure and temperature?

Folks, if you want to be a landlord, you’d better prepare yourself to deal with crap like this.

I currently own one property, and it’s my primary residence.  I just don’t have the time and the wherewithal anymore.

Having said that, I probably sell 6-8 investment properties each year, and I always warn my buyers in advance of what could lay ahead.

In the end, being a landlord can be very lucrative, and very painful.

It’s up to each individual investor to weigh the pros and cons and decide if it’s the right fit.

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  1. AndrewB

    at 7:09 am

    Regarding #5. The amount of watts do not indicate the brightness of the bulb. What you want to see is how many lumens it produces.

    Either way. great Top 10. It’s these eyeroll-inducing questions that make me never want to be a landlord. Ever.

  2. Potato

    at 7:21 am

    Mold? On clothes? When was the last time someone ever had moldy clothes from letting them sit wet for a few hours? Especially if it’s followed by the nearly instantaneous drying of a dryer rather than hang-drying around spores for another few hours of damp…

  3. Schmidtz

    at 8:29 am

    Once I got this:

    “Josev, my hand is stuck in the garburetor”.

    Um ok, call the fire dept, you idiot.

  4. joel

    at 8:52 am

    Fun list. I will confirm that heat does have a smell. Our condos heat really smells, I think it is because they rarely, or never clean the ducts.
    Although it’s probably not worth calling a landlord about.

  5. Hipster fools...

    at 10:06 am

    How Torontos’ foolish hipsters are throwing money down the sewer….

    “I’d be the first one to tell you that very, very, very few realtors actually have their client’s best interest at heart. So many are in it for the quick money, the “prestige”, their face on the back of buses. Especially the younger ones. They show up in their $75,000 car, dressed in fine clothes and looking every bit the successful realtor. A rock star really. Fact is they’ve never sold a home before and couldn’t tell the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground.”

    Ain’t that the truth…

    1. Not as foolish as anyone dumb enough to listen to Garth

      at 11:02 am

      “Housing permabear, blogger and former MP Garth Turner thinks “those people that are waiting for a U.S.-style cataclysmic dump are never going to see it.” He admits he was unsure in 2008 “because the world was pretty wonky.” But Turner sounded awfully sure when he told Ottawa Citizen readers on Mar. 27, 2008, to look closely at the “real estate disaster now in full flower to our south” because “it’s coming here.” What about all those readers who think he mistimed the market? “Well, too bad,” he says, then chuckles. “

    2. Appraiser

      at 4:42 pm

      It’s sad watching a former MP fritter his golden years away bashing Realtors 24/7. I love it when he does so as above, with “pretend” e-mails from “make-believe” readers, under the pretense of objectivity.

      The moron can’t seem to get anything right and is reduced to picking fights with the real estate industry at every turn, in a pitiful attempt at drawing attention.

      Sad. Old. Man.

  6. Paul nbm ( new board member)

    at 10:33 am

    Well in defence of tenants, I have mine for three + years and she is golden. Stove finally died, she went with me to get a new one, and arranged all the delivery and timing. I have had next to no problems with her. Pays direct deposit and I can not even remember last time I talked to her.
    On top of the she is on the condo board ! one time I did go over I got offered supper ! ( not like that ! )
    I guess they are not all bad !
    just a ray of hope for some maybe

  7. Peter

    at 11:02 am

    Once my tenant called me to say that the fridge smelled funny. I asked if it was working , and the answer was yes. I asked if it was clean, I was told yes. So I arrive at the condo, and the fridge, my fridge, is unplugged, sitting in the living room. I flip it over, and in the back of it, near the condenser coils, I find two rats dead in the coils. I freak out, as rats have never been an issue there. Turns out the two pet rats owned by the tenant escaped and died behind the fridge. Why didn’t they notice their rats were gone? They probably did. But they weren;t allowed to have them, so they didn’t mention it. Crazy.

    1. Peter

      at 3:53 pm

      Basically I had them take the rats over to Olivia Chow’s house. She has some ancient recipe for rat stew, learned in her impoverished days.

  8. TGen

    at 10:03 am

    As a tenant, I had 2 of these problems – (1) no hot water in the mornings and (2) the person next door had mental health issues and was always creating a racket, using abusive language and being weird (this became a real nuisance). As a tenant I couldn’t do anything, but when I’m paying upwards of $2000 rent a month, I expect the landlord/owner of the house to sort out these issues for me with building management. We eventually gave notice and moved due to these issues.

    No issues with the new place – appliance not working, landlord fixes it. Hot water/ heating/ cooling/ neighbour issues, building fixes it

  9. ronnie woowoo

    at 8:35 pm

    everyone knows renters are finger pointing scum

  10. Blueboy

    at 3:36 am

    I worked as a concierge for a while. The problem is that you’re dealing with a lot of spoiled rich people, who will complain about you, no matter how nice and courteous you are. (Seems some of them have nothing better to do with their time than email complaints to management) A couple of examples. A tenant walks in, I was on the house phone, (calling up for a delivery). He could clearly see that I was on the phone, but as he walks to the elevators, he says to me, “How come you never greet me?” Number one, I didn’t know his face, (at this point, I knew and greeted most of the tenants), number two, how am I supposed to answer him (or greet him), when I’m already on the house phone, dealing with another tenant? Another time, the super instructed me to explain to a girl that the elevator company would not be able to get her keys out of the elevator shaft until Monday, (we had a master key to apartment, her boyfriend’s car key was on the chain), if they couldn’t wait until after the weekend for the car key, they would have to get one made by a locksmith. I only did as I was told by the super, the following week, this girl complained about my “level of service” (Spoiled little rich girl, living on Daddy’s money)

  11. Anon

    at 10:56 pm

    I am a tenant and the people on the top floor (I live on the first) have twize now messed whit the power for my floor!
    When the landlady gets back she will get an ear full.
    Bastards blew up my damn 5,1 stereo whit their crap! (2000 usd)

  12. shepd

    at 12:06 am

    #10 is a completely valid complaint. You, the owner of the building, decided to cheap out at the expense of the renter who now has to pay extra costs and has reduced selection so you could save a buck. Guess what, when you cheap out tenants complain. Don’t cheap out at the renter’s expense and complain that renters are unhappy.

    Either pay for both to be installed, or tell Bell and Rogers they can both suck a lemon and put a pair of dishes on the roof for Shaw and BellTV so your tenants can be happy. Don’t be so damn cheap! By installing those dishes, now nobody will be asking you if they can drill into your building.

    Also, while you’re at it, if you really want to attract renters, you can throw a free to air TV antenna on the roof, too.

    As for the noise complaints, give them the number of the local police station. There are rules about noise and the cops will be happy to earn Toronto some easy cash by billing the noisy tenants for being unable to understand what quiet time means.

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  14. Toni

    at 5:55 pm

    I had a tenant who said the utility sink that the washer empties into would not drain. I sent my plumber over. He showed her how to remove the plug from the bottom of the sink. It cost me $90

  15. Toni

    at 5:58 pm

    The building inspector stopped by as they do every 3 years. Found no carbon monoxide detectors when there should have been three. I went over to see what happened. The tenant said they all were beeping so she put them in the garage. When I showed her how to put batteries in them, she was amazed.

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