Screen Renters

Pandemic Horror Stories from Landlords—and What You Can Learn from Them


The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown millions of American households into financial difficulty, causing many to struggle to pay rent. The eviction moratoriums were put in place to prevent mass homelessness from overburdening the system. Still, they have also put a strain on landlords who have financial obligations of their own. And that’s not all: in some cases, landlords have even found themselves stuck in extended bad tenant relationships that were souring even before the pandemic struck. Let’s look at a couple of real-life examples to see what we can learn.


Snakes Roaming Free


An Ottawa landlord ran into a pandemic-induced mountain of red tape trying to process a legitimate conviction of some tenants who had been allowing more than 30 dangerous snakes (including pythons) to roam free in their rental unit, causing other tenants in the building to vacate their units out of fear. Due to a ban on evictions deemed non-urgent, the landlord had to take his claim to Superior Court to get a special endorsement from the judge. Although the court sided with the landlord, the judge inexplicably gave the tenants another 30 days to vacate—meaning another 30 days where snakes were allowed to roam free in the building, and the tenants had the potential to cause other problems. The landlord described the feeling as “helpless,” and he feared for his own safety as well as that of his other tenants, not knowing what had become of the snakes.


Room Rental Nightmare


Months before the pandemic hit, a Bay-Area woman was already having deep regrets in agreeing to rent an extra room in her family’s home to a woman in need of housing last fall. When a string of “strange visitors” made the family feel concerned, the conflict escalated into a 30-day notice to vacate—but the problem tenant ignored it and began threatening the homeowner instead. Local law enforcement hesitated to get involved, citing it as a “civil matter”—nor did they inform the homeowner that she actually had options for a quick conviction. When the court date for eviction was finally set—in March 2020—the pandemic put everything on hold, locking the family into a horrible situation with the tenant. Fearing for their safety, the family eventually moved into a rental property, leaving the problem tenant to continue to do damage. As of October 2020, the tenant had still not been evicted.


What We Can Learn


These landlord horror stories—and others like them—underscore how important it is to know who you’re renting to. Screening renters before they sign a lease can greatly reduce the risk of being locked into a tenant relationship that can do serious damage to your property, your finances, and your peace of mind. Screen Renters offers landlords a free, easy way to ensure their renters are reputable and above board. Contact us to learn more.