Friday, August 31, 2018

Home Alone: Ever Think a Tenant Might Come After You?

Source: Home Alone.
In my last post, I talked about a duplex conversion. Here’s a prequel to that story…

Eight months ago, we got a duplex in Chatham. The duplex has a one-bedroom unit at the front and a two-bedroom unit at the back. There was a door between the two apartments. I'll call it "The Door" for the remainder of this post.

At purchase, the small front unit was already rented to a tenant and the bigger back unit was vacant.

Long story short, my property manager and the tenant in the small unit did NOT start out with the right foot.

As a result, I was under the impression that the tenant in the front unit was a

  • frightening, 
  • sneaky, 
  • irrational, 
  • demanding, and 
  • crazy person, who is 
  • impossible to deal with, and 
  • who’d sue me at the drop of a hat. 
  • I was seriously afraid of her and her meaniness.

(Hmm... I was wondering if meaniness was even a word.
Now I know that it isn’t, but I’ll still keep it.)

By the end of 8-month long vacancy, the longest vacancy I’ve ever had,

I finally started questioning the absurdity of the situation.

After all, I am the owner of the property. My property manager is so scared of my tenant that he doesn’t take any action. I am so afraid of the tenant, because of how terrified my property manager is, that I haven’t done anything either for a very-very long time.

I know that every month without a second tenant costs me A LOT of money. The money that I don’t have. I am doomed unless I stop chickening out, step up, and take massive action. So I did….

Home Alone

This property is in Chatham, which is 3-hour drive away from home. I decided to come for a weekend and clean / paint / fix the back unit, so that it’s ready to be rented. If my property manager is too afraid to handle this, I’ll just deal with it myself.

I got to Chatham and kept to myself. I didn’t see the tenant face-to-face during the entire day. I cleaned, vacuumed, planned remaining action items around the unit, went to shop for small decorations for the upcoming showings, etc.

Source: Home Alone Movie - Bad Guy!
At sunset, I was starting to panic.

The darker it got outside, the more panicky I felt.

Finally, my brain started spinning and painting petrifying pictures…

I could hear my tenant having a guest over. They were watching TV…

My crazy-irrational thoughts went kind of like this:

“… There’s a door between the two apartments.

It doesn’t have a lock.

What if my tenant is indeed as horrifying as my property manager believes her to be?

What if she sneaks in during the night and kills me in my sleep?”

What if, there’s a lot of them next door?

How would I stay awake through the night to make sure that I’m prepared to run out of the house and call 9-1-1, if necessary?”

Survival Plan

Source: Home Alone Movie
I decided to set up my sleeping station on the main floor. I placed my sleeping bag strategically in the kitchen. As close as possible to the two exits: the main entrance and the patio door.

I couldn’t see The Door between the two units when I was laying down, but I’d only need to lean forward just a tiny bit to see it.

I tried very hard to stay awake.

I wanted my tenant to fall asleep first. The TV was still mumbling through the wall.

After a day of driving, cleaning, shopping, and working, with every minute passing by, it was getting more and more challenging to keep my eyes from shutting.

I put a Windex bottle next to my pillow. In the worst case, I’ll spray it into her eyes and run for my life!

I positioned a rolling chair right next to The Door with the intention that it would start rolling and make a rolling noise as soon as someone walks through The Door. And that'd wake me up!

I turned my computer on. It would be a lot more cheerful if I had youtube… but I didn’t want to use too much data on my phone.

Deadly silence on my side of The Door.

I turned on the only movie I had on my computer. Beauty and The Beast.

Bad decision! I dozed off before the first song ended…

OMG! She is Right Next to Me!

This is it.

I heard the sound of the rolling chair in my sleep.

It’s happening.

I opened my eyes, ready to run for my life:

“Oh, my gosh. I am so sorry! I just wanted to turn the AC up. I didn’t know you were here! I didn’t mean to scare you! Why are you sleeping on the floor? Would you like me to bring you a mattress?”, said my tenant. I could tell, she felt awkward.

As far as I can tell after meeting and spending some time with my tenant one-on-one, she is practical, to the point, and doesn’t plan to harm me or anyone else in any way.

I’m not sure what the actual misunderstandings and miscommunications have been about between the tenant and my property manager, but the "Horror Tenant" issue did cost me a lot of money, time, and stress.

Lesson learned –  Don’t let other people’s fears become your fears and put you into hibernation mode for months. If you have a problem, take action to start solving it.


  1. Time to reevaluate your choice of property management I would say. Great lesson for sure

    1. Very true! They are no longer managing this property.