The Funniest Thing a Tenant Ever did to Me

Services for Real Estate Pros with Property Solutions, LLC

Have you ever noticed that the very funniest stories that we have to tell were not in the least bit funny at the time the events occurred?  It seems that only the detached perspective that comes with the passage of time can mysteriously transform the horrible to the hilarious.


Awhile back, a tenant of mine quit paying.  Nothing new there, business as usual.  Out in the mail goes Step 1 of the eviction process.  After a few days had passed, I stopped over to find out "the scoop". 


Turns out that they had inherited a house in Ohio, and were moving out.  I was assured that they would be gone within 2 weeks, and the property would be left in pristine condition, better than if Mr. Clean himself had recently vacated the property.


On the "do or die date", I went over to the house.  No vehicles were in the driveway, so I stopped and knocked on the door.  Much to my surprise, a 4 foot tall little boy who couldn't have weighed more than 60 pounds soaking wet, informed me that his mommy and daddy had gone to Ohio to settle some business, and that he was "watching the house".


My tenants, folks; had left their tiny son as a "placeholder", so that I could not rekey and take possession of the house.  I'd imagine cartoons were being watched until 3am nightly, and that very little other than breakfast cereal was being eaten on the premises.


Although I knew it was contrary to my own best interest (pissing off a soon-to-be-evicted tenant is the metaphorical equivalent of kicking a beehive and not running), I decided my primary responsibility was the safety of the kid, so I called the police and informed them of the situation.


Little did I know, my tenants, like master chess players, had anticipated this move.  NC state law allows a child over 13 years old to be left alone for up to 72 hours in the case of an emergency.  The little boy (whom I’ll eat my hat if he was really 13, but 13 year olds don’t have ID’s, do they?) calmly explained to the police that his grandmother had suffered a heart attack and that his parents had to rush to Ohio, but would be back well within the statutory 72 hours.


Score: tenants 1, landlord zero.  They did indeed trash the place on the way out, and their little boy "bookend" strategy worked like a charm.


If my tenants had shown 1/4 of this initiative earlier, I have no doubt that they could have successfully paid their rent on time and vacated smoothly, rather than becoming NC child-safety law experts and concocting this grand scheme.  Sometimes the choice is between laughter and ulcers, so I choose laughter.  Laughter's medicinal properties beat Maalox hands down. 


Lou Gimbutis, owner of Property Solutions, LLC,, has been buying and selling houses full-time since 2004, first in Michigan, then after moving to NC in 2007.  He serves as Director of Education for the Metrolina Real Estate Investor’s Association.


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Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Quite a story.  And the reason I don't do rentals!

Oct 14, 2019 04:44 PM #60
Susan McCall, Independent Listing and Buyer Agent
Compass Realty Solutions - Portland, OR
Bringing buyers and sellers together!

That was funny!  And funny how ethics comes into play in almost everything we do from something as odd as boy left as a placeholder in a rental, all the way to the top.  Wink♥Wink

Oct 14, 2019 04:57 PM #63
Bruce Hicks
Best Homes Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
Your Lifetime Friend/Helper!

Lou Gimbutis you can add this as a chapter to your new book!  

Oct 14, 2019 05:55 PM #64
Angie King
Grason Homes - Huntington Beach, CA

Wow!  I don't understand why people just can't pick up the phone, come clean and ask for help.  I can't imagine that you would have bulked at the 3 day extension.  I don't care what the law is, I wouldn't leave a 13 year old child alone for 3 days and go out of state.

Oct 14, 2019 06:18 PM #65
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Hahahaha! I actually don’t know what my funniest moment would be with a client. I really have to think about it. :)

Oct 14, 2019 08:40 PM #66
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Asking for help is the hardest thing for some people who are taught not to ask for any unless totally necessary Angie King

Oct 14, 2019 08:42 PM #67
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow@ Tha's a crazy lesson for a child to "learn."  Unbelievable!

Oct 14, 2019 08:51 PM #68
Michelle Cherie CarrCrowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Wow that is one crazy story. Feel bad for their son.

Oct 14, 2019 09:22 PM #69
Alan Blake
ZoomProperty - Berryville, TX
Real Estate Education Blog


Oct 15, 2019 01:01 AM #70
Matthew Klinowski, PA
Downing-Frye - Naples, FL
Golf Community Real Estate Specialist


Oct 15, 2019 03:45 AM #71
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

So sad. I hope this boy has some good influences in his life and makes better choices than his parents. 

Oct 15, 2019 04:04 AM #72
Gary Thomas
Preferred Properties Key West - Key West, FL

Kid will probably run for office some day.

Oct 15, 2019 08:20 AM #73
Raymond Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Hey, I bet they could make a comedy about leaving a kid home alone.  I bet it would be a big hit!  ;o)

Oct 15, 2019 10:25 AM #80
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

Congratulations on your featured article.   WOW is all I can say!

Oct 16, 2019 03:41 AM #91
Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos

Your story reminds me of a statement a Seller made to me when I presented a very low cash offer on their home as an as-is estate property.  They said and I am cleaning it up a bit, "Well now if he was going to stick it to me that much, he could have at least added some lubrication!"  It was a big laugh inside I had to hold inside because she was as serious as a heart attack I use to hear the Old Folks say growning up.  I gave an emotionless silent response.  Had I opened my mouth to say anything, it would have been a hearty fall out of my chair big huge grand gigantic bust out in crying laugh.  I had to wait until  I left with a signed contract, got in my car, drove around the corner, and made sure they could not see me laugh out loud laugh!

Oct 16, 2019 07:20 PM #102
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

Always interesting to see how far people will go to bend the rules, and how much they get away with in the process. 

Oct 17, 2019 12:02 PM #115
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Hopefully I'll find out the rest of this story. People are really something.

Oct 17, 2019 02:50 PM #120
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

It amazes me how smart scammers are If they put half that energy to earning a real living they would be very successful... instead they choose the path of cheating and lying.... pitiful!  Great post I look forward to more! 

Oct 17, 2019 11:13 PM #121
Lou Gimbutis
Property Solutions, LLC - Statesville, NC
Buying & Selling Houses Since 2004.

Thanks Debra!  I have probably 90 more already written from having submitted them to our local Real Estate and Legal newspaper.

Oct 18, 2019 06:04 AM #122
Rose Mary Justice
Synergy Realty Pros - Dandridge, TN
Synergy Realty Pros

They were professionals knowing all the loop holes.  They surely have had lots of experience with landlords and the laws.  

I hope this kid has someone other than his parents in his life for guidance, otherwise there will another generation of the same behavior.

Oct 18, 2019 12:34 PM #123
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