This tale of landlord revenge is something a lot of people would love to have pulled off! It’s a perfect tale of malicious compliance and an exciting one at that!
A Tiny House
The protagonist of this story (OP) is a 27-year-old woman living with her boyfriend, who is 28 years old. They had been living in their first home together for five years, and it was the only place they could afford. It was shaped like a shipping container and was not very large, with only a tiny shed in the backyard that could accommodate a stacked washer/dryer.
This area was surrounded on three sides by two-story houses, while the other side was a parking lot for all the houses, which opened onto a major road. The yard itself was not fenced in, and the only access was through the front door and around the house, then through the parking lot to the laundry shed/yard.
They Made the Home Their Own Private Oasis
Despite the less-than-ideal living situation, the original landlord was very receptive to any improvements the couple made to the house. They painted the walls, refinished the cabinets, tiled the bathroom, and more. In the backyard, the protagonist built raised garden beds and installed a small pond and bird fountain, as well as other landscaping, to make it into a bit of an unexpected oasis. They even had an outdoor table and chairs so they could sit out there in the morning and enjoy a cup of tea.
However, things took a turn for the worse when the original landlord sold the home, and their lease got transferred to the new owner. Although they had plans to purchase their first home together and were only planning to stay until the end of the lease, the new landlord began harassing them almost immediately. He would often complain about issues that were out of their control, such as “cars being parked in the lot sideways,” even though they belonged to their neighbors and were barely crooked.
A New Over-Bearing Landlord
The harassment reached a peak when the landlord showed up at their front door at 8:30 pm on a Friday when they had two friends over to play board games and have dinner. He asked if they were going to “wind up the party anytime soon, boys?” and insinuated that they were throwing a raucous party when they were just having a quiet evening with friends.
Despite their best efforts to appease the landlord, his constant scrutiny and monitoring of their every move became too much for the couple. The final straw came when a technician came to fix the washing machine in the shed, and the landlord noticed the table and chairs in the backyard. They received an email that evening instructing them, in all caps, to “REMOVE ALL MODIFICATIONS OF THE YARD. NO PATIO FURNITURE IS PERMITTED.”
An Order to Remove all Modifications
In response, the protagonist reached out to confirm if the landlord wanted them to remove all modifications they had personally made to the yard since their move-in date. The answer was an emphatic “YES. REMOVE IMMEDIATELY AT THE SOONEST CONVENIENCE.” This prompted OP to decide to revert the place to a dirt strip out of spite.
As they were already in their final month of the lease and preparing to move to their new home, OP collected all the modifications she had made to the yard. She took her bird fountain/pump, her fish, the flower bulbs, and other plants. She even took the dirt she purchased for the raised beds to their new home. They filled in the pond and made sure to remove all the grass, leaving behind only one sad strip of dirt.
The Replace Looked Abandoned
The landlord was extremely angry to find the yard in that state, and he threatened to sue them for the destruction of property because they had “ruined his pond.” He tried to keep their security deposit and even took them to small claims court over “the damage.” However, they had been diligent when they moved in and had photos of the original yard, plus they had the email instructing them to “REMOVE ALL MODIFICATIONS OF THE YARD.”
Their landlord tried to say they’d damaged the home, but it was regular wear and tear that any landlord should expect after five years of occupancy. It was the sort of maintenance a landlord is responsible for, like repainting, and it was a joke he was trying to claim this.
Luckily they could prove they had left the place nicer than it was originally, and with approval from the original landlord at the time, they did the projects.
The judge saw through their landlord immediately – he was incredibly rude and continued to interrupt her, which resulted in her reprimanding him several times!
In the end, they got their full security deposit back, even after “trashing” the yard! Now they’ve moved into their new house, are glad to be free of their harassing landlord, and are happy to have moved on to better things!
It just goes to show that standing up for yourself is the best way of dealing with bullying landlords.
What do you think about this story? Have you ever had to deal with a landlord like this?
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story