20 Memorable Quotes from Past Tenants and How I Responded

Written on May 2, 2014 by , updated on December 6, 2015

tenant-quotesHaving been a landlord for many years, I am often asked the same few questions over and over, some of which, I find incredibly humorous.

Here are my top 20 favorite quotes from actual past tenants.

Despite their sincerity, most of my tenants are 23-28 years old, and often have difficultly understanding why a lease cannot be broken at any time or why they might be responsible for the damages caused by their roommate.

Actual Quotes from my Tenants

In my efforts to be a quality landlord, I always try to answer their questions with respect, even if the tenant should have known better.

Though these are actual quotes, their creators will remain anonymous. My actual responses (or a recap thereof) are shown below each quote.

1. “I know that my lease doesn’t start until the 1st, but can I move-in 3 days early for free?”

For liability reasons, I can’t allow you to move-in before the lease start date without modifying the lease and collecting additional rent money.  If the unit is available earlier, I would be happy to modify your lease.

2. “If I back out of the lease agreement before my move-in date, can I get my deposit back?”

I will allow you to terminate the lease, but you will lose your deposit, and you will still be responsible for any rent due until a replacement tenant takes possession of the property.

3. “Why can’t I get my deposit back at the joint move-out inspection?”

I still have to make repairs, tally the rent ledger, and itemize any deductions before you get your deposit back. This state gives me 45 days to return the deposit, but I’ll try to get it to you within 2 weeks via certified mail. So, don’t forget to send me your forwarding address.

4. “I know the lease says “NO PETS”, but I’m just dog-sitting for a friend for 3 months.”

No Pets means No Pets! It doesn’t matter who it belongs to, or how long it is visiting. Please remove the pet immediately.

5. “Please use my security deposit to cover last month’s rent.”

According the lease agreement, you are required to make a rent payment, and are not allowed to dictate how the deposit is used. If you use the deposit to cover your last month’s rent, I wouldn’t have any security to cover any damages after you move out. 

6. “I didn’t need my futon, so I just left it for the next tenants. It’s in great shape and really comfy!”

Please remove all your trash AND treasures. If you don’t remove all your belongings, I will consider them abandoned and will pay to have them removed, deducting the cost from your deposit. 

Note: Check your State Laws regarding “abandoned personal property

7. “I hate my roommate so I’ve moved out. Please send me my portion of the deposit.”

I’m sorry, even though you’ve moved out, you are still responsible for rent. I will not return any portion of the security deposit until after the lease has ended, and even then, I will issue it to all tenants.

8. “I’ll only sign a one year lease if I can get out of it whenever I want.”

I’m sorry, what you’re asking for is a month-to-month lease.  I’m not offering that type of lease, but even if I was, it would be be more expensive.

9. “What do you mean you don’t accept cash?!?!”

It’s just policy that protect both you and I. Further, I only accept online rent payments. If you do not have a bank account, then I will accept a cashier’s check, which you can obtain at 7-11 or many other convenience stores. 

10. “I found a family of mice in my pile of empty pizza boxes. I want a discount on rent.”

The fact that you have a “pile of pizza boxes” means that you are not taking out the trash. Leftover food will attract mice, which is exactly what you’ve done. Because the unit was free of mice when you moved in, you are responsible for the cost of a pest control company. I’ll schedule them as soon as possible. And no, you will not get a deduction in rent.

11. “The kitchen lights are out, when can you stop by to replace them?”

Your lease specifically says that you are responsible for purchasing and replacing basic housing items under $50 in cost, such as light bulbs and smoke detector batteries.  If you need help installing them, let me know.

12. “The smoke detector kept going off whenever we cooked, so I removed the batteries.”

You need to ensure that all smoke detectors are properly working.  If you remove or disable a smoke detector, you can be held liable for any excessive fire damage or personally injuries that could have been prevented if the detector was functioning properly.

13. “My rent check wouldn’t have been late if the Post Office had just delivered it on Sunday.”

You are responsible for ensuring that rent is in my possession by the deadline. I have no choice but to assign a late fee.

Note: I’ve avoid this problem altogether by collecting rent online and having it automatically deducted from their accounts.

14. “That hole in the wall totally falls under ‘normal wear and tear'”.

Holes in the wall are never “normal”.  You are responsible for the cost to fix it. I will have my handyman take care of it and will deduct the cost from your deposit. 

15. “Can you re-send me a copy of the lease agreement?”

Check your email, because I’ve sent it to you three times already. If you still don’t have it, let me know and I’ll resend the email. 

16. “They’re not subletters, they are just friends who are staying with us for a few months.”

Anyone living in my property for more than a few days is considered a tenant rather than a guest.  Tenants and subletters must go through an application process and be added to the lease.  If their application is approved, I’ll need to charge you a subletting fee.

17. “It’s none of your business what my credit score is.”

A credit report or credit score is an instrumental tool in determining  your ability to pay rent. Without a credit check, you will not meet the evaluation criteria, and your application will be declined.

18. “A five-day grace period means that rent is not really due until the 5th, right?”

Rent is due on the 1st. Late fees are assigned on the 5th. If you continually pay after the 1st, you will lose all good will with me.

Note: My state laws do not require a grace period, so I now charge a late fee on the 2nd day of the month.

19. “I’d prefer to be the only one with a key to my unit – may I have your keys? Don’t worry, I’ll give them back when my lease is over.”

The landlord or property owner MUST have keys to the property in order to effectively manage the rental. No exceptions!

20. “It’s not a pet, it’s a Chinchilla.”

If it’s not human, but still a living creature, then it’s a pet. Period. (Service animals excluded)

photo credit: colinlogan via cc
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17 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Shawn Roman

    Hi Lucas,

    I have received and read numerous automated emails from you regarding property management. I am so impressed and thankful with your dedication and insight. This article is one of my favorite. You and your website have helped me more than you will ever know. God bless you!

  • Maurice

    Thanks for this helpful site. I live in New Zealand so some laws are different but the principles are the same. One scam I had was; a young lady signed the lease agreement and was to shift in on a Saturday. She gave me a copy of her Bank transfer payment ( I didn’t check mt account) and shifted in. When I checked the payment to my account it was not there. On the Monday she claimed she had been to the bank and it would be there that night. NO, No! What she had done was to completed the on-line payment, copied the pay details and then cancelled the transaction before the money was transferred. It took some time to have her evicted. She now lives in Australia.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Maurice!
      I’m proud of you for evicting her! I hope that goes on her record.

      I use Cozy (https://cozy.co) to collect rent online so I can make sure that I never run into a tenant like her. Unfortunately, Cozy isn’t available in New Zealand yet. Until then, always cash the deposit check and 1st months rent before letting the tenant move-in.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Sweet as.

  • Hazel J. King

    I agree to Shawn, this article is very enlightening. I can relate some of the scenarios here as my sister was once a landlady also.

  • diane

    month to month lease signed by tenant and included trial period ONLY for pet that was not disclosed originally. agreement states that if pet is disruptive tenant does not need 30 day notice but must vacate immediately. will this statement signed and agreed upon by tenant hold up in court and does he Have to move out without eviction, which im trying to avoid

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Diane,

      I can’t possible tell you if that signed statement will hold up in court. You’d have to ask a lawyer. Sometimes Judges uphold the signed agreements, and sometimes they throw them out. It all depends on the circumstances.

      The first step is to terminate the lease. In my experience, an unapproved pet is a simple lease violation. In this case, you would send the tenant a notice to “remedy or quit” which means that they have to get rid of the pet within XX days or the lease will terminate. You’d have to check your state laws to determine how much notice is needed for a lease violation. This should help: http://www.landlordology.com/state-laws/

      Then, if they don’t remedy the situation (get rid of the pet), nor move out, then you would have to file an eviction lawsuit to forcefully move them out (which is done by the sheriff). Do not change the locks, touch their stuff, or shut off the utilities without a court order.

      Anyway, check out the state laws, and good luck to you!

  • Carrie

    WOW! You have gone through a variety of tenants! I’m still confused about the late fee payment you state, isn’t it a law they have a 5 day grace period? Or is that state-to-state?

  • Maria Ecker

    On May 26, 2015, my tenant will have lived in my rental unit 9 years in Ohio. When she moved in, I charged her $475 security deposit and $475 last months security. After 9 years, do I owe her back her last months rent or interest on the money I’m holding.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Maria

      Ohio does require you to collect interest for the tenant on the security deposit. The last month’s rent should be used for exactly that – the last month’s rent payment. That’s what it’s for. The last month’s rent that you collected is not an extra security deposit. You can only use it for the payment of the last month. If the tenant paid you for the last month (again), then you need to return that last month’s rent payment that you collected in the beginning.

      You’ll find the links to the statutes on this page: http://www.landlordology.com/ohio-landlord-tenant-laws/

      I hope that helps, please know that I’m NOT a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

      • no name


        Lucas is an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The money should be stored in a separate account. It’s is not yours. Last month’s rent should be used for last month’s rent. If you mutually agreed to have her pay last month’s rent and return her pre-move in payment, you owe her WITH interest. You are also required to return the security deposit with interest, allowing for any deductions for damage to property.
        This guy’s decision to hold onto it for 20 days and then mail it back, IF he has the correct forwarding address, reflects that he’s an ass who probably keeps the money and consider it HIS. You can tell how he rationalizes his greed/theft/assholeness.

  • Nick Chandley

    Disagree with #20. Service animals are not humans – nor are they considered pets under the law. Similarly, emotional support animals or companion animals the need for which is substantiated by a medical/therapeutic professional would not be treated as “pets” for purposes of deposits and/or any restrictions regarding animals on a particular property.

    Painting all animals as pets is too broad of a brush and may get someone in lots of trouble…

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Nick

      You are absolutely right. Service animals are not pets. I think you missed the humor in #20. It wasn’t intended to be a complete list on how to handle animals. But to your point, I will correct it.

    • no name

      Exactly. He sounds rigid, narrow minded, and an idiot, with a childish mentality — it’s all about ME and what’s convenient and works for ME, the tenant be damned.

      Rent paid five days earlier (per postmark) but which arrives five days late due to postman delivery is no grounds for late fee (“just because I am entitled and can as landlord. nya nya!)

      Forcing people to do “online banking,” exposing them to online banking theft is ridiculous.

      Pets ARE pets, service animals or not as either way, the same damage is done to property

  • Don S.

    Thank you!

    I have an eviction going on and it’s 10 days before Christmas, so now both of our Christmas plans are destroyed. You comments help me see that I’m not the only landlord with bad renters.

  • no name

    With all due respect, you sound like a jerk. I say this as a model tenant who is clean, responsible, respectful, and pays rent on time.

    I would never give my social security number to a landlord to “check my credit score.” Doing so would render me vulnerable to identity theft.

    High/low credit score do not impact one’s ability to pay. If they default on a payment, you evict them. Simple.

    If you take checks by mail and payment is timely, and mail delivery is late, you fine the renter?

    What’s wrong with returning security deposit on walk out or using it as last month’s rent if my place is in good condition? Why should I trust you when you don’t trust me?

    Your post reads — “It’s all about me.” You’re an idiot.

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