She couldn’t stop shaking when she listened to the voicemail. She’d been jumping through hoops all week to ensure that she hadn’t inconvenienced anyone, just to have it all thrown back in her face.
After all the infringements that she’d let slide, this is how they repaid her. Furiously slamming the rental agreement on the table, she made a decision. If they wanted her to “be more professional,” she’d give it to them, all right.
Jenny Thompson was a small-time landlord who did her best to be as kind as possible to her tenants. She had rented an apartment back when she was in her twenties and had dealt with landlords who didn’t care about their tenants at all.
When she inherited her grandmother’s apartment and leased it out to a pair of sisters, she was adamant she wouldn’t be anything like her past landlords. But now, she regretted the day she had ever met them.
Jenny was an optimistic woman. And when she met the two sisters who had inquired about renting the apartment from her, they had seemed nice enough.
After filling out the requisite paperwork they had passed all the financial and security checks with flying colors. There were no red flags and Jenny was confident that she had made the right decision.
Jenny was a full-time mom to two young children, but she found time for her duties. She spent a week making sure the apartment was ready for her new tenants.
She had the home repainted from top to bottom with a new coat of white paint, checked the fittings, cornices, door handles, and plumbing to make sure all was in working order. She hired a wood polishing machine and buffed the hardwood floors until they gleamed.
With everything in order, the sisters began to move in — bringing with them boxes of their belongings, which they stacked neatly in the hallway.
Jenny presented them with the keys and went on her merry way. Two months flew by, and then four. And when a strange man moved in with the sisters, Jenny didn’t bat an eyelid.
Instead of knocking on the door to interrogate her tenants about the new man on her property, Jenny composed an email. She sent a copy of the lease and politely asked the sisters to get the new occupant to sign it as well.
She explained that she had no problem that there was someone else living in the apartment, but she had to cover herself if there was a dispute as to how the rent would be distributed among the three occupants. Reasonable, right? Jenny thought so, too.
She waited and waited and heard nothing from them. Jenny was all for giving people chances, so she assumed that they hadn’t gotten her email.
But, as time went by, her busy life got in the way. She’d been meaning to follow up, but the sisters had been good tenants so far… maybe it would be okay if she just let this one slide? Then came the complaints.
Jenny knew the neighbors who lived around the apartment, and it was from them that she learned that her tenants had smuggled a pit bull into the yard.
Now, she had approved their first dog, so she didn’t have a problem with one pet on the premises… but they hadn’t asked permission to get a second dog. So now there was an extra person and an extra pet living in the small apartment. Jenny’s patience was astounding, but it wasn’t limitless…
By this time, the tenants’ lease was almost up. Jenny decided not to quibble about the extra person and the extra dog. After all, they had paid their rent on time and hadn’t given her any other trouble.
As the tenant’s lease was due to end in three months, Jenny sent them an email asking if they were happy with their residency and if they wanted to renew their lease and stay on for another year. And this is where all her troubles began.
Time was ticking by. And with no reply from the sisters, the stay-at-home mom — whose sole income was from her tenants — needed peace of mind.
She needed to know that she had an income. Her tenant’s lack of communication was starting to annoy her. She was forced to make a decision. But when she started to organize viewings, all hell broke loose at the apartment.
Jenny was forced to put the property back online to start arranging viewings. After the second email, she assumed that if the tenants wanted to stay, they would have replied to her.
She had the property up online for about a week and received many responses. She had a lot of viewing slots to fit in and a tight personal schedule. And, on top of that, she tried to take her tenants into consideration as well. Jenny was still trying to be a good landlord. But all that was about to change.
With the tenants still not responding to her emails, Jenny had to knock at the door to let them know to clean the apartment and make themselves scarce during the time slot she had arranged viewings for.
Despite being given multiple notices, they appeared annoyed but agreed. Jenny had considerately arranged the viewings to fall within a two-hour window so that she’d be in her tenants’ space as little as possible. Little did she know, she wouldn’t be shown the same level of consideration.
The day of the viewing came, and with her partner away on a business trip, Jenny had no choice but to bring her kids along to the viewing.
She knew it was a bit unprofessional but with kids, sometimes they simply have to go where you go. Her tenants had kids of their own and she thought that they would understand.
When she arrived with two kids in tow, the tenants had not cleaned up or left the property. They had no plans of moving, either.
The doorbell rang and the first group of four viewers arrived. With Jenny’s two children, the tenants and the viewers, the small apartment was filled with around fifteen people. As a bonus, another extra tenant that Jenny had known nothing about — a boyfriend of one of the sisters — was also there.
“And I’m a mom. I have magical powers,” Jenny vented on Reddit.
“So I’m holding my toddler, my daughter is safely under the dining table coloring, and I’m chatting with the prospective tenants and directing traffic while my actual tenants prepare to depart. They do eventually leave after the boyfriend tells a prospective tenant that he, in fact, ALSO lives there.” Despite all this, Jenny did secure a new tenant. But her old tenants were out for revenge.
The next evening, Jenny received a furious voicemail from one of the men on the property. He began to berate her, saying how ‘unprofessional’ she had been.
He complained that her children had been handling his child’s toys and that they had to sterilize everything as her children had “infected” them. Jenny was gobsmacked.
She had her eye on her children the entire time and they hadn’t touched anything! This man, who wasn’t even her tenant, was blatantly trying to antagonize her.
After all she had let slide, this is what she got? So Jenny hatched a plan so diabolical that it had users on a Reddit thread called “MaliciousCompliance” cheering. If she had been unprofessional, she was about to show him just how “professional” she was capable of being.
“The next morning, I started issuing professional Lease Violation Notices. One for the extra residents of the unit (hubby and boyfriend). One for the extra dog. And a few additional ones for building concerns I noted during the showings,” Jenny recounted.
“They ignored the violation notice, which I sent by certified mail and, thoughtfully, also by email. I decided to be even more professional 30 days later, and issue a 5-day notice to vacate.”
Jenny had had it with her infuriating tenants. She even called their emergency contact — the sisters’ mom — to make sure they knew about the eviction notice as it would have been “unprofessional” of her to let it slide.
But she was about to find out that her tenants were far more difficult than she could have ever anticipated.
Amazingly, the tenants complied and moved out. However, they skipped paying their last electrical bill and left the unit in a damaged condition. And the damages and the unpaid electrical bill came to a figure much greater than their security deposit could cover.
So, being a “professional” landlord, Jenny was not going to let it slide. When the tenants refused to pay up, Jenny knew she had them cornered. She was going to make them regret ever messing with her.
“Yep. Two months later, there we were in the lobby of the courthouse, sitting across from each other on uncomfortable waiting-room benches. They’re laughing among themselves about how they’re going to get their full security deposit back,” Jenny wrote.
“And I’m quietly reviewing my presentation notes to the judge and my sizable stack of evidence, photographs, videos…. this was my first time in court, but I wasn’t laughing. I was preparing.”
Jenny had all the receipts, letters, and photos to back up her point. One hour later she had won the case. “One hour later, we’re back in the lobby and their mom is trying to write me a check for the full amount of the judgment,” she wrote on Reddit.
“She doesn’t have a pen. Her kids don’t have a pen. I, however, have a pen. I cheerfully offer my pen. She writes the check and hands it to me, and… wait…. I hold out my hand again. Got my pen back too.”
“I was so proud of myself for not saying any of the sassy things in my head at that moment,” Jenny added. “You know why? Because I was being professional, as I’d been from the moment he’d left that voicemail.”
“As a last note, I do acknowledge that it would have been better if I hadn’t brought my children. However, if you have kids, you’ll understand that sometimes, they simply have to go where you go.”