We count down some of the world’s dodgiest landlords.
Most every renter has, at some time or other, suffered through the misfortune of having a bad landlord. Whether it’s refusing to do repairs, setting unreasonable ground rules for tenants or popping in unexpectedly, a dodgy landlord can make a renter’s life intolerable. We’ve previously offered you tips on how to deal with landlords’ cartoonish villainy. Now we look at landlords who took that villainy to almost admirable extremes.
Putting the “bum” in “bumming a cigarette”
Scranton, Pennsylvania, landlord Robert Klemish apparently had a really serious nicotine craving. The 58-year-old landlord became annoyed when his upstairs tenants, Richard and Jody Privett, denied his request for a cigarette. When another tenant, Michael Karasevich, saw Klemish holding a pistol, he ran to the Privett’s apartment and barricaded the door with his body. Klemish gave chase and shot through the door, hitting Karasevich in the posterior.
When Kip and Nicole Macy bought a four-unit apartment block in an up-and-coming San Francisco neighbourhood, their idea was to flip the units individually for a profit. The problem they faced was that all the units were tenanted. Ever the industrious property investors, the Macys decided to motivate their tenants to move through a 17-month campaign of terror. They burglarised apartments, sabotaged load-bearing structures to render the building unliveable and even sawed through a tenant’s floor … while he was in the apartment. Instead of realising their house flipping aspirations, the Macys were arrested, jumped bail to Italy, were extradited and then sentenced to four years in prison. That makes their apartment purchase a poor investment by any standards.
Changing the rules mid-game
One can’t really fault landlords for wanting high-calibre, trustworthy tenants. One can fault them for trying to apply higher standards retroactively. That’s exactly what landlord Robert Shelton was alleged to have done. Apparently suffering from a bit of buyer’s remorse about his current tenants, Shelton slipped a note under residents’ doors in the building he owned at 312 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. The note said residents would now be required to have a minimum annual income of $100,000 and a minimum credit score of 725. For point of reference, the minimum credit score to get a standard home loan in the US is 580.
Melbourne landlord Frank Cassar got his title of “Australia’s worst landlord” the hard way: by working at it for many, many years. Tenants are understood to have brought complaints against Cassar for at least 25 years, and he was taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) more than 60 times. Offences allegedly included refusing to return bonds or make repairs, demanding rent in cash and failing to provide receipts, entering tenants’ locked rooms without permission and threatening violence when complaints were brought. Cassar was found guilty of multiple charges in 2009, but still refused to pay penalties. He died in 2011 amid Supreme Court proceedings brought against him by VCAT. No-one can say he wasn’t consistent.
Invested and infested
Bronx property owner Ved Parkash was dubbed New York’s worst landlord in 2015, which New Yorkers will tell you is a title for which many, many people vie. But Prakash came out ahead of the pack by letting one Bronx building he owned become overrun with rats. The infestation became so bad that tenants began to come down with leptospirosis, an extremely rare rat-borne disease. To Parkash’s credit, once confronted by city officials, he sent exterminators to address the issue and also vacated illegal units he’d set up in the building’s basement. Still, it’s a pretty poor landlord who waits to act until his property is visited by an actual plague.
This one is so disturbing there’s no real joking about it. Sydney property owner Masaaki Imaeda was sentenced earlier this year for setting up hidden cameras throughout his properties to spy on tenants’ bedrooms. Imaeda operated an illegal Alexandria shantytown made up of shipping containers and buses, largely preying on Japanese expats. When fire swept through the complex in 2014, police uncovered a network of cameras and cables throughout the makeshift apartments, leading to a shed used by Imaeda where he had set up a television to peep on his tenants’ most private moments. Imaeda was fined for his illegal shantytown and jailed for 17 months for his voyeurism.
Rent in a-rears
Most landlords, if their tenants fall behind on rent, issue a strongly-worded letter and notice to pay up or get out. Ohio landlord Ron Kronenberger preferred a bit more of a hands-on approach. When one of his tenants failed to pay US$2,800 in back rent, Kronenberger took his belt to the 29-year-old man’s backside. He told the tenant if he was going to act like a child, Kronenberger would treat him like one, making us particularly sympathetic toward any children the slap-happy landlord might have. As anyone could have predicted, Kronenberger was arrested and charged with misdemeanour assault.