Landlord from Hell, by Lucinda Gunnin

Dear Landlord:We have had such a good relationship during the six years we’ve rented from you that it came as a big shock how bad things have been since I told you we were ending our lease early. As I explained at the time, the decision had nothing to do with you or the house. We were offered a great opportunity elsewhere. We also knew it was a great opportunity for you. There were major repairs you had been wanting to make on the house, repairs that were necessary enough you were going to put us up in a hotel for three days so you could repair the kitchen ceiling that was falling down.

You asked me to let you know when we were no longer cooking or sleeping there so you could begin repairs and I happily agreed. Then, somehow, the good relationship seemed to fall apart, and I have had nothing but misery for the last two weeks. I told you we would probably be done with the upstairs by Sunday and that we weren’t living there anymore, so you told the handyman to go ahead with the ceiling.

I suppose it’s not your fault the handyman didn’t call you when he noticed my dishes and appliances were still in the kitchen. It seems like common sense, especially since you are the one who told me what a mess ceiling repairs make, that he would have done something with my things. Covering my glassware with a paper towel to “protect it” from the falling debris doesn’t really count. Nothing was broken, but given the age of that ceiling, I did have to scour everything before I could use it. Things that could not be subjected to scalding hot water, like my bamboo steamer and my toaster, I had to throw away.

Then, the handyman went beyond the repairs I knew you had planned. He ripped out the bathroom sink and carpet. His construction in there made it so that while cleaning and removing things in the basement, I didn’t have access to a bathroom. As I was packing, I had to stop and drive to the local Burger King to use the restroom. He took down all the blinds and curtains while I still had items of value, things that were infinitely easy to pawn, in the house. I know you are aware of the rash of burglaries in the neighborhood recently, yet you offered only a vague apology when I pointed out how clearly his actions made my things a target of theft.

A week after we announced we were moving out, while we still had already paid you for two months and three weeks of rent, you made accessing the house to get the remainder of my things out difficult. You chastised me about letting a friend take my key to the house to remove items from it when your employee endangered my belongings. That doesn’t even begin to mention how impossible it would have been for me to clean to get back my security deposit.

To be honest, I haven’t yet researched the legal implications of your completing the work while I am still technically renting the house, but I think the moral implication is clear. You are benefitting from the fact that I am not living there. You have made it impossible for me to clean and comply with the terms of the lease regarding the return of my security deposit. In fact, you’ve made it downright unpleasant for me to attempt to get the last of my things out of the house. I’m not sure what happened to change our relationship so suddenly, especially since you have said for the last five years that the lease was just a formality and we could break it as necessary if we found employment elsewhere.

For the first days after we left, my entire family was homesick, we loved the house that much. After we began to encounter the problems with the handyman, we lost that loving feeling really quick. In fact, we now wonder why we bragged about what a wonderful landlord you were. Last year after a crack in the masonry allowed several feet of water to flood the basement, you offered no compensation for our losses. This year, the deteriorating ceramic tile sewer between the house and the city sewer line became clogged and sewage flooded the basement. The Christmas ornaments my grandmother made me were destroyed and you were angry that I had called a plumber. When the ceiling tiles bulged and fell on your head as you tried to repair them, we offered to accommodate your repair schedule in any way we could.

After all these years, I am sorry to see our relationship end on such a sour note.

I wish I felt like you were too.


Cindy Gunnin is a freelance writer and mini-storage manager in Carterville, Illinois. When she is not writing, she can be found in the office making collection calls or planning advertising campaigns. She is a staff writer for Heartland Women, a bi-weekly newspaper focused on issues about women for women and written by women. She is a member of the Southern Illinois Writers Guild and happily counts herself as one of the “founding members” of the Accentuate Writers Forum. She intends to get around to making her author’s website eventually and in the meantime, more of her work can be found here.

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11 Responses to “Landlord from Hell, by Lucinda Gunnin”

  1. Cathy Doheny says:

    Great letter, Cindy! I would really consider sending this one to this landlord. Sounds like he could use a lesson or two in humanity.

  2. Charlotte Piggush says:


    So sorry to hear that a fellow Illinoisan had such a rough time with a landlord. Unfortunately, sometimes the landlord only shows his true colors when a person needs to move out.

    I hope things are better at your new residence. Great story!

    Charlotte :-)

  3. Susan Sosbe says:

    I’m sure a lot of people can relate to landlords from hell. I rented my first apartment from one. He was an obnoxious, condescending ass, among other things. I loved that apartment, and I was sorry to let it go. However, I was more than willing to leave the landlord behind.

  4. Linda St.Cyr says:

    This story is so I sad. It is a shame that your moving had to be like this. It is stressful enough without the added worry of a two faced landlord.
    To be on the safe side, document everything. When you moved out, how much you paid, copies of the rent checks, when the handyman started and anything else. This way if you have to go to court to get the security deposit back you are prepared.

  5. MJ says:

    Awesome letter Cindy. Our first landlord was a slumlord and I believe he stole several things from our place including my leather trench coat and sewing machine. No proof though so bah. But our landlord now isn’t too bad although it has taken him 4 months to fix some problems. I almost wish we owned instead of renting,.

  6. Gillian says:

    Excellent letter Cindy and one I would consider sending on as this landlord could do with looking at your side of the story. Shame it ended badly after so many happy years but time to move on and make new memories.

  7. Dreamweaverr says:

    I had a landlord who deducted money from my deposit because the pull cord on the curtains was worn out and shredding, not from poor care but from the sun beating in. I was not pleasant in response. We had done tons of free work for him trying to make the duplex more homey including refinishing things in a very professional way and putting in a back yard and garden. Curtains were included with the rent so they bought the cheapest most tacky ones they could. I did laugh though when I was moving out. The bathroom floor was sooooo old and needed to be redone. He came in to work on it before I moved out. He again bought the cheapest most tacky looking stuff to install in a really putrid pink colour that no one would choose. I felt sorry for whomever was going to move in after me and live with that every day.

    Look at it this way. At least it made closure from that place a lot easier for you. Now on to better things for you guys!

  8. How frustrating. I’m sorry, Cindy! I agree with Charlotte, it almost seems like you should send this letter, or some variation of it, to your landlord. I hope you get the security deposit back, it seems pretty shady of the landlord to withhold that from you. Seems like that’s the bare minimum of what he should be paying you with all you’ve been put through.

  9. Borgieskid says:

    Wow, this guy sounds like a real jerk. Sadly, some landlords get like this when given notice.. I think its a way of trying to get out of paying the security deposit back. If I were you, I’d call and ask when the handyman will be done so you can “clean” and get your deposit back…but I would stipulate that the handyman has to clean up his own mess first.

  10. Angel says:

    I’m sorry the landlord changed so much. I hope you can get your things,and figure out some way to get the security deposit. I don’t understand some people.

  11. Tammy Waters says:

    Sorry you had to deal with this Cindy. It’s good that you’ve had the chance to vent your frustration.

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