20 Times Tenants Got Delicious Revenge On Their Landlords

"For rent" sign in a window
Unsplash | Erik Mclean

Some landlords are great. Others? Not so much. If there's a silver lining to the scourge of awful landlords out there, though, it's the fact that their terrible ways can lead to some amusing stories.

The best stories, of course, are the ones in which an evil landlord gets their just desserts. We've scoured the corners of the internet (well, mostly the r/MaliciousCompliance subreddit) to bring you some of the best stories.

Extortion doesn't pay.

Two women signing paperwork at a table
Unsplash | Gabrielle Henderson

"This happened quite some time ago, I was sent to Spain to a very small company to try and save it. It was during the financial crisis, so basically I tried first to spend less money, negotiating everything I could. First time I met the landlord, I saw this very old guy, shaking with all his bones, dressed like he couldn’t afford clothes from the 21st century... But after the typical chit-chat I tell him I am planning on moving out, because the rent was way too high (it was easily 30% above market), he then proceeds to show me one of his buildings he had an offer on that he just refused (17M€...), and basically told me to [expletive] off, and that he would agree on 'not raising the rent in the coming 12 month.'

"That was when I started looking for something more decent and better than the beaten offices we had, and I found [one] quite easily.

"Here comes the malicious compliance: When you exit offices, the landlord, especially where we had those offices, tries to fix everything with the deposit you put at the start of the lease. So knowing the piece of [expletive] of a landlord I had, I talk to a lawyer I had in my contacts, and explain him the situation, he then came up with an idea...The day comes when we have to leave the office, our landlord comes along [with] his lawyer, to make sure we will follow the law, BUT what he didn’t know was we also had our lawyer on site, one contractor to fix any minor problem on the spot and a notary!!! So we could redact the document stating everything without possibility to discuss later. He was furious... We could fix everything, the only thing we had to replace was an AC which never worked, so we ordered the worst possible one for 300€, and got 100% of the deposit. Icing on the cake or cherry on top (pick one), the guy maintaining the building told us it took him more than a year to find someone else, and apparently at a way lower price."


Late is late.

An outdoor ATM at night
Unsplash | Mirza Babic

"It looks like my bank returned my rent payment to me that I submitted to my landlord last Friday. I called the leasing office about this and it turns out this hasn’t appeared in their system yet; it shows I have a zero balance.

"So, I offered to bring in a money order immediately after our call so they could still receive their payment in anticipation of the ACH Return. Therefore they still receive the funds today either case.

"However, they told me to include an extra $100, since the system will classify the payment as late.

"Nope. Nevermind. If you’re deciding to charge me a $100 late fee, I’m taking full advantage of it being “\'late' and will no longer be coming in to pay today. I told them that. They can expect their payment on the 'pay by' date of the eviction notice they file this month."


Petty revenge is the best revenge.

A mini fridge full of drinks
Unsplash | Humphrey Muleba

"I'd just moved to Sydney, and had been living in a sharehouse for a few months, that I found though a flat-share website. We got on ok, would go out to parties together etc. Most of the stuff in the house was theirs, I only brought my fridge, and they had just thrown theirs out, considering it replaced.

"I'm about to get the week's groceries and ask my housemate if she wants anything, no she's good. I get lots of food to cook for the week and come home, to find her standing awkwardly with her boyfriend. She had 'weird news.' They had decided to move out together! How exciting! Ok, so I guess that means I take over the lease? Nope, they considered themselves the last in a long line of friends who'd leased the house, and being the last to go, thought it fitting to terminate the lease. They had notified the landlord prior to speaking to any of us. They figured I could stay with my sister, Jack was only in the country another month, and Sarah was hardly here anyway.

"Ok so I didn't have a leg to stand on, legally, I wasn't signed on the lease, so I had 3 weeks to vacate. Househunting is like a part time job, and I already had a full time job. No time to cook all that food I guess. Would have been good to know before the shop. I got lucky and found a house just down the road on the same day. Nice people, good spot, and close enough that I could move my things in by hand, immediately if I like! I slept in my new house that night, but I always like to think you haven't really moved in until your fridge is in, and don't worry I had that sorted too.

"The others in the house found new places quickly too, leaving the happy couple home alone. I came back to pick up a couple of loose ends 3 weeks later and got to see their fridge workaround in all its slumly glory. An Esky full of food floating in melted ice. The revenge was petty and small, proportionate to their actions."


Lawyered up.

Stacks of folders and paperwork
Unsplash | Wesley Tingey

"Real estate agents kept getting permission from our landlord to show our apartment. We're not moving out, but they're renovating the building one apartment at a time, and they want to show a done apartment like ours. I get it. The problem was that we would get a message to the gist of 'I'm a stranger with your landlord's permission to bring a stranger to your house in 3 hours.' As any normal human, I'd imagine, would agree there are many reasons that might not be ideal or at least desired.

"So we asked them to give us more notice. Their response was 'we only have to give you one hour, so we're coming, but as a courtesy we will notify you 24 hours in advance in the future.' Weirdly this did not make me or my girlfriend any happier about the situation, so she called a friend who is a real estate lawyer! Turns out you can't show my apartment with an hour's notice, or otherwise, unless trying to rent my apartment.

"So we replied that they may not come, but they can call our lawyer if they want, and they didn't even reply. Right now they're downstairs looking at the unfinished apartment like good little elves."


He probably should have fixed the leak.

A leaky faucet with snow in the background
Unsplash | Joe Zlomek

"I wouldn't say our landlord is malicious, just dumb and lazy. I live in a condo tower where each unit is privately owned, and I rent from the owner of one suite.

"Recently, my bathtub faucet developed a small leak. I emailed my landlord about it, and he ignored it. A couple of days later, it had gotten bigger, so I emailed again. No reply. 3rd time, now it's a constantly running stream of hot water. I texted, and he said he isn't going to fix it.

"Awwrighty, buster, have it your way.

"So, I let it fester, and it keeps getting worse and worse.

"Two weeks in, I get an urgent call from the condo board that they need emergency access to my suite because a leak from my suite is coming into the floor below and damaging several areas. Of course, I say 'yes 😈,' and they dispatch a plumber for the leak and numerous contractors to repair the rooms below that have been damaged.

"Eventually, my landlord gets the bill ($8,000) from the condo board for the repairs and finally emails me in a tantrum asking what this bill is for... So I reply forwarding him the original emails and text saying he was not going to fix it.

"I never heard back."


Pics, because it did happen.

A freshly-planted pumpkin patch
twitter | @FizzeePop

"My own special passive aggressive revenge on our landlord after everything he put us through… was depositing our rotten Halloween pumpkins in the mulch of the beautiful tree he cut down… I’m gonna let him deal with the giant pumpkin patch in the front yard."


You'd better believe they read that lease.

Laptop on a desk surrounded by paperwork
Unsplash | 2H Media

"This grudge has been simmering for almost a year now and has only just come to fruition. It began with my next door neighbor leaving me a passive aggressive note for having trash outside my door while I was cleaning my apartment. Two important points here:

"1. I was deep cleaning because the landlord sent a note saying the adjoining apartment (my neighbor's) had roaches. I needed to clean so the exterminator could see if my apartment was infested as well.

2. The trash was by my door for 30 minutes at most. I was trying to save a trip to the dumpster and doing a final sweep of the apartment before heading down.

"Now, prior to this incident, this neighbor had already pissed me off by constantly blaring their loud music to the point where my apartment walls vibrated. Fortunately for them, I prefer to avoid confrontation so I never called them out on it. After the passive aggressive note calling me a pig though, all bets were off. She wrote that I should 'read my lease' since I left my 'nasty trash' everywhere. Ok, it's on.

"I read my lease. Every time they played their music loud, I filed a noise complaint. When I got a whiff of pot coming from their apartment, I filed another complaint. The lease says tenants must comply with the state's drug laws or risk eviction so, hey, another win for me. Finally, they brought a dog into the apartment despite the no pet policy's exception only being for service animals. This was obviously not a service dog since it howled day and night betraying no semblance of training. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who complained after that final stunt since my landlord said the noisy dog problem was being taken care of through litigation and my next door neighbor's lease would not be renewed. Guess she should have read it. :)"


I see a white wall and I want it painted black.

A wall covered with black paint
Unsplash | Ekaterina Novitskaya

"My friend had a long-term lease on a home (5 years) which stipulated that he has to repaint every room the day he moved out. So he found popular neutral paint colors, hired a handyman, and had the place freshly painted the day before his moving truck showed up.

"Well, his landlord showed up waving their contract, yelling. The wording said the DAY he moved out, not the day BEFORE. The landlord was convinced that the movers would scuff up the walls. He wanted the house left pristine. He really was ready to take the case to court.

My friend was crushed. Between painting, moving, and the deposit on his new place, he had no money to repaint or to go to court.

"I was furious with this landlord. I went to the house and saw the paint job was fine, not scuffed.

My friend and I met that night at the old house. Per his contract, we repainted every wall. SOLID BLACK. We even did some ceilings. (Would’ve done them all if we had time.)

I don’t know if it’s just me; I have a fascination with hidden images. I took clear glow in the dark paint and illustrated demons in the closet walls and in shadowy corners. (They were all pretty shadowy by the time we left.)

"We left a copy of the contract for the landlord. Walls freshly painted the day he left. He never specified the color. We also had before and after photos printed out."


The heat is on.

A thermometer next to a plant
Unsplash | Jarosław Kwoczała

"A long time I was working at a well respected and expensive consulting business who were renting an office. They'd spent good money installing air-con and making the reception area pretty decent and other work like interior walls, shelving, high quality decor etc.

"When the tenant company wanted to move out, the contract said they had to restore the building back as it was, but they asked the landlord to allow them to walk away and not return the building back to the more basic shell it had been, which would have meant leaving the aircon in and not having to remove the fancy reception area, (re)move walls, partitions, shelving, etc. This would have been a win-win for both parties.

"For some reason the landlord said no, and despite attempts to persuade them, they were adamant. The tenant said OK, and ripped everything out including 10's of 1000's of aircon, leaving the landlord with an empty shell again which proved harder to rent out and attracted lower rent. The building was empty for quite a while.

"About four years later I worked there when another company had leased it. The building was horribly hot in summer because of the lack of air con, and the reception looked cheap and nasty, nowhere near as nice as it had been. The offices were carpeted but obviously the cheapest stuff was fitted.

"I told my new employer that the building had been much nicer and with aircon and they were stunned that the stupid landlord had wasted the opportunity!"


When you bring it on yourself.

A smoke detector
Wikimedia Commons | Georg Pik

"Whenever I move into a rental, I replace the smoke detector with a brand spanking new one, and usually add a second battery operated one as well. I leave them in the units after I leave, but for my piece of mind, and because I have grown up with fire safety drilled into my brain, I want to be sure they will work properly, and that they will not fail.

"One landlord I had told me a certified fire protection company had to install the battery operated smoke detector I bought (wtf, it is 2 screws) AND that an electrician had to replace the other hardwired one. (I tried getting the maintenance guy to do it, but he wouldn't.)

"Finally my dad (who owned a fire protection company at the time) came and installed it, not before asking if that was the detector installed in all units. When they said yes, he brought down the wrath of the fire inspector. (The smoke detectors were over 40 years old and beyond life expectancy). After that, they never asked me to get a professional to do anything. (I wonder why...)"


Some more pics, because it also happened.

A home lit up in Pride colors
Imgur | memonf

"Due to some neighbors flying BLM flags, Thin blue line flags, and other opinion flags, our HOA decided last month that we’re only allowed to fly the USA flag, and nothing else. They day after the decision, we receive an email that someone reported our Pride flag (that we had in our house since 2016), and that we needed to take it down. We complied and removed the flag. Looking through our new rules, we noticed that removable lights are permitted without restriction so... we bought 6 colored flood lights, and we washed our house in pride colors. A little less subtle than our simple flag. A lot more fun for anyone complaining about the flag itself and what it represents. If you’re interested, here’s the house now."


He walked right into that one.

Man with a shocked expression
Unsplash | Taylor Deas-Melesh

"This happened a long time ago. I was young and had just come back from traveling in Europe. I wound up renting an apartment that I was not happy with, but it was in my home town, and was affordable. I was hoping to move out, and was able to do so once a better opportunity came along. The apartment was generally depressing, so I was looking forward to moving out.

"I talked to the landlord and building manager about moving out, and to see if I could move out mid-month to save on some rent. They said that was not possible, and I would have to wait until the end of the month to move out. Fine, not a big problem.

"The building manager says I need to fill out some forms before I can move out, so I go to his office and do so. He was not a very friendly guy, but honestly I had not had any interactions with him prior to this, and had no hard feelings about him. One of the questions on the form was 'Why are you moving out.' I left it blank. What business is it of anyone's why I am moving out. The building manager handed me back the form and said 'You have to fill this in.' I told him that I didn't feel like giving a reason that I am moving out, and didn't understand why it was mandatory. He insisted that I 'HAD' to fill it in or he would not process my move out paperwork to end the month to month lease. I said OK fine, and filled in 'I do not like the building manager.' He was shocked when he read it. I told him I didn't want to put anything down, but rules are rules."


That's how you get things done.

A bicycle-shaped bike rack
Unsplash | Fredrik Solli Wandem

"I live in the same building that I work in. I manage a sandwich shop in a heavily urban area. The landlord of the building is an angry old man, who we all love, but can be crotchety at times. He took upon himself to remove the bike rack in front of my building, illegally. His thinking was it would cut down on people leaning on it to smoke cigarettes. So I emailed the department of transportation, stating that if they continue to be removed, we'll potentially miss out on business from cyclists, on the theory that if they have no place to securely lock up their bikes. My landlord is on vacation, when he comes back on Wednesday, there will be a brand new 20 foot bike rack installed directly in front of the building, courtesy of the city."


Big fan of building codes.

Keys in a lock on a door
Unsplash | Jaye Haych

"My lease is ending soon and my landlord has been showing my apartment to anyone with a pulse, non-stop, for months. During a couple of these showings, my bedroom door was locked. The landlord got mad about this and told me he was coming to remove my bedroom door handle and replace it with a handle with no lock. He said city fire codes do not allow locks on interior doors and he wanted everything up to code for the new tenants.

"I responded that getting everything up to code was a great idea! I offered to schedule an inspection from the city so they could get all their maintenance done at once and really be sure things were ready for the new tenants. Best to do the whole building, I think I saw signs of rodents in the basement...

"Suddenly building codes weren't so important. My bedroom door is now locked during all showings."


This one feels too easy.

Man fanning out US banknotes
Unsplash | Sharon McCutcheon

"Landlord makes living conditions [lousy] so he offers me an opportunity to move out. I convince two others to move out as well. He ghosts me when I ask for my deposit so I take him to court. I win $650 so he appeals the court's decision. In the appeal, my award is tripled to $1800. He refuses to pay up so I get the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to go to his bank, freeze his account, and seize his money."


That's how you organize.

A stack of flyers
Unsplash | Jean Carlo Emer

"As I was moving out of my duplex, my landlord looked in the window - saw a mess of boxes, bags, papers and shipping supplies and told us we were “messy” and she was raising our rent $200-300 more a month. She said we could pay that or leave.

"I told her we would be out by the end of the month.

"Come the end of the month, we are out and even shampooed the carpets (didn’t have to).

The landlord dragged her feet and said she was keeping our deposit because of a laundry list of damage to the duplex.

"I emailed her back with a slew of photos of said damage on the day we moved in and told her that if I didn’t see my security deposit, in full, I was taking her to court.

"Got it 2 days later.

"I made a point to print out a dozen copies of the 'Landlord Tenant Act' of my city, highlight all the areas she had tried to screw us over (the last few years) - then I took those booklets, looked up her properties online - and gave a copy to each of her tenants."


Just respecting the rules.

Heart drawn on white wall with black paint
Unsplash | Bryan Garces

"My grandfather was born in 1943 and was sailor in the '60s. He subscribed to a very tight honour code when it came to taking care of one's friends and community.

"So when a little old lady who had lived in her house as long as anyone could remember had her rental lease passed on to a new owner, no one was pleased when he evicted her, after higher rent.

"My grandfather, however, offered to help with the exit maintenance, and the landlord requested a new paint job.

"So paint it he did, in one day, with all his sailor mates. Every interior wall, floor and roof with black ship paint. You know, the stuff that's supposed to withstand being at sea.

"My grandfather said he was irate, but couldn't do anything because all he had requested was a paint job with no other stipulations, and that's what they had done."


Pro tip: if you're mad, paint everything black.

A paint roller
Unsplash | Yoann Siloine

"A few years ago [my mom's neighbor] and her husband wanted to rent an apartment, as a newlyweds and somewhat new in the country, they didn't have lots of money so they ended up renting [in a bad part of] town. The landlord wasn't very nice to begin with, but the price was reasonable and the place looked OK.

"After negotiating about the price and terms they signed a contract with him. They're good independent people so they thought they wouldn't need to be in contact with him.

"Time has come to move in, they tried to meet him so he'll give them the keys, but he avoided them for a few days, until one day he told them that the keys are in the mailbox.

"They got in and they were in shock. The landlord left them with an EMPTY apartment. And by empty I mean. No lights/lamps, he took out the air-conditioners, he even took out the power outlets and switches. Left on tap in the kitchen. They spent huge sums of money just to be able to live there.

"Of course he could hardly be reached. If there was something wrong with the place infrastructure he didn't repair it or stalling them for long periods of time so they will give up and pay for the repairs themselves.

"Nearing the end of the lease, the couple decided to give the man a taste of his own medicine. They met him so he can examine the place before legally releasing them from the contract and give them back their collaterals. Everything was ok, the place was painted and they took everything that they installed, it was fine by him. They told him that the contract is to be voided tomorrow they will spend the night at the apartment and leave the keys in the mailbox. He said ok and left.

"They spent whole night repainting his apartment. But this time in black, they literally painted every inch of the place black. By the time they finished the place looked like a bat cave. The contract said that the apartment should be given back painted. But it didn't say what color it should be. Of course he called the next day, and of course they didn't answer."


You know it's serious when you break out the Comic Sans.

"For rent" sign in a window
Unsplash | Erik Mclean

"I hated my old apartment, needed to desperately get out and right when I was looking for rentals last year, coronavirus hit and everyone shut down. With less than a week on my lease, I had to jump at the first available home. Didn't even get to inspect it. I ended up with equally horrible property managers.

"I didn't have a key on day one, had to break in to move in, they didn't tell me about the German roach infestation (it's okay, I used to do pest control so I managed) and so forth. Right when I lost power during Christmas (also okay, I live in the south, I didn't get too cold) I tracked down the original property owner and asked her if I could get out of the contract and just pay her directly. We investigated many options and the best way to get out of the contract was to just pay for the last remaining months and write a 30 day notice.

They call me and tell me that I have to write them a notice, signed and sent and received on the exact date 30 days from the leases end to be accepted or I will lose my $1,000 security deposit. They really stressed it had to be mailed and definitely on time or they won't be able to accept it.

"Cue my pettiness.

"I wrote a template letter, with a generic 'this is a [number of days till lease end]- day notice .... I'm writing to terminate my contract and to receive my security deposit as stated...'. I sent one out on my 103 day notice. Then another one on 89 day notice. Then another one on 73 day notice and so forth, basically whenever I remembered about it, I would change the date around, print it, sign it and then mail it.

"They call me saying this is very unnecessary and that they got my message loud and clear. But they sounded pretty rude about it so I sent some more.

"I then received some passive aggressive emails that they will honor the contract and leave me the $1,000 deposit as I have sent them a 30 day notice. But they can be tricky and as I haven't technically sent them an exact "30 days" notice, I have some more letters to send. Plus again, they sounded pretty rude over e-mail.

"Cue the final 15 day countdown till my 30 day notice letter. I upped the ante. I now have one letter per day to send and I have changed the fonts on each letter ranging from Papyrus to Jokerman to Comic Sans. My favorite one is the one where it's all bright yellow and barely legible. It just hurts looking at. Oh and better yet, I got the last batch sent as certified mail so I get an email that they received it AND that they had to sign it.

"On my 34th day notice letter (now probably the 20th letter I've mailed), I received my cashiers check back. No message or anything. Fortunately I have four more letters to send. The best $43 on stamps I've ever paid."


Wait, what's it worth?

Floor with rug and laminate, coffee cup on laminate section
Unsplash | Daria Borysenko

"This is a story that I was told conversationally at a camp. I doubt he’s a redditor, so I don’t think he’d mind that I’m sharing it.

"Guy telling me the story: N His brother: B Landlord: L

"So this guy (N) had a brother (B) who was renting a home. He was one of those long-term renters who stayed at the same location for 10+ years. B was moving out, and the landlord (L) was trying his best to get every penny out of B that he could. L looked around the house and tried to charge him for every little thing: stains on the wall, the cupboard that was broken before he moved in, etc. The biggest, most expensive offense was the carpet.

"The carpet was not pretty. Stains everywhere, a big hole where a cigarette was dropped, threads showing, etc. The carpet was clearly old when he moved in, but B wasn’t very prepared and didn’t think to take pictures before he moved in. N devised a plan to help his brother out. He knew the law pretty well, and went with B to sign the final paperwork.

"I don’t know why the landlord thought he could charge the renter beyond his deposit. Maybe they had an agreement that he left out of the story, or the laws were different when this happened? Regardless, he was going to have to pay for all of the brand-new carpet because of the one hole he caused.

"So the landlord smugly pulled out the paperwork to have B sign. N took one look at it, smirked, and told B to sign it. They got done with all of it, shook hands, and the landlord started bragging about how much he was going to make off of B.

"Then N dropped the bomb. The paper said that he had to reimburse the carpet 'for what it was worth.' According to the law that he had a copy of in his pocket, carpets are worthless after 10 years of use, which his brother alone fit as a qualification. The landlord was flabbergasted. Apparently he ended up just using some leftover carpet that he had in storage to replace the square where the cigarette burn was located, instead of replacing the whole carpet."