Real Estate Horror Stories Pt. 1

Post by 
Gigi Vaccaro

The real estate industry can no doubt be challenging. Insurance issues, trouble tenants, unwelcome critters and deals that fall through are all nightmare fuel.

As a real estate investment and property management company, Birgo is no stranger to sticky situations.

A few members of the Birgo team shared some of their spookiest experiences and real estate horror stories.

An unwelcome roommate 

A tenant called me once to say that something was flying around in their apartment, specifically in their cabinets.

We never could find anything and just figured the tenant was sensitive to noise. 

When the tenant moved out a short time later, we walked the apartment and opened up a cabinet that extended up into the ceiling quite far.  

When the cabinet opened, out flew a bat! It flew around the apartment for a while and eventually was able to be shooed outside.

The Green Mile (apartment edition)

My maintenance team and I were cleaning out a unit where the resident was a hoarder. The power had been out for an extended period of time so the smell in the unit was pretty unbearable. 

We decided to get the fridge out first to help with the smell. I decided to open the fridge and hundreds of flies flew out of the fridge (think The Green Mile scene...).

We quickly shut the fridge, taped it up and put it in the dumpster.  

What was funny to me is that someone came by later in the day and took the fridge from the dumpster. I wish I could have seen them when they opened it up! 

Annabelle reincarnated?

One time, a resident called in about a leak. We had been searching for her leak for weeks and it would come and go and never last for long so it was very hard to find where it was coming from. 

This building was an old Embassy Suites until the 1950s. After that it was converted to apartments so the building was super cool but had a lot of crawl spaces, half walls with ceilings and  "shelf style" ceilings in some places. 

We entered the unit and started to look for the leak. I climbed on a ladder to help the Maintenance Team look for the leak and came face to face with a Victorian porcelain doll on one of the “shelf style” ceilings and screamed so loud. 

The resident ran out of her bedroom to see if I was okay. I asked her if the doll was hers. She confirmed and I asked “Why did you put it up there?” She said it made her feel safe that no one would be able to hide up there because she hoped they would get scared and scream (just like I did). 

Whatever you do, don’t go in the basement

I have managed a few historic buildings that were originally factories. 

The largest property I managed was an old Ford Parts warehouse back in the 1800s and 1900s. It was converted to an apartment building in the 1990s.

This building connected to the underground tunnels that ran through that city. Bootleggers used the tunnels to conduct illicit activity. On my first day, the building cleaner warned me to never go into the basement late at night or when the electricity was out. 

During a bad storm, I needed to check the elevators and generators to ensure my residents’ safety.  I went into the basement and felt a really cool rush of wind when I was halfway down the hallway. 

This wouldn't have weirded me out...except there were no doors open. 

Residents and my cleaner often told me about seeing a misty figure roaming the basement hallway, but I never saw it. They told me the figure was a bootlegger's wife who went looking for her husband after he didn't come home. She got locked in the factory basement over the holidays and froze to death. 

I can't confirm it but there were definitely some weird occurrences in the basement that we could not find explanations for.

In the criminal justice system...

I have on three occasions come home to a certified mail envelope that contained a letter stating "THERE IS A WARRANT OUT FOR YOUR ARREST" because my old property management company was a hot mess and didn't respond to trash citations . . . woof. 

I actually had to go to court to have the charges dismissed. My tenant's mom found me on social media and reached out and essentially said "um, I don't think you realize this but your property manager is actually the worst." 

That's when I sold all my "low income" stuff and started buying better quality properties. 

Cash-on-cash and IRR feel pretty amazing until you have to show up at the property and clean stuff up yourself before firing a property manager. 

A five year composting process?

I was cleaning out a single family home that our tenant had abandoned. I opened the door to check on the condition of the basement, and a wall of stink nearly knocked me over.

I quickly realized that, rather than having a kitchen garbage can, the tenant had been scraping scraps of food down the steps, which had been accumulating and rotting for over five years.  

The haunting of Unit C-05

It was a dark and dreary Friday evening. Bobby and I were removing a broken lock from a recent move out to replace it. It made quite a ruckus! 

We went to inspect the unit, and a spectre rose from under the pile of clothes. 

He claimed his friend lived there and he was sleeping (at 5 pm). I informed the ghost that his friend had moved out earlier that day. 

He responded, "Word!?". I chanted the ancient incantation to dispel the spirit, "Word! You have got to go right now!"

The sleepy spectre put on his clothes and evaporated into the hall like a mist. 

We replaced the broken lock and spread salt across the threshold to prevent any ghostly presence from darkening the door of unit C-05 ever again!

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