A landlord scared of the worst tenants in pop culture

The 3 Best Worst Tenants in Pop Culture (& How to Avoid Them)

Pop culture offers us a unique (but often incorrect) view of the landlord-tenant relationship. Despite stories about evictions gone wrong and houses from hell, most landlords and tenants get along swimmingly.

In a recent study from TurboTenant, landlords rated their tenants as 4.4 out of 5 on average; more than half of the renters rated their landlords as 5/5.

Hollywood Spins Housing as Horror

And yet, one Google search for “movies about tenants” paints the grim picture Hollywood has sketched out over the years. The subject sits squarely in the horror genre with the antagonist pivoting between the renter and the landlord; in this game of property management gone awry, no one can claim innocence.

But you know what? We deserve better than that! That’s why the TurboTeam took the time to find the three best worst tenants in pop culture for you. And we swear on our love of alliteration that we’ll only include one horror movie in this list. 

Beyond our very serious pop culture review, we’ll also share some tips on avoiding trouble tenants. 

Pop your popcorn and settle in, readers.

The 3 Best Worst Tenants in Hollywood

There are countless movies and shows that feature the landlord-tenant relationship, so we focused on the media that came to mind first along with inspiration from real estate agent/reality TV star Ryan Serhant

Do you have a great example of terrible tenants on TV or the silver screen? Reach out to us on Instagram @TurboTenant.   

Without further ado, let’s get this web slinging.

1) Peter Parker, Spiderman 2

That’s right, America’s favorite high schooler turned hero isn’t as squeaky clean as his many iconic iterations would have you think. In Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2 (also known as the best Spiderman series – sorry, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland), we see Peter’s landlord say, “Rent!” as he enters the building. It happens often enough that someone made a compilation:

Late payments are an offense that could set the grounds for an eviction. And Spiderman’s response? Excuses, trying to avoid his landlord, and even getting into a terse exchange that ends in shouting.

Sure, the two patch up their relationship with some compassionate communication – but if Mr. Ditkovich knew Peter Parker was Spiderman and thus probably needed at least quadruple the renters insurance coverage, would things have ended on such a good note?

How Can You Avoid Making the Same Mistake?

With a solid tenant screening process, of course! Ask prospective tenants whether or not they have a secret crime-fighting identity. And make sure you require renters insurance (it wouldn’t hurt to up your landlord insurance coverage, just in case a supervillain figures out where they live. Meeting your deductible is easy when someone like the Green Goblin has your rental’s address).

As for the late rent issue, may we recommend switching to an online rent collection software that sends automatic late notices so you don’t have to shout after your tenant like Mr. Ditkovich?

The next worst tenant is actually a family of renters who find themselves drawn to trouble…

2) The Belchers, Bob’s Burgers

Okay, we confess – Bob’s Burgers made our best worst landlords of pop culture list, too. But we couldn’t help including the animated family here since the Belchers’ adventures often put them at odds with Mr. Fishoeder, their landlord.

Take the series’ 200th episode, “Bob Belcher and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Kids.”

The Belcher kids accidentally burn down the kitchen – meaning Mr. Fishoeder is in for a double whammy. Since he owns the whole building, this fiasco translates into:

  • Heavy maintenance costs
  • Potential structural damage
  • Lost commercial income since Bob can’t sell burgers
  • Lost residential income since the business will do poorly until the kitchen is back

How Can You Avoid Making the Same Mistake?

You might be tempted to say that you’ll simply add “no children” to your listings from now on – but hold off on that. Advertising that you don’t accept families goes against the Fair Housing Act, and that kind of mistake can cost you up to $16,000 for your first offense.

To learn more about fair housing laws, check out TurboTenant’s Fair Housing for Landlords course.

Instead of running afoul of the Fair Housing Act, make sure you’re performing routine inspections on all of your rental units. With any luck, you’ll catch and correct potentially dangerous situations that could have your property going up in smoke.

This third and final entry in our list is the only horror representation we allowed – but feel free to skip to the final section if you’re easily scared, don’t want spoilers for The Barbarian, and/or are emotionally unprepared to check in…

3) The Scariest Squatters, The Barbarian

Last chance to avoid any spoilers! Just know that the TurboTeam highly recommends going into this movie blind, even if it means leaving this section of our article unread for now. Yes, we’re just selfless like that.

If you’re still here, we applaud your nerves of steel. 

In 2022’s horror movie The Barbarian, landlord AJ Gilbride discovers that all is not what it seems in his Airbnb property. He originally returns to the Detroit unit to determine its value and how to increase it. AJ’s less-than-wholesome past was coming to collect, and he needed all the money he could get to pay the impending legal fees.

Upon returning to his rental, AJ slowly begins to realize that not only are there secret tunnels he never knew about, but the last guest doesn’t seem to have checked out.


How Can You Avoid Making the Same Mistake?

Since squatters have unique rights, it’s best to direct your efforts at preventing their habitation in your vacant unit. If you live close enough to your rental, make a point to drive by it at least once a month. 

Don’t feel like you need to get out and conduct an impromptu inspection (that could also go against your local landlord-tenant laws since tenants are often entitled to 24-hour notice ahead of an inspection). Instead, look to see if there are unexpected cars in the driveway.

If you live far away from your rental, ask someone like a nearby family member, contractor, or neighbor to drive by every so often. You should also keep an eye out for higher-than-expected utility bills.

How to Find Better Tenants

Don’t make your next lease into a horror flick – improve your tenant screening process to find better tenants. 

With TurboTenant’s free rental management software, screening tenants is only a few clicks away.  Our online rental application makes it easy for you to find your new favorite renter.

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