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Saunders, Real Estate, Hamptons
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Hamptons Life

Oct 1, 2011 10:19 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Summer Rental Horror Stories

Oct 3, 2011 1:11 PM

I knew there was trouble before I even entered my house,” Pat told me, her voice shaking. “The front stoop was packed with broken, overflowing plastic bags filled with rotting garbage.”

Unable to make it through the garbage, Pat and Rich circled to the back of their home only to discover all of the outdoor furniture thrown into the pool, along with Rich’s trophy pigskin football, an irreplaceable memento from his college days. This was only a shocking trailer for the horror film inside.

Every square inch of the kitchen counters was filled with greasy pots and dirty dishes. The living room mahogany tables were covered with half filled cocktail glasses that left rings. Cigarette butts were everywhere—the upholstery was stained and still wet. Scratched woodwork, spoiled rugs, filthy pillows fit only for the Dumpster were but a Whitman’s Sampler of what these two homeowners discovered after their summer renters had left.

“It was worse than an ‘Animal House’ frat party and a pack of dogs,” Pat said.

As they walked upstairs, the couple discovered that the renter’s children had taken magic markers to the walls, furniture and bed linens. Soiled underwear and unwashed piles of the renters’ personal clothing were spread out everywhere. Prescription drugs were scattered throughout and the entire home reeked of burnt curry. The crevices between the waxed antique floorboards were filled with colored paints that originated when the children chose to use their spin art.

“Our renter was a renowned New York artist, but obviously we should have checked his references. After viewing the wreckage, my daughter, Leigh, suggested they put me in a straitjacket and send me to the asylum,” Pat continued.

Such is only one of the many harrowing stories I have heard of late from those who have chosen to rent their homes this past summer and have come back to reclaim them in less than stellar condition.

Helen from East Hampton also told me of her personal horror story.

“I believe I am not alone in this erroneous assumption that someone who is renting my house shares my aesthetics and my idea of a home and how a home should be treated. After all, they came in and said, ‘I like this house. I would like to live here, ’albeit briefly,” she said. “Under this misguided notion, I tell them to enjoy my house as if it was theirs. Unfortunately, they did.”

Whether it is the souring economy, the soaring costs of home maintenance, the record demand for Hamptons rentals, or the changing profile of renters, an altered behavior has seemingly been raising its ugly head as of late. Renters are leaving their rentals in such wretched states that homeowners are coming to believe that the renters are acting in retribution as if the renter feels they paid too dearly for this vacation and trashing the residence is the only mark that they could leave behind as just desserts for paying so much.

My friend, Susan, who rented her home for the first time this past summer fumed.

“Renters treat owners as speed bumps in their way,” she said.

She added that she felt that her renters, without paying for it, expected her to be “the concierge, the super and the maid.”

Another friend told a story that a tenant threatened her on a previously agreed upon day to prune the trees.

“She circled around me with a cellphone attached to her ear, screaming at her real estate agent to come and remove the tree-pruning landlord.” Obviously, the real estate agent profusely apologized for the tenants’ horrid behavior.

Bridgehampton resident Patsy refers to the summer renters who don’t understand country etiquette as the “urbans.” Patsy’s friend had remarked that her garage at summer’s end was packed with lethal pesticides, obviously sprayed fervently over the yard in hopes of destroying every living insect, good or bad, that might buzz nearby.

Of course, people always take risks when renting their home for the summer. And many who don’t rent out their homes feel that these complaints from those who do and collect a bundle who are simply whining. But this year, the “whining” seems to have to shifted to outrage.

One tenant was said to have used up most of her utility and security deposits in the first few weeks of June by keeping the pool heated to 90 degrees, using up nearly two large tanks of gas. The homeowner stopped by one afternoon to verify the extraordinary use of gas and found so much steam rising off the pool that it created a “Brigadoon” effect and she couldn’t even see the house.

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"Stupid is, as stupid does."

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 5, 11 3:14 PM
Have you people not realized that while these may be your homes, to the "summer people" this is their playground?!? Get used to it or don't rent out your homes.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Oct 6, 11 2:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Playground here or there, you should treat someone elses property with the same respect as you do your own.They are paying a lot of property taxes and upkeep all year and have a right to expect that you return it in the condition you rented it. No excuse whatsoever.
By belqassim (3), Southampton on Oct 8, 11 11:23 AM
Common decency should tell you to treat another person's home with respect. Common sense should tell you never to expect common decency.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Oct 9, 11 4:09 PM
From past rental experiences I would prefer to rent to a single family as opposed to a group even it was not as financially rewarding.There is something to be said for peace of mind. If they rent again in the following years it takes all the stress out of renting.
By Crusader Rabbit (6), Westhampton Beach on Oct 10, 11 12:22 PM