As a player in real estate, there are times when you will experience some terrible things. Things so terrible you will lose your faith in humanity. However, everything that happens good or bad is a learning opportunity. The best thing you can do is learn and find ways to prevent a recurrence. The only way to get over bad experiences is to just do it. Below are a few horror stories from some property owners, tenants, and landlords in Nairobi.

Unwanted visitor

On moving day, he was very helpful. He helped her carry things into the building and even helped assemble her bed. She liked the caretaker because he seemed genuinely helpful and caring not to mention committed to his job. After he was done helping her, she was so grateful she tipped him 500 shillings as a small thank you. He left and was gone for the rest of the evening. Later that night, she heard someone walk up the stairs singing at the top of their voice. The voice sounded familiar but she could not quite place it. Next thing she knows, there is banging at her door. The caretaker was asking to be let into her unit. She was mortified and scared. She was annoyed. A neighbor showed up to her door and dragged the caretaker to his own house. This happened several times until she decided to move out.

This was surely a terrible experience for her. If you come into such a situation, you best maintain your boundaries. Do not be rude or impolite but do not be overly friendly either especially on your first day. The morning after an incident like this, talk to him and let him know in no uncertain terms that you will not stand for it. Tell them that you will report to the police as it is harassment. 

Nightmare neighbors

She lived in a corner house and therefore preferred to leave her basins and buckets there so as not to crowd the bathroom. However, she would always find one of her buckets or basins missing. It would resurface a few hours later. Sometimes, if she left her slippers at the door they would also disappear then reappear later. It was like she was sharing her things without her knowledge or consent. She hated it. She did not know who was doing it. One day, however, she caught her neighbor across the hall taking a basin. She asked why and the neighbor merely shrugged and promised to return it as she had always done. They had an argument that then turned into a full-blown enmity. She eventually had to move as this neighbor was also poisoning other tenants against her.

This surely seems petty. It is also quite annoying to have someone use things without seeking permission then taking offense when they are called out on it. You could involve the caretaker or you could simply keep your things inside your door. You could try talking to this person calmly but some people are not really amenable to such conversations.

Entrapping agent

He found an agent online. He searched the agent on social media. The agent was using his real name. The property was advertised under his name on other sites as well. He found him to be legit. So when he had a moment on a weekend he called the agent so he could go view the house. He was there by 10 in the morning. He figured it would be fine because it was daytime. Besides, what could possibly go wrong? He met the agent. He was so nice and they chatted as they walked. The building is proving to be a little further from the stage than he anticipated but he figures it is fine. Besides, being so close to the stage would be noisy with matatus plying the route at odd hours of the night. They finally get there. The building feels odd. It is quiet and he cannot see anyone around. He is walked into one vacant unit. It is a little too dark for his taste but he is keeping an open mind. Within no time, he loses sight completely and cannot breathe properly. He has been drugged. It happened so fast. He is shoved into a bedroom where he is robbed of everything including his shoes then left in a closet. His only salvation was a neighbor who heard him banging on the wall and screaming weakly then informed the caretaker.

This person broke a cardinal rule of house hunting with an agent. Never show up alone. There is safety in numbers. This is especially important if you are hunting in one of those low-income areas. You should also always maintain situational awareness. Study the agent. Anyone who is about to pull the above would be a bit nervous.  

Earth attacking the house

When buying their house, they appreciated all the trees surrounding the property. There was a perimeter wall but somehow the trees made the compound feel more private. They brought an element of safety and tucked to the property. This was a major selling point, actually. They looked forward to tending the trees and landscaping, making the compound pretty and wonderful. A year down the line the trees were grown. They had to sweep up leaves a lot but they still loved the shade. However, they noticed that the roots were spreading quite far into the compound. Soon, the roots broke through the house and perimeter walls. The house developed big cracks. Fixing this issue was very costly. Not only did they have to get the house fixed, but they also had to have the compound repaired. The perimeter wall also had to be redone. The trees had to be professionally uprooted as the roots were too massive, it could not be done by one ax.

Homeowners tend to focus so much on the house itself that they forget to look at the external aesthetics. There are trees that could provide that feeling of privacy without growing roots to such destructive lengths. You should research such and ensure that they are the ones planted along the perimeter.

Property caught between feuding family

 A couple was excited about buying their first property. They were excited about the investment. They could not wait to be landlords and make an important step towards securing their future. So they bought a rental building that the seller had inherited from his parents. They had the money saved up. They went through the process. This was their first time and they were looking to finish the process quickly. They did. They paid 75% of the money within two weeks then paid the balance a month later. They were now owners of a rental building. They were officially landlords. However, six months down the line they received a summons. They were supposed to appear before a tribunal to talk about the contentious ownership of their building. Apparently, the building they bought was sold illegally. The person who sold it did it in secret while they should have shared that decision and money with his siblings.

This right here is the reason you need to do a search before buying property. The search will give you the names of all property owners. Those names will all be included in the sale agreement. If they do not show up to sign then the sale will not go through. You will be saved from being in a situation like above.

Irresponsible tenant

She owned a four-bedroom house in South B. She lived in the house alone. So she thought to rent out the servant quarters. She found a single 23-year-old lady to rent it out. She paid her rent on time. She was quiet. She was not disruptive. She was a tenant made in heaven. One morning she gets a call from the neighbor. There was smoke coming from her compound. She left her office to go check. She found that people had climbed over the gate and extinguished it. The tenant had left a candle on in the bathroom. The cistern, shower head and plastic shelving in the bathroom had melted to the ground. The rest of the house was covered in soot from top to bottom. The tenant showed up, apologized then packed a few clothes and left. She never came back. She never showed up to pick up her things. She was gone. She never tried to take care of the mess she left behind. It was costly and time-consuming.

There is really very little you can do to avoid such incidents. The best thing you can do is vet your tenants more thoroughly.

There is a lot to learn from other people’s horror stories in the real estate space. Most times these things are preventable. Other times all you can do really is suck it up and move on. Good luck.