Bizarre Rental Rules

Sometimes when I’m scrolling through information online, I find an entertaining and informative blog that pertains to my line of work. This happened recently when I found a blog titled, “Odd, Bizarre, and Restrictive Rental Rules” by the Tenant Screening Center (

They rightly point out that one of the toughest things about being a tenant is having to abide by other people’s rules. Generally, these rules governing how tenants behave in their rented space are reasonable and easy to follow, but sometimes landlords and property managers go on a power trip and create overly restrictive or flat-out crazy rules.

The upside of crazy rules is that property managers constantly get to meet new tenants. The downside, of course, is that they are wasting enormous amounts of time and money with their revolving door of tenants. Here are some of the stranger rules we’ve come across.

No sidewalk chalk

In one apartment complex, the owners compared a child’s sidewalk chalk to graffiti and posted the penalty for breaking this rule as a minimum of $20 to remove the chalk. Clearly, if the subject matter of the chalk art were inappropriate, that would be reason to complain. But the idea of keeping up “strict aesthetic standards” seemed a little goofy. This is not the first time people have made a sweeping rule covering all manner of behavior related to a single transgression, rather than simply addressing the problem directly with the person responsible.

Sharing a single bed with other tenants

Under the heading of “bizarre,” one landlord suggested four strangers could share an apartment, including the use of a single bedroom. He said the listing was ideal for shift workers who could take turns sleeping in the bed. As if that isn’t weird enough, the landlord posted the rules of tenancy on the walls for easy reference, rules that included “turn off the lights when not in the room” and “keep cupboard doors closed.”

No overnight guests, no alcohol

Another landlord’s listing went viral because of her extreme rules, which included no loud noise after 9:00 pm, no laundry during the workweek, no overnight guests, and no drinking. Apparently, she believed, “drinkers fall down a lot and lose their jobs.” She recommended that those who didn’t like her rules should “buy a tent.”

No guests, period

This next situation reminded me of when you go on a first date and everything seems fine, until a few choice comments let you know you’re in the presence of someone who is several cards short of a full deck. This listing started with a reasonable set of rules: “must be quiet, clean, and respectful.” And then the odd demands ensued:

  • NO GUESTS!!! No one is permitted on the property but those residing at the residence.
  • Rides must stop at the end of the driveway and let you off accordingly. If your ride lingers or comes onto the driveway, it is considered trespassing and will be handled as such due to posted signs on the property.
  • No cooking of food during the hours of 9:30 pm to 6:00 am on weekdays and between the hours of 9:30 pm and 9:30 am on weekends.

The good news is that most landlords and property managers are reasonable people who adhere to standard rules that are focused on being respectful of the property and the residential community. It’s best for everyone, landlords and tenants, when rental situations are built on mutual respect.

Again, big thanks to the Tenant Screening Center for allowing me to incorporate some of their stories in this article.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.

Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.

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