What a week! A short week for some, but a very long one for this red-headed blogger!
This was supposed to be a week mostly off from the business of real estate for me. I have a “B” job, a holdover from my old career as a radio personality. I mostly fill in as needed. This being 4th of July week, I was quite needed.
My weekend started with a pair of deadbeat tenants in one of our units telling my husband they had money for him. Then they said they’re not going to pay him after all, because they don’t like the way they’ve been treated.
Here’s how we treated them: they were being evicted because they didn’t pay May’s rent to the previous manager. We met them at their court date that last week in May and accepted some money. We made payment arrangements with them that included June’s rent in front of the judge, who agreed to continue the case until June 21st. We even waived the late fees! The first payment was due June 7th. They didn’t have it. They promised they’d have it all by June 21st. That day we went back to court and got our eviction. On July 1st they informed us they didn’t like the way they were being treated.
Well, Ginger snapped. I am not proud of this. I let them know I did not appreciate being lied to. And that it’s a shitty parent who doesn’t maintain housing for their children. And that if they didn’t move out over the long weekend I would be filing the papers to have them forcibly removed by the constable. And maybe Children & Youth should be informed of the situation. And maybe they should think about this next time they decide to spend their rent money on meth.
I really need to get help with my anger. I’m in a 12-step program. Only on Step One, though. Give me time.
I say that only half-jokingly. Landlords, going off on a deadbeat tenant truly solves nothing. If someone forgoes something as important as paying their rent to keep a roof over their head, they have deeper issues that won’t be solved by you screaming at them. Sure it feels good right after you do it. REAL good! I won’t lie. But it’s a complete waste of energy.
They’re going to scream back at you. At first this is fun, especially if you’re a writer and they choose to do this over text or Facebook message. Are you really choosing combat with my weapon of choice? Bring it! They even tried posting libelous accusations on various Facebook pages, which I countered with witty ease. Boom!
But then it just got annoying. I have to get up early to go to work in the morning. I have other stuff to do. I’m starting to feel very negative. My aura is changing to a color I really don’t like. My schedule is so packed I don’t even have time to properly catch up with my friends and family, and I’m spending how much time on these people?
I filed the papers for the constable on Tuesday. The tenants informed my husband they “would be forced to defend their home” if we set foot on the property. I resisted the urge to gather up a crew of the rowdiest rednecks I know to go sit around on the porch next door. But the thought did cross my mind.
I think I’ll just wait for the constable and get on with my life.
Stick to policies and procedures
My advice, which I will heed from now on, is to just follow procedure. Rent is late? Make a courtesy call. Find out what’s going on. Most of my tenants who say they’ll have it next Friday actually will have it next Friday. If they don’t, file the eviction. Nothing personal, just business. An eviction doesn’t necessarily mean you’re kicking them out. They can pay the amount due, plus any late fees, plus the cost of filing the eviction (around $160) and they can stay. If they don’t pay by the court date, they still have eleven days before the next step, which is filing the paperwork for the constable to lock them out. Then they have eleven days after that paperwork is filed. But there is no defense for non-payment of rent in Pennsylvania. Even if the code officer finds 41 violations, they still have to pay you. You’ll have to fix the violations within a certain amount of time, but that doesn’t change the fact that rent is due on the first of the month. Sorry, deadbeats.
By the way on their Facebook trashing of me, they claimed the code officer found 41 violations, but that was complete bunk. We called the code office. No one had been over there.
Waiver of Notice To Quit
Pennsylvania landlords, you absolutely, positively have to have this in your lease. Here’s how it reads in ours:
NOTICE TO QUIT After the second day that rent has not been paid (the 3rd of the month) eviction proceedings may begin.
Tenant waives right to 15 or 30 day notice to quit.
Unpaid late charges and/or attorney’s fees shall be classified as “added rent.”
Tenant Initials: _______
I cannot express how important this clause is in Pennsylvania. Without it, you must post your tenant’s door with a 15 day notice to quit (30 days in the winter months!) before you can even go to the court to file. Then you wait 11 days for the hearing, 11 days after that to be able to file for the constable, then 11 days after that for the lock out. With a waiver of notice to quit, the eviction process takes a month. Without one, it takes two months.
By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever evicted anyone on the 3rd of the month. It’s usually the 10th, or 15th or sometime after a promised payment arrangement has been broken. But I reserve the right to evict on the 3rd of the month. Don’t feel guilty about this, landlords. After all, you’re the one that pays those tax bills that go up every year. And those pesky sewer bills every quarter!
So it looks like we’ll have two three bedroom units to rent in Pittston, in that desirable Pittston Area School District. One of them is ready to go now – here are some pics of our recent rehab at 111 Lagrange Street:
The other side of the double block? Well, we have to wait for the constable. July 18th is the lock out date. There is absolutely nothing they can do to stop that from happening. I just hope they move out before then, because there are small children involved. As the daughter of an alcoholic, I know too well the anxiety of losing your home because Daddy didn’t meet his adult responsibilities. Maybe that’s why I went off on the guy.
I was telling somebody online this morning you really have to grow crocodile skin to be a landlord. You’re going to have to make hard decisions when other people are irresponsible. It sucks. But there is comfort in following policies and procedures. Pick a drop dead date to start that eviction process and just do it. Don’t engage the tenant. Keep emotions out of it. Accept payments if you wish, but keep the court date unless you are paid in full. And once the eleven days have passed, if you haven’t been paid, file for the constable. You are doing your adult tenant a favor by not enabling him.