We have had a problem with these tenants for awhile – mostly noise complaints from other tenants in the building. People who may or may not be living there who aren’t on the lease. And the peeing off the balcony incident – that was them. See last week’s post: http://thisgingerjustsnapped.weebly.com/blog/the-truth-donald-trump-and-a-tenant-peeing-off-the-balcony
This could be urban legend. I only have the accounts of others who say they saw it happen. Could they have made up that story because they were sick of the noise, or could it really have happened? I mean, who does that?!
One thing I did see with my own eyes was garbage piled up on the back balcony, which actually serves as their fire escape. That’s a BIG no-no, to the city as well as to me. And then the rent wasn’t paid.
My husband tried to contact them via phone and text message, no response. We even gave them a courtesy knock on the door. Steve said he got the face in the half-open door and the evasive answer. So we filed eviction. The hearing is four days before Christmas.
I felt a little bad about that. They have four kids. But they also have a huge pile of garbage and Daddy likes to pee off the balcony. Daddy, by the way, wasn’t even supposed to be living there! The two women I rented to moved him in after the fact. The only reason they’re still there is they paid for us to run a background check (after they got caught) to assure he wasn’t a criminal, and we added him as a tenant.
There are lots of reasons to feel bad for these kids, not all having to do with me! Besides, the way evictions work, they wouldn’t actually have to move out until 10 days after the hearing, and they get another 10 days after that before they’re forcibly removed, which gets us past the Epiphany. And I did wait until the 12th of the month before filing the papers!
Then a Christmas miracle happened. Once the papers were served, one of the responsible, working women I originally rented to bent over backwards trying to contact us. It was all a misunderstanding. She had the money. Pee Boy moved out. She even dug up my cell phone number – I must have called her from it when we were trying to meet to sign the lease pre-move in.
Sure, I’ll give her another chance. But I want the rent, plus a $50 late fee - my lease allows me to charge $10 for every day the rent is late, but I usually only charge $50 if they’re ready to pay. I also want the $167.90 we had to pay the court for filing the eviction. And I want all the garbage gone, and no more problems with the neighbors!
She paid the rent and the late fee, but didn’t have the court costs. So the hearing is still on for December 21st. If she doesn’t come up with it by then, she’ll have 10 days to do so before we pay for the Constable. And she can still keep her apartment if she comes up with the court costs plus the Constable fee within 10 days after that. And then we get to do this all again in January! Sigh.
There’s a tenant in another unit a few towns away who bounced her first self-paid rent check. She was always a Section 8 tenant, but the father of her child has a full-time job and he’s moved in – at least he asked first! So she is off the Section 8 rolls now. So far, not so good. I’ll have to file that eviction on Friday before we leave town. She won’t be served until after Christmas, so my bleeding heart can take a rest. Hopefully she’ll pony up the money before that has to happen, though.
If anybody thinks landlords like evicting people at Christmastime, please think again! Cruel? What’s cruel is putting us in the position to have to do this! And yes, we do have to do this. Mortgage payments and utility bills do not take a holiday.
New Year, New Plan for the rentals
As 2016 draws to a close, I am grateful that it wasn’t as bad as 2015. It was, however, the worst cash flow year for our rentals. We spent a lot of the rental income on a contracted property manager. And what really killed us was the money we spent on maintenance people that manager hired. Those people did not do work that is up to our standards, and much of that work had to be redone, and paid for again. We have several empty units due to tenants washing out. And we couldn’t refill them right away, because many of them needed to be overhauled.
My husband is still doing the bulk of the rental work himself, because I have been busy untangling our finances and restructuring our company.
Add to that – I don’t really want to deal with tenants! I mean, who does? But of the two of us, I should be the one dealing with them. Steve needs to work with his investor-buyers who seek him out to find properties. He needs to find properties for us to flip – I truly do enjoy being the design consultant on our flips.
In 2017, I need to set up a systematic approach for turning the rental portion of our business around, and then maintaining it with as little effort as possible. I will do everything I expected a contracted property manager to do.
I’ve decided to go building by building, unit by unit. I will start at our first building, Barney St., and work my way up to our most recent acquisition, a single family home in Hanover Township.
“Bird by bird”
I take this pearl of wisdom from Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anne writes about her then 10-year-old brother, who had three months to write a book report on birds and waited until the day before it was due to start. The kid was at the kitchen table in tears, “immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.” Sound familiar?
Their father “sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”
So I’ll start with Unit 1A at our first building on Barney St. That unit, at the moment, is empty. So I will concentrate on getting it rented. I will solve any problems with the curb appeal of the building. The renovation inside the unit is supposedly complete, but I will check if that is up to my standards. I will take my own pictures and advertise. And I will screen the prospects and show the unit, or assign the showings to others. While I’m scheduling showings for prospects, perhaps I can also show Unit 1B and Unit 2A in the same building. But my focus will be on 1A, until it is done. And then like a mother bird, I will imprint on the new tenant I select. A relationship will begin – one built upon trust, honesty and fairness.
When I move on to an occupied unit, I will introduce myself to the tenant – or reintroduce myself if it’s one I’ve already met. I will come bearing a smile and a Wal-Mart gift card – get something nice for the place. You are welcome here. I am happy to have you as a resident in my building. You are an important part of building my dream, and I hope by providing a nice place to rent I can help with building yours. Trust. Honesty. Fairness.
Not all tenants will respond to this the way I hope. But I think most will. And maybe it will cut down on the amount of gut-wrenching evictions this bleeding heart has to file.