“Kelly, we have a problem.” Valerie is the Advocacy Alliance caseworker of one of my tenants. The kid has a mental disability, but he is able to live independently, and Advocacy Alliance pays his rent. But apparently long empty days on his own without a job caused him to go around town looking for friends. He found a friend, and that friend followed him home. Then that friend and a few other adults and children moved into his small two bedroom apartment! Valerie found out about it when my tenant called her because he didn’t know what to do.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to do either, and this drama did not fit into my tightly scheduled plans for the day! My red-headed temper boiled over and blew a mushroom cloud through the top of my hair. I was breathing fire. I was driving to that apartment and I was going to physically throw those people out! I was mad at everyone – Valerie for not handling this herself, was this really my responsibility? I was mad at the tenant, then immediately felt guilty because he’s a 12-year-old boy in an adult body. So I focused my incredible anger where I felt it belonged – on the low-life scum who would take advantage of an innocent so they could have a free place to live. God knows what they did to their previous landlord to be in such need of a place!
I called my husband and told him to meet me there. Then I called 911 – and was put ON HOLD!
“911 is experiencing higher than normal call volumes. Please stay on the line. Don’t hang up. Hanging up will cause you to lose your place in the queue.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???
Landlording and Anger Issues
I stayed on the line, weaving through traffic on Wilkes-Barre Blvd, my anger reaching levels that even scared me. Finally a dispatcher came on the line. I told her the situation, and that I needed police to meet me there because I wasn’t sure what I would do. “Ma’am you realize you’re making threats on a recorded line?” Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have done that, but it worked. I was three minutes away from the property when I made those “threats” and there were two cop cars already there when I arrived. One of the cops made a comment about what I said and I just shook my head in disgust and frustration and he dropped it.
I felt I owed him an explanation, though. “I get a call that people have moved into my place, people I don’t know, that haven’t filled out my application or criminal background check. Why do they need to bypass that? Because they’re drug dealers! It says right in my lease that anyone found living in your unit who isn’t on the lease is assumed to be a drug dealer, and that is cause for immediate eviction.”
“Drug dealers,” he scoffed. “You can’t just go around calling people drug dealers.”
Oh no? I had a close friend and business associate whose rental unit was shut down for six months under One Strike because the City of Wilkes-Barre assumed he was implicitly involved with drug dealers. The tenant was caught with drugs, and he got his due process and his day in court. There was no trial for the landlord, though. His rights were never considered! So as a landlord in this city I will make any assumptions I have to. Since the police are unable to keep these drug dealers out of my building…
These are words I did not say. There was no point. The cop was just there doing his job, and I was grateful for his presence. He seemed like a nice, down-to-earth guy. Wilkes-Barre hasn’t enforced One Strike since former mayor Leighton left office. So it was my turn to let the issue drop.
The tenant met us downstairs and the cops questioned him about the situation. This confused him, and the cops messed with him a little bit, told him they thought he was lying. I felt bad. Let’s just go upstairs and get the squatters out. I will deal with my tenant and his social services advocate later.
There were no gangstas in the apartment. Just an adult woman, a girl who might or might not have been over 18, and an infant. They at first said they were just there cleaning the apartment. I introduced myself as the landlord and said they needed to leave now. Only one tenant lives here. They gathered up their things and left peacefully with the cops standing there. There were two others who had moved in who were not there – Gino and his girlfriend. Gino was at work, my tenant told me where so I looked up the number on my smartphone and called it.
“May I speak to Gino, please?” “Ummm, he’s busy right now.” “OK, well can you make him UN-busy, because this is kind of important!” “Just a minute.”
Both cops were looking at me. I pulled up a lock of my red hair and mouthed the word, “temper.”
“Hi Gino, this is Kelly, I own the building (my tenant) lives in. HE lives here, you do not, do you understand?”
“Good, when you get off work you can make arrangements with him to get your stuff, but I do not want to see you here again, is that understood?”
“Good. Have a great day now.”
Anger. It gets results.
I have been talked to about my anger being a problem, and I am seeking spiritual help for it. But I’m wondering if “controlling my anger” simply means being able to focus it like a laser beam to get results. I shall have to bring that question into my spiritual practice.
As far as I can tell, Gino and his crew haven’t been back to the apartment. Valerie is working on getting my tenant into a trades program so his idle hands have something to do and he can make better friends. And my apartment building has a cool new lock on the common door that uses codes instead of keys – much easier to change.
The 911 on-hold issue? Well, next week I’m filling in the morning news shift on one of the biggest radio stations in the market, so that’s going to get some airtime. How embarrassing for them! Perhaps they’ll correct the problem.
I’m kind of done with being pushed around, which is a useful quality in someone who manages rental property.
Now – on to a segment of our business I would much rather be focused on – flipping our next house!