In any given week there are negative things that happen. Certainly I had my share of them this week - some I would even put into the WTF category! But so many good things happened, too. Sometimes those get overshadowed. If you’re a landlord, you know all too well that one bad tenant can take your focus off the 25 good ones you have. Today I have made a decision to focus most of my energy on the good ones. I’ll do what I have to do for the bad ones – usually that involves the process of getting them out of my rental. But that’s all my precious energy they are going to get from me, from this day forward.
Think about it, it takes 10 minutes to fill out the paperwork for an eviction. There’s no reason to spend hours agonizing about whether to file one, or worrying about it after it’s been done. I’d rather spend that time working on my business finances so I can afford the landscaping makeover I envision for my downtown Wilkes-Barre six unit. I just replaced one unhappy, non-paying tenant there with two happy, fully employed people and their five children. This was done despite the ex-tenant’s attempts to bad-mouth us at every turn. Sticks and stones, honey. Now I have six happy tenants who pay their rent on time in that six-unit building, and I want to spend my money and energy on making that place live up to my vision of it. It’s a better way to keep six units full of happy tenants.
Turning Life’s Lemons into Freshly Squeezed, Very Expensive Certified Organic Lemonade
My husband and I took back the management of our rental properties in the middle of May. It was purely a business decision. The reasons we took on a manager were no longer valid. We thought we were going to move out of state, but we decided not to do that. We thought that perhaps we weren’t qualified to handle this many rentals and we’d better bring in professionals, but the results we got did not justify the expense. Turns out our system was just as effective as the ones the pros were using. So when we decided to stay put here in NEPA, we took management back.
Since that decision, we have been dealing with an abnormally high rate of vacancies. Leases had ended and people moved out. Or they hadn’t paid their rent and moved out of eviction. In some cases, leases were ending and people moved out without bothering to pay their rent that last month, but I’m not going to focus on the negative. I’m going to focus on the positive and be grateful those deadbeats are gone!
Since taking back management, we have renovated and re-rented four vacant units with good tenants who meet our standards. We have four more yet to rent. A one bedroom apartment in Wilkes-Barre, a 2 bedroom and another 3 bedroom half-double, both in Wilkes-Barre, and a 3 bedroom half-double in Pittston. We’ll have another 3 bedroom half-double in Pittston once a current eviction is completed, and a 3 bedroom apartment in Wilkes-Barre once that tenant moves out at the end of August. There may be another eviction in Jenkins Township, but I’m hoping those tenants will come through and pay. I’m willing to work with them, but only up to a point and not at the expense of my vital life-energy. If that doesn’t pan out we’ll have a first floor 2 bedroom duplex unit available as well.
Having this many vacancies at once is a bit unnerving. But if I look at the positive, I see several new chances to build a roster of great tenants who meet our criteria:
*Income must be three times the rent. That means if the rent on my 2 bedroom is $600/month, the tenants would need to be bringing in $1,800/month. Doable for one earner, easy for two working adults even with part-time work. We do accept Section 8, but I need to see a voucher first. I feel bad for people who call me and they only make $1200 a month, but my advice to them is to find a house-sharing situation, save up your money and strive to get a better paying job. I wouldn’t be doing either one of us a favor letting them move in here. I don’t want someone having to choose between rent and food. Or rent and an unexpected car repair or medical bill. That’s a recipe for disaster.
*There can be no judgements or liens against you. If you screwed another landlord, I don’t want to rent to you. Sorry. That’s why I’m in favor of filing the paperwork for evictions – it gets something on record to let other landlords know. Yes I realize there are bad landlords out there. If you find yourself in a bad situation, I implore you to seek legal advice to get out of your rental agreement with your credit intact. Legal aid is available to those who find lawyer’s fees out of reach.
*Good references. I want to talk to whomever you rented from, going back five years. If it’s your first apartment, I want character references.
*Your criminal background must be clean. That goes for everyone who lives with you. If you were in a bar fight six years ago and got an assault charge, we may still rent to you, as long as your other references check out and there hasn’t been any brushes with the law since then. There are some circumstances where we’ll even give a convicted felon a second chance, but that depends on the nature of the offense, how long ago it was, current employment, participation in a rehabilitation program, etc. Everyone we rent to submits to a criminal background check, and we expect complete truthfulness while filling out the paper application.
*Our buildings are pet friendly – to RESPONSIBLE pet owners! And you’ll pay more – rent is $25 extra per cat, for up to 4 cats; $50 for dogs, up to three. We’ll need to have a renters’ insurance policy on file for all dog owners. And you’ll need to provide us the name of your veterinarian. If we have a problem with fleas in the apartment, you’ll need to prove you’ve been treating your pets with one of the flea preventatives or you’ll be responsible for the bill from our exterminator. Owning pets is expensive. It’s a major responsibility, and we only want to rent to pet owners who get that.
If you can meet all these requirements, and they don’t offend you, we would love to talk with you about the rentals we have available! You’ll be treated like gold – we are very responsive as managers. We have a special maintenance hotline set up. It’s a Google Voice number, which means it will go to voicemail but as you leave a message it takes a transcript of your voicemail and sends it out via e-mail and text to myself, my husband, and our #1 handyman. Emergency calls are responded to in minutes. Non-emergencies by the next business day. Having a roster of good tenants who pay on time will give us the profit margin we need to improve the properties – things like façade beautification and landscaping. This is my vision – and these 4 currently empty units will help me fulfill it. Think positive!
The rents range from $550 to $750, all are pet friendly. Call (570) 773-4744 and leave a message if you’re interested:
One bedroom apartment, Barney St., Wilkes-Barre. Recently renovated, with a private entrance off Richard St. The bathroom has a pretty cool, space-age curved shower!