September 22, 2014 by phicks2012
I’ve mentioned before in my BLOG that I own some (modest) rental property, and have been struggling for a while now to improve the four small duplex units and keep them rented. Unfortunately, if you have rental units you have to keep up the insurance and pay taxes on them whether or not they are rented, and sometimes renters *GASP* don’t actually pay their rent. SURPRISE!!!! There are also renters who will trash your property to such an extent that even when you get rid of them you have MASSIVE clean-up and repair expenses before they can be rented again to new tenants. I’ve recently had both problems.
In May my manager evicted one tenant (who might not have been certifiably nuts, but could have fooled ME). HER parting shot was to call SWAT and claim she was being threatened by a non-existent armed man, causing them to break the windows and doors — and I assure you that the minions of the Law did NOT offer to repair the damages. Once she was out, we promptly set out to fix that apartment up, repairing damages and adding improvements, and hoping fervently that it would be swiftly re-rented.
Well, it wasn’t, for all that it looked great after we finished, and in June another tenant (whose personal and housekeeping habits left more to be desired than you can probably imagine) was also evicted, leaving that second unit empty and virtually in need of sterilization. Think “landfill”, and you might get an idea of what all had to be done even to START making it habitable again.
To make matters worse, a third set of tenants stopped paying their rent at the same time, and despite repeated promises to catch up they did not do so. So in July they were also served with eviction papers, leaving me with only a single unit generating any rent and a lot of money going out of my already depleted bank account to clean, repair, and ready the empty units.
The money wasn’t coming in to put aside for taxes or to cover the repairs, and the stress was mounting higher and higher until I was barely sleeping. I really needed the income from the first empty unit to fix up the second empty unit, and we were also trying to do landscaping — making me REALLY insane!!
When, finally, in August my property manager called to say that the first empty unit at last was rented, I was delighted! I sang. I danced. I even made the mistake of heaving a sigh of relief — right before the next phone call came in telling me that the second (previously uninhabitable) unit had also been rented to tenants willing to take it as it was — with one stipulation.
As it was? I figured they had to be freaking kidding me!!! Sure, we’d removed the trashed carpet, scrubbed and partially repainted the walls, bleached and scrubbed the underlying slab (3 times), and practically soaked the place with roach spray, but still!! Really!!! That couldn’t be true, could it?
Well, yes. I was assured that it was, and that the only thing the new tenants wanted was for the floors to be painted rather than tiled as we’d planned. That was more or less a miracle, except for the fact that they wanted to move in two days later. Two days later???? That meant I wouldn’t have time to re-paint the walls as planned, that I’d have to buy floor paint and do the work the next day, along with moving in a stove, and that I had to arrange for an exterminator come by IMMEDIATELY to finish up what we’d started with the roaches. Was that even possible???
Well, okay, I readied myself for the challenge, but then when I told my usually reliable helper about it he went ballistic and refused to help me. He said the unit was not ready to rent, and that if I let my manager rent as it was he wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I tried to explain that — with effort — the unit could be readied, and that a deposit had already been paid to my manager, really leaving me no choice in the matter, but nope, that didn’t do it. He was adamant, and thus the stress level instantly doubled because Whether or not my regular minion approved, or helped, I had to dive in immediately.
So a secondary minion, recruited in his place, and I set out to ready the unit without him, and then, of course, the fun really started. Not only did the paint I bought have to be returned because it had ZERO coverage, but the OTHER freshly rented unit had a water leak behind the dishwasher and a leaking pressure release valve on the hot water heater (evident only once they turned on the water again and never previously reported), the gas man wouldn’t turn on the gas without some new safety feature first being added to the furnace, and the unit also needed a new thermostat. Jason could have fixed all of that, if he hadn’t had his nose out of joint, but since he did I had to hire someone else. Another hit to the bank account, and I’ll admit that I considered hurting Jason in retalliation, or at least egging his truck.
I was running around like a crazy person, and when I went by my property manager’s office I told them I needed either a shrink or a rubber room, but they aimed me in the right direction for replacing the paint, and Ariel and I got that done in a few hours once the right type of paint was on hand. The exterminator came and said we’d already done an excellent job ridding the unit of roaches, but he soaked and baited the place within an inch of it’s life anyway just to be sure, and we might have been set at that point if the stove I’d already pulled a muscle helping to move into the unit hadn’t turned out to be non-functional — a computer card was fried. It would have cost more to repair the range than to buy a new one — which I then wound up having to do, just before I replaced the blinds. MORE cash outlay.
“What ELSE could POSSIBLY HAPPEN?” you might ask. Well, then the tenants in the third unit (the ones we’d served with eviction papers) went to court and promised to catch up, but then climbed up on the roof and damaged it — just before vanishing into the sunset with all of their worldly goods.
So, now, in the aftermath, three units are occupied and the repairs have been completed. One other unit is empty and almost readied, and it’s hoped that it will be quick and easy to rent, and with luck (people do still have good luck occasionally, right?) all four will soon be rented to people who actually will take care of them and will also pay their rent. If that happens I’ll (almost) be able to pay the newly jacked-up property taxes, so keep your fingers crossed for me, okay? I need all the good fortune I can scrape together if I’m going to resist the impulse to take out professional hits (assuming I could afford it) on several past tenants, and I’d really like to stay out of jail and be in a really good mood for a while!!!!
Anyone have a spare coupon for a self-indulgent spa day??