May 11, 2015 by phicks2012
So! I am a landlord who owns a few modest rental properties that, at least in theory, were supposed to help me make ends meet in retirement. I am not a corporate entity owning hundreds of such units, having the ability (if not the inclination) to pay skilled contractors to keep them up, and employing a batallion of unethical lawyers to stave off armies of righteously disgrunted tenants. I have to pay insurance and taxes on my units whether or not they are occupied, and when tenants default on their rent, trash the units, and leave behind them devastation I have to repair the damages before they can be re-rented.
I am not Simon Legree, though there have been a few former tenants I might semi-cheerfully have tied to railroad tracks to have a close encounter of the third kind with AMTRAC. Due to a really bad property manager and too little literal hands-on involvement on my part with the units for several years — yeah, I was crazy enough to TRUST what he was telling me — I wound up with several supposedly non-paying tenants who were not being evicted and units that were not being kept up despite the fact that I was paying for repairs. Let’s add my former property manager to the list of railroad track victims, shall we?
In any case, I fired his dishonest ass and hired someone else, and my current property manager (believe it or not) actually keeps regular LOCAL office hours, can be reached by phone and email, keeps the units (for the most part) quickly rented, vets out (at much as possible) potential tenants, and actively evicts the deadbeats. That, trust me, is a VAST improvement, even if perfection is an unattainable fantasy!!
But this time around, and despite this, I determined to be more hands-on. I oversee repairs and improvements on the units myself — frequently doing a lot of the physical work myself as well — so I know for a fact that they’re actually being done, and every time a unit comes vacant I try to make a few improvements (after the virtually inevitable repairs are completed, of course). I might redo the floors in one or more rooms, put up a ceiling fan or two, repaint the unit using better paint, replace an aging appliance or an old light fixture or two, replace or refurbish trimwork, or otherwise do something to improve the appearance and functionality and appeal of the unit. Baby Steps, but steps all the same.
It’s taking time, and the job is nowhere near finished, but when you can’t afford to completely flip a unit and you still manage to wind up with some tenants who bring in illegal and destructive pets, hoard garbage, breed roaches, and put their fists through walls and doors on a regular basis while defaulting on the rent, it’s not just a simple challenge for me to keep things nice or make them nicer. Trust me on this!
So here’s what I think. I think they need a new reality show called Rental Property Impossible, and a charismatic TV personality with money to burn who can come into my units and really finish fixing them up — then hooking me up with a magical computer program that background checks prospective tenants, and sends up red flags and has sirens blare whenever asked to check out a potential deadbeat or total train wreck. Warning Will Robinson!!! Warning!!!! Warning!!!!
Failing that, I want to see a version of Anglie’s List where landlords can list tenants who trash their property and have to be evicted leaving carnage in their wake! Yep! THAT I could DEFINITELY get behind!! 😉