November 23, 2015 by phicks2012
So, I had this empty, newly vacated, rental unit, and we’d been busily making it ready for new tenants — because if I don’t keep my units rented I can’t easily afford to pay the insurance and the ridiculous property taxes on the things. Go figure!!
Every time one of my units is vacated, while the management company is trying to find new tenants, we go in and make repairs, but we also make improvements. The point here is that every time we start looking for new renters the units are in better shape than they were the time before — meaning they are more attractive to nice people who might actually take care of them and pay the rent — as opposed to appealing to meth-heads or roach-breeders — and they can possibly be rented for just a bit more. My current management company is VASTLY superior to the one I had before, so hope always springs eternal, in that regard.
Well, this time we had on our list to repair a bathtub (cracked by the previous tenant), replace a shower head (age) and tub stopper (who knows where that went), paint the bathroom (simple wear and tear), refurbish the hood over the stove (time and use), replace the dishwasher (old age), repair a closet shelf (put up by the former tenant using nails rather than screws, so it couldn’t realistically support weight and was falling down), re-stain some baseboards (due to an earlier sloppy paint job by a former tenant), clean and repaint a furnace vent (time and dust build-up), patch a hole in the wall of a closet (who knows), repair a hole in the inside of a closet door (how does that happen anyway?), put new globes on a chandelier (not sure where all of the old ones went), install a ceiling fan (simple improvement), and work on an ice-maker (somehow disconnected). That’s a lot, actually, and since I wasn’t being told by my management people that we had any prospective renters eagerly chomping at the bit, we weren’t really “rushing” all that much. We were just trying to do a good job.
But then on November 7th when I was planning to go to Danelaw (cool SCA event, by the way) I got a text message informing me that new tenants were on tap and that everything (meaning all of our cleaning, painting, and repairing equipment) had to be out of the unit that day. THAT DAY. No advance warning, and oh, by the way, I needed to make sure the smoke detectors were working, too.
Okay, so I sent texts letting them know that if Jason wasn’t available to help that day — and I had reason to believe he wouldn’t be — I simply would not be able to get everything done. I’m not exactly built for brute strength, after all, and my back was still trying to heal up. There was a lot of STUFF still in that unit, and anyone else I might have asked to help was otherwise committed. It works that way a lot when you you have to get things done at the last minute with no warning. I was told to do what I could — to get the supplies out, and that if I couldn’t get to the smoke detectors to leave new batteries for them on the kitchen counter.
I was not looking forward to this. However, since I needed to rent the unit ASAP (see above reference to insurance and taxes) I couldn’t really tell my management folks to get a reality check. I pretty much had to forget my SCA plans and take care of mundane business on my own. So, grumbling and setting my garb aside, I started looking for Jason, only to discover that (as expected) he was nowhere to be found. No physical manifestation of the Jason-ator, and he wasn’t answering his cell phone either, so it was a pretty good bet that he was off with his friend Eddie doing odd-job stuff, and had left his phone behind.
That meant I had to climb into The Beast, drive into town by myself in the rain, and make about 20 trips in the downpour in and out of the unit hauling tools, cans of paint, tarps, brooms, mops, assorted cleaning products, a 5-gallon bucket of sheetrock mud (I’m not even TRYING to estimate how much that sucker weighed) and a ladder — then sweeping and mopping.
When I was done I looked pretty much like I’d run fully clothed through a fountain, and we still hadn’t finished working on the ice-maker connecton, or assembling the new ceiling fan, or touching up the base boards in the dining area. I also told them the smoke detectors hadn’t been checked, but that I’d left batteries for them on the kitchen counter, as they’d requested. Okay, well, as wet and tired as I was, at least it was a relief to have gotten that done — but imagine my surprise when, on November 10th, the unit still wasn’t occupied, and the inspection I’d rushed to clean up for still hadn’t been done. Guess that’s what comes from dealing with a beaurocracy such as the one supposedly helping the proposed new tenant with her rent.
The up-side was that I could actually go back — this time with Jason in tow — and finish up the work. He wasn’t happy about it, mind you. He hates it when we get those “OMG it has to be done NOW” messages and have to drop everything to get something done. It also pisses him off when his time-table is thrown off, and when I have to do that sort of thing without him, so he was not really in a great mood.
But we went, got the rest of the work done, we thought, and then ran like Kenyans on speed. Okay, actually we didn’t “run”, but we did “get the hell out of Dodge”, and I sent a text to my management folks saying (in essence) “We’re done. We’re out of here”. Then, when I got home, I sent a follow-up email listing everything we’d accomplished (both repairs and improvements) with attached photos to prove it, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Done, right?
Jason figured they’d still come up with one or two things they thought needed doing, but I was pretty sure I’d headed that off by saying the budget was maxed out. Wrong answer. Nope. The next weekend — why is it always the weekend? — I got another text message saying the smoke detectors still needed to be checked (immediately, of course, because this time inspection was being done on Monday the 16th), and that there was no smoke detector in the kitchen. Apparently they’d forgotten having told me just to leave the batteries.
<Sigh> Every time we get a unit ready we seem to have to replace those things (those and the toilet paper roll holder bars). I’m guessing that the smoke detectors in the kitchens go off when the tenants are cooking, so instead of just taking the batteries out they remove the detectors. I have NO IDEA what it is with the toilet paper roll holders!
So, on Sunday November 15th, with two of the units still not having paid their monthly rent as far as I could tell, we had to drive into town, drop by Lowe’s for a smoke detector, and go to the empty unit to install it, and to make sure the other one in the hall was still working.Turns out the detector in the hall was hardwired into the house and couldn’t be checked without power, so we just added another one there, and the instructions on the new detectors said NOT to put them in the kitchen. We put one there anyway, because we’d been told one was needed and I didn’t want to get another text message telling me to go back. So there! DONE!
But on November 18th, guess what!! A text message informing me that there were roaches in the unit, and I needed to have it sprayed. Trust me on this. We worked in there for WEEKS, replacing the dishwasher, working behind the refrigerator, working inside the cabinets and closets, there was never a single sign of a bug. I went ahead and told my management company to have it sprayed, and I’ll be stuck paying for it, but, trust me, the new tenant BROUGHT THOSE ROACHES WITH HER. This is NOT a good sign for the future.
Am I done now? Now, can I just have a few months with all four units rented to people who’ll take care of them and pay their rent? Please?