Rent: Countdown to Doom

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April 8, 2016 by phicks2012

imagesIn March I lost two tenants. One was evicted for non-payment of rent — he seemingly thought he was immune, and the other needed to move to a larger place. It was just a coincidence that both units fell vacant at nearly the same time, but I hate it when that happens — for both financial and physical reasons. Financially, it means that I don’t have rent coming in on the units (though I still have to pay taxes and insurance on them of course), and physically, because it means that I’m going to be spending the next few weeks cleaning, repairing, and improving.

The eviction happened first, and the unit was in pretty good shape. Unlike some departing tenants this one didn’t leave rotten food, trash, nasty clothing, disgusting furniture, puched out walls and roaches in his wake, but there was still work to be done. We had to move out two pieces of ripped-up furniture, replace a shattered shower knob, repair a closet door, replace some door moldings, replace the doorknobs and deadbolts, touch up wall scrapes, clean the refrigerator, oven, bathtub and toilet, sweep and mop the floors, spray for bugs (just in case), and remount a wall socket. We also added a ceiling fan and put a peephole in the front door, but all of this took only a few days because — frankly we’d gotten good at it. 😉

But the second unit had been rented right after I fired Tricky Tom – my former property manager — and wasn’t therefore in superior shape from the onset. Then, it had been occupied for several years, so was long overdue, as a result, for a major face-lift. The tenants had left it reasonably clean, but the remaining carpet was all but destroyed, the walls needed painting and repairing BADLY, and all of the woodwork (meant to be wood-stained) had been half-painted with flat latex wall paint (but not where furniture had been sitting or where it was hard to reach) and desperately needed to be re-stained. The globes were missing from every light fixture, the ceilings needed repainting, the refrigerator had to be replaced, the range and oven had to be cleaned, blinds needed to be replaced, two closet shelves were either down or totally missing, ceiling vents needed to be taken down and repainted, a chandelier and a ceiling fan needed to be replaced, two rooms of carpet had to be removed and then something needed to be done to the floors (and we only had 12 days to do all of this).

Ideally, this should have been do-able. However, my usual helper (and all-around Jack-of-all-trades) Jason has issues with his nerves, and sometimes he’s easily angered or irritated by pretty much nothing at all. Suddenly I was dealing with that as well — just when I most desperately needed his help to finish readying the second unit, and I also suspect there’s some OCD in there too. He just has to have everything “perfect” before he’ll move on to the next task, and doing a job well enough to “get by” just isn’t in his lexicon. Don’t get me wrong, that’s an excellent thing if you have time for perfection, but maybe not so much when time is an issue, and being yelled at — especially over trivialities — is NEVER helpful.

I can paint, clean, and do a lot of other things, but I totally lack skill in repairing sheet rock and don’t have the physical strength to easily pull up carpeting and padding and drag it out to the curb — or load and unload a refrigerator. I also don’t have the electrical know-how to replace a ceiling fan — but more to the point I lack the upper body strength to hold something like that up while balancing on a ladder. The time and ability simply didn’t exist for me to do everything myself, and the money wasn’t seemingly there to hire someone else to do the work, so the panic was rising fast. Tick-Tick-Tick.

With 7 days left in the countdown Jason insisted he wanted to work in the unit alone the next day so that he wouldn’t have me “underfoot” — as IF — but then failed to show up. I wound up over there alone trying to finish re-staining, but still had four badly-painted DOORS to re-stain when I left, and the stress levels were mounting.

Only 6 days left at that point, and no one else I could call upon to help me finish up in time if he didn’t come around. I was still hopeful, mind you, but the next day he again put me off, and I wound up going by myself AGAIN to scrape mirror stickers off of walls, stain woodwork (trim and doors), touch up and edge around ceilings prior to painting the walls, clean the range top and oven (thank GOD the power was still on and the oven was self-cleaning), mop with vinegar water to help with the lingering pet smell, and spray again for bugs (just in case).

Jason finally said that if I would drop him off the NEXT day, he’d spend the whole day working, and I figured if he wanted to do that on Easter Sunday that was his choice — me, after two days of slaving alone I had other plans!! He did mostly finish up the kitchen that day, but there was still a ceiling fan to move and another to install, a chandelier to hang, a ceiling to patch, two rooms of ruined carpet to pull up (and concrete to stain), and (of course) the entire rest of the unit to repaint before Friday. OUCH!

So, on Monday morning, with only 4 days remaining, I dropped him off and ran some quick errands — mainly picking up materials and equipment. Things were calm enough when I returned, but after I finished using the roller on the doors to finish those up he put me to work repainting the entire living room with Kilz to keep the dark paint (etc) from bleeding through. I did TRY. Let me tell you though, Kilz tends to be a bit thick and sticks to itself if you don’t move quickly, and painting isn’t necessarily a job you really want to do with pulled back/butt muscles. I regret to say that we wound up in a literal shouting match over my supposed incompetence before finally calling it a day, at 3:00 PM, and I wasn’t at ALL sure he’d go back the next day. That would have just TOTALLY sucked.

Tuesday morning, with only 3 days remaining and still needing to repaint both bedrooms, the hall, the living room, and the bathroom, do the ceiling fans, replace the dining area chandelier, pull up the bedroom carpeting, and do the floors, and I was in FULL panic mode. I dropped Jason off and went out to get sheetrock repair patches and replacement outlets, and then (after dropping those off) the plan was for me to do the long overdue grocery shopping, buy horse feed, take it all home, unload it, and come back later to get him. Remember, he didn’t want me “underfoot”, and being yelled at again wasn’t really high on my to-do list either, even though I felt I really ought to be working to move the project forward. When Jason told me he was only planning to work until 2:00 PM my stress levels ratcheted up yet AGAIN — and I didn’t think my ratchet had that many gears 😉 — but THANK GOD he had a change of heart and called me while I was shopping to tell me he’d decided to work until 5:00 PM instead. By day’s end the kitchen was done except for resecuring a cabinet, finishing the ceiling patch, moving in the Frig, and replacing the chandelier and the regular ceiling fixture. The living room was done except for the ceiling fan. Hallellujah!

Wednesday, and the city had left a “note” saying they were going to be closing the entire street for “sewer repairs” that day. WONDERFUL! We only had 2 days left before the new tenant moved in, and might not be able to get to the unit!! Luckily, the sewer work stopped before the unit, so we got in. Jason finished up the kitchen (except for the light fixtures), and I finished up trim (except for a couple of odd spots where metal brackets had to be pried off), edged around the ceiling in the master bedroom, worked on cleaning paint off of the bathroom light fixture, managed to get a rust spot off of the tub and two-sided tape off of the kitchen splash board, made another run on Lowe’s, argued with Jason some more, and finally (in desperation) called my management company to negotiate for a few more days.

Amazingly, I found out that a part of the reason the unit had been rented so quickly was that the former tenant (nice lady, but even she told me they’d had no idea how bad it looked until they got their furniture out) told my property manager the unit would be “move-in ready” when they left. This, by the way, is where I erupt into gales of hysterical laughter — but I did get 3 more days.

Thursday, with the countdown revised and 4 days now remaining, an early start was planned. Jason had worked for three hours at home the night before to clean and repaint vents, and to make sure the refrigerator was right, and I’d tried for hours to get the bathroom light fixture cleaned before we decided simply to replace it, and to calligraph a wooden plaque for the pantry door. After smearing my lower back liberally with Bengay and dosing with Aleve (GOD, but I was looking forward to having some time to heal up) I steeled myself for another day of painting and we took off.

I painted the ceilings in two bedrooms, the bathroom, and the hallway, perched on a ladder and edged around those ceilings, spread Kilz on the walls of the guest room to seal dozens of oil spots — did they have squirt bottle fights with massage oil? — that otherwise would have bled through the new paint, and did some more staining. Jason did electrical work, replacing the dining area chandelier, the kitchen light, and a number of outlets, and installing a ceiling fan in the living room. The kitchen and livingroom were done, except for putting back some vents we took down to clean and repaint. The bedroom, bathroom, and hall walls were ready to paint.

Friday morning, and with the revised countdown we had 3 days to finish up. I dropped Jason off, and the game plan was to pull up the ravaged carpet and padding, and to start painting those rooms. I’d called the hardware store the afternoon before to have another gallon of paint ready for pickup on Friday, and I was really hopeful that the remaining rooms would be quickly painted. The ceiling fan for the master bedroom was missing it’s mounting hardware — don’t ASK how they had it installed — so we couldn’t shift it to the living room as planned. We hung the one intended for the bedroom in there and decided to get another one for the bedroom. *Sighs* Yet another expense, but there you have it!

Saturday morning we planned to take the refrigerator, and did. The carpet was pulled up, the guest bedroom and bathroom painted, the master bedroom “mostly painted. I was planning to get the floors painted while Jason finished up the master bedroom and installed the fan there –didn’t happen, and we didn’t get the hall painted either — or the blinds hung, or the bathroom light fixture reattached, or the shelves rehung, or the vents reattached, or any of the floors painted. Jason was still in a volatile mood — meaning that nothing I said or did was right — and while he obsessed with minutiae nothing major was getting done.

Did we get everything done? Surely, at this point, you MUST be wondering, right?

Well, if you’ve stuck it out through this endless narrative, you do deserve to know, and the answer is “Maybe”. Even mostly done it looked about 3000% better, and was virtually unrecognizable as the same unit. Brighter, cleaner, repaired, and with some nice improvements — but Jason didn’t help me finish it. On Sunday he totally bailed — and MAN was I getting tired of passive aggressive BS.

I spent the day over there working alone while desperately trying to find ANYone who could help me. Not easy on a Sunday. Why do things like this always happen on Sundays anyway? Anyhow, my friend John G. finally recommended his friend John M., who called me and met me back at the unit at 7pm. We stayed until after 11pm, and went back in the morning at 7:30 to finish up. Because we ran out of time and paint we didn’t get the walls in the hall painted, or the floor in the living room, but everything else was done and John was willing to go back and do the remaining painting after the tenant moved in.

That should have done it, but NOOOO. I had to get everything done before the tenant could move in, now I’ve been promised that will be done TONIGHT!

GOD, please tell me it finally will be over in the next few hours!

As for me, I want a Vacation!!!!!! I want a MASSAGE!!! I don’t even want to HEAR the word “duplex” for a while unless there’s a rent deposit involved!!! So there!!!


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I am an active, outgoing person interested in all sorts of things and all sorts of people! I'm constantly discovering new interests, and expect that to continue right into the grave!

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