Tenant Terrorism?

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June 2, 2017 by phicks2012

Ever owned rental property? If not, here’s a hint: Some rental tenants are good, and others — OMG!


I’ve been getting better tenants over time as improvements have been made to my units and higher rents could therefore be asked, but I still get problems. To begin with my rental rates were well below the norm because my former property manager had been charging me for repairs he was not doing. As a result, repairs and improvements were needed. Now the rents are higher because the units are a lot nicer, and usually (though I hate to say it) I get the worst problems from the tenants paying the least rent.


While this, thankfully, is not always true, it tends to be the tenant paying the least rent who chronically pays late (or not at all unless threatened with imminent eviction), and who takes the least care of their unit. Oddly enough, those tenants are also nearly always the most demanding, the least reasonable, and the least civil. Go figure!


So, one day in late April one of my tenants — a good tenant who pays her rent regularly and on time, takes care of her unit, and is always polite — asked me if we could install a storm door on her back door if she “bought one”. I said we could, and we picked up a door to install, but when we got there it was too wide. It would have fit the front door (where she already had a storm door), but the back door frame was several inches narrower.


I was going to go back to Lowe’s and swap it out, but Jason persuaded me to install it instead on the front door of the adjacent unit, and to get another door for the original tenant’s back door. Since I was planning to put storm doors on the front doors of all of the units at my own expense anyway (eventually, and one-at-a-time as they could be afforded), I agreed. We did that, and the second tenant was thrilled.  End of story? Not quite. Nothing is ever THAT simple, right?


On May 9th I got a text message from a third tenant saying that her toilet was running non-stop, and also claiming she’d been told by tenant #2 that “everybody was getting storm doors”, and asking when she would be getting “her” storm door.


To begin with, she should have contacted my property manager instead of me. That’s the way it works, and I only gave out my cell number to be used in case of emergency. However, I let that pass and texted her (very politely) that I’d be glad to see to it that her toilet was checked out, but that tenant #2 had gotten her door due to a mistaken purchase, and that I had no plans to install storm doors on the other two units immediately — though I’d probably be doing so in the near future.


Apparently this was totally unacceptable!! I got a hostile text in return stating that she’d been asking for a storm door for a year (not true, no such request had EVER been made), and that she’d lived there longer than any of the other tenants (not true, she signed the lease but has never actually lived there — her daughter and son-in-law have been living there). She further stated that she was sick and tired of everyone else always “getting things done” while she was ignored.


Let me tell you a little something. One: They have not asked for anything. Two: The other tenants get priority because they are “good tenants”. Tenant #2 got the door for that reason, and because putting the door on that unit would give the one duplex matching front doors. Three: The other tenants take care of their units, don’t leave trash in the yards, don’t have rotting furniture in back that has to be moved when the grass is cut, don’t tear up the window blinds, don’t lie about having a pit bull (for which they refuse to pay a required pet deposit), don’t stiff Jason when they’re supposed to pay him for yard work, and don’t have a bad attitude.


On the other hand, obviously, the people under discussion right now do all of those things, and have been served four times in the past year with eviction papers, costing me money every time it has to happen. I think I’m safe in saying, therefore, that they are not particularly “good tenants”.


I ignored that text, because I really don’t HAVE to deal directly with tenants at all, and because I sensed that it would be a mistake to interact further. That’s what I have a Property Manager for. The woman then texted me again threatening me with Code Enforcement if I didn’t provide her with a storm door. I ignored that too, and drove to my Property Manager’s office (colorfully cursing all the way) to let them know what was going on.


There was a considerable amount of eye-rolling and head shaking going on as they listened to my tirade and read the email the women was actually sending them while I was standing there.  There was a laundry list of complaints never heard about previously –and probably 90% bogus– and absolutely no seeming grasp of the fact that she (and her daughter and son-in-law) were anything other than model tenants who were “entitled” to pretty much anything they demanded loudly enough. Yeah! THAT’ll work!!


I was assured (by my property manager) that I was in no way required to provide this tenant or any other with a storm door (this would be an “improvement”, not a “repair”), or in fact to deal directly with her at all. They promptly advised me to block her number on my cell, and BOY did that feel good! BLOCK NUMBER! YEAH!


I also told them that while Jason and I normally would have gone by to fix the toilet I was NOT going over to that unit to do the work myself when I knew I’d be subjected to verbal abuse from a hostile tenant with an unwarranted sense of entitlement. I asked them to have one of their own guys go by to adjust (or change out) the flush mechanism, and they said “No problem”. Of course not! In fact, the guy actually living there had laid claim to having contracting experience and a rank amateur could have replaced it for $10 and in 5 minutes. I’ve done it myself often enough to KNOW, thank you very much!


Ironically, aside from the toilet thing, the tenant’s only “valid” complaint turned out to be that her roof was leaking when it rained hard. This was the first time we’d heard anything at all about it from ANY of the tenants, mind you. However, I’d already been told by my Property Manager that the roofs had taken damage in the recent past from bad weather, so I’d already gotten estimates (three weeks earlier on and around April 20th) from several roofing companies. I was already planning to file an insurance claim and to hopefully get the roofs redone ANYWAY.


My property manager will be increasing the rent on this unit when the time comes to renew the lease, and with any luck these people will opt to move out (preferably without trashing the place) since they clearly cannot be counted on to pay even a lower rent reliably. Jason, who can always be counted on to think up a colorful scenario, speculates that the husband deals drugs to supplement his wife’s income, and that they’re now having trouble paying the rent because the local cops are cracking down on drug dealers. He further speculates that the mother-in-law had to sign the lease in the first place because he’s probably a felon who can’t pass a background check. Jason (while imaginative) may or may not be right. In any case though, I’d been feeling sorry for the mother-in-law — whose credit score was probably being repeatedly damaged by the string of late rent payments and eviction proceedings — until she sent me those texts. Now — not so much! LOLOL


As for the rest, the insurance adjuster came out on May 15th and met the roofing company there, and they agreed that my insurance would be covering the repairs — except for the deductible and some sort of depreciation, of course. They are, after all, an INSURANCE company, so almost by definition they HAVE to find a  way out of covering the whole deal, right? That or find a way to cover as little as possible.


I had to take out a loan (that’s going to take me a year or so to pay off) to cover the balance and the deductible, but hopefully getting new roofs (and new gutters) will substantially please the good tenants and keep the bad ones at bay for a bit. Either that, or I may have to hire a bodyguard named Knuckles. 😉

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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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