Rent: The Next Sequel

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March 19, 2018 by phicks2012

As some may recall, I have four rental units that supposedly help to bolster my income — and enjoy an ongoing challenge to find tenants who 1)actually pay their rent, 2)take reasonable care of their units and don’t turn the yards into toxic waste dump sites, and 3)aren’t calling constantly for repairs because they can’t figure out how to properly use a thermostat or a toilet.

I currently have 3 good tenants (for which I am insanely grateful), and one new tenant (the jury’s still out on that one), but my worst tenants over the past 2 years have been a couple (now thankfully gone) who cleverly got her quarrelsome and perverse mother to sign the lease for them. We’re guessing they did this because they couldn’t risk a background check themselves, and obviously the dodge worked, but clearly we couldn’t check the mother for an “Amiability Quotient”.

Because they seemingly considered “rent” to be an optional or alien concept, they were served eight times over about 16 months with eviction papers before, eventually failing to catch up in January of 2018 (after their eighth court date) and thereafter finally getting the proverbial boot. Imagine that!!

Despite their repeated failures to pay their rent until actually threatened with eviction, their propensity for junking up the yard, their talent for shredding window blinds (what’s WITH that anyway?), and their inclusion of an illegal pet (a pitbull for whom no pet deposit was ever paid — and how is it even POSSIBLE to deny having a large-breed dog when EVERYbody has seen it and it leaves rather conspicuous poop-piles all over the yard?) they were also the mouthiest and least reasonable of my tenants.

Okay, so the couple were nice to my face and nasty behind my back, while the mother simply was nasty both ways. I was concerned at first that her personal credit rating was being trashed by the non-rent-paying antics of her daughter and spouse until I had to deal with her, and after that — Nah, not so much! LOL

When their stove had issues, they never reported it to my property manager, but instead went around telling every neighbor who would listen that their stove was a death-trap and that their complaints were being ignored by the evil landlord. That would be ME.

By the way, the same evil landlord got them a new stove when she finally found out there was a problem, but suffice it to say that this was their habitual M.O., and they always insisted that they’d been complaining for MONTHS without a response. Yeah. Right. Maybe to the neighbors or even to Donald Trump on Twitter, but definitely not to my property manager, or to me.

When I hung a storm door for another tenant (who PAID for it, by the way) the mother threatened me with “Code Enforcement” if I didn’t get them one too (for free). Dream On. She also somehow believed, in her deluded fantasies, that since they were arguably my “oldest” tenants, they ought to get preferential treatment when it came to any improvements. Sorry, but no. Everybody gets repairs if needed, but GOOD tenants get upgrades and improvements first. BAD tenants who fail to pay their rent, trash their units and threaten their landlord move to the END of the line. Experiment with logic, folks. Cause and Effect.

Normally, I hate losing tenants, because it always means going in and taking care of cleaning, and repairs and (more frequently than I’d like) bug bombing. It also means having to find new tenants, and worrying about how THOSE will turn out, but, to tell the truth, I’d been fantasizing for quite a while about seeing the last of THESE people.

They weren’t the worst tenants I’d ever had, which should probably tell you something. They weren’t the bat-shit craziest, and they weren’t in the wholesale roach-breeding and trash-hoarding business. They weren’t running a frat house, and their illegal dog didn’t eat the sheetrock (only the door frames) and/or contribute piles of excrement and puddles of urine that penetrated all the way into the slab, but they were “among” the most unpleasant, and they did set the all-time record for the most eviction proceedings.

During their tenancy, they got a new stove, a new hot water heater, a new roof, new gutters, and a/c repairs from their evil landlord. They did not get a storm door. I also had to pay to get the regular doors re-keyed though. Twice.

On top of that, they were paying the least rent of any of my tenants because they’d been in a hurry to move in and hadn’t given me time to have tile done on the floors — to replace the carpet that had been totally destroyed by the previous tenant — and when they first moved in the husband said that he’d worked previously as a contractor and was going to redo the floors himself. <Insert hysterical laughter here>

God only knows, I was hoping that when we went inside we’d find he’d actually managed that feat and done a decent job of it, because the notion of shelling out $2K+ to redo all of the floors just made my wallet bleed. On the other hand, with the floors redone and a few other minor improvements, the rent could be raised to be comparable to the more improved units, so it was a definite investment, right?

So, when we got the new keys and went in on January 24th after their eviction, we were pleasantly surprised in some ways, but (of course) not in others. The unit was empty of debris and neither roach-infested nor horribly dirty. The appliances were all present, and in good shape, and no one had left any “gifts” in the bathroom. That’s been done too.

On the other hand, all of the window blinds were mangled, and I use that word literally. There were two holes in the living room walls (at kick level), the hall door was entirely missing, and the facings on several door frames (up to about knee level), where completely chewed away by the dog the former tenants claimed they didn’t have. The smoke alarms were missing, the door knobs were missing from a closet, the a/c filter looked like it hadn’t been changed in a decade, the drip pans on the range needed replacing (they were sort of beyond SOS Pads or Brillo), and I discovered that what little flooring the tenant had put down was — to put it kindly “not well done”. There were also a number of little wooden sticks protruding from small holes in the living room walls (and from the doorbell chimes) where they’d jammed in stick-incense — first time I ever saw THAT particular oddity, but I’m told it’s a popular dodge with pot-smokers to disguise the telltale aroma. 😉

$250 and a lot of aisle-hopping at Lowe’s and Ace Hardware later, I thought I’d successfully collected pretty much everything Jason and I needed to replace damaged or missing items (except for that door) and make repairs, and I’d already arranged to someone to come and clean the place the next day.

However, I had to face the expensive fact that the floors did all had to be redone, so I knew that $250 wouldn’t be the end of it. Nope. I wasn’t going to get that lucky.

So, I readied myself for several days of fix-up, called a local flooring company I’d used before, asking for an estimate, and bit the proverbial bullet.

A week and a day after the “The Eviction”, on Tuesday January 30th, the flooring folks came, and THAT job (at least) was finished. By the 3-week point we’d had the place cleaned and re-tiled and bombed for bugs, replaced the blinds, patched and repainted the livingroom, replaced the closet door knob, replaced the smoke alarms, painted two ceilings and touched up some other walls, repaired the rear storm door, replaced the missing globes on the porch light and the dining room light, replaced the weather covers on the outdoor electrical outlets, replaced most of the indoor electrical outlets and covers, replaced five pieces of door molding, repaired the bi-fold doors on the closet with the furnace and hot water heater, installed a new furnace filter, replaced the drip pans on the stove, replaced the faucets in the kitchen sink, stained and put down quarter-round around the baseboards, replaced the bathroom light fixture, “repaired” (okay, disguised some damage to) an interior door by putting kick-plate at the bottom and a mirror on the inside, and were FINALLY able to walk away feeling pretty damn good about the results.

So wish me luck that the new tenant in that unit will be a good, long-term occupant!

My evil landlord bucket list still includes a few more things though — in addition to rent-gouging and twirling my handbar moustache — like:

1) Painting all the outside trim-work (that’s coming soon).

2) Installing ceiling fans in the living rooms in 3 units (one already has one).

2) Installing ceiling fans in all remaining bedrooms (I think there are four remaining).

3) Replacing the bathroom and kitchen cabinets in all units (eventually) with something a lot less dated — I found out the other day that the 1980s style currently present is called “French Provencial Route”. Who knew?

4) Fencing the back yards to stop people from strolling through and unsupervised neighborhood kids easily getting in. Right now we’re not having much trouble with either, but we have in the past.

Who’d have thought an evil landlord would have a bucket list?

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March 2018


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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