Lessons learned from being a landlord…Going cheap cost you more

One of the goofiest lessons I learned and I say goofiest, because it never crossed my mind in a million years that this would happen.

I had this tenant named Donna. Donna was a tenant for about three years. She was on section eight (government assistance).

She had already gotten another apartment approved for her to rent before she calls me and tells me she is moving out. I hated to see her go. But it happens. It was smart on her part to get the other one approved before she let me know.

Donna, was a little bit of a hoarder so needless to say she had a lot of junk in her place. What was weird though is she had a bunch of baby stuff. Like brand new stuff that had never been used. And she didn’t have kids.

Donna, calls me a couple of weeks later and tells me that she had taken everything she wanted from her apartment.

I said, “Ok. But did you leave anything in there?” She said she left a few things.

I trusted Donna, so I didn’t think much about it. We said a few words and that was that.

I go over to the apartment and quickly found out that she left a bunch of crap. I called her, but she didn’t answer and didn’t care any longer, because she already had her new place approved through section eight, so I was left with cleaning this place up.

By this time in my evolution as a landlord I thought I was a little more advanced. I didn’t do things I knew I could pay someone to do for me. But I was still cheap though.

I call up a reputable company to come out and give me a quote. Three guys come out. One guy you could tell was the boss and then he had two other guys with him.

I don’t mean to be disparaging here, but all three looked like convicts. I think the main guy picked the other two guys up at the Labor Ready office that morning. Because it didn’t seem like they all knew each other that well.

The boss guy does a look around. The mess is evenly scattered throughout the apartment. This apartment is 1200 sq feet with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths.

After he does his assessment he calls, who I am assuming the big boss, and starts explaining to that person what it looked like.

While he is on the phone, I am in another room with the two other guys. One of the guys whispers to me that they would be willing to do the job themselves for $500 dollars.

When they whispered this to me, I had not gotten the quote from the boss guy. He was still in the other room on the phone.

I replied back to the guys when they gave me the price. And I pointed to them and said,

“Just you two, and not him?” One of the guys said yes. That they have a truck and would come back after their shift and do it. I said give me your phone number.

I also said, “Will $500 be cheaper than what he is about to say to me? He said “Yes, I guarantee it.”

The boss guy comes and find us. He says to me.

“This job is going to be several thousand dollars and we won’t do it unless you put all of the loose item in to boxes.”

I said, “why would I put it in boxes if you are just going to haul it out and throw it away?”

He said “We can’t move it without all of the small stuff being boxed up.”

I said, “Can’t you all box it up and haul it out?”

He said, “We can, but it is going to cost you more.”

It was obvious to me by this time that this was a job that was not what they normally do and it sounded like they really didn’t want to do it.

So I said to the boss guy, I will let you know what I want to do. But I had already made up my mind that I was going to call the other guys immediately.

They leave, and about an hour later. One of the guys calls me. Out of the two guys, one of them was the leader so to speak.

I met them over at the apartment around five to let them in. They were in a pick up truck and not in one of the big van trucks like they were in earlier and like most moving company’s have.

We confirmed the price again, and I asked them how long it would take. They said a couple of hours.

I said “sounds good” and I left.

Don’t ask me why I was so trusting other than being an idiot, but I knew they wanted the money and I wasn’t going to pay them unless the job was done and done well.

About an hour or so later, the leader guy calls me.

He said “Do you care if we keep any of this stuff?” I said “Heck no”.

He said “Even some of this newer stuff, it is probably worth money?”

I said “I just want it all gone, I could care less.”

We hang up.

About another half hour goes by and he calls me again.

He says “Do you have someone that is going to do the actual cleaning of the place?”

I said “I do, but would you do it and for how much.”

As a landlord you just want to get things done as quickly as possible.

He said “Their wives would do it for an extra $200 dollars.”

I told him what I expected to be done and he said ok.

About three hours go by and he calls me and says they are done.

I go over with the cash in hand. I look at the apartment and they had done a great job. The two guys were there and so were their wives.

I was quite satisfied with their work. I paid them and they left.

About three weeks later, my tenant downstairs calls me and says that there are two citations on her front door from the city. I said what do they say? She couldn’t really tell me, so I go over there later on and pick them up.

I couldn’t understand the citations. So I call the number on the document.

A lady answers the phone and looks the citations up in their system.

She then says “Are you a landlord?”

I said “Yes!”

She said “Did you recently have someone move out of one of your apartments at this address?”

I said “Yes!”

She said “We found a couple of places around the city where mail, furniture, and lots of other items (junk) had been thrown out in alleys, city dumpsters, and in the streets. Did you have someone remove the stuff for you?”

I said “Yes!”

She said “Do you have a receipt from that company, if so, we can reach out to them and let them know they are responsible for these citations!”

My heart sunk and I said “No” I don’t have any receipts.

She said “You are responsible for these citations then.”

I said “How do you even know it is from that apartment?”

She said “In each of the junk piles there was pieces of mail with that address on it.”

I am sure I could have pushed back a little more, but at time I don’t think I would have won. And if I didn’t pay them, they would have filed a lien on my place. So I just moved on and paid them.

I think each citation was $500 dollars or so. I paid them and once again learned a few lessons.

1. Get a receipt
2. Don’t hire people to do work when they openly try to steal business from their current employer while on the job for their current employer. They may not be the best characters.

To your success and your future.

Lessons learned from being a landlord: My tenant died…now what?

At 26, I bought my first income producing rental property. It was a duplex about a mile or so from where I lived.

When I purchased the property, I inherited tenants that had leases in place already. And as I have shared many times, outside of just buying the duplex I hadn’t thought much deeper than that. But I would quickly learn a lot of valuable lessons about being a landlord the hard way.

About six months or so into owning the duplex I get a call from a guy claiming to be Wanda’s brother. Wanda was one of my tenants and she also had two children that lived with her. Wanda was in a wheelchair most of the time and had actually lost one her legs because of diabetes. Wanda wasn’t very old either.

I was immediately thinking why is he calling me.

He told me that Wanda had been in the hospital for several weeks and had died.

I was surprised but not shocked. I told him that I was sorry for his loss.

He said that he had been over to the duplex and has picked up his nieces and nephews things. And that they would be living with them now. He was a very nice and sincere guy. We talked for a just a few minutes.

I asked him about Byron and what would Byron be doing now. He acted like Byron didn’t even exist. And he said I don’t know anything about him.

Byron was my tenants boyfriend and he was always over there. I think he was somewhat of a streetwalker and found Wanda and shacked up with her as a way off the streets. So the fact that her brother didn’t even acknowledge his existence seemed weird to me, but I didn’t make a big deal of it with him. We hung up and that was the last time I ever heard from him or anything to do with Wanda.

Regardless of their situation, Byron being there while Wanda was a live was a violation of the lease and the law and my tenant could loose her section eight voucher if the government ever learned about this. I never made a big deal of it, because I didn’t want to lose my tenant. I assumed with her passing away and him not being on the lease he would just leave now.

Well, he didn’t leave. I learned very quickly about something called squatters rights

Once I spoke with Byron I gave him a week to get his things out and move out. I thought that was plenty of time. After the week was up, I told him I would be changing the locks. I would soon learn this was a big mistake.

I had the locks changed on a Friday afternoon. That Saturday morning was the day I was going to start the rehab of the apartment. I ride over to the duplex around 7 am and I notice the front door cracked open and you could tell the door jam had been busted.

I wasn’t thinking anything other than someone must have known the place was vacant and broke in. So I didn’t get out of my car. Instead I called the police.

Once the police arrived I got out of my car and told them why I called them. It was obvious the door was broken. I follow them up to the steps of the door and we notice a big metal bar laying next to the steps. This was the tool the intruder used to break the door open.

We walk in and the police are yelling “police are here”. In this apartment, you walk through the front door and you are in a large family room. This is where the tenants usually had their couch and tv.

You could see a body wrapped up in blankets on the couch. They walk over and are yelling at the top of their lungs “police, police” and finally the person wakes up.

it was Byron laying there. He sits up and most likely his still high or hungover from the night before and is saying “what, what”. And is very startled as anyone would be.

At this time, I started cussing at Byron. And I am saying “what the fuck did you do to my door?. He then starts saying that he was sorry and that he didn’t have anywhere to go.

In my state of absolute madness one of the police officers pulled me to the side and told me about squatters rights. And the process I would have to follow to get him out of there. I just couldn’t believe there was a law for someone to actually occupy a property they had no right to be in.

After the police left and I had calmed down, I asked Byron what his game plan was because he couldn’t stay there unless he paid rent. He asked me if I would give him a little more time to get his things out of the place.

Byron and Wanda were both hoarders. So they had the place full of junk. Literally nothing but junk everywhere. Think of an episode of hoarders and this is what it looked like.

Based off what the officers told me, I was better off to work with him instead of going through the judicial system and the court to get him out of there. So I agreed I would give him a little more time. Even though I was furious about the door.

Later on that night, I rode by the duplex again. This time, I could see a crack in the busted up front door again. Instead of calling the police I opened the door myself.

This time I see Byron, the crazy lady in the duplex next door (which is another story for another day), and her son and they are all sitting in the front room smoking pot. I think it was pot, it could have been crack.

Again, I was livid and said I was calling the police and I told the neighbor and her son that they were trespassing. I don’t know if that is the legal term or not, but as you can imagine I was really pissed off and that is all I knew to say.

The police arrived again. Again nothing really could be done. They told the neighbors they can’t be inside the apartment and they didn’t do anything to Byron.

The nosy crackhead neighbor lady always sat outside on the front porch. So on Sunday, I rode over to the duplex. I acted like I was on the phone, because I knew she would be listening.

So I am standing there acting like I am talking to someone and I say “He is gone. Can you all be over here tonight to throw everything out?” I may have said some other things, but that was the gist of it.

Then I left.

Literally about three hours later. I get a call from Byron and he says he has moved out of the place. I said, “Oh great, you got everything out of the place?”

He said “No!”

I said “Why not?”

He said “I don’t want anything in there!”

I said, “Ok, but you can’t leave me with all of that stuff!” And at that time I really didn’t know how much it was actually cost me to get rid of it all.

He said “Well, I don’t want anything and I heard you were going to have people over to get rid of it anyway.” I said “How did you hear that?” (even though I knew my planned had worked)

He said the lady next door had to told him.

I was glad my planned worked and I knew she would tell him.

I hung up with Byron and never heard from the guy again.

I think it cost me about $3,000 dollars to replace the door. I am still mad about that, because it wouldn’t have happened if I had not changed the locks before I had the Byron situation resolved.

So what is the lesson I learned here, well there are several.

  • Don’t let someone not on the lease live at your place.
  • Learn about the laws around tenants and landlords or consult an attorney.
  • Lastly, in todays world there are a lot more resources at your fingertips that can assist you through your journey becoming a landlord. Be sure to use them.

Another lesson I learned through this ordeal is why it is important to always get a receipt when you are hiring contractors, or people pretending to be contractors, because you may need that receipt to prevent you from having to spend an extra $500 dollars on fines that you weren’t planning for. Check in tomorrow to learn about this one.

To your success and your future.