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Landlord: A Lifelong Dream- NOT!

Updated on January 2, 2013
pic of dirty shower/tub
pic of dirty shower/tub
pic of dirty shower
pic of dirty shower
pic of dirty carpet
pic of dirty carpet
pic of stained carpet
pic of stained carpet
pic of dirty oven
pic of dirty oven
pic of dirty stovetop
pic of dirty stovetop
pic of dirty film on range
pic of dirty film on range

Being a landlord was not one of my childhood dreams. I never sought out to be a landlord. After having to move for my husband's job, and not being able to sell our home, I became a landlord out of necessity. It's one of those things that if someone had told me that I would be a landlord in the future, I wouldn't have believed them.

Thankfully, I do have common sense and made sure to have an official rental agreement with a move-in inspection that the tenant and I both signed. With that said, no matter how many things you do right as a business person, you are not guaranteed anything, especially when it comes to depending on mankind and their faults.

The first tenant was an acquaintance of mine. I've heard horror stories about renting to friends, especially when there was no signed lease agreement. In this case, they were the ideal renters. They paid on time each month. They called me or emailed me if they had a question, but it wasn't a daily or weekly thing.

However, my second and last tenant would make me wish that I'd sent gifts to my first renters when they lived there. My second renters were needy from the beginning. Knowing what I now know, if they are needy from the beginning, I would not rent to them. It will only get worse once they are in the property.

My second renters were dishonest from the beginning. They lied on the rental application about their eviction history (I found out much later). Once they were in the property, they almost immediately found something wrong where there was nothing wrong.

They said there was an electrical problem and the certified electrician found nothing wrong except for a wireless socket in the garage that needed to be replaced and a fan switch in the bedroom. Of course, they were claiming that the faulty socket was causing an electrical hazard and was causing their laptop, IPhone, and lamp to malfunction and were worried about a fire hazard. The whole idea that a wireless light socket is not related to the other electrical devices in the house seemed to be too common sense for them to wrap their heads around.

I'm not going to go into all of the complaints, but there were a couple in the 7 short months that they lived there. You'd think that with such high expectations, they would pay rent on time. But, that is not the case. In fact, there was only one month where they paid in full and on time.

When I could've evicted them at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I didn't. I showed them some grace and gave them the benefit of the doubt. Should I have? Hindsight is a terrible thing. Even knowing what the end-result was, I probably would still have made the same choice. I guess it's due to trying to see the good in people and seeing the glass as being half-full.

In the spring, they contacted us to say that the toilets were making a funny noise when they flush and asked me if there was a maintenance schedule for the septic. We had a septic company go out to check on things and they were astonished at what they saw. They had to pump out so much "stuff" that it cost us a small fortune. After contacting the water company, it turns out that they were using 17,000 gallons of water, which is almost 3 times as much as what the septic system is capable of handling. Essentially, their over-usage of water is what caused the septic system to fail.

Despite the fact that they caused this expensive repair, they refused to pay rent and sent me threatening and abusive emails blaming me. I started the eviction process immediately, and less than two months later they were evicted.

The judge ordered them to pay us for the two months they owed, but they have not paid. We could attempt to garnish wages, but that costs more money to file at the court for a garnishment. We're in the hole thousands of dollars because of these tenants. The whole time, they acted like we were rolling in the dough, and yet we're struggling to make ends meet just like them.

Of course, they had a history of evictions (I found this out much later). I can't imagine going from place to place until being evicted. It is beyond me how someone can live like that and feel good about it. The worst part is that their kids will most likely make the same choices that they've seen their parents make.

Although it was a bad situation and incredibly stressful to go through, I have to remind myself that it could have been worse. It can always be worse! They didn't trash the house or do any damages to be malicious. The house was filthy, to say the least. Both showers were obviously never cleaned the whole time they lived there. Talk about nasty and very sad to see what was once your home looking so disgusting. It was so disgusting that I didn't even want to touch anything or be in there at all. It made me sick to my stomach.

Conclusion

Interestingly, with my first tenants, I thought that I'd fallen into a great situation with renting our old house. I learned that being a landlord can be a great job if you have great tenants. With bad tenants, it could very well be one of the worst jobs ever. I definitely think it is much harder to be a landlord for your own home than for a property that you purchase as an investment property.

After the housing/mortgage crisis and all the foreclosures, there are many people that have become landlords out of necessity. The old terminology of slumlords is not the case with a lot of these landlords. They are just normal people trying to make ends meet.

If it hadn't been for my faith, this whole process would have been complete torture. It wasn't a walk in the park, but I cannot even imagine how difficult it would've been if I didn't have a peace from within. I'm so thankful that Christ is a part of my life and that He was walking with me and carrying me through a difficult time!

Below is a list of things that I learned from my experience. I hope that it will be helpful to others that find themselves in the same situation.

Note: The photos above are actual photos of the property after they moved out. I wish the photos could display the level of filth that I witnessed. It looked much worse that what you see in the photos!

Landlord Lessons 101

I learned many things about being a landlord. Following is a list.

  • Find qualified tenants- Make sure to check the eviction history of the tenant. You can call the courthouse in the counties they previously lived to find out if they've been evicted before (I didn't know this until it was too late). You can also do searches online for background checks with eviction history.
  • Rental agreement- Make sure to have a rental agreement. It is imperative. What you put in the agreement is legally binding (may depend on your state). Put everything you can think of in your lease.
  • Move-in Inspection- Make sure to do a walk-thru with the tenants, including the whole property (dwelling, yard, storage areas, etc.) and note anything that you see. You might even video the inspection for extra insurance.
  • List of Charges for Damages- Make sure to include in the lease a list of charges for any damages to the property. You can find samples online as a guide. Also be sure to include a stipulation in the lease about the security deposit being used to pay for any damages, late fees, late rent, etc.
  • Repairs- Consider putting a section in the lease pertaining who is responsible for repairs and the cost of any repairs, especially if the repair is due to negligence on the tenant's part.
  • Professionalism- Make sure to be professional in all communications with the tenant. I'm glad that I was. I thought carefully before sending an email about what I said and how I said it.

Comments

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    • fitmom profile imageAUTHOR

      fitmom 

      8 years ago

      It's too bad that more people aren't like you guys. When we bought that home, the previous owners didn't leave it clean. We had to clean when we got there. I just couldn't leave a big mess. Too embarrassing! Thanks for reading and sharing.

    • garage-remotes profile image

      Rob Reel 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Yikes! That is terrible. Before my wife and I moved to our new home, we spent a solid 72hrs (easy) cleaning the old place. She thought we were over-doing, but reading this makes me glad we made the extra effort. At least I know I wasn't contributing to these sorts of nightmares.

    • fitmom profile imageAUTHOR

      fitmom 

      8 years ago

      I know what you mean, moonlake. We had in the lease that they were not allowed to make any alterations without our consent, but they did. That meant repainting and repairing lots of drywall. People can be so inconsiderate. It's very sad. Thanks for reading and sharing.

    • fitmom profile imageAUTHOR

      fitmom 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, mary615! Yes, the law is definitely on the side of the tenant. Thanks for commenting!

    • fitmom profile imageAUTHOR

      fitmom 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for your comments from a renter's perspective. Yes, leases are meant to protect all parties. I don't think it would've been as bad if it weren't my home. Thanks for reading and sharing!

    • fitmom profile imageAUTHOR

      fitmom 

      8 years ago

      I hope you have good luck with the rent-to-own situation. I considered doing so as well. It just comes down to finding the right people. Best of luck and thanks for reading and sharing as well.

    • fitmom profile imageAUTHOR

      fitmom 

      8 years ago

      Thanks tonja niemi. Unfortunately, even if I make sound business decisions, there's a lot left up to the tenant to determine if it's a successful experience. I think that's the frustrating part. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      8 years ago from America

      We had a renter once long ago. Never again. My daughter has now been dealing with renters she ran into problems also. Sorry for all your stress. Sometimes no matter how much you check them out and how they pay rent on time they will still do things that can mess up your home. Recent renter cut down a white lilac tree and cut out a beautiful hydrangea older plants that she can never get back. Voted Up.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      8 years ago from Florida

      You have my symphathy! I've been a landlady for years, and I know how tough it is to get good tenants. They are easy to get in, but hard to get out. The secret is just to be very selective on who you rent to; get a credit report!

      Great Hub, I voted it UP.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      This is a good cautionary tale for anyone who needs to rent out a property. I am a renter, and I can tell you that I have looked at apartments while apartment hunting that looked like your photos. It is amazing how dirty people can be. Your advice about the lease is good. As a renter, I have been able to use the specifics of the lease to my advantage when I was in court with bad landlords, so leases are good for all involved parites. I hope the last tenants didn't drive you completely away from being a landlord. Us renters need as many good landlords as possible on this planet.

      Voted up :)

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      These pictures are scary... My older children recently left the nest and I am currently renting out my home so I could move to a better area. I have done the arrangement as rent to own and wrote about it just because I was afraid that renters would destroy it and I would be left with shambles. You make an excellent point when you say it is harder to rent out personal property. It can be very difficult when you your "home" isn't being cared for the way you would do it. Great prospective from a landlord. I am going to link this to some of my property hubs if that is ok with you.

    • tonja niemi profile image

      Tonja Niemi 

      8 years ago from Eagan, MN USA

      It sounds like you have learned many valuable lessons. I think you are ready to "get it right" and should not be discouraged from future opportunities. The worst is over, as you are well informed and prepared now. (Sorry you had to learn the hard way though, but thanks for sharing!)

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