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The Good, Bad, and the Ugly Truth about being a Landlord

Updated on July 11, 2013

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly Truth about being a Landlord

In this Hub I will talk about my Good, Bad, and Ugly experiences as a Landlord and how to deal with situations that arise. Whether you're currently a landlord or thinking about becoming one, this Hub will give you answers and insights. I've been a landlord since 1997 and I have a few stories to share with you.

The Good

People are generally Good. That's my belief anyway. My best tenant was with me for 12 years. She always paid her rent on time and took exceptional care of the property. She planted flowers and the lawn was manicured. One would think she was the home owner. Those are the types of tenants you want.

I as a landlord am pretty picky so if a problem ever arose I was on it instantly. No sooner would I hang up the phone with her and immediately call someone to take care of the problem. Whether it be a plumber or a general maintenance man, and I would have the problem resolved bu the next day at the latest. The same day if it was early enough.

The day she told me she was moving out, she was in tears. She had been with me so long we were almost family. She found a larger house with a basement and a garage for the same price. It was a relative of her boyfriend and they lived together. I told her to stop crying and wished her the best of luck. She was a terrific person and I was happy for her.

She left the house very clean and in need of minimal repair. Carpet and paint. She is one of the few that received her entire indemnification deposit back. I wish they were all that considerate.

The Good II

I had an other good tenant that comes to mind. He was with me for two years. I remember the day after he moved in, he called me because the water line to the ice maker was leaking. That same day, after work I went to the house to assess the problem. It was a simple fix. A fitting on the back had cracked and needed to be replaced. Being the anal landlord that I am, I always have spare parts to the oddest things on hand.

As I was changing the fitting he was busy cleaning UNDER the overhead counters. Who does that? He was Mr. Clean and he was MY Tenant! I couldn't be happier. I finished the repair, he thanked me and I went on my way. His rent was always on time and there were never any major issues as far as repairs needed to the house while he was there.

When move out day came I couldn't believe my eyes. He painted the whole house! It just needed minor touch ups. He is the other tenant that got his complete indemnification deposit back.

The Good III

I had a tenant that was with me 10 years. Always paid his rent, sometimes late but he was never more than weeks behind. He is a carpet installer and I still use him to this day if any of my houses need carpet. I also used him as my installer while he was my tenant.

The day he handed over the keys he had a party in the back yard. A CLEANING party! There were 8 of his friends and family raking the back yard and hauling stuff out of the garage. The inside of the property was also left in very clean condition.

The Bad

Now when I say "Bad", it's only bad when compared to the good. My very first house, very first tenant was with me 3 months before he got thrown in jail for domestic violence and fell behind on his rent. ONLY 3 months and there was a big ole' honkin' RED Kool Aid stain on the carpet that I had installed 3 months earlier! The house reeked of cigarette smoke and there were beer stains on the living room walls.

I evicted him, got possession and re-painted the house that I just painted 3 months ago! I bought a throw rug to hide the Kool Aid stain and I did point it out to the next tenant that I had to evict after 2 years. She was cool with it.

The Bad II

I had a tenant that fell behind after six months then she just stopped sending rent all together. I filed the eviction papers and we went to court. She was ordered to leave within 10 days. On the 9th day she filed an appeal because she was supposed too get state aid in rent and it hadn't come through. 20 days later (still no rent) we went back to court. She was ordered to leave within 10 days, if not the court officer would rent a dumpster (on my dime) and haul everything out of the house and throw it into the dumpster. 10 came and went and she was still in the house. The court officer knocked on her door and promised him she would be out by tomorrow morning. The officer allowed it. WTH?!?

The next day I received a call from the court officer telling me that he had to stop the eviction process because she filed in Federal Bankruptcy Court...again WTH?!? 10 days later was the court date. She told the judge about how she was supposed to get state aid and that it hadn't gone through yet (meanwhile no rent for Mr. Landlord). She told the judge she needed 1 more week and she would have everything moved out. HE GAVE HER 30 DAYS TO LIVE RENT FREE...WTH?!? Who's the victim here?

Had the court officer done his job when he was supposed to it would have saved me a lot of time and money. 30 days later she was out but she did leave the house in decent condition.

Now here's the kicker.....The court officer charged me for the dumpster rental that HE NEVER USED. My attorney told me to pay him and that he would never use him again.

Thank you very much.

The Bad III

While I was still going through my learning curve I had a couple that were with me for about a year and a half before they started getting behind on rent. I would server them the 7 Day Notice to Quit then they would come up with some of the money. Then they would fall behind again. I would serve them the 7 Day Notice to Quit, they would come up with some of the money and we went over and over.

Lesson: When you serve the 7 Day Notice to Quit, unless they have ALL the money that they owe you, follow through with the eviction. I lost several thousand dollars with them.

The Ugly

After Mr. Clean moved out I rented the house to a young couple with 2 dogs. My lease agreement also states that non operative automobiles may not stay on the property. This is not a mechanic's garage, it is a place of residence.

About 2 weeks into the lease I drove by the house and there were 4 cars (2 on the front lawn and 2 on the driveway) and he was under the hood of the first car in the driveway. I explained to him that he was not allowed to have those vehicles there and that he had to remove them today. 6 months later they fell behind on rent. I filed the eviction papers and 10 days later they wee gone.

As I approached the front door my nose made a funny face. WTH? The house reeked of dogs. I walked in the front door and had to step outside and look at the address to make sure this was the right house. Sure enough it was...

When I gave them the keys to the house the carpet was tan. Now it was black and dark brown. Covered in grease and motor oil. It looked like he was working on a car motor on the family room floor. I stepped back outside to take a deep breath, had I done it in the hours I would have probably passed out. Entered again but now with caution. The kitchen floor was also covered in motor oil. The ceiling above the stove was black. It looked like they had a grease fire in there. The bathroom door and the door to the laundry room were half missing. The bottom half looked like it had been eaten and clawed and who knows what else. My thought was that they kept one dog in the laundry room and the other in the bathroom when they weren't home.

Exit the house enter the back yard. The lawn was destroyed. It was a combination of dog manure and tire tracks. The garage door had a big dent in it and the inside had miscellaneous car parts all over.

That was a hard pill to swallow but eventually I got the house cleaned up and rented again.

The Ugly II

I had a tenant for 2 years. Rent was sometimes a week or two late but she would always let me know what day I was to receive it and sure enough it always came. Then one month there was no call and no rent. I called her several times and left messages. I was concerned so I went to the house. The neighbor was outside and told me she moved out 6 months earlier. I explained that I had no idea of this and how could this be? She was still sending me rent checks,, up until now. I knocked on the front door and an elderly woman peeked out. I asked if the tenant in question was home and she replied that she was at work. I asked her who she was and she said the babysitter.

I was puzzled because she didn't have any babies when she moved in and now there were 3 or 4 toddlers running around the house. It looked like a daycare. I told her to have the tenant call me when she got home and within 5 minutes she called me. She said she move out and her sister was living there now...WTH?!?

I explained to her that her sister didn't have a lease agreement and she had to move out.

I took a ride to the police station and explained the situation to the officer on duty and he said I had to go through the eviction process. How can I evict her, there's no lease agreement and I don't even know her name? He just threw his hands up and shrugged his shoulders.

I called the original tenant and told her I was evicting her. She told me she would have her sister out in one week. Needless to say she was true to her word and was out in a week.

I entered the house and again my nose made a funny face, but it was different this time. It wasn't an animal stench it was musty and moldy. There were wet clothes scattered throughout the house. Garbage mixed in with the wet clothes. Not just a few but 16 garbage bags full! Not the little kitchen bags mind you, the 42 gallon construction bags from Home Depot. A broken couch and a cracked toilet. The windows were covered in mold. They were old wood frame windows and were so bad I had to replace all of them.

The lawn was overgrown and there was garbage all over the back yard. I had my lawn guy go out there and clean the yard. Besides trash, he found empty pop and beer cans, bottles and in his words "poopy diapers".

Moving right along...


Rules of the Game

Five Rules of the Game I live by to keep my sanity

  • This is just a Game
  • This is My Game and I make the rules
  • If You want to stay You Gotta Pay
  • Follow through with an eviction unless all the money is in hand
  • The Good outweighs the Bad and the Ugly
  • Never, never, never write up a lease agreement unless you get a DEPOSIT FIRST.
  • Deposit is NON-REFUNDABLE if the Tenant changes his mind.
  • Deposit is refunded if tenant does not qualify

Don't get discouraged

This game is very simple once you learn all the rules. The rules can be learned as you go. Through all the thick and thin of land-lording it has been worth it and I have no regrets. For a better understanding of how I got my start see my other Hub page:


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    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Funny I read this hub today as I am going to my rental property 3 hours away to complete the very same paperwork. I was doing a rent to own contract and the tenants refused to pay. They didn't like the Quit Notice I sent so they destroyed my house... every room.. they even pushed the 300 gallon gas tank over and ripped the line from the ground. I will be tied up in civil and criminal court for awhile. Helpful hub!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Excellent Hub. You hit it on the head: there are the good the bad and the ugly. I just evicted one of the uglies.

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Good luck! I hope everything goes smooth!

      Thanks for the comments and sharing your stories.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Having really good tenants is a blessing indeed. It pays that you believe that people are generally good! :) Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. https://hubpages.com/community/Back-to-School-HubN... That's the link where you can read and vote!

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Thank You ripplemaker!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Like you, we had several wonderful renters in our little row house. But we also had one lovely couple who filled the yard with garbage. There was a chain link fence and the junk was piled to the top of the fence. I was mortified. The Health Dept got after them, not me. It ain't an easy gig.

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Dolores, it certainly ain"t.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      This was a very entertaining read ^_^ My in-laws are landlords and my husband vows he will never go down that path ^_^ lol Voted up and funny

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I'm glad I came across this. My renter was okay for 2 years, then got behind. She then filed bankruptcy and was forgiven 2 months rent! She started paying again and tried to stay caught up, but now is behind again. Can I evict her if the bankruptcy hearing has already happened? How long do those things go on? I'm tired of it. And I think her dogs have ruined my flooring. At least it wasn't in great shape, anyway.

      And what is that 7 day notice thing? I'll be more of a stickler next time. Great hub!

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Victoria, Thanks for reading. A Seven Day Notice to Quit is the first step in the eviction process. Basically She has 7 days to pay or get out. If she does neither then you have to go to court by filing the appropriate paperwork and paying the filing fees.

      Best of luck!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Very interesting hub. Hubby and I have thought about buying rental property but keep backing out. Maybe someone is trying to tell us something! Voted up and more!

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Thank you sgbrown. The good does outweigh the bad. Food for thought.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Being a landlady myself, I enjoyed reading of your experiences! It's so easy to get people in your property (they can put on a good face to get in), but it can be difficult to get them out! I have a little guest cottage that has been left in deplorable condition, but right now I have good tenants. I just hope they stay for a while. I also rent out 3 rooms in my house. I have good luck with those. I wrote a Hub about that called "Having Trouble Making Your Mortgage Payment?

      I voted this Hub UP, etc. and will share.

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Thank you Mary. One has to have a thick skin to play this game.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I have only recently received a crash course in landlord-um. After selling my home and moving back to my town in Upstate, NY to take care of my terminally ill father, I also took over assisting Mom with handling their 12 acre property. Another responsibility I would rather not handle is taking over landlord responsibilities for one of my Mother's properties.

      We recently ended a 6 month expensive nightmare similar to one of your experiences. My family tells me I am too clean or as they like to say "anally clean." If I'm anally clean then this swine was from the other end of the spectrum. What amazed me was the image he portrayed to the public. Looking at him you never would have guessed the deplorable living habits he had. Needless to say he no longer darkens our doorway. I think I spotted him on an episode of hoarders.

      I have now hired a reputable Realtor and leave the screening process to her.

      Great landlord advice. Voting up and sharing

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Good hub and information. My parents had a house they rented out. Some renters were wonderful and some left 26 pickup loads of garbage to be hauled off. I have the other problem. I rent and can't seem to find a landlord that will keep the place up. My husband is a totally disabled veteran and gets his check on the first. We go and pay all of the bills then and are never past the 2nd paying. Sometimes it takes a little longer for him to get around. I just got the kitchen light fixed yesterday and have been fighting for three years to get it fixed. The ballast went out. We lived in one house that the heater went out. He told us to buy electric heaters and use them. We moved from there to a house that he promised to have the new AC installed before it got hot. My husband is very heat sensitive because of his medicine. We moved in July, when we still did not have AC. Do you need a tenant?

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      shiningirisheyes Thank goodness there are more better people out there than not. Hang in there and hopefully your realtor will do a great job at screening tenants!

      Thanks for the kudos and the vote!

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Becky, I'm sorry to hear your landlord does not stay on top of things. Unfortunately all my properties are full right now. Best of luck!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I am so glad that am not a landlord. I am however, a very paranoid tenant. But not in a bad way. It is because I can't understand how these tenants would do something like this to a property that doesn't even belong to them. My motto is to leave the house looking better than it was when we rented it. Only once have I rented a house and not gotten my full deposit back. I was mad too about it. They charged us for replacing the kitchen sink. Why - because apparently there were marks in there from washing dishes in it. I thought that was a bit overboard. It should have just been normal wear and tear. But the landlord was old and trying to sell the house. He was just trying to push the cost a little on someone else. Oh well... I know what kind of condition we gave it back and that is all that matters! :)

    • TycoonSam profile image
      Author

      TycoonSam 4 years ago from Washington, MI

      Thank you for stopping by Stacy. That's a good motto to have. You sound like the perfect tenant.

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