So, I’d been out of town on vacation. (Yes, landlords can and do get away.) There was no need to let my tenants know I was gone, because I can always be reached on my cell.
In the “old days” when I had a pager as well as a cell phone, I didn’t give out my cell number to my tenants. I was afraid they’d abuse the privilege and call me when they broke a fingernail. I’d have them page me when needed, and I’d call them back.
If I went out of town (and out of reach of my pager) I was forced to let them know I was leaving. In that case, I’d have them page my maintenance guy, for emergencies only. But it always seemed like “stuff” went down when I was gone. “While the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Or the mice will not send in their rent. And will leave without notice. And let me clean up the junk they didn’t feel like taking with them. Or will get in fights with their neighbors, resulting in a call to the police. Etc. etc.
When I pitched the pager and went solo on the cell, I realized my worries about tenants bugging me constantly were unfounded. Yeah, there are a few people who call about minor details and are long-winded, but I always have the option of letting the call go to voicemail, and my phone cuts them off when it’s had enough. Anyway, I digress…
Before I recount these events, let me first say these types of incidents are few and far between.
I got home from a great trip, and went to check on a place where I had a girl moving out. I knocked and after no answer, I let myself in. The smell hit me. I traced it easily to the bathroom shower floor. In my absence, the sewer main had backed up into the shower with enough force that it blew the center drain cap right off! There was blackish brown “matter” all over the shower floor, about 1 1/2″ thick. It consisted of partially decomposed toilet paper, poop, and enough urine to make it slightly soupy. “Poop du jour.”
It was time to call in the cleaning crew. (That would be me.) My equipment consisted of a plastic bag, a wide-blade putty knife, my trusty spray bottle of Krud Kutter and rubber gloves. I tried hard to breathe through my mouth. The shower floor cleaned up well, after some scraping and scrubbing.
When I finished that project, I ventured over to another rental to check on my tenant who had moved out a couple days earlier. He’d told the people on the other side of the house that his apt. smelled bad. (Uh-oh.)
When I let myself in, I thought, “OHMYGOD, did somebody die in here?” This was almost worse than the other place. I tracked it down to the bath tub, which had about a foot of water in it. There was a plunger standing in the middle of the pool. Evidently, my tenant decided to move instead of calling to tell me he had a plumbing problem! Go figure.
It’s rare that I come across people who are afraid to call me with problems. I don’t understand why this happens, other than I think they may feel they’ll be blamed or charged for it.
After I called and got the issue taken care of, I found out this wasn’t a sewer problem. This guy had been letting food go down his kitchen sink drain. There was no garbage disposal. The drain had actually backed up into his tub! It was filled with water, mixed with a healthy dose of grease, rancid meat particles, slimy greens, and I think I saw a little corn in there too. Another putty knife job. But the tub wouldn’t even scrub clean. It was well beyond saving and I had to have it resurfaced. The cost was $300, which is much cheaper than replacing the tub.
Glad I have a strong stomach, and I think my gag reflex is non-existent.