AAOA recently invited me to do a guest piece on their site…thought I’d repost it here. American Apartment Owners Association is a very useful organization (I’m a member) for all types of real estate owners/investors across the nation. Their site offers multiple forms and services to enhance and streamline the lives of people like me! Here’s the piece I contributed:


Classy Wall Repair

Bet you’ve never seen anything like this … me neither! My tenants hadn’t been getting along and I told them they’d need to move, or face eviction. So they moved, quickly.

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But not before one of them took their anger issues out on this wall. This was a make-shift storage room off the hallway, adjacent to the attic area, and the walls were thin to begin with. I find it interesting that they made this crazy attempt at “repair” … using the term loosely! A plastic bag, cardboard, duct tape and clear packing tape. Nice.

I don’t put up with disturbances at my multi-family rentals. People deserve to live peacefully, and when I get noise complaints, I give tenants one written warning, period. (“Be nice, or leave!”) I got this place up and running quickly, and now, peace and quiet has returned. Onward and upward! ¬†ūüôā


Foolers …

I usually trust my “gut.”¬† Are you a good judge of people?¬† I like to think I am, but just when I’m feeling pretty good about that, a tenant comes along and totally fools me.¬† Trusting your gut is never good¬†enough when you’re renting places to people.

That’s why you need to have applicants bring a copy of a paycheck stub with them, to submit with the application.¬† Recently, I decided to forego this requirement … I made an exception.¬† This couple was excellent.¬† But they forgot to bring the paycheck stubs.

I went with my gut, after verifying their work information and getting a recommendation from their supervisors.

To make a very long story short, I was soooo wrong!¬† They did nothing but gripe about small things after they moved in, and then didn’t quite get the full rent paid for June.¬† when I didn’t get July rent within the 5-day alotted time frame, I filed eviction.

They moved out before the court date (yay!) but stole the stove and range hood, refrigerator, and most of the window coverings (waaaahhh!).

Wish I’d gotten those work addresses, because of course, I don’t have a forwarding address.¬† And shame of me for being too trusting.¬† This attribute got me in a LOT of trouble early in my career, but rarely now.

Their court date is tomorrow, so I’ll go — they won’t — and I’ll file a writ and get another court date on which I can file for damages, which is the money they owe me and also the cost of the items they took.¬† I’m also filing a police report, so they’ll be in the criminal system.

Bottom line?¬† Always have your applicants provide documentation for their workplace.¬† And if they can’t or won’t, they’re probably scamming you.

Oh, and here’s a good one … this couple mentioned, in passing, that they’re Buddhists.¬† Whaaaat?¬† Isn’t the Dalai Lama Buddhist?¬† I thought they were supposedly kind, gentle souls.¬† Evidently, we should never generalize about any group.

Onward and upward!

Hidden Treasure

I evicted Carolyn for nonpayment and she left a bunch of junk behind … inside and out.¬† Here’s what she left in back of the house:

My dilemma, as always, is what to do with the “leftovers.”¬† It’s usually obvious to me.¬† People¬†tend to take what they want or need, and leave the rest for me to figure out.

In this case, Carolyn had cleared out all of her clothing, most of her dishes, and all the furniture that was in decent condition.¬† But even so, I did my due diligence and tried to contact her to ask her about the rest of what was left inside and out.¬† She didn’t respond and I had no forwarding address, so I moved to her two emergency contacts¬†on her application.¬† I texted both of them and talked to one ¬†of them, who gave me permission to remove the items.

Our Indiana law is ambiguous in this instance,¬†but if you make every effort to contact the tenant re: items left behind and they don’t respond, you may consider the property “abandoned” and move on.

The only other option is to store their junk, which doesn’t make sense.¬† Of course, three days after I’d paid a hauler to get rid of her trash, Carolyn called me complaining that in the pile outside, there were precious, priceless Disney DVDs she treasured.¬† (Gimme a break.)

Fortunately, I had jumped through the necessary hoops to protect myself and never heard from her again.¬† In my 17+ years as a landlord, I’ve never had anyone take me to court over “treasures” I threw out after they moved.

And as for Carolyn’s valuable DVDs, I didn’t bother to ask why she’d left them outside, or left them at all, if they were so priceless.¬† Sometimes it’s just not worth going there with people!

Does Eviction Mean It’s Over?

The “E” word.¬† And in today’s world, the “F” word . . . evictions and foreclosures abound in this economy.¬† In the early 2000s, people bought homes with little or no money down, and we all know what has happened in the past few years.

So whether you’ve been evicted or foreclosed on, your credit is pretty much trashed, and there isn’t a landlord in the city who’ll consider renting to you, right?¬† Wrong.

Along with those who lost their homes due to an ARM they couldn’t afford when it came time to pay the higher rate, there are many legitimate reasons people lose their homes and apartments:

  • Personal or family health problems/related hospital bills
  • Being laid off or downsized, loss of job
  • High, unplanned-for utility bills resulting in budgeting problems
  • Loss of second income that helps to pay rent or mortgage
  • Loss of extra income, i.e. child support, SSI, etc.
  • Stolen money, cars or other prime¬†essential belongings

These are all legitimate reasons for losing a home and many times, people are able to rebound and get back on their feet after a few months.¬† As a landlord, I look at the reason behind an eviction or foreclosure, check out the applicant’s current ability to pay rent, and make a decision based on those things.

Bad applicants tend to have a string of evictions, and always have an excellent excuse to accompany each eviction.¬† I don’t go there.

Here’s the bottom line:¬† if you rent to lower-income individuals, you’re going to have some¬†applicants who have an eviction on their record.¬† And in this economy, evictions and foreclosures are plentiful at every socio-economic level.¬† So if you refuse to look at someone with “a history,”¬†you may be without a tenant for a long time!

Look at the reasons behind the eviction . . . some are understandable, and some will disqualify the applicant.  You decide . . . go with the facts, and go with your gut.