This post is part of my Landlord Life series. I’ll share how I dealt with certain situations, the mistakes I made, and the lessons I learned. I personally have learned a great deal from fellow landlords and I hope to pay it forward by sharing my stories and advice.
I’d never dealt with hostile and crazy tenants before but these two, and it changed the way I do business. Let’s call them Mr. & Mrs. Greasepit. You’ll understand why.
We were in the process of renovating our rental home after Mr. & Mrs. Bug-infested left when a couple knocked on the door inquiring about it. They said the place they lived in had caught fire and they were living with his mother, which was getting cramped for them and their three kids. I told them it would be another two weeks before the house would be ready and took their phone number.
Mistake #1: I no longer talk to anyone in person until I’ve pre-screened them through email. I also don’t fall for sob stories anymore.
When we were done with the inside, I called them to come by to take a look and fill out an application. Mrs. Greasepit was on time but Mr. Greasepit kept us waiting for an hour! An hour! Looking back I should have left her outside and had her call me when he showed up but I felt bad so we hung around and made small talk.
They loved the house and wanted to move in right away. I was actually relieved not to have to go through the process of finding a tenant
Mistake #2: I now do background checks on all prospective tenants as part of my tenant screening process. Everyone who qualifies is invited to a group appointment with a two-hour window.
We set up a day and time to take care of the financial part and get the keys. That went smooth and they moved in as scheduled. There were little things right away, such as wanting to paint the living room orange. Yes, orange. Of course, I said no. Then they wanted to paint the exterior of the house and again, I said no.
We did an inspection a few months later and saw a container of cooking grease open and on the counter. I told them they needed to cover it and store/dispose of it properly because it would attract insects.
About two months later, Mr. Greasepit told me one of the stovetop burners hadn’t been working for a while. I reminded him that they were to inform me immediately when something is not working. Mr. Greasepit replied, “I rewired it myself because I didn’t want to bother you”.
Um, you did what??
When I went to look at it, the stovetop was covered with caked on grease (hence their name), which was probably why the burner wasn’t working. It was gross, smelly and looked liked they never cleaned it. We removed the over and brought it in for repair. A few days later the repair shop said the wires were covered in so much grease it couldn’t hold the connection. They also sold used quality appliances and had some for sale that would cost about $50 less than to fix the one we had, which is what we did.
I sent a copy of the bill to Mr. & Mrs. Greasepit who informed me that they bought their own stove.
Um, you did what?
I gave them 48-hour notice that I was going to do an inspection to make sure there were no other fire hazards and to check that the oven was installed properly.
They told me I wasn’t allowed in “their” home.
On the day and time I said I would be there I showed up and was greeted by about 7-8 people blocking the walkway to the front door. Mrs. Greasepit started yelling and cursing, telling me to leave. I tried to talk to her but it was impossible. I could have just walked in and done the inspection, but I knew it would be very hard to do the job correctly with all the hostility and yelling. Plus, I know me. I’m an Italian girl from Brooklyn. Every ounce of my being walked to bitch slap her and her minions.
So I left.
But first I gave them a notice of agreement termination, which I had ready in case things went bad.
And bad they went.
They vacated the house, leaving behind a bunch of trash and toys behind the backyard fence, which I didn’t notice until days later and by then I had mistakingly given them their deposit before doing a thorough inspection.
Mistake #3: Never give the deposit back until you’ve done a thorough inspection. Use the time allowed in your state to your advantage and do not allow them to rush you or give you a sob story. In Florida, if we’re keeping any of the security deposit we have 30 days to send them a notice. Use that time wisely, even if it looks clean at first glance.