Friday, October 7, 2022

Life on Water St.

We've been getting an apartment ready to rent out. After seven years, we made a decision not to renew the lease on that place. The woman always paid her rent on time, but she had one problem. 

She was a pot-stirrer. 

No matter what, if the downstairs tenant in that house was a woman, there was going to be a problem. Passive aggressive stuff, the sort of stuff that made people mad, but if a complaint was made, it allowed her to roll her eyes and claim that the other woman was just being petty. There was a lot a mediation, which is frustrating. We thought we had the problem solved when we rented the downstairs apartment to a single guy who was really into physical fitness. They were close to the same age. 

And it seemed like it would work for a while. 

But in the end, she was back at it. This time, she was telling horrible lies about Tim and I and firing up the neighbors on all sides of the street. The last one wound up with a survey and a fence to resolve an boundary issue where we had supposedly told her that we owned half of the neighbor's house. We had never said such a thing, but they were furious, and things got heated, and we spent a lot of money to calm shit down. 

She got her certified letter of non-renewal of lease. 

After a week of painting and caulking and making everything right, we're now showing the apartment. One of the first calls came from a polite young man wanted to view the apartment. I gave him an appointment for 10 am the following morning. 

I hung around the house. He had said he was calling at 9:30 before he headed out to make sure that nothing had changed. He didn't call, so I texted him on my cell at the number on the landline, and headed down to the apartment. A few minutes before 10, I got a message that he was on his way but that he was on foot, so he'd be there between 10 and 10:10. He got there much later, in the middle of the second viewing of the day. 

He and his girlfriend wanted the apartment, and he filled out the application. He explained to us that we would receive the deposit and first three months rent from someone else, and we would need to talk to him. He gave us the phone number. 

Checking his facebook page, we saw a pretty vulgar young man. Most of his poses incorporated his middle fingers. His friend list included known drug offenders. Checking his police record, we discovered that he'd just gotten out of jail in July, and for 19, he had quite a list of offenses, multiple burglaries and assault. 

Based on her facebook page, it was plain to see that his girlfriend of a few weeks was not going to be a positive influence. 

We made the decision not to rent to them, but I called the name he had given us simply to let the man know of our decision and that no payment was required. The man who answered the phone asked why. 

In for a penny, in for a pound, so I told him that the young man had arrived late for his appointment. "It sounds stupid," I said, "but if someone has no respect for you and your time, that's a black mark right out of the gate." I went on to mention that his facebook page sort of bore out that impression, and that his friends list was pretty sketchy. Finally, I said, "His criminal record is too recent. He just got out of jail. We've rented to people with criminal records before, but what we like to see is someone who has turned the corner, someone who has held down a job for a while, kept his nose clean. We have another tenant in that house, and it wouldn't be fair to him to take in someone we're not sure of. " 

I was kind of braced for the person to try to persuade me to take a chance. Much to my surprise, he explained that he served as a liason between the parole board, the landlords, and the person. He said that he was surprised that the young man had been late since that's one of the unbreakable rules. He makes his appointment with them. If they are going to be late, they must call. If they don't or if the reason is bogus, they go immediately back to jail for the week. He said that he understood our reservations completely and that we had to do right by the tenant already there.

We are having a new gas service installing line at our house, and they showed up today to do that. Tim was outside for most of the afternoon to see how they did it. 

I did a bit of grocery shopping to get us through the next week. We were out of potatoes and milk and eggs. I got everything put away and it was time to walk over and meet William after school. He'll be here for the next two days while his mother works evening shift. He's taking bagpipe lessons now and much excited about that. He's still having his drum lessons, but now he takes them at school for band. 

Tim and I headed out for an evening walk. I had 4 books that I wanted to drop off at two different "free book" stands. One is set up in a park and you can drop off books for adults. The other site is specifically for middle schoolers and is set up at a church. I had a couple books that William had already read to be dropped of there. William was headed along on his light up scooter. He was anxious to see the Halloween displays already being set up at houses along the street. 

We had just started out when two kids that William knows from school came down the street, headed the other way. They were carefully holding a box that contained an injured chipmunk. Recognizing William, they stopped us. They were looking for someone to drive them to the local hospital. 

I was a little surprised that two kids in middle school would not realize that a hospital is not going to help with an injured animal. I also knew that the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center is a couple hours away. 

I looked at the poor thing. Its back legs were twisted in such a way that it made me think 'spinal cord injury' right away.  I did not want to tell them that the poor creature was not going to make it, but I said, "First thing, you've got to keep him warm. Do you have a heating pad to set this box on?" They did.  I suggested setting the box on top of a heating pad set on low, cautioning them that they did not want it hot, just warm. If the creature began to act a bit more lively, I suggested that they give it a few drops of sugar water with an eye dropper or a syringe. I showed them our house, and told them that they could bring him to me on their way to school tomorrow if he lived through the night. 

I don't expect to see them.

So...that's life on Water St. 


24 comments:

  1. Fascinating Debby. Rentiers must provide loads of stories, I used to have language students stay from the local language school in Bath. Occasionally I would be near to a nervous breakdown as I coped with young people.

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    1. Oh my yes. We have been very very fortunate with our renters, but whooo boy...we still have stories.

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  2. Much to read and absorb . So sad about the chipmunk.
    Aren't we converting from gas to electric?

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    1. I found the fact that your country is switching to electric very interesting. Central heat makes that a bit more difficult here. Also in our area, one gas company has a stranglehold on people, since there are no other suppliers. The price went up by more than 1/3. Tim paid $2000 to the cheaper company to extend their lines. He figures to recoup that by next winter. However with the current oil situation his strategy might backfire.

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    1. Yes. They rescued it from their neighbor's cat.

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  4. Interesting read about the new tenant (and showing up so late and being so blase about it). My own apartment building's management has a pretty strict application process and they still get their share of awful or destructive tenants! Good for you Debby.

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  5. We vet very carefully. A lot of landlords do not care as long as the money is there. One landlord I know of does no vetting at all. If someone looks at a place with cash she gives them the place on the spot. She is always on the landlord website begging for advice on how to get rid of a bad tenant. She does not want to hear about checking references. We get took from time to time but try to learn from our mistakes.

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  6. We did once buy a property to rent out but I found the whole potentially unreliable tenant scenarios just too stressful so we sold the house and put the money in the bank instead.

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    1. Actually Tim is a great person for this business. I feel sorry for people. He doesn't. I collect the data and we sit down with it. He makes the decision in a very unemotional no nonsense way. It usually works. It is not 100% though.

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  7. Debby you really do see life.

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    1. That is funny. I do not see myself that way.

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  8. The first half of your post makes me glad not to be in the rental business anymore. Living in town, you have more of a selection. Out in the rural parts here, the selection is very sparse and almost everyone ended badly.

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  9. You are helping people by letting them rent. It's wonderful to have a roof over your head particularly in winter. Great post Debby.

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    1. We have always been of the mind that people have the right to live in dignity, and that does seem to resonate with people. Our tenants are generally long term.

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  10. I have a property management group who deal with the vetting and the rental itself although the owner is a former colleague and friend of mine, so I get a lot of say. My late husband was a Tim in his ability to do things but had too soft a heart; we ended up in some bad renter situations because of it. Hence the property manager now!

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    1. I have to say that as time goes on, I am less soft hearted. We were both solidly in agreement on the young man. No discussion required at all.

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  11. You are honest landlords...I wish someone had vetted the control freak landlady we escaped from in 2016!!

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    1. Tim and I were both poor, once upon a time, and we know what it is like to deal with people who treat you like 'less than', simply because they perceive that their situation awards them the power. It is unjust, and we don't do that.

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  12. That woman sounds like a nightmare and the young guy doesn't sound any better. I was impressed with your honesty about the young man, to his liason. I imagine the liason appreciated the honesty as well.

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  13. Sounds like a wise move to get a new renter for the apartment. It is hard to have renters that don't get along but need to.

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  14. We have one rental property and once had a great deal of difficulty with a tenant who upset the neighbors with foul cursing and loud noises. We had to let them go too.

    A long time ago in Illinois, Art and my son brought home an injured baby squirrel. They put the squirrel in a little cage with water hoping to help it. It sadly died pretty quickly and unfortunately a LOT of fleas left it and everybody got lots of flea bites. I think they were fleas. We had to fumigate the house.

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    1. It can be a problem finding just the right people. We found the right person (we think) at the ninth hour. My goodness. I had all but given up.

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