Learning to be a landlord

United States
February 14, 2012 2:26pm CST
Oboy, has this been a learning experience for me! When we left John Day to move to Pendleton, I rented my trailer in John Day out with the notion that I would one day return to John Day. The young man I rented to came well recommended and I let him use my dishes and tools and even left him bedding. I was renting my place as a furnished place. Well, when I went back to John Day just before Christmas I wanted to get some of my stuff out of the house. He was already late with the rent but I was not worried as he had a couple weeks before it became overdue. I tried to call him several times while I was there as I was only able to be there overnight. He did not pick up his phone and eventually his voicemailbox was full and so I could no longer leave any messages. I called his mom who called him at work, then called me back to tell me he would call me after work, which he never did. I ended up returning to Pendleton without my stuff. Since then I have sent him three letters practically begging him to call me and explain himself to me. While we were in John Day I found that he had thrown my good lamp out into the yard of the place. Needless to say this was unacceptable and disturbing to my peace of mind. He offered no explanation and has not communicated with me at all, in fact. He did pay his rent on the 6th of January but then failed to pay it at all this month, February! Again I tried to get him to call me. I sent him another letter via a friend in John Day who left it on his door. Then I had my friend who lives across the street from him stop by and offer to let him use her phone to call me (the story I was getting was that his phone wasn't working). He told her he would use his mom's phone the next day to call me, which, of course, he never did. It is now the 14th of February. I have a court date in John Day on the 16th so I decided I would go down for that and get my stuff out of the trailer and give him his eviction notice. I sent a registered letter to him yesterday which he should receive today. In my letter I told him that if he was not home when I arrived in John Day to let me in to get my stuff, I would use my key and enter the place without him being there. Here's hoping he shows up with some plausible explanation. I also told him that from now one he needed to pay two months in advance if he wanted to stay in the trailer. I thoroughly understand now why so many landlords require first, last and a deposit! Have you ever been a landlord? What tips can you offer? This has been a frustration for me to say the least. The cost of sending a registered letter to him was over $10 and the cost of driving to John Day is an entire tank of gas! (another $50) I am now trying to sell the place as I cannot afford to pay lot rent on both places! It will be a long time before I want to try to be a landlady again!
1 person likes this
4 responses
@RitterSport (2452)
• Lippstadt, Germany
25 Feb 12
hi dear alaskanray, I am so sorry things dont work out with this tenant of yours. I am just sitting here shaking my head in disbelief. Mainly when I read things like he threw your good stuff out. Its a rented place with furniture so before he yanks anything out it would be normal courtesy to ask first or to explain and show its broken and then of course buying a replacement. Never have been a landlady and I doubt I ever will be in this position. I rent a place right now in my old hometown, over the work week and have just told the landlady I will be out of there End of March as I dont need it any more and she said I was a very good tenant....... I was treating the place with the due respect, its with furniture, bedding etc too, and will also do a major clean up job washing the floor etc so my landlady who is a bit older, wont need to do this when I am out but can rent on the spot as is. Thats my little thank you to her for helping me out with that place in times of real need.......
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Feb 12
I know I have always been like you...wanting to leave the place at least as good as I found it. I felt bad in the last place I rented because my daughter had melted a patch of floor in the kitchen with a hot frying pan but it was the first time in many years that I moved out without getting my deposit back. I finally finished washing up the dishes I brought back from John Day last night. It took me about a week to do them all for several reasons: First, because my back doesn't let me stand for long enough to do many dishes at a time. Second, because I had to soak many of them to soften the hardened-on food and third, because there were so many of them. I had two full boxes full of dishes. After I finished I realized that there was one more box of dishes that I had gathered and missed loading into my car! They are still in John Day! Anyway, I will be going back on the 2nd of March to finish cleaning out the trailer and get it ready to sell. The park owners no longer allow renting so I have to sell. I guess it's a good thing that I'm so happy here in Pendleton, eh?
• Lippstadt, Germany
26 Feb 12
hi dear alaskanray, when I will move out of that small place in old hometown my landlady will get it back cleaner than she rented it to me.... lol..... I am no neatnik but I want to help her out as she was sooo nice to me. Sorry you got to sell the trailer as you have said you want to return to John Day some time in the future. But I am glad you are happy where you are now.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Feb 12
Yes, I too try to leave the places I move out of better than I found them. When I bought my trailer in John Day it was filthy and a mess. There were broken pipes and water damage as well as no drawers in the kitchen and no refrigerator. It was unreal, how messy the folks had left the place...and they had not lived in it for two years! I told them I would clean it and they gave me a whole $100 off the selling price for my trouble. wow . Then I mentioned the broken pipes and they threw another $100 at me...as if that would pay for the broken pipes! I spent over $1000 fixing those pipes, alone! I had even asked them before buying the place if there were any plumbing problems and they assured me that there were not. I don't mind problems but I like to be forewarned, you know? So now I'm trying to sell the place...and hoping to get close to what I paid for it, at least...but at least it will be clean and the problems will be fully disclosed.
• United States
14 Feb 12
I own a few rental properties. They're my only source of income besides freelance writing, which doesn't pay a heckuva lot! Like you, I've learned from mistakes and sought solutions. I also was a Realtor, so I had exposure to experienced landlords to learn from, too. Here are some ways to manage risk, based on my experiences in the U.S. I don't always use every one of them, but I often have regretted it when I didn't! 1. Run a credit check on every applicant. They should pay for it and sign a consent that lets you have their information. The consent needs to have their Social Security Number, date of birth, and full name. 2. Don't rent to anyone with a credit score of less than 600. Period. 3. Consider obtaining a public records check on them, too. You'll find civil judgments against them and criminal history. Both of these things can have HUGE effects on your experiences as a landlord. 4. If you have personal items included in the rent, be sure to have an itemized list in the contract that describes their condition fully - down to the last scratch. Specify that the tenant is responsible for damage or loss, and whether that value will be based on your cost to acquire it originally, or on market replacement value. Even if you don't include personal property, you should have such a list for the condition of your property when they moved in. These lists will help you collect damages that take place. 5. Don't allow more than 5 days before adding late charges, and don't wait to start eviction proceedings. (I made this mistake one time and it cost me over $13,000 in losses.) 6. I would never ever ever go without a security deposit and 1st month's rent up front. I haven't ever charged with the last month, too, but only because I don't think it would work on the class of properties I have. 7. If you're not in the immediate area, hire a property manager. Ten percent of the rent amount is a small price to pay if you have a good representative who personally visits the property from time to time, knows landlord-tenant laws, and collects your rents for you. They often can handle eviction proceedings and hire repairs for you, too. 8. I always remember that what one person thinks is "taking good care" might not be the same definition as mine. Because of that, I try to respond promptly to their requests for maintenance and encourage them to tell me right away about problems. I think this sets the tone for them to be responsive, too.
• United States
14 Feb 12
Yeah, I did get a security deposit from the guy but had to apply it to this month's rent just to cover the lot rent payments. What all is entailed in the eviction proceedings? I have told him in my letter that I sent registered that he had until the end of the month to either make it right or get out. Is there some particular procedure that I need to follow or is this sufficient? Thanks for the tips. I'll remember them if there is ever a next time. I really just want to sell this albatross! I can't afford to be paying lot rent on two homes!
• United States
15 Feb 12
Well, your username suggests you live in Alaska but you didn't really say, but you should look up the laws about how to evict someone in your state. It can vary from place to place. Generally speaking, you have to send a letter like you did, but you'll need to know the time lines your state requires. You may not have to wait till the end of the month if someone hasn't paid rent and you can get them out in a couple weeks, where other places can take a month or two - depending how the court system, laws, and your motivation to get them out all come together. It's usually illegal to use a security deposit to cover back rent. When you take the person to court for eviction, you can file for unpaid rents and then ask the judge to grant you permission to have the money taken directly from their wages (garnishment) if they don't pay up in a timely manner. This doesn't work well with people who are self-employed, though, as my $13k loss showed me. I hope you sell it like you want, but if that doesn't happen, I hope you'll decide to try again and use the steps I mentioned. Rental property can help you make a very good living and build a lot of wealth if you learn how to be a good landlord. (Not a nice one, but a good one!) I started with a little house that my ex and I bought for $10,000 and rented out for $450 a month. That's pretty good money for something you don't have to spend time on every day.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 12
Thanks for the tips, jelly. I am actually from Alaska but living in Oregon.
@sid556 (31005)
• United States
15 Feb 12
Hi Alaskanray, I have a friend who owns and rents properties and he has told me some nightmarish stories of various tenents and also how expensive and time consuming it is to get them out of there. He has fixed up places only to have them destroyed within a month of a new tenent living there. What he does is up the rent on these people in hopes of driving them out and that usually works. For the ones that pay on time and take care of the property, he keeps their rents low. He has said that he is ready to get out of the business though. He loses money and it takes up too much of his time.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 12
Oh, I understand how he feels completely!
• United States
20 Apr
I once tried renting a house out and it was a nightmare. They stopped paying rent, ignored eviction notices i sent and when their power got cut off, the next door neighbors strung power to them with an extension cord and refused to unplug them. I reported that hazardous condition to the power company and was able to get a sheriff evict them.