Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Landlord Blues

I know some of you out there are landlords, but I know many of you live in single family homes and are blessed with only being your own landlord. The best tenant is always yourself, because you pay for everything and therefore you appreciate and take care of things.

I came home tonight and at dinner Steve told me that our tenant whom I'll call Thadeus told him, "his financial aid is late and he will be late paying the rent- maybe on the 12th." Not a big deal right? Well, to understand my annoyance you'd have to know the past history with these tenants.

We really are only TOLERATING them and have done so for 3 leases because of a soft rental market here in Chicago and us pouring all our resources into the 1st floor. Plus, I was laid off last year and Steve's business had been shaky after the dot-com bubble burst. So, there you have it. We just put up with their annoyances, which I will detail below.

I started out trying to like them and make it work. I have done alot to help them really. They are from Liberia and they are students, but my good will has worn a bit thin.

Just to give you an idea of what I have done to accomodate them: For an entire year we allowed them to pay the rent in 2 installments and even with that they were constantly late. Sometimes I wouldn't get paid until the 22nd of the month. Thadeous, who is a PHD student in religious studies and a minister, had lost his student job.

After a year, I had had it and we wrote them a letter stating they needed to start paying their rent on time. That was this past February and since then they have paid on the 1st every month. So, we decided to renew their lease and that next Spring out they'd go so we could then fix up the 2nd floor, raise the rent, and get better tenants. And now this.

Oh, there are the constant annoyances such as: leaving exterior doors unlocked or open (this is the city- hello!), noise from above such as moving furniture around every week or so, losing keys and garage door openers, asking for more heat in winter while coming to our door wearing a t-shirt, shorts & flip flops in January, asking to "use our grill" and then taking it off the premises to cook for 50 people returning it caked in grease (it's a stationary grill not a portable), and just too much traffic in and out of the apartment with a revolving door of third roommates and guests that stay for weeks. I may as well go on: asking us to change their lightbulbs and put new batteries in their fire alarms, breaking a brand new screen frame and losing a light fixture.

Oh, I forgot that they are slobs.

I guess I needed to vent, but I will relish the day I can tell them, "No, we won't renew your lease. We need to fix up the apartment. Buh-bye!" And then we can get some nice quiet couple to live up there who will take care of the place and have some sense.


Gary said...

When we bought the "crackhouse" there were two families of tenants that we had to evict. We had the PO collect the rent. They paid cash every two weeks. When he collected the rent, he told them he had sold the house. They were mad because they figured that we could go through the eviction process and they could live there rent free for two months. We had to give them 30 days notice by law, but as an incentive we told them if they leave in two weeks we would give them their money back. Whooosh! They were gone! One family dragged their feet a bit but a well timed plumbing leak in their bathroom forced me to turn the water off and I was under no obligation to fix it. They couldn't use the toilet so they left. Often it is cheaper to pay them to leave and become someone elses problem than it is to keep them.... food or thought.

Greg said...

You forgot to mention the A/C unit in the front window. I’ve been lucky so far I think. I've gotten most renters through word-of-mouth. I’m about to turn over Unit #1 for the first time. The young couple that lives there have been, for the most part, good tenants. I was surprised to see on Monday, when showing the apartment to the next tenant, just how dirty the apartment was. It was odd in a way. The place is tastefully decorated and the carpets are well vacuumed, and kitchen floor clean, but it does not look like they have ever mopped the bathroom floor, or cleaned of the cabinets around the knobs in the kitchen. We’re talking major grunge. There is also the issue of the cars on the street. Like you, I tolerate some things because I’m just happy they give me money every month. The guy is a wanabe mechanic and now one of his projects has been on the street for two months. They are leavening the area in less than a month. Who wants to take odds that the car is still there when they leave?

StuccoHouse said...

Wow, this guy does not know how good he has it. I had a landlord that would leave town for months at a time...and I had to deal with things like plumbing repairs, etc. on my own. Then there was my landlord that liked to come in and look through my stuff when I wasn't there.

Maybe just looking at them as a temporary way to finance the rest of your house stuff will get you through til you can boot them :-)

K. said...

That sounds really frustrating!!! Especially for someone who loves their house as much as you.

A lot of the issues sound like culture clash/immigrant ignorance - and I wonder if you could get some assistance from some kind of a social service agency. I know they aren't refugees, but it might help to have someone else explain to them what is appropriate -- and HOW TO BUDGET.

Another option is to contact their dept. PhD programs often have real investments in their students continuing and might be willing to help smooth over the situation.

Just ideas!

Jocelyn said...

You guys are just so full of great ideas! I decided we are going to have a sit down face-to-face meeting with them to see what is going on. Hopefully, it will go well.

It's hard for me because I find the things they do very annoying and being the somewhat tired and cranky girl I am, it's hard for me to not become ill-tempered about it. Steve is much better at being diplomatic with people. I am too emotional.

I don't know if they realize how uncommon it is to find a landlord that would allow chronic late payments for an entire year.

Ms. P in Jackson said...

Like most, I rented apartments before buying houses. I was clean, quiet and always got my security deposits back. Where do these losers come from? Even though I wasn't paying a mortgage of my own I took pride in the space I lived in.

I hope someday soon you can give these people the adios and get someone who is happy to live in your building.

Emerld said...

Hey! I'm the landlord queen of the universe. Owned a 4 flat near Chicago for 15 years. The stories I could tell.! LOL. I totally sympathize with you J. We had tenant M who would bounce a rent check about every 4th month. We also had to tolerate her because of the 'soft' rental market. With the low interest rates everyone is buying houses.