Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Told Him So

Though I don't have any ill-will towards Mr. Ex-Partner, I did sport a smug smile when I was playing with Zillow the other day and saw that the home I warned him would be vacant if he didn't listen to me, still is.

The back story of this house is simply, Mrs. Roebuck was living there at a reduced rent. Before we split the partnership, I had explained to Mr. Partner why Mrs. Roebuck was living there--and he was on board. It is a hard-to-rent home. It has one bathroom. It is on a busy-ish street. It is in a neighborhood that is declining. It wasn't a wise investment. We were stuck with it, so instead of trying to find someone who will ruin the place (because we had already gone down that route), let's just put a reliable person in and give a discounted rent and take the tax loss. At least the house will be safe. The loss in rent is much better than paying for vandalism and theft--which we had done before.

About 97 seconds after the partnership split, Mr. Ex-Partner went to town on Mrs. Roebuck. After all, Zillow says the house should rent for some wild number that I have never gotten for that property. But Zillow can't be wrong!

Subsequently, Mrs. Roebuck moved. The house has been vacant ever since. The pictures show it is missing a stove. But then again, the pictures were taken six months ago. By now it is probably missing a bathtub and an air conditioner too. Incidentally, the air conditioner at this house has been stolen in the past. Twice.

I wish Mr. Ex-Partner well. But I am resisting the urge to call him and say, "I told you so!"

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Luigi did get back to me about the flooring issue. He sent me pictures he took prior to the tenant moving in. Guess what? The hardwoods were in great shape.

He then threw Flunky under the bus and said he expects me to work directly with Flunky to come up with a reasonable cost." Well, in my opinion, it is reasonable to get all of the security deposit back because the cost of replacing hardwood floors that run seamlessly throughout the bottom floor (about 1500 square feet) is a lot more than the security deposit.

You would think that would be the rest of this story, because we have a beginning, middle and an end. But no. There's a twist. Of course.

Instead of just saying, "Ok." Or just not replying at all, Flunky the King of all Asshats throws in his own, unrelated opinion. And, just to make sure he has an audience, he sends the note to me, Marty Sunshine and Jim the Property Management Bookkeeper. He says that the reason the floor was wet was because of a "design issue," making it so that the back door, which is a good foot off the ground, not "close properly." Therefore, it wasn't the tenant's fault.

Thinking he could not be serious, I just wrote back, "I have had tenants living in this house for ten years who never had a problem keeping the rain out. The floor was fine when they moved in, it is not fine now. I am not releasing the deposit."

Now then, at this point, it seems reasonable that we are through. Right? Nope. Flunky did the most asshatty thing any asshat has ever done. He told me the water damage was not the tenant's fault, it was my fault because I did not maintain the property. He went on to declare  he knew about this "design flaw" that is only a rusted piece of metal that allegedly caused this issue and he never brought it to my attention, Additionally, he went on to say if I wanted Flunky to inspect the property while the tenant was living there, I should have paid him because then I could have gotten a laundry list of maintenance issues that I should have known about.

I will let that sink in for a moment.

Let's look at a few facts. I am an out of state landlord who hired this bunch of yo-yos to protect my asset. I am paying them. You get that, right? I had no idea there was an issue with the home. Nobody told me until after there was a problem (and it is a BS excuse anyway that some rusted piece of metal or a "design flaw" caused the tenant not to shut the door during a rain storm). But more to the point, he admitted he knew there was a problem and never told me.

I am pleased to say I waited ten minutes before replying. I explained I was under the impression the property management company worked for the owners. This was expressly explained when I signed the agreement to allow the property management company to take care of my homes. I also pointed out that his boss and owner of the company, Luigi, agreed with me, the floors were ruined by the tenant's negligence. On top of that, the tenant violated the terms of the lease by not leaving the hardwood floors in the condition they received them in. Additionally, and here is the biggie: Flunky had just admitted he was negligent, so as far as I was concerned, either the property management company was paying for a new floor or the tenant was.

I ended it by saying the deposit was mine. This matter was closed. And then I did the most mature thing I could think of. I marked his e-mail as SPAM. Marty Sunshine can deal with him.  Poor Jim the Bookkeeper, he had to be privy to all that. I am sorry I couldn't be a fly on the wall and hear all the nasty things Flunky said about me this afternoon. But I will tell you this. Either I get that deposit for the ruined floors or all hell is breaking loose.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gratuitous Vacation Pictures

Carolsue swears Luigi's company is a front for something. I tend to agree, but I am hard-pressed to figure out what it could be a front for. An illegal tamale stand perhaps? Probably not. Tamales aren't easy too make and I am of the mind those folks can't handle anything more complicated than successfully tying their shoes on the second try.

When I first hired Luigi, they were a rock star of a property management company. This isn't as much a bias, as it was empirical evidence: I had interviewed every company in Birmingham. But now the honeymoon is over. Given we are expecting hoping to close our accidental business this year, I am biding my time with these folks out, but I have to tell you, my patience is at an all-time low. Most of my lack of patience stems from stupid regular e-mails I get from Flunky the Maintenance Asshat.

I am not making this up when I say the man looks like the comic book store owner from The Simpsons. Stereotypes are earned, and this man has earned every one of my predispositions he emits from every pore. He doesn't like me and makes no secret of it. Though I am not a fan of his, I would like to think I am more professional.

A few weeks ago, after threatening for years, the tenants in Moody moved out. I instantly took the house out of management. Nobody over in Luigi's office said anything about it, and I just figured my e-mail to every e-mail address I had over there saying, "When the tenant moves out and everything is wrapped up, take the home out of management please," pretty much covered it. If Luigi or Flunky didn't do anything with this news, I knew their bookkeeper would.

While sitting on Uncle Sunshine's island in Florida a couple of weeks ago, Flunky sent me a startling e-mail. I was startled because he admitted to something that anyone who manages ANY property should never, ever admit. His e-mail said,

"We don't have keys to your home in Moody. Do you want to pay for re-keying the front only? Or do you want to pay for re keying the front and back?"

I never did answer his question because I had several questions of my own. The biggest one was, WHY? Why do you not have spare keys to this house? HOW? How is it possible you don't have spare keys? WHEN? When are you going to get the keys back from the tenant? I even said, "This is property management 101. Property managers are supposed to have a copy of the keys."

Flunky wrote back, hemming and hawing, blaming me for taking the house out of management being the main reason they were, four weeks later, just getting around to breaking the news to me they didn't have the keys. Meanwhile, who is to say the tenant actually moved out? Who is to say the tenant didn't just give the place up to a drug using lunatic. Or worse, what if the former (I hope former) tenants gave the key to their neighbor and my most loathsome former tenant, the man who lives directly across the street, Mr. Smith? I am sure there are other scenarios that I haven't thought of, or worse, ones I have, but it boils down to this: THE TENANTS HAVE NOT RETURNED THE KEYS AND NOBODY OVER THERE IS THE LEAST BIT CONCERNED.

When I asked Flunky if he had keys to my other properties. I also advised, "Before you guess the answer, go check. If you don't have keys, why not? I want an exact date that you will have them. You work for me, not the tenants." That sounds professional. Probably.

Monday, January 16, 2017

This is Why I Save Every E-mail

I never consider it a stellar day when I start out with e-mails from Flunky the Property Maintenance Asshat. He annoyed me on vacation last month--another blog I haven't gotten around to writing--and he is annoying me now.

You may remember this particular incident. The tenant in question had water on her floor. Apparently it rained and the weather stripping wasn't doing its job. Or something. For whatever reason, the tenant could not see her way to actually wiping up the water and now there is a bigger issue: the hardwood floor is warped.

But, you see, the tenant moved out a few weeks ago. And the first response to the e-mail from Maria, my "contact" over there who never contacts me back, was "They ruined the hardwoods, do not release the security deposit." Just to make sure everyone knew I was serious, I also told the bookkeeper I was fighting for the deposit, so don't release it to the former tenants. I thought this was resolved 14 days ago and I went on my merry way, with full delusional knowledge I would be seeing this money in a few weeks.

But of course, nothing in life ever works the way I think it should. And, even though the security deposit is rightfully mine apparently Flunky did not feel that way. So, this morning I started my day with six different e-mails from Flunky saying that the warped floors were there all along and that the tenants did nothing wrong. He even CC'd Marty Sunshine just to, I guess, make sure I wouldn't protest. To solidify his point, because I was pretty sure he knew I wouldn't agree, but that's just a guess, he got Luigi involved.

Luigi happens to be the owner of this property management company. And right on time, Luigi wrote me. He said he was pretty sure he and I discussed the condition of the hardwoods when the tenant moved in, saying they were already warped. In fact, he was sure he saw them when the tenant moved in. So, case closed.

I wrote Luigi back. I explained that I did not recall ever discussing the floors with him. And, when did Luigi start handling move-ins, because I don't remember that either. And finally I asked if he had an e-mail that might jog my memory so we can put this silly business behind us.

Quick as a wink, Luigi back pedaled. No, he didn't handle move-ins. He must have been at this house for some other reason once upon a time before the tenant moved in, but he KNOWS we discussed it. I am willing to bet if I went through my cell phone records I would not see one call from him since February of 2014, back in our honeymoon period. Simply, I  don't like talking on the phone and I always want a paper trail.

Also, to make his point, Luigi also sent me over some weird e-mail that had absolutely nothing to do with the above issue, but suggested it might jog my memory. He did comment that he was "still looking" for proof.

In return, I sent him two past e-mails I kept that mentioned this issue. One in 2015 when Flunky stated there was a problem with the weather stripping and he had fixed it. The other e-mail was three months later saying there was water coming in under the door that the tenant didn't clean up.

Luigi's response was to say, "Aha! See! Things can break after they are fixed!" Therefore the tenant doesn't owe me the deposit.

I wrote back, "Actually, if you guys fixed the problem and there was water on the floor then the tenant was 100 percent responsible, so the deposit is mine.

My e-mail box has been strangely quiet since then.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chrissy Update

Taking a great chunk of morning out of my day yesterday, I called a handful of brokers yesterday and plead Chrissy's case. Frankly, I thought I did a downright wonderful job of selling her to potential owners. Even my broker said he was moved by my spiel. However, nobody, including my broker, would consider giving her a lease under her circumstances. Not that I blame them. I gave a lot of people in tough situations second chances. A lot of times it worked out. But not always. If you are curious about the times it didn't work out, start reading this blog from the beginning.

I did call the person who referred her to me and said, "You hate me. Why?" She assured me, she most certainly did not hate me. Then she gave me some crazy pep talk that was as a great a sell as I had given to the people I had talked with prior to her.

There is one more solution for Chrissy that I came up with. It is probably in her best interest to buy a home. She won't need background checks. Mortgage lenders won't care if she is a (multiple) felon. Her neighbors won't (necessarily) know her background if she doesn't mention it. She can afford it. And it sure beats living with her mother for the next ten years.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Today's Rental Client

So, I'm handling rentals again. For those of you new to this blog and are unsure of the significance of that last sentence, please think of finding tenants for unsuspecting landlords like this: Forcefully bang your head against a wall. Stop, gasp for breath. Decide how much pain you are in. Remove money from your bank account until you are overdrawn. If still conscious, repeat the process.

And, for those of you who read this blog and I have helped rent your home or helped you find a rental, you don't count. I like you.

The reason I am handling rentals is too extraneous for this blog, but to summarize, we have medical bills that aren't covered under our insurance for the next few months (we are fine). Additionally, the agent in my office who primarily handles property management made an emergency trip across country this week to take care of her dying mother. She is gone until further notice. So, I'm doing rentals.

Chrissy, 23, wants a place to live. In fact, she wants to move in with her best pal, Janet (also 23). The two of them have been friends for years. In fact, they were in prison together. However, they are having a bit of a trouble finding a landlord who wants to lease to a couple of young adults with multiple (did I mention MULTIPLE) felonies.

Oh yes, Chrissy also has an eviction. When I spoke with her today, she wanted to know if the eviction might be an issue. It might. But I am guessing she has bigger issues that might be harder to overlook. By the way, Janet does not have an eviction. Chrissy also wanted to know why any landlord would conduct a background check. Why indeed?

Chrissy and Janet are a referral from a professional colleague, whom I am now convinced hates me. However, I am going to give this a go and see if I can spend all of my free time and sanity finding them a place to live.

Both girls (apparently) are gainfully employed and I am told can provide letters of recommendations from their parole officers and Chrissy at least, promises she can get a co-signer. But when I talked to her, she was confused. Like a good millineal she innocently asked, "Why won't someone just give me a chance?" Someone will. Her mother.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

I am Sure Mr. Jones Speaks for All

If we could just take a moment out of our day to please remember those folks who were affected by last night's tragedy. I know businesses are probably closed all through Alabama today, and probably the rest of the week. Flags will be at half-mast. Schools are closed as the state comes to terms with the terrible news.

Horrible news, actually. The University of Alabama (or Alabama State University, I don't know), lost their big-time championship football game last night. I am not sure the First Amendment protect me as I write these blasphemous words. Yep. They tanked.

According to the words of that football player, Hootie Jones, it wasn't really the team's fault. He said, "We felt like the refs were just against us." Glad that was cleared up.

Hopefully after an appropriate term of grieving, the State will be able to move past this.