Wednesday, September 21, 2016

When "Bless Your Heart" Just Doesn't Cover It


So the house in Grayson Valley was vacated by now-former tenants with anger issues. The way the law works is the property management, on the day they find out the tenants have moved, are to put a abandonment notice on the door. After that time, the home is mine. I am still waiting for that notice, but it hasn't come. I gave up and decided to roll the dice and see if the tenants will sue me instead.

Last Wednesday, I had the place cleaned out, the lawn mowed and took the house out of management. I wrote Luigi and Flunky, stating now that they have professionally taken care of the abandonment notice, I was pulling the home out of management and was going to sell it. Kirby would be by to pick up the keys. Luigi, who is apparently clueless to what his employees are doing, didn't see the dripping sarcasm. Flunky the Asshat didn't bother to answer.

Over the weekend Kirby showed up at the Grayson Valley home to assess what it would take to sell the place. He told me the locks have now been changed and there is a lock box on the door. Seriously? The property management company couldn't  be bothered for six weeks to check on this house to verify the status of the tenants, but they can--right after I take the house out of management, mind you--hop on over and change the locks.

Yesterday I sent a note to Flunky, reminding him that his company doesn't manage this home anymore, there is no reason to have the keys changed and a lock box, and by the way, what is the combination so Kirby can get in the house?

And what did Flunky do? He wrote me (and cc'd Kirby, my real estate agent) the following e-mail:

Please have your handyman return the lockbox to our office.

Yep, he wrote that. He expects my "handyman" to just jump on this, drive over to my house, take the lock box off and then drive 30 miles to their office and hand over a $20 piece of hardware.

It took every ounce of self control I had not to contact Flunky and tell him what I thought of his solution.

Instead, I wrote Kirby. I said, as my real estate agent, he was bound by fiduciary law to obey all relevant and reasonable requests I give. In this case, he was not, under any circumstances, to touch that lock box. If the property management company wants it, they can go pick it up. I also said a lot of things I thought about Flunky the Asshat, all of which Kirby had heard before and also knew to be true.

Kirby wrote me back with simply, "No worries, your handyman won't touch it either."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vermin

So, the house in Grayson Valley came vacant. The super-classy tenants just took off one day and left half of their crap behind. When the house came vacant, I decided to sell it if I can. Our business is changing and hanging on to homes is not where I see my immediate future. So, Kirby went over. He also took one look at the place, shook his head and quickly backed out the door.

The tenants left a good portion of their worldly belongings--which will hopefully go to good use for someone. But not the turtle in the garage. Sadly, with the Alabama heat and humidity, and being trapped in a cage for six weeks, the poor thing just didn't make it. But sadly, that wasn't the only critters to be found.

According to Baseball Guy, he found a snake skin in the attic. I was preferring to think of it as someone's fishnet stocking, and probably would have gone along thinking that, if Carolsue hadn't found "evidence of snakes" in the garage. There was also "evidence" of other critters too, such as rats.

In addition to the critters, the former tenant (who happens to be an NFL player), bashed in the master bedroom door and the door frame is in splinters. In my experience, when I see door jambs in splinters like this, I think of domestic violence. That could not have been a happy home. But it looks like the worst of the vermin have left.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

And When I Say...

I have hired the "best property management company in Birmingham," you know that's tongue and cheek? Right? Well, partially.

Actually, Luigi's company, when I first started working with them WERE the best property management company I could find. Actually, Kirby's company was the best, but he wisely bailed, because property management sucks. I know this first-hand. I also know what it takes to manage rental homes. I do this for a living. And before I went to work for a property management company, I managed these gazillion homes. I gave them to Kirby.

Over the course of the life of this accidental business, I have hired, and fired, several property management companies. In one case, the Alabama Attorney General got involved. I have also personally interviewed the majority of the other property management companies in Birmingham. All were pleased to see me, as I had a nice, fat book of business to offer them. But when all is said in done, none of them did business the way I did business.

Most of the property management companies I spoke with made it a policy--and they did this without blinking--to just hand the keys to a home to prospective tenants, let them see the place and then trust them to lock everything up, not steal the copper, appliances or vandalize and bring the keys back. If you want to take a moment to read that again, I understand. Take your time. It blows my mind too. Anyway, I didn't hire those companies.

Mario's property management company wasn't too bad, except they were expensive and they expected me to spend lots of time on the computer watching videos of how they operated and required me to get questions answered by logging into a portal that needed some sort of wonky password I could never remember. Usually my questions could not be answered by a computer anyway, so I still had to hunt someone down, explain to them I already looked on their FAQ list (which I probably didn't) and then just say, "While we are on the phone anyway, why not just answer my question." Mario and I also got off to a really bad start. We are ok now, but I haven't forgotten that the first time I gave him direction, he said, "Why don't you go ask your husband what you should do and call me back." I would be willing to bet he hasn't forgotten the earful he got for that one.

When I hired Luigi's company, I specifically asked Luigi many questions. I wanted to make sure we were on the same wavelength and we conducted business the same way.  I was prepared to manage these properties myself with Carolsue's help if I didn't find a company I liked. I had done it before, I could do it again. He successfully passed muster. I gave him everything I had except Ms. Angie's home and Mrs. Sherwood's home.


Cruella Deville 
Since those days, Luigi's company is not what it used to be. I believe they have had growing pains as they have expanded and branched out. That always comes with awkward changes. Luigi gave the day to day tasks to a variety of folks who have come and gone. Ms. Amy seems to be the only constant. And, I am not a fan of her. Additionally, Flunky is also now more involved in the owner relations end of Luigi's business. Frankly, Luigi might have been better off hiring Cruella Deville instead. She is more pleasant.

At this point, I am kind of resigned. Our business is going through its own changes. I am keeping Luigi's company for now. It seems easier than spending the time, energy and effort to train a new property manager that I will probably like even less. Besides, I have a system in place if I need something from Luigi's company. I just e-mail Luigi. He then forwards the message to the appropriate party. He always cc's me, with a gentle reminder that I should go to the right person to get what I need done. I guess what he doesn't realize, is that he is the "right" person.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Answer Is Probably No

It may sound uncharitable, but I immensely dislike Flunky the Asshat. I am doing my best to hide my true feelings when I talk with him, but he doesn't make it easy. For example, the folks in Fultondale have some sort of dishwasher issue.

On July 27, 2016 Flunky sent me an e-mail asking what should he do?

I immediately wrote him back and said, "We can resolve this in a five minute phone call. Please call me when you have a moment." Experience tells me an e-mail exchange will take a week and he won't answer my questions: are the folks up to date on the rent, what exactly is wrong with the dishwasher and how expensive is this fix? As soon as he calls me, he will know my answer.

On Sunday, September 4, 2016 I got my first response from Flunky about this matter. He said: "Sorry that I have not been able to call you about this. Please let me know if you will replace the dishwasher."

As soon as he calls me, he will know my answer.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

#TeamTrashed Won

Turns out my home that the former NFL football player left is more in shambles than I hoped. I don't have the money to fix this place up and sell it. Yes, yes. I know. I can sue. I don't really have the money for that either.

And by the way, the reason I know this isn't because Flunky the Asshat promptly ran over and told me. It is because Kirby swung by and took a gander. He also took several pictures. If you are in the neighborhood, he left some pretty sweet stuff behind.

I hate people today.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

It Means SHE DOESN'T LIVE THERE ANY MORE

There are things which are morbidly funny to me. I have a warped sense of humor--especially for the irreverent. I have not stopped chuckling since Mrs. Roebuck and I spoke earlier this week. For those of you unfamiliar with the ongoing saga of Mr. Ex-Partner and Mrs. Roebuck, you can read about it here and here. It will save me the twelve paragraphs of backstory. I promise you, it is worth it.

I can wait. Take your time...

Ok, for those of you who detest clicking on other links, the simplified backstory goes like this: for years, the Ex-Partners and the Sunshines had a hard-to-rent home in a questionable neighborhood. We all agreed to let Mrs. Roebuck live there for some shamelessly low rental rate. She could afford as much as she was paying and she took care of the property, which is more than we can say for some of the previous tenants. Four days after Mr. Ex-Partner started managing his own properties, he and Mrs. Roebuck came to blows with Mrs. Roebuck summarily moving out. Mr. Ex-Partner came to me and said, "Why would she leave???"

She left because he was rude, uncharitable and obnoxious. Perhaps not in that order--but I wasn't there. My answer was simply, "I don't know, why don't you call her?"

What made me laugh so hard (and I still am) is that last week Mr. Ex-Partner e-mailed Mrs. Roebuck and said something along the lines of, "For a $50 increase in the rent you were once paying, I will let you move back in. What do you think?"

Mrs. Roebuck didn't think much of it. She has already moved. She has a new place to live. She has paid movers, utility companies and all other subsequent fees which come with a life transition. She has changed her mail. She has changed her insurance. But because he asked, she said if he paid all of the necessary costs to move once again, she would consider it. As of this writing, she hadn't heard back if he would play.

However, he did send another note to her, completely bypassing her answer and suggesting if she took care of a simple maintenance issue or two at her former home, he would trade that for one month's rent.

"What rent?" was her response. Mrs. Roebuck then reiterated. She doesn't live there any more and their relationship is over. Apparently he still isn't fully comprehending what "moving out" means.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

#TeamSell

Lately every decision made in the ole' accidental business seems to be made by committee. I was grumbling to Marty Sunshine about this today. I want to sell my now-vacant home. Can I?

I sent out feelers to the Arizona lawyer for her opinion. I then sent out a note to Diamond Jim. Would it be ok to sell? Or would it be a huge tax consequence? Then I contacted Kirby and asked him for his counsel.

Marty Sunshine says this is why we hired these folks--to protect us. To me, it just takes longer and usually has the same result as if we had made the decisions ourselves.

For the record, Diamond Jim, Marty and I want to sell. Kirby is all for that, but then again he benefits if it sells. The tie-breaker is the attorney. She gets five votes.