Author Topic: Evicted my first tenant  (Read 3375 times)

TheOldestYoungMan

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Evicted my first tenant
« on: May 31, 2017, 12:34:39 PM »
This is not a story about how great I am, this is not a happy ending story.

Late last year I took the plunge into buying my first property for the sole purpose of renting out.  I've been doing the owner-occupied roommate thing for awhile and that has worked great.

Last week I finished up in court with a ruling for the tenant to pay back rent and leave.  So my first tenant leaves with an eviction.

No heartfelt goodbye's, no promises to always keep in touch, I sincerely hope to never speak with them again.

But thanks in large part to you fine folks, this hasn't been a disaster for me and I plan to continue to move forward.  The following things were advice I followed from here that were super helpful:

1.  Always charge enough in rent.  By having the rent high enough, I will still likely be cash flow positive on the property by the end of the year, and certainly am not hurting now.

2.  Don't be shy about evicting.  You don't want to be an asshole, but rent is just another bill, and if they don't pay it and don't want to talk about why, this is just another thing.

3.  Always have a lease with strict terms governing practically everything.

4.  Review the laws in your state/county/city/everything to make sure you understand what you have to do and what happens if you don't do it.

Here's the things I ignored, which is why I can't say I'm a great landlord and that none of this stuff is my fault:

5.  If you have a bad feeling about the tenant walk away.

6.  Put everything in writing and accept nothing not in writing.

7.  Abide by your own terms, for instance, don't accept payment in a form other than what you said you would accept.

8.  Have enough cash when you start so that you can handle the property remaining vacant.

9.  Spend a morning in eviction court.  Having done that now, I have completely revised my mindset regarding this whole enterprise, and who I'm willing to rent to.

I was absolutely desperate to rent when the tenant walked through my door, the property wasn't ready, I wasn't ready, but I had run out of money (from a project budget standpoint, again, I deserve zero sympathy).  I ignored certain odd things, like a P.O. box as the only address they'd give me, an out of state license but in state plates on the vehicles, and a complete lack of rental history which I chalked up to some deficiency in my background check process.

They also didn't look at the house at all.  Just showed up for the viewing with check in hand ready to sign the papers.  Wouldn't wait to move in until I said it was available, needed it right then, wasn't a problem that it wasn't quite clean, wasn't a problem that it was a little bit rough.

The last four months were a cautionary tale for new landlords.  Every dollar of rent went right back into making improvements to try and make them happy, and as soon as I said "No" to a request, legal threats and the rent stopped coming.

Fortunately I've read enough accounts of this type of thing on here to recognize what was happening and just took advantage of the "out" when they stopped paying rent.

They'll be gone soon and I'll move on down the road, just wanted to thank the MMM community for all the resources and conversations about this stuff.

Here's what I have to add that I didn't remember seeing (though I can't imagine it isn't here):

People will absolutely lie in court.  They will say they paid, they will say they hired contractors, they will say everything and anything, especially if they know it is hard to prove otherwise.  For instance, I had been accepting money orders as payment, and they tried to use a money order receipt to show they paid me, and if it weren't for my property manager keeping meticulous records of payments, that lined up exactly with my own bank records, I might have been screwed.

They contact me daily since the court ruling to try and pay, but every communication is "we'll pay x amount but we can't leave until y day."  I am careful to respond in a timely manner, but always with "comply with the court order."

The tenant has tried physical intimidation, so there's something called a "civil assist" where you call the police and request a civil assist, that I plan to use for the final walkthrough.  A uniformed officer comes by and chaperones the interaction.  No cost for this in my area.

Always keep in mind what you actually want.  There's very little chance you'll see any more money, you want them gone as soon as possible.

Nobody "wins" in a legal proceeding, there's just varying degrees of loss.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2017, 09:29:48 PM »
Sorry to hear that. Glad you have learned what not to do.

In the 20+ years I rented out my town home, I realized that the best way not to have any issues was to pick the right tenant. My rents were a little lower than the others and I had a attractive house. So, I ended up getting the best tenants. I even ended up selling the town home to my last tenant.

My criteria for picking a tenant
  • Must meet a minimum credit score. Use a credit check company which caters to landlords (provides previous addresses and police history)
  • I will check references with the applicants present landlord, but also the previous ones. The present one might give good references just to get the applicant out
  • Must meet minimum rent/total income ratio.
  • I reject the applicant if the list of addresses lived in by the  applicant do not match the credit report. Same with employment history.
  • I check employment history. I do not use the phone number provided by the applicant, but I find it in the phone book/internet
  • When I give them the application, I give them a detailed list of checks I will do. Lots of times, a bad applicant does not even return the application
  • If something does not smell right, I back out. I have had applicants who were a pain in the ass before the lease was signed, so I rejected them. If they are a pain in the backside to deal with before they sign the lease, they will be a pain after.

When I get a tenant, I will make sure that the house is perfect. Anything breaks down is fixed asap.

Larsg

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2017, 01:42:07 AM »
Thanks for sharing. Lots of good lessons. I would add for any landlord to make sure you know your states rental laws for both lessor and lessee. Some states can be fair and balanced between the two and other states favor one over the other. In Chicago for example, Tenants rights rule and there are enterprises set up by attorneys that teach tenants about their rights prior to renting. There is like a 12 point "tenants bill of rights" that if breached can cost the property owner big time - i.e. having a light bulb go out or the dishwasher stop working that causes any inconvenience in the eyes of the tenant is a problem - reasonable amount of time to make repairs is in the eyes of the tenant. Get a local expert attorney as a part of your team just for guidance. Investing $200 in a QA session with an expert can save you a lot of money for years to come.

Also, can't say enough about personally screening. PM's will never have the same commitment that you would have. We no longer use PM's at all because of this. A pain to do all yourself I know but it wound up costing us more money and twice the amount of time to go thru the PM that goes thru the vendor where you eventually have to get involved in the end to make the best decision anyway.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2017, 10:46:41 AM »
In Chicago for example, Tenants rights rule and there are enterprises set up by attorneys that teach tenants about their rights prior to renting. There is like a 12 point "tenants bill of rights" that if breached can cost the property owner big time

I think it may not be worth being a landlord in Chicago or NYC. The tenants have far more rights than the landlords.

former player

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2017, 02:37:15 PM »
I agree the quality of the tenant is everything.  Even then it's not a guarantee: my excellent tenants of 2 years started getting behind with the rent after having a child.  Fortunately they then moved on without too much hassle and were paid up by the end, but finding new tenants costs time and money even without lengthy voids.  Not sure what I could have done to avoid that one.

Cwadda

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2017, 02:58:46 PM »
Good advice posted here so far.

I just picked a tenant to fill a vacancy.

I screened for these parameters:
-Monthly gross income must be 3x monthly rent
-No smoking, no pets
-Credit score of 600 or better

I also spent $3,500 renovating the apartment, including furniture. The people that asked to come look at it were high quality because the apartment itself was high quality and affordable. My tenant choice was someone who met the income requirement and said their parents would be signing as a cosigner even if it's not needed. Can't believe I got so lucky!

sequoia

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2017, 03:42:11 PM »
The tenant has tried physical intimidation, so there's something called a "civil assist" where you call the police and request a civil assist, that I plan to use for the final walkthrough.  A uniformed officer comes by and chaperones the interaction.  No cost for this in my area.

Sorry to hear about this. Do you mind elaborating what happened? Totally understood if you don't want to. This is the first I have heard tenant tried physical intimidation smh.... I am glad you call the police to help deal with this mess.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2017, 01:27:00 PM »

Sorry to hear about this. Do you mind elaborating what happened?

Bizarre, is the best way I could describe it.  If he wasn't a 120 lb old man it might have been scary, as in, I'm sure back in the day he was a proper thug and all.

Just flexing and in general violating personal space, always gesturing with a clenched fist, and making sure to mention "well I get along well with all the neighbors, except that one at the end of the street, that I had to fight when I first moved in, but after I wupped his ass [story continues]"

How do you respond to the above?  My response was to back away awkwardly.  Was I afraid?  Not really.  It just struck me as bizarre behavior.  Who brags about fighting as an adult?  This was a fifty-ish year old dude.  That story got told to me literally every time I talked to them about anything.  Wasn't uncommon for him to move his baseball bat from one part of the garage to another during the conversation too.  As a socially awkward person I tend to believe that others might be just as clueless about the signals they send, but it seemed so forced, like he was trying to send a message.  He'd look at me, look at the bat, then mention he was willing to beat a fellow down.  Then ask about that hundredth improvement he wanted made.

No thanks.

The final move out went super smooth, largely because it started raining on their trailer full of stuff so they just hopped in the truck and drove off.  I just changed the locks, sealed everything up, and got on with my life.

Still not sure if I was dealing with a con artist that I just barely managed to stay ahead of his timing, or if he was a total idiot.  Very glad I didn't hesitate to start the eviction process, because once they stopped paying I was never going to see another dime.

sequoia

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Re: Evicted my first tenant
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2017, 04:34:33 AM »

Sorry to hear about this. Do you mind elaborating what happened?

Bizarre, is the best way I could describe it.  If he wasn't a 120 lb old man it might have been scary, as in, I'm sure back in the day he was a proper thug and all.

Just flexing and in general violating personal space, always gesturing with a clenched fist, and making sure to mention "well I get along well with all the neighbors, except that one at the end of the street, that I had to fight when I first moved in, but after I wupped his ass [story continues]"

How do you respond to the above?  My response was to back away awkwardly.  Was I afraid?  Not really.  It just struck me as bizarre behavior.  Who brags about fighting as an adult?  This was a fifty-ish year old dude.  That story got told to me literally every time I talked to them about anything.  Wasn't uncommon for him to move his baseball bat from one part of the garage to another during the conversation too.  As a socially awkward person I tend to believe that others might be just as clueless about the signals they send, but it seemed so forced, like he was trying to send a message.  He'd look at me, look at the bat, then mention he was willing to beat a fellow down.  Then ask about that hundredth improvement he wanted made.

No thanks.

The final move out went super smooth, largely because it started raining on their trailer full of stuff so they just hopped in the truck and drove off.  I just changed the locks, sealed everything up, and got on with my life.

Still not sure if I was dealing with a con artist that I just barely managed to stay ahead of his timing, or if he was a total idiot.  Very glad I didn't hesitate to start the eviction process, because once they stopped paying I was never going to see another dime.

Appreciate you sharing this!