Eviction Notices, Lemon Laws, and Lightning

We’ve been landlords since 2003. In early 2004, we had a couple of freshmen college girls renting our first rent house. One of the girls ended up doing the whole go-off-to-college-and-go-crazy thing. By Spring, it was catching up with her. Her rent check bounced two months in a row. We told the girls they needed to move out (or the paying one could find another roommate) and they did. The one who bounced checks smeared red lipstick all over the off-white carpet as a parting gift.

The carpet was only one year old, but thankfully we had it treated with stain protector when we bought it. The lipstick came right up with a bit of elbow grease. (I also spilled red paint on that carpet and it came right out. As the protector wore off, though, that carpet got pretty nasty. But that’s not the point of this post.)

Other than those two immature girls (who moved right out when we told them to), we’ve not had any tenant drama. Sure, we’ve had a few late payers over the years, but nothing major. They always ended up paying their rent and the late fees outlined in their lease.

Mostly, we’ve had awesome renters. Many have paid early every month and a few have been total neat freaks (hooray!) or they love to landscape (double hooray for renters!!). We’re not slum lords. We have no desire to be. Every rental we currently (or previously) own has been converted to a rental from our personal residence. They’ve all been in great family-friendly surburban neighborhoods and all but one over the years have been in active HOAs. (I know, I know. Some of you hate HOAs. I love them. Especially as a landlady.)

We’re extremely “picky” in approving tenants. We do back-ground checks and credit checks. We call previous landlords and employers. We verify income. Everything we can to try and get people who will pay their rent and take good care of our homes.

Many people have asked over the years how we can stand to let other people live in our brand new kitchen/bathroom/whatever-room-we-completed-last. Or interested people ask how we like owning rental property or if we have suggestions/warnings.

After eleven years of renting out our (nice, remodeled-in-most-situations) homes, we’d still suggest it. There are periods of hard work. Especially if you have multiple houses coming open at the same time (eek!), or something big happens (like a storm that takes down a fence at one house and shreds all the screens at another and leaves a third with roof leaks or something like that), but usually it’s a pretty great source of passive income. Not lots of income; we have mortgages on all of our homes. We aren’t multimillionaire real-estate investors. We’re just like you. But with more mortgages.

So anyway, all that said…

We had to start the formal eviction process on our very first tenants this month. They were behind in rent already, and then didn’t pay again this last time it was due. I probably shouldn’t give too much detail, since this is the internet and all. They don’t read this blog and none of my readers would be able to find out their identity, but you know…respect and all that or whatever. (I’ve learned a thing or two from reading Katie Bower. 🙂 )

So. They finally moved out this weekend. They were supposed to be out last Tuesday according to the eviction notice, but we graciously extended it to Thursday since they asked so nicely. The hubs took off work early on Thursday so we could get down there before the court house closed in case we needed to take the next step in eviction proceedings. He missed work and we both drove separately (I brought all the paint, tools, and cleaning supplies and he came straight from work) all the way down there for nothing. They weren’t out yet. And it is a miracle that I didn’t lose it.

Remarks like, “but if I pay you my rent, I’ll have no money left until payday” don’t make me that happy coming from people who make several thousand dollars per year more than we do and especially when they didn’t pay last time. And they didn’t lose a job or have some major medical expense come up. Nope. Just ANOTHER new vehicle. So yeah. It was a miracle straight from heaven when I talked the hubs out of having the sheriff come over and lock up the house. They said they’d be out by the next night, and it did appear that they were working diligently to get out, so we said we’d be back Friday.

We went back Friday on the way to my brother’s house (farther South down I-35) and they were still there. We extended their departure AGAIN, since we weren’t going to be able to get anything done anyway that night and it was almost empty-ish (and because we really are nice people). But mainly because tenant laws are stupid and you can’t just throw all their stuff away. If we kick them out before they have their stuff out, we have to pay to store their belongings. Um, no. That’s not happening. Unless the curb counts as storage?

So anyway, Saturday was insane. But it has nothing to do with house stuff, so I won’t blog about it here. Maybe my brother will blog about buying cars and having to spend $800 to get something fixed within three days and breaking down on the side of the interstate the next day and needing another $1400 part. And being stranded in another state with vehicles too small to hold both our families and renting cars and lightning closing Six Flags after only one ride. And uptight, high-strung first-born nephews (I don’t know whence that came, clearly the hubs and I are totally chill). Yeah, he can blog all that.

But maybe we can go in together for one attorney to help with Lemon Laws and collecting back rent??

When we got there Sunday, the house was empty. Mostly. There was a pile of stuff they had moved to the porch and some stuff still in the garage, but they were coming back to do a walk through and talk about damage and security deposits. As if.

I have learned from bloggers who have gone before me, so I’ll take a note from Katie and NOT post pics of other people’s filth. But here’s a little piece of the conversation…

Female Tenant: This isn’t the worst you’ve ever seen is it?

Hubs: Yes, it is.

FT: You just mean at this house, though, right?

Hubs: No. In eleven years, at all my houses, this is the worst I’ve seen.

FT: Oh.

Hubs (to me): She asked.

So anyway, obviously they owe us money for rent, but holy furry baseboards, Batman, they wouldn’t be getting any deposit back even if they didn’t. We’ll have to finish all the work and cleaning before we can give them a ballpark on how much they owe us. I don’t expect payment, and the hubs hasn’t yet decided how he’ll proceed. Anyone know a good attorney who specializes in eviction and wage garnishment? Do they happen to also have experience dealing with car dealers and Lemon Laws?



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