Friday, September 18, 2009

Due diligence--Have a Blessed Day

This is the short version of what happens when you don't check renters out properly. The long version will come in the book.

So I was a new landlord and was impressed by the way a lady dressed and presented herself. She was well manicured, polite, and used religious references in her conversation. She had recently been divorced and had moved in briefly with her boss, who gave her a good reference. She didn't have any other references and I didn't do a credit check.

I stupidly let her move in when she told me her pay had been delayed 2 days. This was the beginning of a nightmare as she lived in the unit next to mine. She soon lost her job or her hours got cut (I'm not sure now) and lost her electricity. I let her borrow a cord for "just the refrigerator". I came home after a couple days and heard the large screen tv turned on with the volume up. I was pissed and unplugged it and wrote up a three day notice to pay or quit. My next electric bill was about $220 compared with the $50 I normally spent (this was back around 1999).

She knew all the tricks in the book for delaying an eviction. I won. According to California law, I had to store her stuff in the garage for three weeks. It was mostly trash, but there was enough clothes and such that she had enough of a claim that I didn't want to keep it, and she was too lazy to move it into storage. After three weeks I had a couple thrift stores give me estimates on the value...actually only one would take it without charging me, but I kept the estimates in accordance with the law to defend myself in case of a lawsuit.

She or her kids also poured sugar down the kitchen drain, and left the place a mess in general. I will have to find some pictures. The two car garage was full, wall to wall with stuff; worthless crap piled on top of more worthless crap. Everything she had was low dollar poorly constructed stuff that was likely given to her by some charity (she was really convincing in her role as pitiful and downtrodden single mom). The only interest she had in the items was to vindictively cost me money.

The thing that sticks with me, and perhaps because something similar happened with another renter, was their used of "Have a blessed day". They both pronounced "blessed" with two syllables, and I watch for this in conversation now, with applicants.

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