I Just Lost My A$$, but Learned a Valuable Lesson

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They Say it's inevitable... One day you will have to evict a tenant no matter how good you think you are at what you do.  I just learned a $15,000 Lesson!  SHAME ON ME RIGHT?

Here's the story: 

This is the first Tenant I ever approved way back when 3.5 years ago November 2010. They haven't been the best tenants in that they often get behind on payments but then will catch up all of a sudden.  At first it was a month behind, and then the next month they would come up with 2 months rent.  Then it got to 3 months behind and after enough hassling they would come up with a nice chunk and pay the 3 months rent.  There was always a good excuse of course.  Well this time I really messed up.  I let them get behind to the tune of 6 months before I realized that they were not going to catch up this time.  The circumstances had changed.  Here's what happened.  December of 2013 they don't pay...Christmas medical bills for mom (blah blah blah) January they don't pay... OK guys what's going on this time?  Oh well we can't pay you right now but we are going to do our taxes and get a nice return back from the Irs and we will pay you then.  February rolls around...No payment.  Guys what's going on?  I thought you were going to catch up with your tax return?  Oh we will!  We are getting  back $5,200 and will pay all the back rent as soon as we get it.  March is now here...and my money is not.  (Upstairs tenants inform me that the mother who lives with them in the unit has passed away) I give my condolences, and they tell me that they did get the tax money but all the funeral expense and everything is so expensive and they are still waiting for the mothers life insurance to pay out...April 5th is now here  and my money is not.  I serve a 5 day notice.  I get an emotional call.  Tenant reads me her 401k financial statement citing that she should be able to get a loan from her 401k which permits loans when financial hardship can be proven.  She tells me that she's submitted the paperwork with a copy of my "delinquent balance worksheet." She tells me the loan is in process, and that she will be able to get a loan against her 401k to pay off the past due balance.  So of course I wait a little longer and that never pans out.  I just got back from the second court hearing (which I won) which cost me a total of about $1,500. (Yeah that's it...and the judge even awarded they pay my court fees and legal fees, not like I'll ever see that though)  They are now up for eviction, and the sheriff will be paying them a visit soon.  PLEASE LEARN A LESSON FROM ME, AND DO NOT EVER LET YOUR TENANTS GO BEYOND 15 DAYS LATE WITHOUT SERVING THEM A 5 DAY NOTICE.  I have learned a lot from this mistake and it's really simple.  on day 15 I could have payed $1,500 and had them evicted.  I would have lost 2 months of rent and had to pay court costs etc.  It would have cost me less than $5,000.  DON'T BE TOO NICE OF A PERSON WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BUSINESS.  AFTER ALL IT IS A BUSINESS. 

(Sorry for the long rant hope it helps someone though!) 

@Ryan Scully  

Sorry this happened to you but thank you for the descriptive lesson. You hear about these things but reading a first hand story seems to stick with you longer.

We usually give the benefit of the doubt but some will abuse..An attorney told me once a tenant is 30 days past due it's difficult to catch up so immediately start the process...Of course every scenario different..if they got 30 behind..60/90/etc...impossible...

@Ryan Scully   Thanks for sharing this story.  Similar situations have happened to a lot of us, including me.  Don't let it get to you, experiences like this make you a stronger landlord in the long run.

Thanks guys, yeah I know...I'm seeing the positive more than the negative.  I've gone on to quadruple my rental unit portfolio since buying this one... so while it is a sting, I will learn the lesson that needs to be learned and move on!

@Ryan Scully  Brave soul.  You are not alone.  Your story is insightful.  

We have a current tenant who will go into a depression and stop paying rent and then will come out of it and scramble to get caught up.  We have been working with him for many years, came close to evicting more than once.   Miserable for him and miserable for us.  He has been our tenant since 2008.  His depressions usually coincide with the winter months, but sometimes happen at other times as well.   In January, we set him up on a weekly payment plan and he is slowly making headway on his past debt to us, but he is still many months behind.  Our plan is to proceed with eviction if he stops making his weekly payments.  So far, he is doing okay.  He is generally a pleasant person and a gentle soul.   However, we know this is not sustainable, as he will not seek help for the root cause, which we believe is mental illness.

@Ryan Scully  Thanks for the reminder. I would say (for the benefit of others reading this) that your policy was at fault. They did get the refund check but someone else got it. I'm sure they got other money as well but rent was not a priority. Had the eviction been filed they would have passed on paying others and you would have been paid. If your policy on rent collection is iron clad, they will pay rent first. They would still have a home and you would have rent.

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