I have been in this business a LONG time and I thought I had pretty much seen it all by now. This latest episode in the life of a landlord has actually left me speechless. I would love to hear what you guys think.
Anyone who does rehabs knows that the contractor can make the process flow smoothly OR they can make life a living hell. Through the years I have gone through more of them than I can count. I have had good ones and I have had some that I almost went to prison over because I surely wanted to choke them. I FINALLY found one that I absolutely love working with. He isn't just a contractor, he is a craftsman. Being that I often buy properties that are historical, it takes a special kind of contractor to help me put them back together. I thought I had finally found my bliss.
I have recently began to hold for rentals instead of flipping and a big part of that change was because I finally have someone that can fix just about anything, quickly, and usually for a fraction of the price I would pay to replace.
One of the properties that I am holding happens to be across the street from the house I live in. It's a classic New Orleans shotgun double and it is at least 100 years old. I have put huge amounts of blood, sweat and tears into the rehab, as well as a ton of money. We finally wrapped up the first side and new tenants moved in on Friday. Nice couple in their late 20's, he is a chef and works at least 12 hours a day. She is a student. References check out. Everything seems to be just swell.
Sunday morning I am awakened by my Son because the female tenant is sitting on my front porch crying. She tells me that they had an argument and he locked her out and left. I give her another key and call him to get his side. He tells me he is going to stay with a friend for a few days while they work it out. I am already cussing myself...I don't watch much TV but I have seen snippets of shows and it appears chefs sometimes take great pride in being ********, maybe I should have weighed that against his steady income and good references??? Anyway, I explain that drama is not something that I am going to deal with and they both assure me that all is well and it won't happen again. They have been through some recent stress and they just need a few days apart to clear their heads. I am a landlord, not a relationship counselor. I explain that it better not happen again or I will immediately evict them.
Monday morning comes and my Mr. Fix It shows up as always. We are still working on the vacant unit and there were a couple of little things to do in the newly rented unit. I introduce the female tenant to Mr. Fix It and I stay over there while he is working on hers. The boyfriend/chef even stops by to check on her and to pick up a few things he needed while he stays a few days with friends. Mr. Fix it quickly knocks out what needed to be done and he goes to work on the vacant side. I go back to my day. Mr. Fix It knocks off as usual around 5pm and everything seems normal.
Around 10pm I step out on my porch and to my surprise I see Mr. Fix It's truck parked in front of the rental. Midnight, he is still there. This morning he steps out of her unit around 10 am and goes to work on the vacant unit. I have yet to speak to him today because I am afraid that I really might choke this one for real!
I would love to hear from other landlords on this one. Am I the only one that sees nothing but doom and gloom coming from my maintenance guy spending the night with my tenant, on the first day that they meet no less??? I have a hundred scenarios running through my head, not one of them good....
Tenants come and go... a good carpenter is HARD to find. I would have to look the other way unless he crossed a legal line.
It isn't so much about crossing a legal line as it is about professionalism. Just as I would not have a friendship type relationship with my tenants, I expect anyone who works for me to act in a professional manner. Anything else could blow up in your face.
Say for instance the boyfriend had come home and found my guy there OR simply finds out he spent the night. Boyfriend gets angry and refuses to pay rent. I have to go through the eviction process and most likely will find myself trying to explain to a judge why my tenant came home and found his girl in bed with my "employee." Worse still, what if the boyfriend is angry enough to destroy the pretty new rehab that this guy he found in bed with his girlfriend just completed?
In other words, it isn't so much about legalities as it is about ramifications. I agree that I have one in a million with Mr. Fix It, but I am highly concerned about his actions biting me in the ***.
I think you should definitely fire him and give me his #. I need a good fix it guy! Haha
But In all seriousness thinking about your tenants too it doesn't seem like they will be getting back together and if the chef leaves can she handle the rent by herself? If not you have an issue there as well. As for Mr. Fix it give him a second chance as long as he understands how he costs you money by screwing with the tenant or just have him work on vacant properties only. When it comes down to it really how often do you get maintenance calls where him interacting with your tenants is an issue?
I've have gone thru a lot of shady contractors that did sub-par work some even did decent work but they had a horrible work ethic. I have only found one that was a great craftsman and just in general a good person and he happened to be one of my trim carpenters. I would just mention to him that what you witnessed isn't ok, but he's a good contractor and you would like him employed but there's lines that can't be crossed. Since he does rely on you for a paycheck, I'm sure he'll understand....or at least be better at hiding it.
I second what the other guys have mentioned, Good, dependable, economical, contractors are very hard to find. Tenants, in comparison, are a dime dozen.
If he is as you say he is then I would just let him know that you know and you would rather it not happen again. Or, as Mike says be better at hiding it.
Of course, it may be easier for us guys to look over something like that, it is for me. I'd be curious to hear some of the other lady landlords/flippers thoughts.
When you said "womanizer", my spidey senses tingled and I was prepared to hear about Mr. Fix It totally crossing the line with inappropriate jokes, innuendo, naked pinups all over the place, underwear drawer snooping and sniffing and other behavior that would make my hackles rise.
Instead, I hear a story of what I am assuming is two consenting adults who chose to spend a little time together doing what comes naturally between two people who want to do so. This is not a big deal in my book. He is not in a position of power, so there is no likelihood of any claim of sexual harassment or a claim that he took advantage of his position.
Maybe she was emotionally vulnerable. Maybe not. There's not enough information here to determine that, so I'm not willing to call "womanizer" on his actions. Yeah, there may be drama. Yeah, you may lose a tenant if she and the chef call it quits and they end up moving. Or, all could be well.
I think you're borrowing trouble by thinking of all the issues that "could happen". And yeah, while it's not necessarily the most professional behavior to spend the night with the tenant of your client, it's not the end of the world either.
I'd let it go.
@Kimberly Jones I don't think it's your business what happens behind closed doors with your Tenant. If they can't afford the rent, give them a notice ASAP.
With all due respect, Jealous?
There's nothing to see here. Move along.
I would NOT fire the handyman.
Loving the answers. This is exactly why I wanted to seek opinions before I opened my mouth.
I was NEVER planning to fire Mr. Fix It, I just couldn't quite make up my mind whether I should have a talk with him or just let it go.
That means today is not your lucky day @Craig Brouillette . ;) But to answer your questions, she does not have a job, it is the boyfriend that works 12 hours a day and pays the bills. I don't suppose I will have too many times that I will have to send Mr. Fix It into occupied units but I will say this... @Mike Freidenberger really is right. This is a situation that would not be quite as unnerving if I had not witnessed it myself. I am a very straightforward person, if you ask me a question I am going to answer it. That might put me in a very strange position if the boyfriend (the one that pays me rent) were to get word of the activities and come to ask me about it. Were the property not right across the street, I would know nothing. Some things really are better off "hidden."
@Linda Weygant I confess, I do have prior knowledge of his "womanizing." He has told me straight out more than once. I just thought with a million other options in this city he wouldn't (as my mother used to say) "poop where he eats."
@Mike Hurney I could care less what my tenant does behind closed doors (provided it's not going to need a visit from people in hazmat suits). My only concern is the professionalism of people who can be construed as representing me.
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