My Worst day ever landlording

22 Replies

Today was my worst day ever landlording. I evicted a 86 year-old lady and her 50-something unemployed daughter.

I purchased the property back at the end of May. Right after closing I gave the lady the option of paying market rent or moving. She said she couldn't afford market rent and I was evil for wanting market rent. She had moved to this property about 4 years ago after she had been foreclosed on from her home of 69 years. My 1700 sqft property and the adjacent oversized two car garage were stuffed to the gills with their stuff.

I sent her numerous emails in June letting her know she needed to move by the end of the month. Each was responded to by saying they couldn't find anything to rent. Near the end of June I told them I expected my property back and that if they couldn't find a place they need to rent a storage space for all their treasures and find a cheap place to live. About the end of June she emailed me and said they planned to stay with a friend and put their stuff in storage.

I checked the place out the beginning of July and there was no progress. I posted notice, and then when there was no action I filed for eviction. The 86 year old countered the claim but didn't understand that it wasn't about money just possession. We had a court date but I was out of town so my attorney rescheduled court. In the mean time, my attorney gets a call from the tenant's attorney. She filed bankruptcy. My attorney was concerned that it would drag out while we petitioned to get out of the bankruptcy because we didn't want money, just possession. The one good thing that happened was she offered to move out Aug 5th. We happily agreed. The attorney asked if I wanted to schedule with the sheriff for the set-out. I said I would wait and see.

I went in on August 3 and they had done nothing but purchase a bunch of packing material. I called attorney to notify the sheriff to get on the sheriff's schedule. They were about 8-9 days out so I scheduled it for Aug 12 thinking she would surely be out by then. She promised she would be out the 7th in the evening. I visited the evening of the 10th and NO progress but she promised they had a truck coming Wed (12th) and would be out by 5pm.

I started calling movers and labor services. I was clearly behind the curve and it was going to cost me about $1,000 to get enough people there to move her stuff out in the 2 hours that the Denver Sheriff allows for eviction but they didn't have availability until the next week.

I rescheduled with the Sheriff for today (Aug 19) and hired a moving company to bring 8 guys to do the set out. I contacted her (Wed 12th) and asked for the keys like she had promised. She was not done yet but would be done Friday.

She contacted me Friday and needed more time she could do Sat or Sunday. I offered 5 pm on Sunday. After all, if she moves all her stuff out I don't have to pay movers to do it. 

Got another email Sunday how about Monday night to get the keys?

I got another one Monday night, "we'll be out by noon on Wed".

I confirmed that the movers and the Sheriff would be there on Wed (Aug 19). We showed up at 9 am today. The tenant was very mad and called me every name in the book. I've never heard a 86 year old lady swear like a sailor. The daughter threatened me physically as well as swearing at me. The deputy kept telling them to stay back and stay away. 8 guys worked for an hour to move the remaining items in the house to the exterior. I have a pretty thick skin but this was an overall unpleasant experience. The good thing is I now have control of my property. They actually got some good help moving their stuff out of the house despite their lousy attitude. When I left, they were loading the last of their possessions into a moving truck. They told the deputy that they had filled two large storage units and now were putting stuff at a friends.

I also found out she had some sons who refused to help her. What a mess! Hopefully that drama is behind me and I can re-sell the property for a profit. 

Thanks for listening by those that understand.

once the sheriff shows up, it's my understanding that you can change the deadbolt and 24 hours from then you can put all their trash at the curb for either the city or someone to take to the landfill.  I guess the requirements would vary by location though.

@Jassem A. yes that is the process here too and it does vary by location. Some areas I know require you to store the tenants belongings. The good thing is that the locks are changed and I have the keys.

@Bill S. great story.  Thanks for sharing it.  You were a considerate businessman throughout.  The tenants proved to be anything but considerate or decent.  I don't think there was a thing you could have done better.  It always surprises me a little to see people try to drag things out two or three days at a time, only making the situation more frustrating in the process.

Good luck with the next steps!

I'd avoid somewhere that would require me to store their belongings.  That's a lot of extra cost.  I don't typically go to the eviction so that I can avoid this sort of thing.  When I'm on the phone with the sheriff to schedule an eviction date, I let them know I won't be there and will have to send my maintenance person.  He changes the deadbolt for me and then I have him put their stuff on the curb the following day.  If the trash dept won't take the pile, I take a picture of it and try to bid it out online to someone with a big enough truck/trailer and access to a dump site.

@Bill S. You gave her ample opportunity to move out, yet she refused. No good deed goes unpunished. It sure feels that way sometime.  What is the saddest part of this whole deal is she doesn't realize that she is the one to blame.   

@Bill Pohl for sure. I know folks have dealt with worse and it could have been much worse for me as well. It was just my worst (most emotionally challenging) experience yet.

@Bill S.

But I think the best part is that you handled it with grace and dignity and that shows you go the extra mile. Certainly, we can't solve all the world's problems but you did the best for the 86 year old lady who ran into a number of difficulties in her later years. Kudos to you, especially since you were able to get your property back although it took longer than you wanted.

That really sucks, @Bill S. .  

My own mother is 80 and I was trying to imagine her in this same situation but you know, I just couldn't.  I can't imagine her not honoring her debts.  I also can't imagine her continuing to push out deadlines over and over again.  And while she can curse like a sailor, she doesn't do it often and I can't imagine her physically threatening somebody who did not physically threaten her (or a member of her family) - then all bets are off and I there's no force in the world that would keep her from ripping you apart.

That said, if my mother did find herself in this situation, she has also lived a life and treated people over the years such that she would have dozens of people fighting to have her live with them and the honor of storing her stuff.

This woman reaped what she sowed, unfortunately.  It totally sucks that you had to be the tractor to come and uproot her (ok, now I'm torturing the metaphor).  Next time I see you at a meetup, you've got a drink on me.

You did well. Some people shine brightest when staring up from the depths of their position. You showed a great amount of care for your customer while still protecting your own interests. Bravo.

I'm glad she didn't fill up a bunch of balloons and fly the house off to South America sans GPS. :)  

I find it interesting how dirt bag tenants make the landlord out to be the bad guy.  We bought a building with 14 units, about half of which had tenants that we needed to get rid of.  We had a tenant that was habitually late with rent.  We gave her a 30 day notice that her month to month tenancy was not being renewed and she was to move out.  She called the city health inspector and complained that we were not fixing a plumbing issue in her apartment.  First time we heard about that.  Health inspector came out and said it was not an issue from a health department stand point (slow sink drain).  She thrashed and thrashed then one day disappeared.  We hadn't heard from her for several days and noticed her car was not there.  We called and got no answer.  Knocked on the door, no answer.  Opened the door and it was freezing cold in the apartment (this was near the end of Feb).  She had turned off the furnace, turned off the water heater and opened every window in the apartment.  Luckily we got in there before any pipes burst.  She also left a couch that was literally soaked in dog urine and her little male dog had marked up the whole place.  We had to replace all the carpet in the apartment.

And some how I'm the jerk because I asked her to leave after tolerating her late rent payments for months?

@Bill S. I think you went above and beyond for the elderly tenant. Unfortunately, the world doesn't change financial dynamics when elderly/disadvantaged/etc tenants/people/subjects/etc enter the equation. In other words... Sorry, but my bank doesn't take excuses as payment. They demand cash, and so do I.

*It is what it is*

Bill you were very honorable and patient and gave the tenants way more generosity than they probably deserved.

@Bill S.   having spent the better part of 20 years dealing with hold over tenants in foreclosures I bought... this is a very common event.. and 9 out of 10 times the reason the 86 yo has lost the house is because the kids have taken all her money.. and or convinced her to refi and taken those funds.. leaving the parents totally fubared.

what I thought was going to be my worst nightmare turned out to be my biggest profit

house the lady was just like you describe but add 3 developmentally disable children she was grandmother kids dumped them.

Ieft think geez this is not going to be good... it was a rural setting and I asked her were her well and septic were.. well the well was on her uncles property next door.. ( so shoot thinking I probably am going to have to put a new well in.. and then told the septic was on her property at the year... Her property ?  hum how big is that... its 4 acres she said and its free and clear.. I said you lost your home yet you own that free and clear.. ( she used one of the crooks from Florida that had the foreclosure rescue guys that just stole money from folks. )

checked in county maps this property was just brought into urban growth boundry and up zoned.. I told her to get with her attorney... and value the property.. I will trade her back her home free and clear for the land  and some cash... the attorney said they will settle for the house free and clear and 125k in cash... I said done... now I really did not want to put out 250k in cash for bare land.. but I did it.. 16 months later the city started developing and in the height of the market I sold it for 935k CASH to a developer... so what would have been my worse turned into my best.. Pocketed 700k and got cap gain treatments.

@Bill S. did your best and acted honorably. There is something from CS Lewis' The Great Divorce that might apply, I can't remember it exactly but those who do wrong will make the virtuous falter trying to appease them thru guilt tripping.

She just didn't have her crap together, literally and figuratively.

you did everything right. you just can't always know how people are going to be.

I am dealing with exactly the same thing now with a property i bought at the sheriff's sale.

I do not like to buy properties with long-time tenants and then raise the rent some outrageous percentage (from their point of view) simply because I can.  I want to respect the fact that a long-time tenant for the previous owner is long-time most likely precisely because they are a good tenant.  There is no reason to antagonize someone who had been a good tenant for the sake of a few dollars.  I offer a price that will allow the property to cash flow at the current rents.  I am really turned off by listing agents who think a selling point is "you can raise everyone's rent"  as if they have zero ability to put themselves in the tenants' shoes.  In fact, because the rents in my town are so outrageous already, if I find I have inherited a great tenant, I will reduce the rent to a more reasonable level.  Because housing is an inelastic need, it is possible for so-called market rents to be too high, especially in my town where the vacancy rate is only 1%.

Sorry @Bill S. ! That sounds like a tough day, but it must feel great to wash your hands of that tenant and that situation!

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