My first rental disaster

78 Replies

my tenant completely trashed my place, deposit will not even cover the junk removal service 

I called my insurance (USAA) the adjuster showed up and was very helpful : turns out Trashing the place is not covered BUT (blessing in disguise) I have water damage under the kitchen sink and the laminated floors/tiles walls , countertop  Etc needs replacing and I'm expecting a seizable payout 

My challenge : 

Does contracting with a property management company will help me avoid this scenario in the future ? (Previous tenant was a coworker :( ) 

Where can I look for good help to repair the place ? As I am already spending good amount to just remove the junk and fight a terrible roach infestation (I could use some advice on this too) 

Get ready for some awkward moments at the water cooler.

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with this tenant.

Every life experience is a learning experience.  Some are good, some are unpleasant but they prepare you to do things differently in the future.  When you look back on this experience, what have you learned?

Start by making sure you follow local landlord tenant law as to return of the security deposit. Even if you recognize that you will be keeping the entire amount, you must send the tenant an accounting of the expenses you incurred to which you applied the security deposit, and you must do so within a specific timeline or you could find yourself having to pay the tenant maybe double or triple the deposit as penalty for failing to comply with the law. If the dumpster and haul away fees are documented on an invoice, and that exceeds the deposit, then you don't have to go much further than that to account for where the deposit went. 

Now, with all that stuff left behind - was this an eviction, a midnight move out on the sly, or done with a notice to you in advance?  Because the tenant might claim that they left "valuables" behind, and that you took them ...

The next tenant has to pay a higher deposit (so they would think twice before bailing on me) .. And I'm thinking to include maintenance (landscaping, AC ..) in the next lease ... So I would charge higher rent but I'll hire someone to maintain the place (I do not live in TX anymore )

Quarterly inspections...we learned this the hard way with a tenant that always paid the rent on time and was polite and respectful. Didn't occur to us to go over there for anything other than a repair call.

When the tenant broke the lease and moved out with 3 days notice, he and his family left behind $7K in damage. As you learned, insurance does not cover that kind of thing. I'm sorry this happened to you, but as you pointed out, luckily (ha ha) there was water damage which the insurance company will cover.

I'll say it again - quarterly inspections :) A PM company will not handle this any differently if they don't do regular inspections and send you photos.

At least then you can mitigate the damage, make them pay for it, or issue a Cure or Quit.

As for the roaches, use a professional exterminating company that warranties its work and will come back a few times at no charge.

Boo, just keep pushing. Fix it and get it rented. I am just starting in real estate and world like to build a network of other investors. I also have a part time handyman service based in floresville if you need a hand. I am more interested in building relationships than overcharging for services.  Definitely hire an exterminator with warranty

Thank you Steve :) 

I posted a notice to evict on the 11th for non payment , but they paid me the next day and I told them they need to move out (their lease was up and they were month to month.

On the first I showed up and the place was a landfill , electricity was turned off , I called the electric company and they said the power was turned off for non payment on the 21st . Fridge was FULL of every kind of food and you can imagine how it smelled like 

I have every receipt for the clean up ... They are not returning my calls and I am not sure where they are now . This is in San Antonio TX , Bexar county , 

Having receipts is not enough, you still have to send them a letter accounting for how the deposit had to be used. If you have no forwarding address for them, you mail it to the last known address - your unit - and to the address of any emergency contact if they supplied such contacts. If the US mail is returned, you keep the envelope UNOPENED for your records, just in case they try to claim you did not follow security deposit return rules.  

Why are you wasting time calling them?

Send the proper notice to the property address or a forwarding address, if you have one stating why you are not returning the SD and listing how much more money they owe you.

Find a collection attorney and let him/her sue and collect.

@Bob B. Have you ever had to file a law suit for damage costs beyond the SD?  What was the outcome? 

Carol,

I have sued for damages and collected every cent owed plus attorney fees.

Some states are not landlord friendly but thank goodness mine is.

Our first investment for the past 15 months has been 2 matching duplexes.  We are in and out of those 4 apartments for one reason or another and know everything that is going on there and that is ideal. When you hire a Property Managment company that is what I would ask about.  How many times are they going to look at the apartment (s) or house?  That should be part of your contract with them.   I would ask them to document that for me and text me pictures on their cell phone.   If you can contact your former tenants (and no a days that should be easy)  you can take them into small claims court.   

If your insurance claim has made you whole what more can you want?  You got rid of a slob and a terrible tenant.  You have learned your lesson, you are not out any money and you know what to do in the future.  Lucky You.  We should all be so fortunate. 

What is the point of suing people with no money?

This is real life, not Judge Judy

Joe,

'He did not say they did not have any money.  I assume they have jobs and will be able to be garnished.

Originally posted by @Joe Cummings :

What is the point of suing people with no money?

This is real life, not Judge Judy

So a real life example you will get. My mother had a tenant who became delinquent while my mother was hospitalized (and she passed away before being released). My mother's estate received a judgment against the tenant for monetary damages as well as possession. Tenant makes a few installment payments on the money judgment owed and stops doing so. A few years later, tenant has married and is looking to buy a house with spouse. Judgment balance gets paid in full because of that. Without the judgment, nothing would have been paid. 

@Steve Babiak ,

I'm not saying it can't happen, but looking at those photos I'm thinking those people are going to be judgement proof for years, if not for the rest of their lives.

I guess I'd need more information before I decided if it was worth pursuing. 

@Bob B. ,

Wage garnishing only works on people who have jobs they want to keep. And you can forget it if they work in a restaurant, bar, or any of those other kind of cash jobs. Looking at that house, I really don't see them as the type with stable employment.

Why are you paying so much for trash removal? My units I pay a flat 200.00 bucks. I guess that's where having your team in place pays off. He hauls it all out. If he does actual demo it's 10 an hour but normally 200 bucks and I'm ready to re carpet and do what needs to be done. Good for you on they payout...hopefully it won't hit your bottom line too hard in the future.

Meant to also add I pay 45 bucks to a pest company to spray the homes in between tenants. Makes property show with zero pests and also keeps for a couple of months of tenant isn't tidy. Call around to all the pest companies and ask about how much to spray one time. I built my current team off of word of mouth asking who needs extra money and then got the deal for him to clean out. Everyone is always looking for an extra buck. I might add I'm a sub 15k guy so my properties get xtra trashed.

@Joe Cummings , why would you not sue for what is rightfully yours? With that judgement on their record, it'll prevent this from happening to the next landlord.... isn't that what we want. It's when landlords feel how you do and don't follow through to help out the next person from suffering the same fate. 

Also just because the tenants did this and may not care about life now. Sometimes ppl change. And they may want to buy a house, or need their credit in the future... And you as the landlord should be there to collect what is rightfully yours.

Originally posted by @Ben Meddeb :

my tenant completely trashed my place, deposit will not even cover the junk removal service 

I called my insurance (USAA) the adjuster showed up and was very helpful : turns out Trashing the place is not covered BUT (blessing in disguise) I have water damage under the kitchen sink and the laminated floors/tiles walls , countertop  Etc needs replacing and I'm expecting a seizable payout 

My challenge : 

Does contracting with a property management company will help me avoid this scenario in the future ? (Previous tenant was a coworker :( ) 

Where can I look for good help to repair the place ? As I am already spending good amount to just remove the junk and fight a terrible roach infestation (I could use some advice on this too) 

 Hi Ben,

I don't think you need a property manager.  You just need to learn how to screen tenants.

I suggest you get this book.  I used their CA one, and it was great.  Includes laws, how to pick tenants, all the contracts and forms you could ever need:

http://www.nolo.com/products/every-texas-landlords...

Odds are your tenant/co-worker would not have passed good screening.  Just learn the TX laws, do everything by the book, put good screening in place, and get some local handymen, and you should be able to do it yourself and keep the manager's fees.

It's worth paying for regular pest service yourself, and also yard maintenance, in my opinion.  Include it in the rent.  

That's what I'd do anyway.

I also agree that you should sue them for what they owe you beyond the security deposit.  Since you know where he works, you can have him served there, if you don't know where he moved.  You can also get his wages garnished.

If you have trouble collecting, you can use a landlord collection agency.  At least, they would report them to the three credit bureaus.  Just google "landlord collection agency," and a few will pop up.  One even has a flat fee option of less than $20 to send them one collection letter, and then report it to all three bureaus.  And it will show as a debt to a landlord.  

Originally posted by @Ralph Pena :

@Joe Cummings, why would you not sue for what is rightfully yours? With that judgement on their record, it'll prevent this from happening to the next landlord.... isn't that what we want. It's when landlords feel how you do and don't follow through to help out the next person from suffering the same fate. 

Also just because the tenants did this and may not care about life now. Sometimes ppl change. And they may want to buy a house, or need their credit in the future... And you as the landlord should be there to collect what is rightfully yours.

 I'm not wasting my time and money if it looks like all I'll get is a judgement against someone who is judgement proof. Basically most of these kinds of tenants could care less that they are getting sued. You'll probably get a default judgement. 

There is a reason collection agencies buy these judgments for pennies on the dollar.

The house was my homestead, it is my first house , built it 15 years ago, it was well maintained inside and out (I even replaced the carpet when I moved out) it really hurts when something like this happens , I just wanted to keep a property in my hometown to go back to. 

Point is I am not an experienced landlord and the jerk lived here for exactly one year and  4 months, and being an acquaintance is what got me to not even screen him in the first place .. Never again 

Perhaps this post will help someone avoid this headache : never rent to friends and family.

The house is so badly infested with German roaches I had to throw away every appliance! Pest control cost me $250 for a 3 months treatment 

Thanks everyone for your pointers and help , it does good to even vent this out 

@Joe Cummings He didn't say they were non paying tenant.  I assume they were working and were not dead beats when they first rented the house.

Judgments are good for 10 years here in Ga and can be renewed.  I agree with@Ralph Pena . People and circumstances change.

Here in Md , judgements are good for 10 years , and then you can get them renewed . Always go for the judgement , a lot can happen in 10 years .  My father had a judgement fr $ 4000 dollars against a tenant , 8 years later the guy hit the lottery for $ 30 K  , my father got a check in the mail .  

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