Tenant evicted in summer now deceased

15 Replies

Hi guys, I'm new here, and grateful for a place to process this amongst colleagues. I began renting to a young woman with serious health issues a few years ago, one of our first tenants. Her disability check was not sufficient to cover our 3x rent rule, so I allowed her father, and then after her falling out with him, her sister to co-sign on the lease. When she wanted a bigger place, I allowed it, and let her move to another unit, despite her poor care of the first place. I guess I felt sorry for her. She was a good tenant otherwise, usually paid rent on time, communicated if she couldnt. 

Then suddenly things changed, she became wheelchair bound, wanted me to build a ramp even though she also was looking for  a new place that would work better for her. I told her she could pay to have one built and I would allow it, but that I would not pay for it. That's when the rent checks stopped. Her father, who was living with her at the time, promised and promised but nothing. I offered cash for keys, they refused. So, reluctantly, I went through the eviction process with them. No rent for three months plus fees, cockroaches, and ruined carpet, beat up walls, etc.

Today, her sister called me to tell me she had passed. I feel badly for them, they have had a tough go of it. I had not planned to sue them for past rent due, figured it wasn't worth the trouble, etc, and this just confirmed my feeling about this. HOWEVER, I would like to avoid this kind of situation in the future obviously. I won't do a co-signor again. Any other sage advice from you seasoned folks out there?

Vishakha,

Nice to have you here on B/P.  I have been in the land business so have not had to deal with tenants, toilets or cockroaches. Good luck to you here, see you around the forums again.

@Vishakha Penney Welcome to BP! It doesn't sound like you didn't do anything wrong here. In hindsight, it might have just been easiest and cheapest to build the ramp, but you had no way of knowing that at the time. Do you run credit and/or background checks or ask for previous landlord recommendations? That's about the only other way to try to reduce the chances of this happening again, but you'll never eliminate all problems.

Hire a PM, You do not have the skill set to be a hands on landlord. There is no place in this business for emotions, compassion will only bankrupt you.

Thanks Grant. I do run credit and background checks and have gotten much stricter since then about having great landlord references. I no longer buy the old “I was Renting the past 10 years from my momma, my baby-Daddy, my uncles,  or whatever.” 

@Grant Rothenburger

Thanks Grant. I do run credit and background checks and have gotten much stricter since then about having great landlord references. I no longer buy the old “I was Renting the past 10 years from my momma, my baby-Daddy, my uncles,  or whatever. 

@Vishakha Penney ,

If you haven't already, confirm with the obituary... based  on her history, I wouldn't put it past her to try and make the $$$ magically go away! 

Originally posted by @Vishakha Penney :

@Grant Rothenburger

Thanks Grant. I do run credit and background checks and have gotten much stricter since then about having great landlord references. I no longer buy the old “I was Renting the past 10 years from my momma, my baby-Daddy, my uncles,  or whatever. 

FYI, we've caught tenants giving false landlord info. It ends up being a relative posing as a landlord. I look the address up and see who is supposed to own it before calling. Even if it's an LLC the faker won't likely know that. I've caught two of those over the years.

Another problem with landlord references is a crappy landlord may give a good reference to a bad tenant to be rid of them. Just keep these things in mind when weighing references. I've found best indicator is credit score/history. Even if their credit is banged up it should be a couple years ago or from student loans or the like. Should show improvement and nothing crazy recently. 

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

Hire a PM, You do not have the skill set to be a hands on landlord. There is no place in this business for emotions, compassion will only bankrupt you.

 Haha, quite true Thomas. I got into this business in an unusual way, and have definitely had to toughen up and get smarter as we acquire more and more properties. All the same I do plan to get a property manager as soon as my cash flow is sufficient to make it affordable!

@Troy S. , when doing a landlord confirmation, I suggest asking for the landlord prior to the current one. That one is already rid of the problem and will give you an accurate portrayal of their behaviors.

The biggest mistake you made was selecting a tenant whom can’t afford it. I would not bother with tenants whom can’t meet the Income requirements because it is too risky and I don’t want to have to sue a co-signer.

Also if a tenant does not take good care of your property it is best to not renew or let them out of their lease instead of moving them into another unit. Only give such a perk to a tenant who pays on time and keeps your property in excellent condition. Fortunately you were able to get her out eventually.

Hi Vishakha!!! Jim, also here in Durham. I give Acorn & Oak Property Management in Durham 10% of my gross every month, and it's worth every penny. 

Credit and criminal checks are essential. Know in advance what numbers you'll accept and you won't, and stick to it. Also, look at employment history. If the tenant is working - and who wouldn't want an employed tenant - during the screening process, call his or her employer to confirm employment and anything else they'll volunteer about the person like position stability and wage amount (the rental application must have language allowing you to do this). If the employer thinks the employee is valuable, he or she will often share useful information like this. All this information will help you figure out if you will have a good tenant.

Originally posted by @Vishakha Penney :
Originally posted by @Thomas S.:

Hire a PM, You do not have the skill set to be a hands on landlord. There is no place in this business for emotions, compassion will only bankrupt you.

 Haha, quite true Thomas. I got into this business in an unusual way, and have definitely had to toughen up and get smarter as we acquire more and more properties. All the same I do plan to get a property manager as soon as my cash flow is sufficient to make it affordable!

 Approach this as a learning opportunity.  Nearly every landlord has made some missteps and misjudgements along the way, especially in the early days.  No need to run out immediately and hire a PM just because you got the short stick this time.  However, if you find you're in the same predicament repeatedly, it might be time later to hire a PM.

Also, I agree with Amy.  During the application process, I rate Eviction history as the most important indicator, but income is my second most-important guide.  No matter how "great" an applicant may otherwise appear or how much sympathy I may have for their situation, if they don't have enough money to pay rent, THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY RENT.  You simply can't change that.

Good luck,

Randy

Thanks Randy! I appreciate your encouragement and advice!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.