Nii’s accidental landlord nightmare! (With pictures…)
In the last post, I described how I bought a sinking house in Atlanta despite having six-figure debt, a small salary, and no plans to stay in the house past five years. By the time I realized I needed to sell my house, the housing market crash was in full effect and my house was worth 60% of my current mortgage. My biggest problem was that I was leaving for Miami for one more year of training. Paying rent in a place as expensive as Miami and paying my mortgage would have easily eaten up over 98% of my paycheck each month.
I made a plan… Rent my townhouse for a year, then move back to ATL. I even hired a property management company for a small monthly fee to help me find a tenant and maintain the property while I was out of state. I’ll never forget the first person who showed interest in my place. Sure… the property management company told me there were some red flags, but I told them, “Seal the deal!” I was not about to be broke in Miami. Then, to make living in Miami more affordable, I decided to be roommates with my future best man, Mike. After months of sweating over this mortgage, everything was finally falling into place. Or, so I thought!
Only in desperate times is it certain that something is about to go terribly wrong. I felt like I was in a Good Times episode! A couple of months into living the Miami life, I got a letter from my home association about a violation. I’m in Miami, how the heck can I cause a violation this far away? The tenant drilled a hole from the inside of the house to the outside to run wires to the first floor and then covered it with a pipe. Who does that?
But wait! There’s more!
- She turned my garage into a party room (with bar!). Who puts carpet in a garage… especially if you’re using it for parties?
- She put holes in the wall over the fireplace.
- She left steel wool scratches on the stove and microwave.
- She took all the doorknobs off the bedroom doors. (I still haven’t found all of them!)
- She left dirt and grime all over the banisters and walls.
- She ripped down the wall lamps and ripped pieces of the sheet rock.
- She was late with the rent several times, which means I had to cover it.
- Every piece of carpet looked like someone had bladder leakage issues.
There’s too much more to outline, but you get the idea. Needless to say, I didn’t renew her lease, and when it came time to inspect the home, this is just a glimpse of what I saw.
Disgusting! She only lived there ONE year! Now, I had to pay for it, which put a big strain on my finances. Of course, I kept the security deposit, but it definitely didn’t cover all the damage. The lessons here are:
- If you’re going to be far away or don’t know anything about renting, consult a professional or get a property management company… and listen when they identify red flags.
- Don’t become a landlord when you have no money. A renter might not respect your property the way you do, and you’re left with the cost of repairs.
- It’s best to own a home when you have some extra cash saved up. When a pipe bursts, the roof leaks, the water heater stops… all of that is out of your pocket. If you rent, then it’s your landlord’s responsibility.
Thankfully, I (now we) have had two other tenants since then, and it has been a more pleasant experience. We took advantage of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and refinanced the underwater mortgage to lower the mortgage interest and payments. This is key because it now allows most, but not all, of our mortgage and home association fees to be covered by our tenant’s rent each month. Unfortunately, the house still has not recovered in value.
Although our income has increased, we decided not to buy a house when we moved to Pennsylvania. Paying off our student loans is priority. So, we have a landlord and will save up for a house. While the initial experiences of owning a home and renting were unforgettable for the wrong reasons, we realize there is value to owning a home. We hear you…and trust us…we’re not buying ANYTHING until we get those student loans paid off. Stay tuned!
Do you have a rental property nightmare you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below!