Greetings friends! I have to apologize for my rather sporadic posting schedule over the last few weeks. Not only am I a new momma (Baby CMF is coming up on 3 months old!), but my own mother recently had surgery and moved in with us for a while as she recuperates. She is much better now and has recently moved back into her own home, which is great for her. AND it frees me up to get back into writing more!!
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Back to Work!
So anyway, back to regularly scheduled programming. 🙂 As I’ve written about in the past, the hubs and I have a couple single family rental homes, one of which is located about five hours away from where we currently live. We LOVE that little house and we’ve had tenants in it from practically the day we closed on the property, as it is recently remodeled and in a desirable part of town.
However, one day at the beginning of August this summer we received word from our property manager that the tenants hadn’t paid the rent. She went to the house to investigate, and it was pretty much empty. As in, they had apparently decided to move out and hadn’t bothered to give us any notice.
Unfortunately that was not the only thing they had not bothered to do. They hadn’t bothered to clean ANYTHING. For three years. You ever wonder what it would look like if you didn’t clean your house for three years? I know. And it ain’t pretty.
The timing of this could not have been worse. Our property manager, who is also a realtor and a long-time friend of mine, had a very sad summer. Her daughter passed away in July this year, and then, just a few days after she notified us that our tenants moved out, her husband (our handyman) passed away as well. Obviously we told her NOT to worry about the house; getting it back to ready-to-rent status was just not as important as taking care of her husband’s final arrangements and taking care of herself.
But we had a six week-old baby at the time, so we also had our hands pretty full right about then. My hubby is working full time. There was no way I could get out there to clean the property unless the hubs came along so we could tag team on parent duties.
Dirty and Empty
So our little house sat, dirty and empty, for a few weeks this summer. When she returned from her husband’s funeral, our property manager arranged for someone to paint the interior of the house and take care of a few things that needed repair (a hole in a wall from a doorknob, a small crack in a ceiling, etc.). We could have easily done the painting ourselves, but we knew we had all the cleaning to do and we knew the cleaning alone would take a few days and Mr. CMF didn’t have that much time off work. This was really the first time in three years that living so far away from our rental property became an issue for us.
Finally last weekend, after dropping my mother back at her home and getting her settled in there, we managed to get out to the rental house. It was dirtier than we could have imagined! We knew the tenants were smokers, but every time we had visited the property in the last three years it did not smell that bad.
But when we arrived this time it smelled horrible. I never knew that if you smoke inside it leaves a residue on the walls and windows- but trust me, it does! I probably used half a roll of paper towels wiping down the counter until it was clean enough that I felt comfortable putting my purse down. One of the tenants’ daughters had drawn all over the shower walls with either paint or crayon. I spent three hours in the shower the first night we were there, scrubbing like crazy.
Crap Left Behind
Almost worse than the filth was the items left behind. For some reason they had left a box spring to a bed in the basement. When we tried to remove it, we figured out why it was there- it was too big to get out! We have no idea how they got it down there in the first place, but it was clearly not going to come out without help. So hubby broke it up with a hammer (the most menacing tool we had brought with us), and we rolled it up and tied it with coaxial cable that had also been left behind.
Other items left behind were three huge speakers, a TV stand, a patio umbrella, a huge roll of carpet padding in the backyard (an utter mystery, since there was no carpeting installed in the home while they lived there), and a car jack in the front yard.
Irony or Irresponsibility?
But none of these things were what annoyed me most. What annoyed me most was the fact that the overhead light fixture in one of the bedrooms was obviously broken. They had never bothered to let us know that it needed to be replaced. WHY did this particular thing bother me so much? Because one of our esteemed ex-tenants was an electrician. If he had given us a heads up on that we would happily have given them a break on the rent in exchange for fixing it. Instead we have to hire an electrician to replace it now. Grrr.
Ironically, we and our property manager had visited the property multiple times while those tenants were living there. I had always thought they were taking pretty good care of the place. But I realize now that I had never bothered to look very closely at things like the windows, and I can’t remember how closely I inspected the shower walls.
All in all, it took Mr. CMF and me a solid two days of work (spread over three days) to get the place clean. Ugh!
In case anyone is wondering, we totally kept their entire deposit.
We ARE planning to move closer to the property, and hopefully sooner rather than later (we are just waiting for a job to open up for Mr. CMF!) Living closer to the property would have been uber helpful this summer, as we could have gotten around to cleaning it much faster and spaced it out over more days.
The Moral of this Landlord Story
Anyway, the upshot of this post is that being a landlord can be an awfully dirty job- you cannot be afraid to get your hands dirty and possibly clean up other peoples’ messes. Hopefully you will never have to do that, but it’s certainly a possibility. Despite our recent experience, we still like rental properties as a source of passive income.
Do you have any rental properties? If so, have you ever had a tenant who moved out and left the place a mess? If you do not have any rental properties, do you think you’d like to some day? Why or why not?
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