Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rental Nightmare-Chapter 1 of 3

Chapter 1:
After my short-term tenants left last February, I decided to advertise on craig’s list to see if anyone needed a short-term furnished rental. I thought I would live in the house between tenants and rent to the same short-term tenants again in January and February. They had already reserved my house for the following year so I stated in the ad that January and February were not available.

I had a few inquiries after the ad went up but the only serious inquiry was from a couple I’ll call RJ. RJ said that she and her husband and 2 children were looking for a home to rent immediately as their current lease was up and they didn’t want to sign another 6 month lease. They came by to see the house and then I met another couple I’ll call AJ, with 2 children who wanted to share the home with RJ. (later I found out that my HOA does not allow more than one family to live in a home at a time). They were friends and neighbors at their last apartment. Both couples stressed how important it was to them to get away from the apartment atmosphere where there were too many bad influences on their children including drugs and other seedy characters. RJ said that she had been an apartment manager before and was ‘crime-free certified’, having taken the required class in Arizona. This is the class which enables landlords to do speedy evictions if crimes are being committed by anyone on the property. (How ironic.) They were also self-employed doing drywall and remodeling. Their application stated $6,000-$8,000 a month. (Yeah, right) RJ said when business was slow he drove a cab. This was true but later gas prices skyrocketed and he didn’t make much money.

I wanted to help them out because it appeared that they wanted a better life and environment for their children. They filled out an application and I tried to check in to their history without actually paying any money. I checked the public court database and found the usually traffic tickets. AJ had an assault charge from 8 years ago. I ignored it as youthful indiscretion. I didn’t run a credit check because resent state laws made it more difficult. The website that I found that would run a credit check for me wanted $100 and a home inspection. These people wanted to move in 3 days so I passed on that option. I called their past apartment complex. The person who answered said that the management was changing and all of the records were in Phoenix. Plus, I would need to have the prior tenant fill out an authorization form. I called RJ and she said she would go right down to the office and fill it out. (that never happened) I called the reference that they listed. He gave them a glowing reference. (later found out it was RJ’s brother)

I made sure that they understood that the house wasn’t available January and February of 2009. They said no problem, that will give us plenty of time to find a new place. I told them it was a non-smoking house. No problem. We’ll smoke outside. I had set the deposit at only $500 since I was thinking that short-term people would be staying for a month or less. (bad idea) These people had a dog. It would be mostly outside, very well behaved, etc… I asked for $200 more for the dog. I gave in to their pressure to rent to house right away and let them sign a month to month lease for $1500 a month with utilities included. I gathered my things and left.

Right away they didn’t like the internet service that I provided so they changed it and put it in their name. No problem. Next month, I get a call from AJ. Um, you might be getting a call from some of your neighbors so I thought I should call you first. You see, my husband is a convicted sex offender from an incident with an old girl friend 8 years ago. She wrongfully accused him but he was convicted (uh-huh) and now he is a registered sex offender and the police just sent out flyers with his picture to all of your neighbors. (gulp) Oh, and it says he is a level 3 offender but that’s just a little mix up he’s only supposed to be a level 1 or maybe a low level 2. (8 years ago, that would be the little assault charge I found?) I looked him up on the sex offender database, yep, his picture and my address. Great.) She continues, there might be a problem with him living next to a school but the police know where he is and they said they will tell us if we have to move.

Ok, I should have kicked them out but I didn’t ask about their criminal history before they moved in did I? I called the HOA and they didn’t have any rules against it.
I said fine, if the police don’t have a problem and the HOA doesn’t have a problem then you can stay. It’s only until December after all.

AJ paid in full and on time until June.

July came and RJ informed me that the AJ family had moved out.(bye bye sex offender) They weren’t getting along as well as they thought they would. RJ said AJ was too messy and RJ needed things to be neat and tidy. RJ had trouble coming up with the whole rent. I offered to lower the rent to the unfurnished rate of $950 if they put the utilities in their own name. They said ok and put the gas, electric and cable tv in their name. At least I thought they put it in their name. Turns out they put it in a roommate’s name. I wondered why they couldn’t put the trash, water and sewer in their name also. I bet that’s because the roommate’s name wasn’t on the lease and those companies wouldn’t let the roommate take over without legal proof of residency. I should have taken my furnishings at this time but I didn’t because they were struggling. RJ said they loved the house and were interested in buying it. There was no way they could afford to buy it. Then they said they wanted to stay for 5 years. I said I would look in to finding another place for my short term people in January and see if it the house could be a long term rental for RJ.

(Look for exciting chapter 2 tomorrow)


Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Chapter one had enough excitement!

Wow, you put up with a lot during all of this.

DogAteMyFinances said...

Wow, I feel like a model renter, suddenly.

Anonymous said...

Another reason they might not have put the utilities in their name? They have unpaid bills from another incident with those companies. Once bitten, the utilities are pretty good about denying them accounts in their name until they pay off the delinquent accounts from before. I bet they are trying to get around that.

Sharon S said...

Hi there-wow, what a lot of stuff you had to put up with!

Daizy said...

Over The Cubicle Wall, ya, I shouldn't have put up with it. now I know.

DogAteMyFinances, I bet you are a model renter. Any renter after this one will be a model renter to me!

Big Sis, in hindsite, I am sure that the utilities included in the rent is what attracted them to my house. There is no way any one would give him credit. Cable actually ran a credit check on me to make sure I'd pay. I don't blame them.

Sharon Rose, I feel exhausted again every time I read it!