I became an accidental landlord, I sold a house on a contract for deed to a family member who later defaulted when they stopped making payments right around the housing market crash, I couldn't sell the house and the rest is history and I became a landlord. My first tenant, Yolanda, at first meeting seemed like a nice human being. Her constant "God Bless" and "the Lord is good" and "your house is beautiful" and thorough explanation why she was on Section 8 because she had to quit her job to take care of her quadriplegic father who lived with her. Her husband was very kind, address me as "ma'am" and my husband as "sir" or "bud". All back ground checks came back great, including past landlord references. No red flags. I offered the house, she accepted graciously "God Bless you and thank you!"
A month into moving in she calls frantically "the entire basement is flooded, all my stuff is ruined." I pick up my brother, we drive there quickly, her supposed "quadriplegic" father answers the door. Ummm.... unless I'm mistake aren't quadriplegic completely paralyzed from waist down unless he's the exception to the rule? That or he miraculously healed and could walk. Indeed the entire basement was flooded, carpet soaked. My brother goes into the furnace room and goes "someone turned on the faucet from the water heater and broke it completely, that's why the basement is flooded." Her husband goes "oh I was turning that because the water wasn't hot enough. I was trying to get it to get hotter." She then turns to me and says rudely with her head bobbing back and forth, finger pointed to my face "are you going to pay for all my ruined stuff?" I said "no, I'm not. That's why you should have gotten renter's insurance. The one we discussed before you moved in that I told you would cover your stuff if anything should happen. Also, you're lucky I'm not going make you pay for this for breaking my water heater and flooding my entire house." This is the beginning of a year of "fun." A few days later "Hi, God Bless... ummm.. the towel rack in the bathroom is loose, can you send a handyman out here to fix it?" I said "there are two screws, can you or Glen just take a screw driver and turn it a few times, it's just loose cause of constant tug?" She responds with "and how are you going to pay me for my services? Should I just take $50.00 off next months rent?" I responded with "Listen Yolanda, lets not make this difficult, here's the deal, I'm not paying you $50 to fix a loose towel rack that you probably caused from pulling a towel off too hard, I'll give you the option, you fix it yourself OR I call my handyman over there and have it permanently removed. The law does not require me to cater to your every demands, what it requires me to do is ensure the house is habitable and not dangerous to live in. Is the towel rack preventing you from living a hazard free life? If the answer is NO, then my answer is NO." Dead silence, then she goes "ok, I'll see if Glen can fix it." A month later another call "Hi and God Bless.. I need you to send an exterminator our immediately. There's an infestation. Lots of them." I said "what kind of infestation?" Her voice cracks and high pitched she responds "spiders! They are in the corner of the house, there's one in the living room, one in the basement, and I just saw one outside. You need to get the ORKIN man out right NOW!" Annoyed at this point I respond with "It's MN, it's getting cold outside, spiders will come inside when the temp drops. I most certainly will not pay for an exterminator cause you saw three spiders." She's screaming at this point "how do you expect me to get rid of them? Live with them?" I respond with "Have you tried a vacuum cleaner? Just suck them up." She hangs up on me. The following month the phone rings again "Hello and God Bless... the sink disposal and dishwasher aren't working." I said "have you been pouring things down the drain?" She responds with "no, I don't even use the disposal." I meet my handyman at the house, sure enough the disposal isn't working and dishwasher isn't draining. He pulls apart the sink, lodged in the disposal is a penny. He goes "here's what's the problem." I show it to her and she goes "I have no idea how that got in there, did he put it in there?" I responded with "why would he do that?" She goes "I did not put that in there and you can't charge me for it." Turns out dishwasher did need to be replaced, my brother buys one brings it there the following day to install. My phone rings, "Hello and God Bless... but hell no are you going to put a dishwasher in that doesn't even match the stainless steel refrigerator.. there is no way in hell you my appliances aren't going to match. You will go buy me a stainless steel dishwasher." My response "Listen Yolanda, you are forgetting you're renting my house, my house, I can choose whatever color dishwasher I want to because it is my house. Here's the thing, when YOU buy a house YOU can choose whatever dishwasher YOU want. YOU and I aren't working here, I'll give you an out since it seems like you are so unhappy. I will allow you to break the lease and leave early without charging you a fee or holding you to the contract. Please do give me my 30 days notice so I can find a tenant who's happy with the place." She responded with "I love the house, what makes you think I don't?" I'm not sure what happened but after that conversation she stopped calling for repairs or complaints. She however starts calling me for therapy/social worker sessions, "Glen and I are fighting and he wants to leave me? How do I make him stay? How do you make your relationship work?" "My food stamps and cash assistance has been cancelled, do you know how I can get them again?" I stopped answering the calls and let them go to voicemail so I could screen them, if there's a msg and it pertains to the house maintenance, I respond, if there's no message I do not call back.
Some time passes, I get Yolanda's 30 day notice to vacate after her year lease is up. The following week, I get a call from the city Police Department. Apparently there was a credit card fraud operation coming out of the house and the FBI wanted to give me the chance to give them a key so they could enter the house and not break the door down, that way the damage was less for me to deal with. "I'm a landlord, too," says the officer, "and if it were me, I'd rather be contacted so there is less damage." It was nice of him to contact me. So I left work, drove an hour to deliver the key to the police. The police officer called me back later on that day to tell me the keys I provided did not work because she had changed the lock so they had to kick in the door and broke the entire frame.
On the last day, I met up with my new tenants at the house at 1:00 to hand over the keys and Yolanda was suppose to be moved out by noon. When we arrived the house was still completely furnished, Yolanda and family were still watching TV, nothing had been moved. I apologized to my new tenants and told Yolanda she had 2 hours to get out because the new tenants were there. She freakout out "how am I suppose to move all this?" I stood my ground "you need to be out in two hours or I will start eviction process." Then I noticed the broken door frame and commented to my husband "that will need to be serviced by our handyman." She turns to me and goes "I hope you don't expect I pay for that, you gave the police permission to come here and kick down the door. You are not charging me for that." Because I knew there was too much damage to the house, they would not get any of the deposit back and if they did anymore damages because she was upset, there was no remainder for the deposit to cover the cost, I responded nicely "Yolanda, please do provide me your new address so I can send you back the security deposit." She smiled and was out by 6:00 p.m. that night.
I did end up sending her a list of itemized charges, after all the fixes and unpaid bills, she ended up owing me over $500 after the deposit was applied. I never took her to court nor did I go after her for it. I was just glad she was out of my life.
Section 8 did call a few months later to provide a survey of my experiences with Yolanda. I told them all the problems I had including the FBI being involved and they said she would never ever again be able to rent in the same county and would call the city to include a copy of the police report in her file. She did foolishly provide me as a landlord reference and when the guy called I told him to "Run as fast as you can and when you still can!" I feel like the last landlord, if they were even a real landlord, did me wrong. They could have saved me from the pain if they were just honest.