They were nice enough people, the neighbors. A family with two kids downstairs, a single mom with a little girl upstairs. Friendly when I ran into them… helped push me out of a snowbank once… The junk in the yard did give me pause, though.. That and looking through the windows and seeing the two boys sleeping on bunk beds with no sheets on the mattresses… but really, doesn’t concern me, you know? Well, outside of wanting to have good neighbors (and properties) all around me to protect my real estate investment and all.
Anyway, the place seemed largely deserted for several months. I was outside cutting the grass a few weeks ago, though, and saw a woman out on the back porch, wearing the yellow plastic gloves that you wear when you’re cleaning up a big mess. Last week, I was out in the garden, and saw two older men in the yard, cleaning up trash, and went over to chit-chat with them (and to see if they could get rid of the gutters that have been sitting on my property for the past year or so).
Here’s what I heard:
- $3000 in unpaid rent
- they removed 67 bags of trash from both units
- maggots in the refrigerator
- they took pictures of the place to send to social services, to show the living conditions that the kids were exposed to
- the inside of the place: “completely trashed”
Sucks. The guy said that his son owns the duplex. I’m not sure how long he’s had it, but when I bought my duplex, this duplex was also for sale, at a price pretty close to what I bought mine for. However, in the 3 years that I’ve lived in my duplex, and kept the other half fully rented, that place has been empty more often than not. When it’s been empty, all the landlord does is place a feeble “for rent” sign in the front porch window, where it’s hardly visible from the street or sidewalk. And I hate to blame them too much, but I doubt that they did much screening on this last batch of tenants — surely they must’ve been bad tenants in the past as well.
Struck me as odd, though, that in light of all this, the guys were out on the porch with one of those pole saws, trimming the branches of the trees that were a little too close to the porch. Like, really? The place is “completely trashed”, but you’ve now remedied it completely, and have time leftover to trim these unruly branches?
Overall, though, the scenario doesn’t really surprise me that much. When I’ve bumped into the owner previously, he struck me as the type who was kind of in over his head. The deer-in-headlights, “I thought that this was a simple get rich quick scheme, so why am I having to actually do work, and why am I not rich yet” sort of look about him. Around the time that I bought my duplex, it seems everyone and their brother was talking about rental property as such an easy way to make a fortune. Yes, you can build a good deal of wealth through rental property, that’s true. I’m hoping to do just that myself. But there IS a lot of work involved. Repairs, maintenance, showings, tenant screening, sometimes cleaning, and if things go really awry, evictions. There is work AND risk involved, and I don’t think that this guy understood that.