Real Estate Just Got Real
Real Estate can be a bitch* or real estate can be a beach, this goes for owning your own home or rental real estate, our proverbial “beach” of choice. I am writing to you after a fun filled last few weeks that included tenants breaking the lease, water damage to multiple floors of our multi-unit, and a 3 page letter from the HOA, which realistically could be run by a fascist dictator. The process to repair all of the issues are still on-going, but I wanted to give you a little glimpse into life when real estate acts like a bitch.*
First, let me say that my experience with real estate has for the most part been a “beach”. We have successfully kept both of properties rented over the last 5 years and have enjoyed the checks deposited into our account each month. I would be remiss to tell a story about real estate without mentioning the occasional boiler going out scary story, but for the most part we receive monthly income to allow tenants to occupy the properties we own (1 own, 1 mortgage), while handling all of the property management to go along with it, at our choosing. Like any day at the beach the clouds could come out, it could rain cats and dogs, sunburn could happen, or just about anything and sometimes through no fault of your own, despite your best efforts, the day becomes a bitch.*
Real Estate is a Bitch* Part I-Tenants Breaking my Heart and the Lease
I won’t go into a ton of details for anonymity sake and because this is an ongoing issue yet to reach a resolution. The tenants after a short period realized they did not get along. After some drama, a talk, and reassurance of making it work one of the tenants moved out and gave us the keys. The second tenant occupying the same unit attempted to make things work, paying the full months rent, attempting to get a sub-leaser, but to no avail. With a few days left in the month, the second tenant informed me that they could not make the next month’s rent payment and I advised they should move out and hand in the keys.
A few things happened along the way that make this situation a bitch*.
- The tenants have a 1 year lease which they have violated
- The tenants left with almost zero notice and after the monthly rent was due
- The tenants left the property in need of repairs and cleaning
Because of these items, my life as a property manager has gotten more difficult. The best case scenario is the tenants voluntarily pay for the month (s) that the unit is not occupied and provide additional money above and beyond any security deposit for property damage, repairs, and cleaning. This does not account for the time spent working with individuals to get the unit prepared for rental and of course listing, showing, screening, and miscellaneous tasks of having new renters. If real estate were easy then everyone would do it is what I tell myself as I cry myself to sleep, I mean drink to drown my sorrows. I joke, because laughter is better than crying.
Real Estate is a Bitch* Part II-Water Damage the name of my Punk Rock Band
True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend…
This quote from the movie Old School, one of my favorite movies of all time, and this quote above from Mitch Martin (more quotes for your viewing pleasure) describes very well how my day ended up not long ago.
I received a text message from a tenant that the ceiling appears to have a leak, based on the language and our follow up exchanges the tenant was not overly concerned. I said I would give it a look when I was home from work, but in the mean time if he could send a couple pictures to get an idea of what I would be dealing with. A short time later, I received an urgent text message letting me know the leak had spread, the words in my head were EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY and I shut everything down, grabbed a tax deductible** Uber home rather than the train and waiting for a bus.
The fast and short is we have water damage. We are in the process of working with a water damage restoration team and our insurance company to make all the damage go away and bring the property to as it once was. The whole process probably needs a whole post dedicated to the ins and outs of this experience, but until it is done I can only work with both parties to make things as they once were. I am unsure of every detail, but based on everything so far I will not be out of pocket to pay for ALL of the expenses associated with taking the early flight home from San Diego. The highlight so far has been coming home to a loud engine noise in our hallway that went away just yesterday, I have never been so in love with peace and quiet in my life.
Real Estate is a Bitch* Part III-Our HOA Hates Puppies
The property we own in Florida is a nice single family home located in a nice area and also happens to have a HOA. Based on the following events I am led to believe they hate Puppies, possible Even Steven Money, and anyone who rents from us. Here is a couple “requests or be fined” we have had over the years:
- Paint your fence with Dutch boy color #74839 as the fence has discoloration that can be seen
- Power-wash your roof, to dirty for our liking
- Cut palm trees, looking a little long oh and your lawn it’s a jungle
- Remove a work truck from the driveway
- Bring in your recycling bins/trash cans immediately they were left on the street for over 24 hours
- Most recent was a 3 page document that we needed to refresh our landscape with more mulch, separate landscaping areas, and remove weeds from the driveway
So I like to make jokes but I am not making up any of these and before you go thinking we have purposely turned the property into a junk yard, this is not the case. For the last 4 years before the arrival of the new tenants, La familia de Even Steven would go take care of the property on a pretty strict schedule and even now the new tenant has an individual that has taken care of his previous properties landscape for years. I’m going to overreact a little for just one minute, but at this point I’m worried that this is less overreaction and more reality.
I wonder when an individual from what I only assume was the HOA came to our door asking to sign a document that allowed background checks to be conducted on those living within the HOA and we said no thanks that they did not place our names and house number on the “naughty list” of the HOA. I’m pretty sure I don’t care if the guy next to me got an underage drink when he was 19 and without getting political I think that might just violate your rights and the constitution, you know like the government is watching us type of business here. It could be that our neighbor hates us and reports everything, I mean I did mow a 3 foot space of his grass one time, probably left grass clippings when I did it. Is he the neighbor that’s calling the HOA reporting our property, secretly wanting to be a detective his whole life and now faced with the harsh reality that the only crime fighting he will be doing is reporting we left the recycle bins out overnight. Does he walk around the neighborhood playing the theme music from Law & Order while taking notes on what homes are in clear violation of HOA section 3.4 a, subsection 3.
Do we have the worst HOA who not only drives around writing down what houses are in violation, but then also not understanding who’s fence or in our case recycling bins were left out the night before, seriously this happened it was our neighbor’s and did I mention that the 3 page violation letter after the tenant had the landscape updated, he sent pictures for proof and then another one with the neighbor’s garbage bag being left out in the lawn. Also priceless, they sent a newsletter asking for participants to enter in the spring landscape contest for the HOA, you have no idea how bad I want our tenant to enter the contest.
So there you have it fine readers of the interwebs of America and beyond, this is my life. Recently real estate has been a bitch* and rather than listening to the sweet soothing sounds of the beach I am listening to a high powered fan drying out my bathroom, industrial sized dehumidifier, and a small powered engine attached to the mask that Bane wears in the movie Batman which is connected to my tile floor and to that I say, Goodnight Batman.
If you read the above article, I hope it was entertaining as I certainly enjoyed writing it, therapeutic in a sense. What I want to make clear is that while we are going through ups and downs today with real estate, we have also set aside funds for these type of unknown situations like water damage or a tenant breaking the lease. I keep track of this money at Personal Capital. This allows me to track and categorize all of my expenses, which is especially helpful come tax time. It’s one thing to know you spent money at Home Depot in April, but I am able add a description such as CHI Home Depot Plumbing so I know what property and type of expense was used. Personal Capital has saved me money and hours of my day and so far they are yet to charge me a dime. I suggest you sign up, it’s free and what I use to keep my money and expenses in order. Just so we are being Frank, I Shirly could have Personal Capital send me a check with my name on it if you do. It keeps the lights on here at Even Steven so we appreciate it. I added
4 5 different hyperlinks to Personal Capital to sign up mostly because I was being obnoxious. Cheers to you good sir or madam!
*If this word offends you, just close your eyes and move on to the next word or replace it with jerk and then the word beach with jewel. Also you can always leave and check out the other 34,000 blogs out there it’s cool, I don’t mind. I am here to entertain and sometimes you might not like the show.
**This blog is for entertainment purposes only, if you think I’m some sort of tax accountant giving advice I suggest you leave this site immediately and head right over Disneyland where all of your dreams will come true.