Back in 2013, my tenant destroyed my rental property.
Surprisingly, I’m just writing about it.
Here are a few pictures of what my beautiful home looked like when I posted it for rent in late November 2009:
Here is what the home looked like when I finally stepped foot in the home about five years later:
How did I let my tenants destroy my rental property?
In short, the answer is easy. I was a first time landlord who was just happy to have a renter when I had to move because of my job.
My job relocation happened in the same time period as the housing crisis.
My home was super underwater and I wasn’t in a financial position to bring money to the table in order to take a $25,000 loss.
Besides, not many people were buying homes.
So, I was forced to rent my home at a loss instead.
I made all the rookie mistakes possible.
I didn’t take a security deposit. DUMB.
I didn’t take a social security number. ALSO DUMB.
I didn’t talk to any previous landlords. REALLY DUMB.
I didn’t use a management company.
I didn’t…well, hopefully you get the picture.
I was just happy that someone was going to begin paying me $1,100 monthly for the property in the same month that I had to move out of State.
All was well for about four years.
The tenant was paying her rent on-time and that’s all I cared about, until about June 2013.
A month earlier, her ex-husband stopped paying the rent by direct deposit.
In May 2013, I let the tenant renew the lease without rechecking any credentials. Payment on the new lease was to begin on the 1st of June 2013.
I made plans to visit the house upon renewing the lease, but I never made it.
The tenant told me that May was a busy month for her and I took her at her word. I shrugged it off, especially since I would’ve had to travel by plane to get there only to inspect the property for 5 minutes.
Life went on.
June 1st came and I didn’t receive any payment.
I reached out a couple of times and was given a few excuses.
June 14th came and I received notification of payment from her bank: [TENANT] has sent you money.
All was well.
So, I thought.
The money never hit my bank account.
On June 2oth, I received notification of cancellation from her bank: Payment from [TENANT] has been canceled.
At that point, I started demanding rent plus late fees.
Finally, on June 28th, again, I received notification of payment of rent and the late fees from her bank: [TENANT] has sent you money.
On July 3rd, the same thing occurred as in the previous month. Payment from [TENANT] has been canceled.
This went on until I sent a notice to vacate to her in August.
Good Evening [Tenant],
You will find attached, the notice of default letter for the month of August. It is important to note that our lease will not be renewed and that I am requesting the property to be returned to me no later than September 1, 2013 at 5:00pm. Of course, we have already discussed these dates via separate correspondence. It is important to note that this will always be sent via official mail.
Also take note that rent is still due, including the late charge of $25 per day, for the month of August. This language is presented in the attached letter.
I would like to schedule a final walk-through of the property in the final weekend of this month. It really was a pleasure having you as a tenant. I hope that this next month goes smooth as I will ask for your extreme flexibility as I have to get the house ready to market again.
This may require entry into the home although you may be out of town. I will be sure to give you a 24 hour notice if this is required. Please do your best to continue to keep the home in the greatest shape as possible.
So, I gave her 30 days to vacate, in which she responded by asking for more time.
If you can give as much notice as possible that would be great, since I am traveling so much [redacted] is here alone and I do not want her to feel uncomfortable. Also, a gentleman phoned today to stop by, but it was late afternoon and I had to run out. We have scheduled a time for him to come by this week. (I didn’t quite catch his name.)
We have enjoyed being here the past four years and hope to use for rental reference.
She made one final payment in August 2013.
When I finally made it to the property.
She was gone and the house was left as is.
Not once did I step foot into my property in the four years the tenant lived there.
And that’s how I let my tenant destroy my rental property.
With no security deposit, forwarding address, or social security number, I really had no recourse.
You live and you learn.
And I learned that the best thing to do is make quarterly inspections of your rental properties or hire a property manager to do it for you if you ever have to become an out-of-state landlord.