Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fifteen Dollars and Thirteen Cents

I never wanted to be a landlord.  I grew up with my parents dealing with tenants and all the shenanigans that go with them.  My mother can tell you stories that would make your stomach turn and have you weeping for humanity.

Alas, I am a landlord.  When we bought our house 10 years ago, one of the deciding factors was that it had a basement apartment that we could rent out that would pretty much pay the mortgage. Having one tenant couldn't be that bad, right?  Mom and Dad had up to 36 at time.

For the most part our tenants haven't been too bad.  Sure one of the best ones we had required 2 months of cleaning and Hazmat suites when they moved out, but at least they had paid the rent on time and were friendly.  Others left too soon, and some not soon enough.  But only once have we had a tenant move out without paying their rent. 

I might have let it go.  

We knew they were moving, they just skipped out a month early, and to be honest, we were happy to see them go.  They didn't understand the concept that no smoking meant not smoking anything, not just cigarettes.  They were often late with their rent; they didn't shovel the driveway like they were supposed to, so the ice formed a damn and flooded into the apartment. One of the original people moved out and other friends moved in; in the end I think there were actually 4 people living there instead of 2.  It was hard to tell because there were always people coming and going. We lined up another tenant for when they had given notice and we were ready to move on.

Till I checked out the apartment.

They left behind bags of garbage. They left behind furniture that I had to pay to dispose of.  They broke most of the blinds.  They tried to wallpaper one wall, but didn't bother to measure and when it wouldn't stick properly they used thumb tacks to hold it up. They painted another wall, but only as high as they could reach from the ground.  They moved out and left the doors unlocked and never returned the keys.

After all of that and the general grief they had caused us over the past year, I decided to not let it go.  I would take them to small claims court, even though I thought I would never see a dime.  I knew that I would win; I had a signed lease that said I was in the right.  The problem is that if they don't offer to pay up right then and there in court, I would have to go through the hassle of hiring the sheriff and having their wages garnished.

Even then I might have let it go.

We served her with papers and went to court.  She showed up, all full of self-righteous indignation that we dared to think we were right and that she would have to pay us.  The court took one look at the lease and told her she was wrong.  An agreement was made for her to repay us over the next several months.  She was to contact us within a week to let us know her repayment plan.

She never contacted us.  I decided to not let it go.

We went to the sheriff, filed the paperwork and waited.  

And today, we finally got our first check!  $15.13  It's worth every penny!







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