My First Experience as a Landlord: The Second Year

Last week, I told you all about my first year as a landlord. Clearly, you were enthralled enough to come back to hear about the second year.

To refresh your memory, back in November of 2021, I signed a lease for a second year with my tenants, Kimberly and Mr. T. The new lease was to begin December 15th and end December 30, 2022. But 10 days after the lease was signed, I found out that the couple had broken up, Mr. T. had moved out of the house, and his mother was going to stay on as co-signer.

This is how the next year went down.

The first week of December, Kimberly reported that the shed had been broken into and the door broken. The door had been on its last legs anyway, so I wasn’t too upset about having to replace it.

She said that Mr. T. had returned all of his keys to her, but she was still concerned that he would somehow come into the house without her permission. I offered to rekey the locks, which she agreed to, but then apparently realized that that meant I would be coming to the house so she had to disclose that she had gotten two new pets that she would now need to start paying pet rent for.

And then she called to let me know that one of the windows in the back door had been broken and a bunch of valuables stolen from the house – a laptop, a phone, an engagement ring, a kitchen knife. She accused Mr. T. of doing it. His family claimed to suspect that she did it herself.

When I got to the house to rekey the locks, I discovered that she has also added security locks to the doors.

Rent was somehow paid more or less on time for the next few months and whatever drama was surely going on, I didn’t hear about it.

In March, Kimberly asked permission to put up a temporary wire fence so she could let her dog run around the yard. The neighborhood has a variety of fences and sheds in various styles and degrees of disrepair, and more concrete than you can imagine. I decided that that while this fence would be ugly, it wouldn’t do much to harm the overall character of the neighborhood and there didn’t seem to be any ordinances or rules against that sort of thing. Kimberly also said that she wanted to put up some vinyl fencing around the wire it to make it look nicer anyway.

In April, neighbors started reaching out to let me know that the yard was a mess, it hadn’t been mowed, and that there was tons of junk of the driveway. Kimberly agreed to start mowing the yard and work on clearing out the junk.

Around the same time, Kimberly asked me if I knew anyone in cyber security because she thought someone had tapped her phone. Later that month she texted me to let me know she had a new phone number. In May, she sent me email from a new email address, telling me her icould email was no longer working.

In May, I found out that she still had an inoperable truck on the driveway, and that there was an ordinance against this. Kimberly used her brains to figure out how to work around the ordinance, learning that keeping inoperable vehicles is allowed, so long as it’s under a carport or in a garage. So she pushed the old boat from under the carport into the unfenced backyard, and moved the truck under the carport. I told her she could keep the boat or the truck. So managed to get the boat moved off the property to who knows where.

Over the summer, Kimberly got super far behind on her rent. She started off with a bunch of excuses but then completely stopped communicating with me at the end of July. In August, her cosigner, Mr. T.’s mother, ended up paying about a third of that month’s rent and I credited her some money for getting rid of the boat, hoping that this would help her get back on track.

She somehow managed to pay rent in full, on time, but without any communication, in September.

In early October, I reached out to ask if she wanted to modify her lease end date. Her lease would be up on December 30th and I knew that the holidays were very important to her so I offered to let her leave a little early to get settled in a new place before the holidays, or even stay a week late so she wouldn’t have to spend the holidays packing. As I said, at this point she had completely stopped communicating with me at the end of July so she obviously did not respond to my offer. At this point I had the option of driving 5 hours round trip to post a letter on her door, or send her a certified letter, as my only two options to legally give her notice that her lease would not be renewed. I sent her a certified letter. She did not acknowledge receipt.

In November, I emailed her to let her know I would be coming down to talk to her about rent and check on the house. She had not paid October or November rent at all at this point. I guess because of the threat of me coming to the house, she responded to my email (from yet another new email address), to tell me that she did not want me to come when she would not be home. Because my husband is even more patient and willing to treat her like an adult than I was, he convinced me to respect her wishes and not visit, on account of her seeming to have resumed communications. Upon hearing that I would not be coming after all, she did not respond.

In December, I received a “Notice of Violation” from the City, basically letting me know that there was a pile of crap in the front yard that needed to be dealt with. When I reached out to Kimberly about this, she was extremely defensive, letting me know that she had already dealt with it and that the city official should never have sent me the letter. (Not really the point, Sugar Plum).

In early December, Kimberly communicated receipt and understanding of the lease termination letter I sent her in October. She said she would be fully moved out in a couple of weeks and would return the house to me in the same condition as that in which she had received it. Despite the fact that she hadn’t payed rent for 3 months, I was relieved to believe that she at least planned to move out.

Come back next week to find out how the saga ends.


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