My First Experience as a Landlord: The Conclusion

Over the last two weeks, I told you about my first two years as a landlord. Clearly, you were enthralled enough to come back to hear the conclusion.

To refresh your memory, in early December of 2022, my tenant, 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.

Here’s how that played out.

When asked repeatedly (using 4 email addresses and a phone number) when she would be finished with her move out and when I should collect the keys, she failed to respond.

So on December 30th, the last day of her lease, I went to the house. Based on the amount of stuff in the yard, and the couch I could see pushed up against one of the front windows, I could tell that if Kimberly had started moving out, she certainly wouldn’t finish that day. Her car was home but when I rang the bell, the dogs barked, but she refused to come to the door.

I drove straight to the county courthouse to file for eviction. I was given a court day nearly 3 weeks later.

According to neighbors and my family in the area, she appeared to have started moving out the next day. And then she stopped coming back to the house by about a week later. At this point, she had still not reached out to let me know that she had moved out.

Because Kimberly was gone and I could not provide a working phone number or forwarding address, the sheriff was not able to serve the eviction notice directly to her. And what that means, according to the way the law works, is that the court would be able to evict her, but would not be able to force her to pay anything. I really wasn’t expecting any money from her because her co-signer had very kindly paid all of the missed rent. And because she had already moved out, I didn’t actually need the sheriff to forcibly remove her. At this point, all I really wanted was for the eviction to show up on her record so that if any future landlord did a background check, they’d at least have that little bit of extra information.

When I went to court for the eviction hearing, I was prepared with piles of documentation. Kimberly didn’t show up because, honestly, she probably didn’t even know about it. But as soon as the magistrate heard that Kimberly had been gone from the property for nearly 2 weeks, he dismissed the case, saying there was no reason for an eviction.

So basically, as long as you move out by about 3 weeks after your lease is up, you get 3 weeks of free rent and no repercussions.

The house had been well taken care of for the first 18ish months of Kimberly’s tenancy. Every time I visited, I was impressed at how good it still looked from all of my DIY repairs, and how cutely she had it decorated. And then something seems to have flipped in her little world. When we regained possession of the house, there were weird splatter stains on the bathroom and kitchen ceilings, different uncleanable splatter stains on the kitchen walls, melted candle wax on many spots on the floors and walls, mud(?) everywhere, and millions of holes in the wall (though thankfully only one that needed more than just spackle to repair). And most notably, the brand new, 100% waterproof, scratch proof, stain proof, luxury vinyl floors that we had installed in the kitchen two years earlier were completely destroyed.

At this point, I’ve gotten the cleaning done and most of the wall repair and painting done. I filed for warrantee coverage on the floors and they’ve miraculously agreed to cover part of the cost of buying new flooring material, but installing the new floors will have to wait until I have a little more free time.

So there you have it.

I definitely left out some details, like about the man that was apparently living with Kimberly and running a lawnmower repair business out of the driveway.

Or the additional pets and children they’re reported to have accumulated.

Or the amount of my stuff they stole when they left.

Or the fact that they told me they got the dishwasher hooked up, but apparently only hooked up the water supply line, not the drain line.

But you get the gist.


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