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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Not a great day

I completely lost my head today.  Last May I had a new tenant move into my duplex.  I live in one half and the other side is a rental.  My fella really didn't want me to rent to this lady.  She was on Section 8 (a rent subsidy) and social security disability.  He felt like she was a typical welfare mom.  Of course these are all reasons that would be highly illegal if I were to chose not to rent to her.  Well, not the Section 8 voucher.  I have no obligation to rent to someone on Section 8, but I've always had good luck with the program in the past since they help out with any issues that come up and the rent payment is guaranteed.

When I was talking with the Section 8 coordinator she essentially told me not to rent to this lady.  She wouldn't say why.  I tried really hard to disapprove the application, but her references were good and her credit was good.  She met the criteria.  Frankly I was afraid to turn her down because she is African American and I didn't want to be accused of discrimination.  Let me be clear that I don't give a shit about race.  I was, however, very concerned that her Section 8 worker was telling me to screen her very carefully, but wouldn't say why.  So I screened her carefully and there were no issues with her application.

So she moved in.  She was mostly a good tenant.  She was away most of the summer.  Really my only complaint was that her boyfriend would come and stay for one to two weeks every other week or so and he has a really, really loud voice.  So loud that I could hear him whenever he spoke.  I've never really heard any of my previous tenants and I didn't hear the woman.  Just Loud Boyfriend. 

In September my tenant had a huge fight with Loud Boyfriend.  I didn't say anything.  Loud Boyfriend was there for most of September (which is a huge no-no on Section 8).  I didn't say anything.  In October I went away for the weekend and when I came home, my fella told me that there had been another fight and that he'd called the police.  My daughters corroborated the story.

So I issued a disturbance notice and told her she needed to submit a rental application for Loud Boyfriend since he had exceeded his guest status.  I met with my tenant and she complained (as she had previously) that my fella doesn't like her, he's a jerk, blah, blah.  I replied that she still needed to refrain from having fights and needed to register Loud Boyfriend if she wanted him to stay with her.

She came back a week or so later and was really upset that my fella doesn't like her and that he'd called the police.  She'd already confirmed that the fights had actually occurred, but she was so upset that he'd called the police.  She was afraid that I didn't like her or that her kids were too loud.  I assured her everything was fine so long as she took care of the problems and didn't continue having unauthorized people staying with her.  She came back a few days later and wanted me to agree to terminate her lease.

I was torn.  I really wanted her to move out and I knew that she would leave when her lease was up because her oldest son had moved out so Section 8 wouldn't let her stay in a three bedroom.  But the timing was totally crappy.  If my apartment was vacant, I would have to pay the mortgage without the rent payment and would potentially have costs to get the place ready for a new tenant.  This doesn't make for a very happy Christmas.  I finally decided to let her go, but I reminded her that her lease has an early termination penalty of one extra month's rent and so she may not get her security deposit back.  Her response was, "Why can't people ever think of me and my family?  Why do people only think of themselves?"  Barf.

So she moved out yesterday.  She left the place pretty clean, but she didn't mow the lawn or pick up her cigarette butts.  She didn't clean the oven or wipe out the cabinets and drawers.  It wasn't horrible, but it did take us six hours to clean up.  She also showed up at my office today to ask about getting her deposit back.  I told her I would mail her an accounting within 30 days.  I told her I was having it cleaned and there would be some charges.  I said I didn't know if I would charge her the lease termination fee since I didn't know what my costs would be yet.

And basically I lost my head.  I didn't keep my cool.  She accused my fella of being a racist.  She said she was going to sue me.  I was shaking so hard and yelling at her that she left it filthy and that because of her attitude I was going to charge the lease penalty and she'd be getting a big fat bill.

Not my best moment.  I'm still upset.  And I don't think I was wrong.  I really think she is just someone who plays the system and who works all these programs to get whatever she can.  When she doesn't get what she wants, then she's being discriminated against according to her. 



Jacquie said...

You did the right thing Amanda. I wouldn't hesitate to charge her for the early lease termination. She is lucky that you let her terminate early! You sound like a very tolerant landlord!

Kenda said...

Oh hon! That's horrible that it got to that point! I've known you a very long time, and have never seen nor heard you yelling at anyone. She must have REALLY pushed you past the limits. You know you were in the right. Anyone else would charge her the early termination fee, plus all kinds of extra charges and fees. I pray that you'll get a new tenant quickly and it won't cost you much to get the place ready to re-rent. <>

Sam said...

You just can't win with some people. Sorry you had to go through that, she doesn't know a good owner when she sees it :o)

MandaPanda said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. Sometimes it's the only way to deal with people. Not to be mean, but that woman is trash. Plain and simple. I think you're absolutely right that she just works the system to get everything she can out of it and on top of that has a moocher boyfriend using her benefits too. I'd charge her every penny you're entitled to and wouldn't feel guilty for any of it. You rented to this woman despite the red flags and it didn't work out. Lesson learned. Hang in there sweetie!

Cat said...

You absolutely did the right thing in this situation Amanda. The lady was definately trying to game the system. She's lucky you let her terminate in the first place and then to threaten you with a law suit...Ugh, gosh I so hate people like this. And to then throw, "Why don't people think of me and my family" in your face? Excuse me lady, you are not the only person in the world, and it seems the system is taking care of you anyway! Why should people need to bend over backward for you and your family anyway?? You are going to be the one without the rental income until you can get it rented again. You are the one who is going to have to scrimp a bit on Christmas for YOU and YOUR family. Why doesn't she think about you in all this? Oh...because she's a selfish witch out for everything she can get with the least amount of effort.

Tina said...

I am sorry this happened. I have frankly seen things go both ways...racism occur and people claim racism that was unfounded. She clearly was bucking this system having her noisy boyfriend in all of the time and having to call the police. It is just too bad that some people seem so unaware of the people they live around isn't it?

I hope you get it rented again quickly!!


trisha said...

sadly a woman like that will never learn! she will continue to use and abuse people, things and services and then pull the race card whenever she feels necessary. She is the type of person that gives certain races stereotypes. Whether it be black white green or blue!!

Amanda said...

This is exactly why I don't want to be a land lady! People piss me off! Trisha is right people like this never learn and they are alway done wrong upon in their eyes!

I hope you find a better renter ASAP

Marie said...

Wow. So sorry to hear you had this problem. It's so sad that there are sooo many people wanting to take advantage of others and have no consideration whatsoever for anyone else. You did the right thing. She won't sue and you have records that you had to call the police about her domestic issues. Good luck!

Ronnie said...

I hate when people play the race card. If the role was reversed and you were African American and she was caucasian could you claim they were being racist? Not likely.

She's a bad tenant, plain and simple - nothing racial about it!