Alberta Landlord With A Kind Heart Got Burned And Wants To Warn Others To Be Kind, But Watch Out!
Several recent posts in the Alberta Landlords Association site have shocked landlords and made it clear that we face major challenges these days. We asked landlords across the province to write in and share some of their stories.
The goal is not only to create a way for landlords to get things off their chest and release their stress, but also to help others learn (and the same fate).
An Edmonton landlord wrote in:
“Really Convincing People With a Good Story Became Renters From Hell”
Really want to let everyone know the dangers of being nice and trying to help people. Don’t get me wrong, for sure there are really decent people down on their luck who will be great tenants.
The problem is if these people are liars or even if they are good people who “turn” you can be stuck with thousands of dollars in lost rent and even more in damages.
My property was one I invested in and was decently priced because it needed a lot of work. The area was good close to transportation, schools, shopping and I put in $40,000 dollars to make it really attractive.
Where did this money come from? Well, we maxed our our RBC and Scotia and MBNA credit cards with bank transfers to come up with the money as we are sure as heck not rich.
When we finally got the place done we advertised it and had some replies but not nearly as many as we hoped. Our place was nice and the rent was reasonable, but the economy isn’t that great so we waited weeks until we had even a few applicants.
One of the people who came was a young couple who had moved here from the East Coast. When they came they really praised the property and said “it was the best one they saw.”
She explained she had her first child at 20 and divorced at 22. She was a single mum for until she met her boyfriend and they came to Alberta to start their new life and eventually get married and buy their own home here.
“Applicant Reminded Me Of Myself During My Hard Times and It Really Hit Home”
Her background really hit home as a former single mum myself. Yes, that hot guy in high school who bathed me in romance turned into a dummy who didn’t give a crap our our daughter.
After years of hard work, education, new job, savings, part time jobs I eventually managed to pull myself up and find a great guy who shared my goals and ambitions.
When I asked them I would need references and a credit check she said one of the reasons they moved is because they faced ‘black mold’ in their last place and the landlord did nothing so they had no reference. She explained the move from Nova Scotia cost them a lot and they had a bad credit score.
As someone who faced similar challenges in my life I believed her and my heart really wanted to help her like others helped me when I was struggling. And they were such a nice couple and loved the property so I rented to them.
Since they were so sincere they paid first month rent and told me they would pay a 3 month deposit once they moved and were on a more solid financial footing.
I rented to them with a one year lease. Not only was I happy to finally rent out the property to cover my mortgage, I was also happy to help a young couple who reminded me of my difficult situation years before.
I Felt Great With This Win-Win Situation
I really felt…great! Like a win-win situation. I was covering my mortgage, and also helping this couple and their child. It felt good The renters moved in and all was well. I was now a new landlord with paying tenants.
Then, and the end of the month she left a message for me saying there were mice. She said the mice were coming at night and accused me of “not disclosing this” from Day 1.
I came and didn’t see anything and she said because they come at night she needed a professional to come to protect her child. I agreed and booked a guy to come after the 1st (rent not paid).
The exterminator came on the 5th and said he didn’t see anything. I told her about this and she said the exterminator was not professional and she would need a “true professional” otherwise she would report my property to the city. I was stressed about this and wanted to fix it and got another exterminator to come on the 7th. He reported no problems.
She said the mice only come and night and even texted me a picture of a mouse. She said “let’s give this some time and if it continues we will move out to protect our family!” I agreed and told her to let me know.
Mice And Now Mold (So Who Caused The Mold?)
A couple weeks went by and rent was due again (after they didn’t pay last month). She said not only was the mice issue “a frigging nightmare” but there was mold in the shower and she was scared this would cause her “child to die!” I took this very seriously and hired a mold guy to measure the air quality.
We booked an appointment but she said she was going work and she demanded to be there in person to ensure they were professional as her child’s safety was at risk.
The next first of the month came and she told me she would move unless the air quality/mold person came and assured her and her boyfriend the property was truly safe. The next month rent was due I texted her and she said she still felt unsafe. I tried to be reasonable but said they had not paid rent for 3 months.
So Now I’m a Slumlord (Me? Shocked!)
Her reply was to accuse me of renting a horrible house and being a slumlord and to “not contact her until the safety issues were resolved.
Another month went by and no payment. I texted her and said if she didn’t pay I would have to evict her. She said she was still waiting for me to fix the mice and mold issues and it was illegal for me to harass her.
I was told if you come here the cops will be called on you for harassment when we only want a safe place to live with our child.
I was scared and waited until the next month and it didn’t come in. I went to check out the property and saw no one was there. After looking in the windows there was almost nothing there but trash, wood, papers, and the walls looked weird. I went in and saw the place was abandoned.
There was no way anyone was living here. And the condition of the property was shocking.
The carpets were destroyed. The walls had scratched and huge dents like people were partying and throwing things. The whole place stank like marijuana and the new appliances I bought were not only filthy but damaged. The fridge door didn’t close, the stove was soaked in grease with the burners not working.
I Got Burned Because I was Too Trusting
Where did I go wrong?I guess it was because the renter reminded me of myself. It wasn’t too long ago when it was hard for me to pay the bills and those who gave me a break and trusted me were so appreciated.
What Lessons Did I Learn?
Being a landlord is a business. Like like if you own a restaurant, or a contracting company or whatever. You can’t let personal feelings get i the way of good business sense.
Screen Your Potential Renters Carefully…and Coldly…Like Mr. Spock!
You really have to take your heart out of it. Now I’m an Alberta Landlords Association member and one older landlord told me:
“Did you ever watch the old Star Trek. Not the crappy new movies but the classic shows with Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, etc. You have to be like Mr. Spock. This might sound corny, but it’s a good reminder to keep emotion out of your decision making and be cold as ice.”
No emotion and base your decisions on things like credit checks, criminal checks and the cold hard facts.
If Issues Come Up Deal With It Fast And Get Help From Experienced Landlords
When this was going on I felt I had no where to ask for help. Now I know I’m not alone and have a big support network.
This Won’t Make Me Give Up
There are really a lot of great landlords all across Canada who are so supportive and warm at the Alberta Landlords Forum. They told me there was no need to take this “personally” (which I did!) and this often happens to new landlords.
Share your stories by emailing us as email@example.com or posting on the Alberta landlords forum.