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    LANDLORD PROFILE INTERVIEW:

    Name:
    Mari Laursen

    City:
    Missoula

    State:
    Montana

    Any Unique 'Local' Landlord Requirements?
    Not aware of any unique requirement.

    Number of Rentals?
    26

    Years of Landlording Experience?
    16

    Hardest Job?
    Trying to stay out of renters' personal lives. They often believe that since I am an owner/manager, that I should be their friend.

    Your Biggest Mistake?
    Not ascertaining that the photo identification and references given by a renter were genuine. I accepted a rental application from a renter along with a photo i.d. When I ran the credit report, everything was good - the tenant's previous landlord told me that the applicants had been exemplary tenants, so I rented to them. About 2 months later I got a call from a friend in the Sheriff's department telling me that a known felon was on premises - I sent the tenants a notice that the known felon may not be allowed on the premises or they would be evicted. Next thing I knew, they hadn't paid rent, then I got a call from the local water company that these people were stealing water! They'd gotten a curb box key and were bypassing the water meter. THEN my friend the detective with the sheriff's department had me go down and do a photo i.d. of the felon who was on premises - lo and behold, the man I'd rented to used a false photo i.d. with someone else's name, address and social security number! I went to court and got a judgement against the tenant - I was able to do a forceable eviction with the help of the sheriff, and when the deputy went to the premises he found not only the people whom I had rented to (who proceeded to tell him that they didn't know anyone by the name that they'd given me). He gave them the warrant and went inside - he then discovered 3 people (2 men and 1 woman) sleeping in the furnace room on a bare mattress. He checked them out and found out that one was wanted for probation violation, so he handcuffed him and sent the other 2 packing. Then in a check of the bedrooms, he found yet another person sleeping on the bed. He rousted him and found that this guy had JUST been let out of jail! The man I had originally rented to was in the garage -when the deputy asked who he was, he gave another entirely different name, so the deputy asked to see his driver's license, and he gave one with his REAL name on it - when the deputy ran wants and warrants, he found an outstanding arrest warrant, so he cuffed him too! Needless to say, the neighbors had a real show on their hands, and I was absolutely mortified, not to mention scared to death - these people were CREEPS!

    New Landlord Advice?
    No matter what the excuse, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check references, and verify that the person you are talking to is actually a landlord, not just the prospective tenant's friend. Also, I never ever let a tenant know where I live. I had one tenant who I rented to that had just come out of the military, and seemed like a pretty respectable type of guy. Problem was, when I rented to him, I had no way to check his military history, and didn't know that his last 2 years had been in Leavenworth for robbery and assault! He tried to sue me because his lightbulb over his front door burned out and he sprained his ankle - blaming me. After the judge found in my favor, he got into a screaming match with the judge. Next day, there was a dead dog in my swimming pool. I had my address taken out of the phone book after that. If they want to talk to me in person, they can meet me in my office, or if you don't have an office, meet with them in a public place and buy them a cup of coffee. NEVER let them into your home if you can help it.

    Favorite Type of Resident?
    One who pays on time, and is willing to follow the rules and regulations.

    Best Way to Find/Attract Residents?
    I have had good luck with asking my good tenants in my 6 duplexes if they know of someone whom they would like to have as a neighbor. It promotes a very friendly neighborhood atmosphere where everyone seems to get along.

    Favorite Application Question?
    Does anyone who will be living in these premises smoke?

    One Way to Keep Good Residents?
    I treat everyone equally. I use forms for EVERYTHING. I try to avoid writing personal letters, since there is always someone who may take a personal letter the wrong way. Forms may be impersonal, but they can't be taken personally. (Editor's note: Click here to obtain 120 rental forms.)

    Favorite Rental Clause?
    Should Tenant smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other items; or burn candles, kerosene lamps, incense or other combustibles, the tenant is responsible for all painting and repairs which occur as a result of the smoke emanated from these items.

    Money Making Cash Flow Tip?
    I charge the tenant for the cost of a service call if they don't bother to check to see if the problem is caused by a tripped breaker. I don't think I should pay for a repair person to go to the premises and turn a breaker off then reset it.

    Money Saving Maintenance Tip?
    Try to keep the premises in good condition; that way the tenants won't have a complaing about the premises, and you won't have many maintenance problems.

    How Do You Encourage On-Time Rents?
    Keep on top of your tenants - as soon as the rent is late, send out a notice, and ENFORCE THOSE LATE CHARGES!

    How Have You Collected Past Due Rent?
    I generally send a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit; if the tenant doesn't pay, I will call the tenant to see what the problem is. If they still don't pay, after 7 days I send an eviction notice.

    Trick A Tenant Played On You?
    Telling me that she wanted to live in the duplex so badly that she would give her cat away. After she'd been on the premises for about 3 weeks, I receive a notice from her that she is now disabled and needed to get her cat back for a companion animal. She didn't provide adequate proof of need, and tried to get me to pay the cat's board bills.

    Favorite Real Estate Book?
    I do not have a favorite.

    What's Rewarding About Being A Landlord?
    I am my own boss - I can set my own hours and have been able to be there for my children when they got home from school. I have been able to attend concerts, plays, and work in their schools. First and foremost, the most important job I have is that I AM MY KIDS' MOM.

    How Has MRLANDLORD.COM helped you?
    I'm just becoming acquainted with MrLandlord.com; I'm enjoying reading about everyone else's problems in the Q & A Forum and how they solve them. It's nice to know that you're not alone in this world and that someone else has had a similar experience or problem.

 


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