House #2 got us going better. By this time I’d learned more about the laws, realized where my time was spent, developed a procedures manual, and streamlined many processes.
This house was built in the early ‘60s, is a large 2 BR (1,070 sqft), 1BA with double sinks, a very large living room, large kitchen with lots of cabinets, a full unfinished basement, and detached garage. It needed several mechanical updates when first purchased. It had the “older” cloth covered wiring, 60A service, with 2 prong ungrounded outlets and a fuse panel. It had wood paneling, original cabinets, an old AC unit mounted in the masonry front of the house, those ugly fiberglass canopies over the windows on the exterior, an original bathroom where every single inch of every wall was ceramic tile, original vanity/sink, and much more.
Before we moved any tenants in, we did a complete electrical rewire with new 200A service, breaker panel, all new grounded outlets, and added some ceiling light fixtures. Also had house-powered smoke detectors added. Did a few other things like changed the main water shutoff valve (looked like it was going to fall off), new bath faucet, and so on…but didn’t go overboard with a full remodel…left the bath intact…it had a steel tub, ceramic tile walls with all sorts of grab bars (prior owner was handicapped), and no shower head…had to use a “wand” to take a shower lol.
Got a tenant and and once the rent was flowing, we’d make an upgrade each time a tenant moved out…so that over the course of 10 years I completed updated the bathroom including all new supply and drain plumbing and changed to 1 ½” drain rather than original 1 ¼” drains that tend to clog, removed all that ceramic tile on the walls (that was a messy job), all new bath fixtures, new fiberglass shower unit, drywalled the walls, new “comfort height” toilet, new Allure vinyl gripstrip flooring, and so on. Another time we changed all the interior light fixtures. Then we changed exterior lights and added motion sensing LEDs. Then we took down the fiberglass green window awnings. Another time I replaced a bunch of rotted soffit wood and had new gutters and downspouts installed. Then I removed the wall AC unit and had a mason put new stone in…as the house now has central air. I removed the old storm doors and changed the exterior front door to a modern steel door. I re-flashed the chimney and added a rain guard and vermin cap. The list goes on and on, but each year or so we’d do something else…so that after 10 years the house had been mostly updated mechanically.
The last tenants we had moved in 5 years ago. An unmarried couple in their mid ‘30s, both had good jobs, one child aged 15. Paid on time, were easy to deal with, and followed the rules. We raised rent about 3-4% each year, and all was well. Then the pandemic hit. She was an assistant manager at a restaurant, and she lost her job. Here’s where the drama started.
There is way too much drama to tell it all, so here’s some tidbits. She sent me a note about 15 months ago saying her man was abusing her and she wanted me to kick him out and let her stay. About 30 minutes later I get a text from him saying she had gone “off the rails” and wanted me to kick her out and let him stay. I told them that I could do neither, either they both left or both stayed on the lease. A month later I had heard nothing, so I contacted them and they said they had reconciled. Then a month later I started getting the nastygrams again. Finally, in about September of 2021, he said he couldn’t live with her anymore and said he was moving out and he would no longer be paying rent. I knew this was the end. Two weeks later I did not get the rent. She sent me a text saying a judge had ordered him to pay the rent. Evidently this was true, as he contacted me and met me in a parking lot at the grocery store to give me one month’s rent in cash, but no late fees….so I applied this money to the late fees first, then the rent, and sent a notice to vacate if they did not pay the remaining rent due. They stopped responding. Went to court, got an eviction notice, and a date she had to be out…she was crying in the courtroom saying she would be homeless and had no place to go. That’s interesting, as her FB page was full of recent photos of her at a family reunion in our city…so I knew she had plenty of relatives nearby. I offered her a list of social services, but she never responded to that.
During this time I was getting daily texts from each of them…”He took the license plate off my car and I got pulled over by the cops” and “She emptied the bank account and I had to beg for money so I could eat” and so on. I ignored all of these things. On the day she was supposed to be out, I texted and asked if she was out…no response. So I drove by the house…and they had nearly emptied the house but IT WAS ALL ON THE LAWN AND DRIVEWAY! They were still there, and for my safety I drove on past and called my attorney…and we set up a sheriff set out court date…which was awarded. After the hearing, I called the Sheriff and they met me at the house…all the stuff was still on the lawn/driveway, the doors were open (not unlocked, but OPEN), but I saw no one. I asked the Sheriff to see if anyone was there and/or clear the house. I had texted them both but no response. They said no one was there and it appeared they had the house emptied…so I immediately changed the locks, locked it up, and went home. I called a clean-out company and met them there the next day…and they filled 2 x 30 foot trucks with stuff. 95% of it was outside the house. The tenants had not cleaned at all, the inside was a mess. I paid $725 to have the stuff hauled off.
I sent SD statement later showing $6,350 worth of damages and unpaid rent. I kept their deposit of $900, and went to court and got a judgment for the rest. We started the garnishment process, but she was unemployed, so got the order against him only. I’ve been receiving about $250 every 2 weeks for months now…and they are about 85% paid off….another 2 months should do it.
In the meantime (Nov/Dec of 2021), I began fixing up the house. I spent about 2-3 months on it (not full time…maybe 20 hours/week but not every week…I had 3 vacations sprinkled in there and holidays). I did massive amounts of drywall repairs, repainted EVERY surface in the house, replaced all door hinges and handles (rusted, they were original), replaced several cracked floor tiles, replaced some damaged wood trim, removed some wood paneling, and fixed up the basement (see below). This is the house where I mentioned in a separate post that I sprayed the walls and ceiling…where prep takes lots of time but I painted the entire ceiling in about an hour!
The basement was probably the most difficult job…it was unfinished, painted concrete block, and had over time had minor water seepage issues that had caused the prior paint to bubble and turn moldy, mainly in the corners where the downspouts were on the exterior. I used an angle grinder to grind out all the bubbled paint, and sanding disks and so on to create a paintable surface, then roller painted with a waterproof primer and then a waterlock paint. This was a VERY messy and tedious job…I wore a respirator the entire time.
After the basement was done, I tended to the kitchen cabinets. They were glossy stained wood, and I wanted to paint them. So I sanded, primed, and then roller painted all the cabinets, and installed all new hinges and hardware.
I cleaned all the windows, painted closet shelves, and much more…the house was beautiful when done. This is the house we bought for about $72k and got $166k for it.
I enjoy doing this kind of work, but it was a big job and I’m glad it’s over. The house was listed, and for 8 days we had many showings but no offers. On the ninth day we got 2 competing bids and accepted the lower one because they said they “would not seek any money for repairs found during inspections unless the cost exceeded $2,500”…which we liked….they also were using conventional financing vs. FHA for the other bidder.
Over the years, this house rented for anywhere from $810 to $940.
I’ve posted pictures labeled house 2 before, during and after.
I’ve posted pictures labeled "house 2 before", during and after. --99.92.xxx.xxx