Today was a very sweet day for me at work. I don't get many happy endings. Hell in property management, I don't really get a lot of happy. But today I did and it is worth documenting. Every woman who keeps getting up to face the day when the cards are stacked against her deserves to have her journey celebrated.
Two years ago I had a small six-plex, that while no where near a slum, we just couldn't keep good tenants living there. Eviction after eviction. This was one of the few properties where the owner hadn't set any real "requirements" for the renters.
For most of our properties we were moving to a strict 620 credit score minimum, no felonies, no evictions, two times the rent in verifiable income. This was only put into procedure in 2013. Prior to that the property management company I work for was the "bring me your poor, your homeless, your felons, your previously evicted, your sad story..." company of our town.
Most weeks I had several families standing in front of me with no place else to go and no family to turn to. Those are painfully hard days to get through. I hate when they cry. I feel less sad when they get all pissed and storm out.
Today my dear friend Mary called while I was waiting for the tenant to bring back the money order for her security deposit. It was cool that she called at this time because it made me pause and reflect on the people in my life, who have become my friends and my biggest supporters were all made at time when I was a homeschooling mom. When I had the time and desire to make connections. I try my best to maintain those friendships, but working full-time & being a single mom means I have to schedule time for those who are so important to me. I am blessed that they understand and are struggling with the same over committed schedules so while we don't see each other nearly often enough, the love is there & everything gets dropped when one of us is in need.
These families who stand at my desk, mostly single moms looking for a safe place for their kids, don't have the luxury of time to meet and maintain friendships.
Two years ago I evicted one right after another & took this property on as my personal project.
I moved one woman, my age, in with a pregnant teen daughter and her teen son. They had been in a hotel and needed to find a place, needed stability. I don't remember the specifics, but the mom wouldn't be approved for our other properties. I was able to get her into unit 3. The walls bore the nail holes from at least a decade of not being patched and painted and the carpet shows the wear of the Silk Road, but it was a clean 2 bedroom for $525 a month.
I moved three more sad single mom stories into this property. I felt so good. This was my calling & I would help these families get back on their feet. I would do what had been done for me. I would give them the chance that had been given to me. To have the key to my own door, as my Dad would day was a very powerful proud moment for me.
Like a chicken coop, each one squacked and bitched and moaned about the problems the other families were causeing. Two of those sad stories turned out tototally not be what they presented to me. One woman came to me with her wife telling me they were trying to gain custody of their grandchildren since the kids mom was in jail. I believe the one woman had a drug felony from a decade back, but she assured me she was clean & just needed someone to believe in her.
I moved them in. Turns out they sold drugs. They installed cameras on the outside of my building so they could see their drugs and see when the cops were coming. It took me over a year to get them legally evicted, but they self moved out after a family death gifted them with a home. When I walked in with out eviction crew the carpet was about 8 pieces all patched together like the Coat of Many Colors, the stove was missing and the garbage disposal was missing. Just a clean view from the sink to the bottom of the cabinet.
The next sad story I moved in was a single mom with a very new baby. She wouldn't get her utilities switched into her name and racked up a couple months utility bills before we could evict her. She was reportedly turning tricks in the parking lot where she could still use her baby monitor, so I don't know why she couldn't pay her bills? When we went to post the 3 Day Notice on her, she answered the door with her bathrobe open. She didn't seem to care that I saw her boobies and roll poly belly.
She left me a huge ass sofa and a 5 foot wide and 4 foot tall television. Both of these items cost a great deal to dispose of, at my owner's expense because the security deposit is never enough to cover the damage left and legal fees of the eviction.
I moved another sad story mom who was coming out of a program and trying to get her children back. I moved her into my home for wayward mothers. Turns out she wasn't as fixed as she had sold me on. She started buying from the scary grandma drug dealer and next thing I know she has several other grown ups flopping in her apartment. When a tenant doesn't pay their utilities we can call and have the utility company 5 Day Demand them. This demand states to pay or the utility company shuts off the electric, not the water as it is one pipe in & out for the entire six-plex. When her electric was shut off, she ran an extension cord out her window to the complex outlet on the exterior of the building.
Some of my tenants were pissed since they all pay a portion of the common area utilities. When we showed up, we unplugged the extension cord & placed a letter explaining that she can't use the outlet. We were no sooner down the road that we got a call that she had plugged it back in. She was running her refrigerator off the cord. When we got back, we unplugged it again and Jason used scissors to cut the extension cord. We kept it for a while as a trophy (couldn't find a photo).
Later that night the tenant strung a new extension cord from the downstairs apartment to one of the top floor apartment tenants who felt bad for the poor woman.
Mean ole Melissa! The tenant who allowed the extension cord into her house later regretted that move as the mooching tenant did not pay her back. She was out a couple hundred dollars for her friends electric.
Not long after, the eviction finally went through.
Then sad story #4 moved in. Single mom with the sweetest little baby. She also was down on her luck & needed to move, like that same day. I told her it hadn't been cleaned yet. The cleaner (my girlfriend) was due that evening if the tenant could just wait until the next morning. She said she could not wait and it did not matter, she had to have a place that day for her & her baby. She had seen the apartment twice and said she would clean everything anyway. I made it happen on a Monday when I leave work early to pick up my kids. I made her a priority.
The next day, she called screaming & cursing & threatening me that she was going to call the city. She was going to call the news. She was going to call Code Enforcement.
I said bring it on bitch. Ok, maybe I didn't say bitch, but I was thinking it and I am pretty sure I was giving the cell phone my middle finger. Good thing we weren't using Facetime!
She didn't call anyone, but she left me endless hateful phone messages and text. Then each month she would sashay in ever so sweetly and hand me her money order. She took in some "friends" and word has it that they her friends were part of a gang & were causing all kinds of problems in the area.
My biggest problem was that my drug dealing grandma was supplying drugs to everyone at the apartment & bringing in buyers all day. One by one they were all evicted and replaced with fairly decent and quiet tenants, but it took me another year of trial and error.
Every one of these tenants has worked my nerves over the past two years. Living in such close quarters does not bring out the best in people. But my original mom came in at the beginning of this month to see if we had any place that fit her budget & would accept her. For once, we did. We had just received word that the tenant of a 3 bed/2 bath was giving his notice. It is not a single family home, but a duplex with an attached garage under $1000. She made it happen, site unseen, just based on my word that I would move my kids in it. She got her case worker to get her into a program that would cover her first months rent and she came in with the security deposit in cash.
I don't take cash anymore because back in the day, we would have $10,000 to $30,000 in cash sitting in the office during rent week. It scared the hell out of me to be in charge of cash. But when she came in with her $995 in cash & asked me hold it for a week until she signed the lease. She was terrified she would lose it or have to do something else with it.
I took the cash for her new future & handed her a receipt.
Today she came in to sign her lease. She took the cash from me and sent her son to go get my money order. During this process, we agreed to rent her old unit to her son, who is now an adult.
After signing her lease, she kissed the money order, handed it to me with a huge smile on her face and gave me a big hug. I am very proud that I got to be a part of this celebration of her continuing toward a much better life.
P.S. The daughter is due to have baby number two next month.