Friday, October 21, 2005

Cracking Heads & Taking Names

I was on a roll today. I’ve had a long simmering dispute with a neighbor across the street and today I read them the riot act. This goes back a few years. The woman who owns the house – a 1920s bungalow – is actually very nice. Her sons are another story. In her back yard on the alley there is an illegally built MIL unit, carport, and garage. Her son operates a construction business out of it. There are always cars, trucks, and tailers filled with debris and what-not parked up and down the street. Lots of noise and congestion. It is a major pain.

It started with her other son. I won’t bore you with all the details but you who live in older neighborhoods know that parking can be an issue. After trying several times to get them to leave enough parking for me and my two tenants I finally had enough of it. I went down to City Hall and found out that the MIL, carport and garage where all built without permits, and because they did not build them to code and with the proper set-back requirements they can’t be brought up to code. I told them if one more car, truck, tailer or anything else ever ended up on the frontage of my house I was going to log a formal complaint with the city and it would all get bulldozed. This worked for a year or so.

The first son eventually moved out and she got some nice tenants. Everything was fine until about 6 months ago. The other son moved in and it all started up again. He is a partner with his brother in the business. At first they didn’t park anything along my street frontage but about 2 months ago things occasionally showed up. They would be moved the next day and I really didn’t want to be an asshole about it so I let the little things slide. Not any more, though.

Two weeks ago the first FedEx Freight tailer showed up. This is a large semi tractor trailer. FedEx drops off the trailer and picks it up a few days later. I guess it has inventory or something. It has really compounded the parking problem. Last night the trailer showed up and the son comes home and parks his full sized pickup with a 14 foot trailer next to my house (I live on a corner). This is on top of the tractor that was dropped off earlier in the day. This is an actual farm tractor that some guy – one of their workers - parked on the street next to my house after taking it off the brother’s truck and trailer. That was it. That pushed me over the edge.

Today on lunch I came home and saw Amanda’s car out front (She is the Mother). I went over and told her it was over. All bets were off. Both sons had to have all of their crap off the street and the business needed to be moved out of the neighborhood or I would do everything in my power to see that the MIL unit, carport and garage would be demolished. At first she said she would talk to them about parking once more. I explained to her again that this had moved beyond parking. It ALL had to go. The business, the trucks, the employee’s cars, the tailers, and the noise. It was over. It was through. I wasn’t putting up with it anymore.

Like I said, Amanda is basically a nice person. She is a mild mannered school teacher in her late 50s and she is being taken advantage of by her sons. I really don’t want to get her in trouble with the city. I told her I would give her son until the end of the year to get it all out (Now I wish I had said a month). After that all bets are off. I told her if there was even one trailer or anything having to do with the business on the street I would contact the city. I think she understood.

I’m expecting some blow-back from the sons this weekend. One of them is a real loud-mouthed arrogant prick. I’ve already decided I’m not going to take any crap from them. If one of them so much as shoots his mouth off to me once I’m not going to give them until the end of the year but I will go straight to city hall. I’ve had it.

After all this I was really in a bad mood. It dawned on me that the flaky woman who rents 2 garages from me still hasn’t paid rent for September. She is a legacy tenant from the previous owners. My house has a 1926 Mission Revival 6-car garage building in the back yard. Most of the garages were rented out when I bought the place and I really needed the money so I didn’t kick anyone out. One woman still rents 2 of them. She is a flake. Always late on rent and a real pain. When I got October’s rent check I realized she had never paid September’s rent (I really don’t want to be a landlord). I called her and asked where it was and she swears she mailed it. Yea, right! She said she would get another check in the mail and I still haven’t received that check, now 2 and a half weeks later.

Today was a bad day for me to realize I haven’t received the check. I called her and got her voice mail. I told her if she was ever –Ever – late on rent again it would be an automatic 30-day notice to vacate. I told her she had to do what ever she had to do to get me the check on time but that I would take no more excuses. I don’t care if we are in the middle of WW III and the monetary system has collapsed she must pay rent on time or she would be out. No excuse. No questions asked.

So, anyone else got a problem with me today? Uh? What’s that? Are you talking to me? I don’t see anybody else over here. You must be talking to me…


Anonymous said...

That must explain why you are being so "nice" to your desert buddy regarding the bubble. Everyone must be plucking your last nerve. Take a deeeeeeep breath! This too shall pass. I do sympathise - even though I have great tenants, being a landlord is a lot of work. Good luck with the neighbors.

K said...

Good for you! I handle confrontations in a similar manner ... aka, I don't handle them for a long time until the frustration builds up and I let loose! :) Only I feel guilty afterward - even when I was in the right. Don't feel guilty, Greg! You were right, and good for you getting some leverage to deal with these people. I am so lucky to have such good neighbors.

Ms. P in Jackson said...

Sheesh! What a situation. I mean, how awful can those people be? My aunt has a similar situation. The guys across the street (they also bought the house next to her) run a large sheetrock/plaster business out of their houses. They slammed into my car backing one of their trucks out not to mention holding up any traffic down her street every AM and PM with their shenanigans. Anyway, she and other neighbors called the city and the city did not a damned thing. One of the nice things in Arlington is that the city won't mess with you too much but on the flip side the real offenders are ignored. I hope those idiots by you straighten up and if they don't I hope the city steps in and bulldozes their makeshift headquarters.

Gary said...

Geez Greg! Who p*ssed in your Wheaties? Maybe you should slap some JOINT COMPOUND on your wall or ceiling to work off this excess negative energy you are displaying!

StuccoHouse said...

At my former house a neighbor had an easment to use my driveway to get into his garage. Long story short, he used my driveway as a parking spot leaving my car locked in or out of my garage. I was like you and didn't want to make trouble. Threatened to take action to terminate his easement. He knew I was too nice to do it and continued on his merry way. It was part of the reason I ended up moving. My advice - you have given them sufficent warning, take action. In addition to the permit issue...isn't there a zoning law where they can't run a business from home? You might want to take some photo of the street filled with their trucks.

Anonymous said...

Hey Greg,
Reading about all this, I wish I was back in Nebraska right now so *I* could crack some heads.
The house next to me is a beautiful HUGE old house, that was turned into 6 apartments at one point. Most of the people in those apartments are nice, but I'm really getting sick of whenever I take Lily [my dog] outside, I find all this crap in my yard...lemons, walnuts, etc. I'm also STILL angry that this Spring, when we tore the east entrance off our house, we have a bunch of dirt leftover that was filling the conrecrete we wheeled it into the backyard and built a burm so that the people inthe apartment house would stop parking in my backyard - which was okay fora little while, then I noticed the dirt started disappearing...the people were taking MY dirt off MY property to fill potholes in THEIR parking lot.
It also makes me mad that their friends use MY dirveway to park in while they run into that house to pick each other up. My driveway is NOT a parking lot!!!!
Also, when my brother in law was out last Spring, he was helping us clean up some leaves, and one of those tenants came over and interrogated him...assuming that HIS car was in her parking place. He told her repeatedly that his car was in my driveway and he even pointed it out to her, but she swore that this other car was his and that he needed to remove it immediately.

grrrr. I want to build a huge privacy fence and never deal with these people again!
BUT, when we talked to another neighbor about putting a fence up, he got really defensive. Like it's WRONG of us to want to put up a fence on OUR property [and I know why too...he has absolutely to backyard, and his dogs use my backyard as a bathroom. ARGH!]
Greg, I am really worked up now, and I'm 600 miles away from my house and all these problems. I need a vodka sour or something..and it's only 3 in the afternoon.:)
It's bad enough we bought a house that needs work and has its own problems..but dealing with the people surrounding it is just as/if not more frustrating!

Greg said...

Sorry if I brought up bad memories. It is not easy (at least not for me) to get in someone’s face and threaten them. I’m doing it this time because I didn’t the last time and I regret it. I had 2 bad neighbors at my last house and I was much more passive. I think I’m in for 2 months of unpleasantness, but its better than 10 years. I’m not moving this time.

Aunt Jo said...

Hang in there. I hope you can get it resolved without having any major problems.

I totally understand about the neighbor thing. Ours is across the street and a total nightmare.

Jocelyn said...

I am the same with confrontations- don't like 'em. I get really mad about stuff with our tenants and then "go soft" when the time comes. But I'm not so weak as some I know (no, not you). This sounds very aggravating. You have cut them ALOT of slack, more than I would have, but this is Chicago and the city would be all over that on a residential street.

I hope the situation improves soon.