Friday, July 04, 2008

The Legacy

Six years ago when I bought this place it had some very funky people living in it. I mean funky with a capital ‘F’. I wanted nothing to do with them so part of the escrow agreement was that the current owners would evict all of the tenants before I took possession of the property. It didn’t go smoothly, and that is the main reason I did not want to inherit them.

There were tenants in the apartments, but there were also tenants renting the garages. On the last day before escrow closed I did a final walk-though with my realtor and one of the tenants was still in one of the apartments. This was a train-wreck of a woman. She was in her late 30s. She had not paid rent in 3 months. Her water and power had been cut off and in the dozen or so times I had been to the property during escrow she was shit-faced drunk. I mean falling down, slobbering drunk.

It was about 10 in the morning when I made the final walk-through and I told the current owner and his realtor that the deal was off and I was walking away if they didn’t get the tenant out. I told them I would be back after work and the tenant had better be gone. While I was at work, the owner rented her a motel room and a storage unit, and then hired some day-laborers and a truck to move her off the property. When I got back after work they sheepishly told me that there were a few tenants renting garages that they could not get a hold of. The owner and his realtor were literally holding their breath waiting to see how I would react. I reluctantly told them I would take the property and take responsibility for the garage tenants. How bad could it be, right?

Two of the garages where rented to a guy who stored two beautifully restored cars in them. He paid rent every month on time. I never laid eyes on him and one day along with his rent check was a note that said he was moving out. He said the cars would be gone by a certain day, and sure enough, on that day the garages were empty and I’ve used them ever since. A 3rd garage was rented to someone who never paid rent. One day I cut the lock and that lead to the long saga of The 80s Porn Closet.

The last 2 garages were rented to a woman, who it turns out only lived 4 blocks down the street. I didn’t know this at the time because all I was given a phone number and a first name. You can see that the rental agency that handled the property was a first-class operation. I made repeated phone calls to the number I was given to try and get a hold of this woman. After a few weeks the tone in my voice grew more stern and I finally left a message saying if I didn’t hear from her soon I was going to cut the locks and take all of her stuff to the dump. She called back that day. This sort of set the tone for our relationship over the past 6 years.

I won’t go in to all of the details of my relationship with this woman, but suffice it say, it has not been a good one. She is not an inherently bad person, she is just a flake. She is in her late 50s or early 60s. She smokes a ton of pot, and she is an extreme pack-rat. She has no sense of time or when she is imposing on someone. She always paid rent late - twice, more than a month late, and she would show up at my house and 9 or 10 at night to pay rent. She would show up and force me to stand there with the front door open while she wrote out the check.

I always wanted to kick her out, but if the truth be told, I needed the money. Not only that, but I knew it would be a major pain in the ass. She had rented these garages for more than 15 years. I tried to be nice, and cut her some slack, but I finally had enough of her antics. About 3 years ago I raised her rent and told her to only send the checks to the PO Box. As part of the new rental agreement I got a deposit, something the old rental company never bothered to ask for, and it was stated that if she was every late again it was an automatic 30 days notice. I figured she would be gone in a month, but I was amazed when she started paying rent on time. I honestly didn’t think she was capable.

Regardless of this, I knew her days were numbered. I told myself every 6 months or so, “This is the month! This is the month I give here notice!”. I never did. Finally, last year, I talked myself in to giving her 30 days notice on January first. Well, that didn’t happen. I did give her notice, but it was only last month. I walked down to her house in the second week of May and told here I was giving her notice on June first. She took it better than I thought she would. The garages were packed with junk and I wanted to make it as easy on her as possible.

There is a semi-vacant lot on my street and I arranged for her to be able to use it to have garage sales. I told here I was willing to work with her, but I needed to see progress. On June 1st I walked down and gave her the official notice. Immediately she started trying to get more time. I said no. I’ve given her what amounts to 6 weeks notice and that was more than enough time.

Weeks went by and nothing happened. Finally, a few weeks ago she started moving stuff out. She had some people helping her but it seemed to be going very slow. By June 30th, just 4 or 5 days ago, she had not even emptied one garage. I called her and asked what was going on. She was on here cell-phone while we were talking and she told me she was parked (on the sidewalk, as it turns out) near the garage. I went out and talked with her.

This was Monday. I told her I would give her a few more days but I had better see a truck and things moving. She assured me she had a truck rented and she would be out by Wednesday. I said Wednesday was fine, just get it done. I told her I wouldn’t charge her more rent (she never paid June’s rent) just move out. As I walked away she said, “How about Thursday. I’ll be out by Thursday”. I said fine, whatever – Thursday it is, JUST GET IT DONE.

When I got home from work on Wednesday there was a large Uhaul van but I didn’t see any people. I didn’t go over there to say anything. At this point I want her gone so bad, just the sight of her gives me knots in my stomach. I was thrilled to see the truck, but it would have been nice to see a steady stream of burly men carry boxes.

When I got home from work yesterday there was crap flowing out of the front garage and on to the sidewalk in front of the garage. I couldn’t believe it. There was no one in sight. I went to the other garage - the one she worked on first and opened it up and it still had some junk in it. It was basically a lot of garbage that she didn’t want, although there is a clawfoot tub in there.

I went inside and called her. I was pissed. I got her voice mail and I told her that I was finished screwing with her. She needed to get everything out tonight and that was it. She called me back and pleaded for more time. I told her to forget it. She needed to get over here right now and get her stuff out. At the end of the night I would be putting my locks on the garages and any thing that was left was going to the dump. This was at about 5:30. By 8:00 she hadn’t shown back up. All of the crap that was still sitting out on the sidewalk I tossed back in. I cut her locks off and put mine on.

I have no idea what is in either of them – aside from the tub. I have a $250 deposit that will cover the dump runs and June rent. It is just pain in the ass. I’m so glad she is gone. It probably won’t be for a few weeks before I will be able to go out there and go through all of the stuff she left. It is amazing how much is still in there.

In hind sight, it might have been better to be more pragmatic about it and give her more time. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Being a pragmatist doesn’t help me to sleep at night though. I did what was best for me. I’ve already decided if she calls again asking for her stuff I’m going to ask for an additional $200 deposit and June’s rent. She will need to show up with a large truck and a few people. I will unlock the garages for 1 hour and if she can get it all out in that time I’ll return her deposit. I don’t think she could do it.


Anonymous said...

Ug- what a pain. Good for you for putting your foot down and telling her enough was enough.

I hope you find some seriously good stuff in there for your trouble.

Greg said...

It would be nice if I can find something to sell on Ebay to make up for all for this. I'm not holding my breath, though. From what I could tell she went around to garage sales at the end of the day and bought all of that left-over stuff that nobody else wants.