About Me

March 20, 2016

The Tale of our Tenants.

We have quite reluctantly entered into the world of being Landlords. It wasn't our first plan nor our wish but here we are. When we began to build our new home in 2014, the housing market here was very strong. Our old home is in a very desirable and mature neighborhood, with classic homes, no traffic, tree lined streets, an elementary school down the road and a big lake for beautiful walks, and even boating and skating. We knew it would be an easy sell. But just as we were clearing the finish line, the market dropped. At that point, we knew we'd have to make a decision regarding our home and it's equity. Do we sell low but we're out? Or keep it until the market improves. In the end, it was our daughter who helped us make the big decision. She approached us with an offer to buy her childhood home from us, at market value, once she's ready for home ownership again. However, the catch is that we need to hold on to the house for the next 4 to 5 years. She's still in university and then wants some time to pay down her student loans and save for her down payment. So we agreed and it's been such a relief to know that someone we know will take this home we loved for 24 years and make it her own. Now the big issue has been trying to find suitable tenants to love it for now. And that's where our big adventure started. Ready for the tale? Here is the long winded Tale of our Tenants:

As we were busy renovating the house for tenants, we decided to place a free ad to see what the response would be. It was quite busy and we were impressed with the inquiries. One stood out a bit and we began a conversation. A lovely young family with two little girls, just who we imagined enjoying this very family home. We asked questions, they responded well, they asked questions, and we began a relationship from there. Even though we still had some work to complete, we felt very comfortable showing them the house and they fell in love! It was so nice to see how much they loved the space, the new paint colors we had chosen, the newness of everything. They told us their story of their current situation with their landlord and we felt so bad for them. Apparently, the house they were renting was full of mice and there were other issues around appliances and water. We felt confident at that time that our solid, no cracks so no critters can get in and new appliances would give them a sense of security. We set up a time to meet to sign the lease. The bonus with this family is they were looking for a long term arrangement, as long as 4 to 5 years. Perfect!

As we got closer to a move in date, we met to sign the lease. This is where things began to unravel. First, "forgot" to bring along the damage deposit and a postdated cheque for the first month's rent. But made a promise to drop it off the next day. Or send it by email transfer. Okay, I'm reasonable. In the rush to get out the door, they left the cheque on their kitchen table. Sounds reasonable.

Then when we were about to fill in the dates, they said they had a change of heart and wouldn't actually be signing for a 5 year term. What? That's one of the biggest reasons we chose them is to have stable tenants for a longer term. Okay, we want it rented, so we said we'd agree to a year to year agreement. Then they refused to put their current address on the form. A big story followed about how they wouldn't want us to see the state of the house as it wasn't a true reflection of them but of their landlord. That's where my stomach developed a big knot.

We signed but didn't put a date on for move in - thankfully, that made our lease null and void.

Other signs that things weren't as they seemed: they were very nervous about telling their landlord they'd be moving. We have a note from them in January asking if they can have the house (after they toured it) so they could tell their landlord and give him at least a 6 week notice. We said yes. But in February, when we signed the agreement, just two weeks out from move in, they still hadn't told him. We found out later, from him, that they actually only told him 4 days before they were to move in, which was one of the biggest reasons we pulled the contract. A no brainer but still hard decision.

Although we had checked out the few references they provided, now I wanted to talk to their current landlord. They wouldn't provide this info to us, so we said we'd have to pull the contract. Immediately, the sobbing began. We were told we were making them homeless, as they wouldn't have a home to move to once the truck was filled up on the weekend. They told us more "horror" stories of their current landlord and how unsafe they felt in that home. We said "sorry, until we get his name, no deal". At 4 p.m. that afternoon, they finally sent us his phone number. We called him and he was definitely not the monster they portrayed him to be. He was kind, informative and really answered all our worries so well. Ironically, he's a commercial realtor and he shared how he tried to help this young family and instead of gratitude, all he got was missed rent, a wrecked house and a series of long lies. So there we have it. Confirmation that our initial gut feeling was wrong and our secondary concerns were correct. I thanked him and we all promised to stay in touch. We've talked with him a couple of times since then and his description of the state of his house was more than enough for us to know this was the right decision. I can't imagine what it would have been like to spend all this money to fix up our home, only to have it destroyed by a family who would not care about it, despite their lavish tales of perfect upkeep and fastidious cleaning!! Thankful, so thankful.

So that is The Tale of our Tenants. Now we're back to square one, searching for a lovely family to take on our income property. I know they are out there .... just a matter of finding the right connection.


Lorrie said...

A cautionary tale for all landlords. We have rented our home and getting good tenants can be difficult. I hope your next applicants are the ONES!

Chy said...

We hope so too Lorrie. Weeding through those who are interested and keeping my "spidey" senses in good check!!

Anne in the kitchen said...

We rented a home once before and had tenants from hell as well as some perfect tenants. The worst thing about renting a house is people see it as temporary, even with a year to year lease. Our house was in a young upwardly mobile area and except for the hellish renters, everyone rented for a year while saving money to buy a slightly larger home, I was so thankful when interest rates went down and we could sell it and be done with it.

Chy said...

I can see it's going to be a worrisome experience. The good news for us is that our daughter will be buying the house once she's done university and saves up a down payment. We just need to keep it full until then and fingers crossed that at the time she takes over, it will still be in great shape.

Penny said...

What a distressing experience. It's very uncomfortable to realise you have been part of someone else's bizarre, unreal fantasy land. Yuk. You will find better tenants in time Chy I'm sure. Thank goodness you listened to your instincts X

Chy said...

And unbelievably, they contacted me to day to see if we had rented it out yet!