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Being a bad landlord – from the tenant’s perspective
I was recently pitching in with a local United Way “Day of Caring” campaign. I was helping out by doing some yard work for a disabled woman in my area. While there I was told that she was a tenant of the house she called home. And while I was raking leaves and branches in her yard, I couldn’t help notice all the building code violations and generally unsafe conditions that existed around just the exterior of the house alone. Items like rotting window sills, rotting foundation beams, missing gutters and leaders and unsafe walkways to name just a few.
Without going inside, I knew from experience that there had to be general water leakage problems present. I asked her why her landlord had not made the necessary repairs. She said that he just doesn’t do anything. Basically, she painted a picture of a classic slum lord – except this house was not in an inner city, but rather more in a rural setting.
Reporting the violations – the basic problem
I then asked why she doesn’t call the town building inspector and report these violations. That way, the landlord would be forced to make the necessary repairs and create a safe environment for his tenant. But then her answer was chilling: “because he’d kick me out.” Folks, we’re talking about a blind woman with diabetes, who had recently suffered a heart attack. And she’s scared her landlord’s going to throw her out for reporting safety violations. So, for paying her rent in a timely manner, she gets the right to live in sub-standard, unsafe conditions. This truly gives all property investors a bad reputation by inference. For my part, I reported the problems to the United Way in hopes they can investigate and intervene.
Doing the right thing
I note this little story in the hopes that all property investors will be cognizant that running a cash-producing investment into the ground is unacceptable when other people’s lives, and safety, are at stake. Basic, minimal and constant maintenance is required of all hands-on property investors. God forbid there is a fire, or your tenant gets hurt in some way due to your negligence, it’s not enough to say, “I’ve got property as well as liability insurance. And that will cover it.”
All property investors belong to the same club. No one says you have to be a “people person” to be part of this club…Or want to earn as much profit as possible on your investments. That’s the goal, after all. But if you’re not going to treat your tenants – your customers – like human beings…well, please stay out of our business. You hurt the good name of all of us decent property investors.
photos courtesy of investors.housez.ca, neastphilly.com, 24dash.com, keypersonofinfluence.com