2nd November 2008

Some Great Landlord Advice

posted in Uncategorized |

A couple of weekends ago I had the good fortune to talk with a friend’s dad who is a veteran of the landlord business. This guy owns 175 units in Lake Worth, Florida and has been a landlord, as well as being in other businesses he started, for many years.

The conversation started out with me lamenting the fact that the economy is totally putting a damper on my rental business and that I thought that with scale (more rental units) things would be better. It turns out that his vacancy rate is not much different than mine which was kind of comforting. By the way, another landlord friend in West Palm Beach, FL also mentioned that her vacancy rate was lower but said that hardly any of her tenants were paying on time and in short, she is having to do a lot more work to maintain her business. Also comforting to know that I’m not alone.

Here are a couple of interesting things I learned from my friend’s dad:

One thing that that struck me was that he handles all of the maintenance requests/problems himself. (!!!) I’ve heard stories of him taking phone calls from tenants while vacationing in the Andes mountains of Chile but I didn’t believe it until that day. He was dealing with a sewer problem in no less than 3 of his apartment complexes. When I asked him why he does it that way, he said that maintenance costs will eat you alive if you let them. He has a small maintenance crew which he directly employs in order to keep costs down.

Another interesting thing was his experience with the landlord/tenant court in his area. I mentioned the frustrating experience I had in court when trying to evict one tenant and he said that he sees the same thing. The judge basically does what he or she wants regarding the landlord/tenant code. He said that a judge once told him in open court, “In here, I’m the law.” Nice! It seems that the state statute is simply a guideline even though it specifies certain things in detail. My friend’s dad said that that’s why you need to have your papers in order or the judge will use it against you.

Despite these two things, he kept referring to the whole exercise as “fun” which was interesting. Hopefully in the future, I’ll get to talk with him again soon. It was truly enlightening.

There are currently 36 responses to “Some Great Landlord Advice”

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  1. 1 On November 3rd, 2008, Elisabeth said:

    I just have a few rentals, and wanted to know where to get a REAL credit report, and background check on my applicants. Everybody wants a long contract, and big fees to join.

    Any help would be great! Thank You!

  2. 2 On November 3rd, 2008, TheLandlord said:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I completely feel your pain. Apparently due to government regulations, the credit reports we used to get (the complete ones) are no longer available. We have been requesting that potential tenants pull their own credit reports from a site like http://www.freecreditreport.com/ and submit it with their application. We also do a full criminal background check.

  3. 3 On November 4th, 2008, Mark said:

    TheLandlord’s Note:
    This site looks like a great concept but this will eliminate about 80% of my tenants since they don’t have internet access. Feel free to try it out anyway.
    —————————————————————————————————

    Check into Landlord Info Systems, they give the private landlord who only has a few rentals, a Credit Report, Criminal check, and a Leasing recommendation.

    We small landlords can finally get a real credit report, not a stripped down summary. They don’t have any sign up fees, long term contracts, or site inspections. the website is: www dot landlordinfosystems dot com

    Lots of luck.

  4. 4 On November 10th, 2008, Cherie said:

    I have some rentals in Lincoln, Nebraska, and here most landlords use a service called Tenant Data (www.tenantdata.com). It’s pretty common in this area to charge a $20 application fee, which is enough to cover the credit report and a criminal history check. I’ve been really happy with the results.

    Best of luck!
    Cherie

  5. 5 On November 14th, 2008, George C. Torres said:

    I use the National Tenant Network for background checks. The service provides credit reports or a simple analysis (your choice), criminal histories, rental histories, and judgements (if any). They’re not that expensive. I believe the analysis report I pull is only $17.00. That’s not bad considering I charge $50.00 to prospective tenants for a background check (the $50.00 price tag weeds out the bad tenants and their ilk.)
    Check them out at:
    http://www.ntnonline.com

  6. 6 On December 23rd, 2008, Colleen Menendezt said:

    I was encouraged by reading your eviction experience. I am a new landlord of 3 years. I bought a new condo in West Palm Beach and until I move to the area again, I thought I’d rent it out. Well, this couple have been in it for 2 months. Last month they wrote the check payable to themselves, of course causing delays. This month they wrote a check on a closed account. They gave me 5 different stories and basically said “well, we just don’t have any money.”!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your renting my new condo on the golf course .5 miles from the ocean and you have no money…
    I sent the 3 day notice to pay or quit. They said they can “try to get me 1/2 by …..” they never did and now I am filing eviction papers. What a nightmare..The agent that helped me said that they had no evictions, their credit was not too bad, but not perfect. They had been on the job 7 years…what gives??

  7. 7 On December 23rd, 2008, TheLandlord said:

    Colleen,
    My strategy for dealing with tenants in general is be nice and respectful as long as they are performing as promised. As soon as they deviate, come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    In fact, I have a landlord friend that posts the three-day notice and then refuses to talk to the tenant. This way, they either pay or get an eviction filed against them.

    My favorite is the tenants who can’t keep their cool, get served with papers and then refuse to show up to court. This equals an instant eviction against them just for not being responsible.

    Being that you live out-of-town, if I were you, I’d retain an attorney local to your property in case you need a “ton of bricks” to drop on a deadbeat tenant.

  8. 8 On December 24th, 2008, Colleen Menendezt said:

    I don’t have an attorney. I contacted one and they wanted $1,000 just to file eviction papers that cost me $15.00 and the court fees were $250.00. I have an agent who owns property himself and said he would just go to court and get the papers and fill them out. He evicted 2 of his on “non-payers in 3 weeks”.
    I served the 3 day….and have not contacted them. I am not interested in making a deal. My bank won’t make a deal with me like that. One problem is the agent wrote high speed internet included in the lease. Well…it was free with our association, so no cosst to anyone. However, the tenants left me a message after the 3 day..that they have no money ” and will try to get some, but in the meantime “how do you get on the internet?” they actually had the nerved to ask! I called the association and found out they they stopped providing that 2 years ago. I hope that isn’t a problem. From the laws I read the tenant needs to give you noticce in writing of any repairs..ect. I never got anything like that..only bounced check after bounced check. At this point I don’t care if they pay, I just want them out.

  9. 9 On December 25th, 2008, TheLandlord said:

    Colleen,
    Really anyone (with power of attorney) like the agent you mentioned can file the papers. Please be sure and monitor the proceedings though because landlord/tenant judges like to find any excuse to let the tenant stay in the property.

    In my opinion, it’s really unfortunate when judges behave this way. It makes me want to say to the judge, “Why don’t we just repeal the landlord/tenant code and let you decide the landlord/tenant disputes” but then I wouldn’t be able to appear in front of that judge again with a positive outcome.

    Just make sure that you have all your documents in order before you go to court. Also, the deal with the internet access should not be an issue. The bigger issue is that they have not been paying the rent. This is fundamental and the judge should see that and rule in your favor.

    Also, in my experience, the judge likes to give the tenant more time to get their affairs in order before they are kicked out. This is why, if I’m going to evict a tenant, I let no more than 10 days go by before filing the papers.

    I wish you luck with this case.

  10. 10 On December 25th, 2008, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Must I appear in court? It would cost me to fly out, rent a car, hotel, time from work?? It is 2000 miles away.

  11. 11 On December 26th, 2008, TheLandlord said:

    Colleen,
    Typically you personally do not have to appear but the judge may require an actual attorney to.

    If I were you, I would ask the agent to appear at the initial hearing and see what the judge says.

    As an aside, be sure to request back rent when you make the initial filing otherwise you’ll have to file again (including new filing fees) to get a judgment for back rent.

    Best case scenario is if the tenants don’t show up in court. This way, everything will go as fast as possible. The fastest I’ve seen this happen in Melbourne (FL) is 20 days from initial filing to changing the locks.

    Also, in a few weeks I’ll be launching a discussion forum at http://forums.landlord-success.com for discussing situations just like this. Check back soon for more details and again, good luck with this.

  12. 12 On December 28th, 2008, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Hello again, yup I am having a hard time still. Have you ever heard of these folks called Eviction Runners?

    They say they will do it all for $549.00

    1) Select State —Select— Florida 2) Select County —Select— Broward Miami-Dade Palm Beach
    3-Day Notice $49
    3-Day Notice upgrade to Full Eviction $529
    Full Eviction Package $549
    County Eviction Forms $34

  13. 13 On December 28th, 2008, TheLandlord said:

    Hi Colleen,
    Eviction Runners: I’ve never heard of them but I reviewed their web site and it looks like they will do all the “leg work” of the eviction including send an attorney (of their choosing) to court should that be required.

    In my experience, the eviction process rarely gets to court because the tenants know they’re in the wrong. If they do make it to court, it’s because they’re trying to buy time for themselves even though they know they will lose the case.

    The $549 full eviction package seems worth it since you’ll spend about that anyway with all the running around and filing fees.

    Good luck with this and please let us know the outcome.

  14. 14 On December 28th, 2008, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Thanks for your help by the way. It helps me to calm down. Sometimes as a new landlord you can feel alone. Just 1 quick question. The tenants as of January 5th will owe another months rent. If I file court papers as of now” I already gave the 3 day notice…” It will go through before I can add January’s rent. Then they might just pay that..but they will be late again in a week..
    Also I wonder if the tenant can keep repeating this process for the whole years lease. Get evictions filed…go to court, by time, pay.. late again..same old.
    ??
    Again thanks for your help. And thanks for checking out the Eviction Runners website..

  15. 15 On December 28th, 2008, TheLandlord said:

    Hi again Colleen,
    Glad I can help. As you can probably tell, I know exactly where you’re coming from.

    To answer your question: When (and if) you file the actual eviction complaint with the court, be sure to file for eviction AND damages including back rent.

    If this does go to court it’ll be near the end of January. Typically, after you file a three-day notice, you can not accept any money from them or the three-day notice will be ignored by the court and you’ll have to start the process all over with another three-day notice. If they send any money, simply send it back to them via certified mail with a note that you are filing for eviction.

    Hopefully they won’t show up to court and you’ll get a judgment for all the back rent. This means that they will not be able to buy a house, buy a car, etc. without paying you off first.

    Again good luck!

  16. 16 On December 31st, 2008, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Hey, those Eviction Runners in Palm Beach really get on the ball. They called me at home, respond to my emails quickly, present options, have lawyers for a low fee….So far I am impressed. I’ll let you know how it all turns out and give their info so others can use them.
    Colleen

  17. 17 On December 31st, 2008, TheLandlord said:

    Hi Colleen,
    Glad Eviction Runners are working out so far. Definitely let us know how this comes out and how Eviction Runners performs. I may even write a blog post about them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers and Happy New Year!

  18. 18 On January 6th, 2009, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Hello,
    This is a follow up regarding my Palm Beach tenants. Eviction Runners is amazing! They email daily, answer calls. Today they had the Sheriff serve the paperwork “Summons” Best yet…I logged into the court house site and already found our case XXXX vs.XXXXX EV for eviction trial pending. Eviction Runners emailed me saying we have to wait five days. I guess they have to deposit the rent due, plus an interest paid to the court. They also have to pay my legal expenses. I think I will be able to sleep tonight. I will let you know how it all goes and then provide you all with the website and name of the individual.

  19. 19 On January 6th, 2009, TheLandlord said:

    Colleen,
    Thanks for the update and I’m glad it’s going well so far. Please do let us know how things turn out.

  20. 20 On January 7th, 2009, Nancy K. said:

    Hello Everyone!
    I am glad I found this website. I felt like Colleen…alone in my tenant eviction process. I am in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida. It is a new experience to me. I have only been a landlord for 3 years. The eviction packet is very intimidating. Unless you have a lot of time to follow flowcharts and instructions and know the terminology, a lot of time is wasted. I didn’t realize that I had to do the leg work every step of the way. I thought just filing for eviction was the first step and that the circuit court would notify me of the next step. Anyway….I realized I had to file for default and have the ball rolling again. This nightmare should be over in a few days…no?
    Is there any way to find out where they are going so that I can warn the next landlord? I should have done a background check and checked public records PRIOR to renting. It certainly was a learning experience. But at least now I’ve LEARNED.

  21. 21 On January 7th, 2009, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Do any of you all know what happens when a tenant puts some on the money in the Florida clerks office rather than all that the judge request upon being served a Summons to Evict.

    As you all can follow my interesting case above. The Sheriff served papers on them last night. The mother of one of the tenants called and left a message on my cell phone to call her to work this all out. Of course I will do no such thing. I am letting the court handle it.
    So to bring all up to date…the tenants have been in my house 3 months. The second month they wrote a check payable to themselves,caused me dalays in cashing of course.

    Third month they wrote me a check on a closed account and never told me about it. It bounced 6 days later. When I called them it took 3 days for them to call back. Then they said they didn’t have money, but could get it in 2 weeks. I waited 3 then served the 3 day to evict notice. They called right away to say they didn’t have ANY money.
    Month 2 now no rent..no calls.

    I wonder if they do put”some of the money in the court or write a long letter of how her cat died, dog got hit, mother has cancer, ect… will the judge make me drop the eviction??
    Thanks folks…

  22. 22 On January 8th, 2009, TheLandlord said:

    Welcome to the site Nancy! To answer your question; There are some web sites that allow you to post about your experiences with a specific tenant by name but I don’t recommend doing that since you could get sued for libel or something close to it.

    Believe me, these people are their own worst enemy and their actions will come back to them in the future. Also, don’t be surprised if those tenants you evicted put you down as a reference on another rental application.

    It’s happened to me more than once.

    Thanks again for your comment and for reading!

  23. 23 On January 8th, 2009, TheLandlord said:

    Colleen,
    To answer your question; Any money deposited with the court is there for the prevailing party in the case. The law says that the tenant is to deposit any unpaid rent with the clerk presumably as a show of good faith.

    You mentioned that they didn’t deposit the correct amount…be sure to mention (or have it mentioned) to the judge about that so that it’s on the record.

    The fact that the mother is calling to “work things out” is typical. That’s happened to me multiple times. I don’t call these people back. They should have tried to “work it out” before it got this far along.

    To answer your last question: No amount of pleading by the tenants should sway the judge. He is supposed to follow the law.

    If you are in the courtroom and the judge starts to deviate from the law. Be sure to mention to him, politely of course, that he is supposed to be interpreting the law and not ignoring it.

    Judges sometimes like to do what they want in court. Be sure to protest if it doesn’t go your way. You are the one being wronged here. Not the tenants.

  24. 24 On January 8th, 2009, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Hi Nancy,
    I found info in the county clerk comptroller. I entered my tenants name in civil and general and it popped up another case where she failed to make her payments for an applicance-tech company. There is a pending trial and she owes $3,000… That was recently, so by the time I rented the house out to them it hadn’t shown up in the court records yet. I hired an agent who called my tenants employers, did a background check, said “no evictions” in Florida..Then my homeowners association ran a 2nd check also a credit check….and still this was not a good tenant. My error was that they said that they did not have a rental history and gave their parents as references. They are both 26 years old. Big fireworks should have gone off in my head…. I have learned my lesson.

    Nancy…I don’t think my tenants will be able to rent for awhile..they would probably go to Miami-Dade county or stay in Palm Beach…I think that they won’t come your way.

  25. 25 On January 8th, 2009, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Dear Landlord,
    Thanks for the reply..What I meant was “if my tenants put in some of the money, like say $100.00 instead of $2000 of the money in the court.
    What if they put all of the money in the court?
    Does that mean they win in each case? Do they have to pay my court and eviction expenses?
    I understand that if they put money in there is a trial…then I have to kick in the $180 attorney fee to represent me for that hour…
    I just hope that they don’t put money in and just leave. They are 2 months behind in rent now.
    Also, another question…Gee aren’t I full of questions ๐Ÿ™‚ what if they damage the slidding glass door or spray paint the walls? I don’t have landlords insurance because I just learned about that type of insurance..Would I be out of luck, or is that a criminal offense to damage to that extent??
    Thanks

  26. 26 On January 8th, 2009, TheLandlord said:

    Hi Colleen,
    Any money deposited with the court is due to the prevailing party. So if, for example, they deposit $2000 with the court and don’t show up for court, they are in default and the money is due to you.

    As far as damages go, you are within your rights to go after them in a criminal case. The problem with that is that there would have to be a witness to see them do the damage for you to win that one. This is near impossible. I’ve had people intentionally trash my places and all I can do is file a report with the police.

    The way it usually goes down is that the tenants don’t answer the complaint you filed and don’t show up to court. They leave the premises (usually a mess) and you win an eviction by default which is recorded against them in the county clerk’s record.

    They will need some luck to rent again in Palm Beach County. Either that or they will move into a roach motel apartment where the landlord does not do any background checks.

  27. 27 On January 12th, 2009, Colleen Menendezt said:

    those deadbeat tenants deposited Decembers rent into the cort. They did not depoist late fees or a NSF fee. They had to pay 3% fee to the court that they still owe. Now..don’t I have to go to court?????? Eviction Runners will do this for me and they have been good.I have to pay their lawyer $300.00 flat rate for as many times as the attorney needs to go to court.A good deal, but still a problem for me right now. They still owe January’s rent plus a late fee on that too. My eviction fees $529.00 plus attorney fees $300.00…If I had to pay all of this out shouldn’t they have to pay me back for it all.
    If the judge lets them stay, won’t they have to pay late fees and such. Also if they don’t get evicted do they get to keep all of the money deposited so that they have gotten 2 months worth of free rent? I will be out money. All legal fees will equal the months rent..so I lose money either way..

  28. 28 On January 12th, 2009, TheLandlord said:

    Colleen,
    These people are trying to buy time. I suggest you impress on the attorney from Eviction Runners (and so the court) that you want the tenants out. Period. You may even want to write a letter to the judge and send a copy to the attorney.

    I would not expect to be reimbursed for your eviction expenses. The goal here is to kick these people out.

    This should only take 1 court appearance by the attorney.

    Good luck and as always, please let us know the outcome.

  29. 29 On January 15th, 2009, Colleen Menendezt said:

    Well Guys..today was the 5th day and the tenants deposited Januarys rent also into the court registry. It was a few days ago that the female tenant deposited Decembers, then today the male tenant deposited money. Perhaps because they were both summoned they each had to respond,.I don’t know.
    I still have to go to court I guess. I am not sure what to think at this point???? The lawyer was supposed to contact me today…but you all know lawyers. I don’t know what to ask for at this point. On the docket is another default and it says “status pending” because the female tenant defaulted on a large appliance lets just say. That was toward July of 08..
    Should I let them stay. If they pay up which must be unsual. I don’t think a judge is going to evict them..he may say I’ll leave this open for 6 months for any further
    defaults on their end.
    God I was hoping they would just leave. If the judge does say they can stay…do the tenants get to keep all the money deposited into the registry. Eviction Runners said it is mine it is owed rent.
    Thanks,
    Colleen

  30. 30 On February 6th, 2009, colleen said:

    Hey guys…
    I emailed a while back. My deadbeat tenants were evicted today! They if you recalled, put money into the court registry after they got served. We had to have a hearing as required when the tenant answers the complaint to evict. So the judge was a no sympathy judge and just said that they had 72 hours to vacate and turn in the keys to the lawyer.
    EVICTION RUNNERS helped me with this whole process. They return
    ed calls, emails quickly. They were upfront with their fees which are a little over $500. They fill out all the paperwork and it is true…you just sit back and know they will handle it. Should you have to go to court like I did. Eviction Runners has an attorney they use for a low fee. It is done the tenants are out in 72 hours…I would encourage you all to try these people. You will be glad you did. Their number is 1-800-843-8173

  31. 31 On February 7th, 2009, TheLandlord said:

    Colleen,
    Excellent! Glad to hear those tenants are gone. Also glad to hear of the judge’s lack of sympathy. It never fails to amaze me that some tenants think that the lease agreement is a “soft and flexible” arrangement.

    Anyway, congratulations on your first eviction and hopefully it’ll be your last.

  32. 32 On February 18th, 2010, Dan said:

    great article, i will suggest your site to my homeowners to keep up to date with legal issues.

  33. 33 On July 21st, 2010, John Roselle said:

    Boy, I wish I could get rid of tenants that easily. Some times they leave fairly fast when I press them into court.

  34. 34 On July 21st, 2010, John Roselle said:

    PS. I live in the state of NJ the state where the landlord has no rights and the tenants are always right.

  35. 35 On September 25th, 2010, Angie Menegay said:

    Wow, quite a story Colleen had there! We had to evict a tenant here in TX and it took 2+ months to get them out (they appealed the eviction). However, it sounds like Colleen needs to hire a reputable local property manager.

  36. 36 On October 9th, 2010, laurie schwarzrock said:

    Hi I am glad I found your site I have a tenant that hasnt paid since July 2010 so finally aug 31 I posted a 3 day and used a company and they drug there feet so I hired a process server $85.00 in 1/2 hr they had the summons and complaint filed on her at work so now is the waiting period ugh it is so hard to wait not knowing what she will do the ( tenant ) she has til tues of next week if nothing I file a judgement and writ to sheriff and go to the sheriff and wait til he evicts. this is such a nightmare I want ther gone. she hasnt moved a thing or boxed it up I can see in her unit and nothing has changed it is sat and she has 3 more days how does some one with 2 kids move in 3 days they have a lot of stuff

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