Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rent from Us--No Job Necessary!

Four years ago, my best friend moved out to Temecula, too. Three months later, the devastating fires hit San Diego County. We drove to the area about a week after the fires were contained and, sure enough, the house she had been renting was burned to the ground--along with most of the homes in that Scripps Ranch neighborhood. I felt sorry for the owner, but he seemed to be well insured. I think the key to non-owner occupied commercial insurance policies is the coverage for loss of rents. Even if the house is rebuilt, the fact that the owner has to pay a mortgage on it while it's vacant can be devastating. Please review your policies now and make sure that your rental income will not suffer in a similar disaster.

With fires still raging in many areas of Southern California, we are under blue skies here in Temecula Wine Country for the time being. We pray that it stays that way. We know many displaced families and are hoping that they make it back to a home still standing. As of last count, 1,200 structures reportedly have been destroyed. It's completely out of control and has already burned 245,000 acres. I'll keep you updated.

Now to my post--I had intended to entitle this one "Kentucky Schmucks." But I couldn't decide who the schmucks were--the property managers or my husband and I. So I rethought.

Before we sold our KY albatross, I had asked the incompetent PM for the applications of those who owed us rent and skipped out, so that we may pursue them through a collection agency. He never provided it. After the change of ownership, when I threatened him with a complaint to the apartment association where he sits on the board, he mailed them immediately. As you know, I made good on my threat anyway. I have e-mailed the executive director of the association with the information that I'm about to give you.

Not that it's necessary, but just to prove, once again, the incompetence of this PM, here are some excerpts from the approved rental applications of people who didn't pay the rent:
  • Employer section blank
  • Employer: "Wendy's", Position: "cook", How Long: "Start Tuesday or Wednesday", Current street address: "None"
  • Reason for moving: "Can't afford to keep up rent and bills."
  • Employer: "on disability", Salary: "$623/month" (this is for a $400/month apartment!)
  • Employer: "SSI", Salary: "$620/month" (yes, another $400/month apartment)--I'm beginning to think that people in KY don't eat. Oh, but I forgot, they do eat. It's the rent that they don't need the money for.
  • Current street address: "Salvation Army."
  • One applicant had an employer without a phone, and had been there only one month. Gosh darn! He'll have to be approved without confirming employment.
  • Reason for moving: "Evicted and then lived w/ friend."
  • And my all time favorite approved rental application is. . . . . .Previous street address: "Shelter", Employer: "None at this time (still looking)." Well, you've come to the right place!

Now, don't get me wrong, folks. I have nothing against homeless people or those who work at Wendy's. My only concern, and I mean ONLY, is that an applicant can prove to me that they are capable, and have a history, of paying the rent. It's really very simple. I don't care what they look like or where they work, they just have to prove that I won't have to chase them down every month.

We had asked about the screening process and the PM made it seem so professional. He knew that we knew how to screen and approve applicants because we had been doing it for years by then. Out of all the tenants we had, I only approved one who made it difficult to collect (I had rejected them initially, but the husband gave me a big deposit and several months of rent up front). They moved out early anyway, so I didn't have to deal with them for long.

As distant apartment owners with supposedly trained and licensed property managers, is it our duty to review and approve every application? I don't think that it is, even after this experience.

I can imagine the ad that he put in the paper: "Out of a job? Down on your luck? Don't despair! Come to our apartments where you can live for free!! No job necessary."

Now who do you think are the schmucks?