What are the downsides of being a landlord – Part 1
Downsides of being a landlord
One of the questions I get asked most often about being a landlord is What’s the downsides of being a landlord? While there are numerous upsides; 4 ways to make lots of money for starters. There are a few downsides as well. I’m actually only going to talk about one downside in this article as it recently had a perfect ending to it. This downside is terrible tenants.
I know there’s lots of ways to screen tenants and you could weed out the majority of potential crazies but occasionally you might take a chance on a young person with no references and get burnt.
How bad was this person?
Good question! First let me give a little bit of background on how my duplex is run. One of the major selling points for this building for me was the fact that it’s in my hometown, and my father owns the identical adjacent property. They were built together when the original owners built them. He’s owned his unit for almost a decade and has had no issues. He also helps to manage the duplex for me, I’ll post all of the ads and answer all of the emails but the in-person viewings are done by him and the screening of tenants.
Now on to the tenant…
Since I cannot divulge any personal information about this individual we’ll just call him the tenant. He viewed my unit in early February with his girlfriend and a parent if I do recall. They were a young couple, both employed and just getting their lives started. They seemed very polite and everything checked out on the screening process. So I was given their contact information and got in touch via email to explain the payment process, the move in process and contact information. My father being the local guy is the first point of contact for any issues with the unit.
Things started off well enough but there were A LOT of emails prior to their move in date, compared to others who have sent 1-2 usually. The whole conversation between us ended up being about 20 emails sent back and forth. Which isn’t a big deal, he’s young and excited was my thinking…
However once they moved in the downsides of being a landlord started to reveal themselves…
Started with noise complaints about the adjoining unit. Which was odd but I explained there wasn’t a lot we could do, that unit was just renovated and there were no complaints from either side but the other tenants did have a new baby so I thought maybe that had something to do with it. Over the next few days I received several more emails and texts about how unbearable the noise was. He also sent some videos in which you could hear a very muffled noise, one sounded like the baby the other sounded like people talking. He was also texting my father throughout this so he went to check it out. There was no noise when he went and the tenant told him that it didn’t bother his girlfriend at all, but he was a very light sleeper. Also he said the noise stopped around 9pm.
No more than a few days later on a Friday the fridge began to make noise, my father went to check it out and it wasn’t making any noise. It was however acting up on occasion and the compressor was very loud periodically. We let him know if it kept up we could change it out Monday or Tuesday.
The next day I wake up to three separate emails, the first two were angry emails about how unbearable the noise is, the tenants next door are so loud and disrespectful, and that they’re really worried about their food because they unplugged the fridge so it didn’t make noise. The third email was an apology for all of the emails, how he’s not trying to be rude and that they really love how comfy and beautiful the apartment is and that we’ll never see them leave.
Later that day he sent me a video of the fridge making noise. My father gave me a spare fridge he had and changed out the fridge the next day.
At this point I’m kind of hoping they leave soon if this is what it’s going to be like. Just to give you an idea on the number of emails I received take a look at the photo below. It’s my inbox from when I search his email. This is only emails to me, say nothing of text messages to match and several to my father as well.
So just look as of Feb 13th, 69 emails sent back and forth. Even if you just assume that half of them are his(more like 75%) that’s an email almost every 2 hours. Which makes sense since the neighbours were so noisy he probably didn’t sleep much…
Speaking of the neighbours…
They lived in the other side since I first bought the unit. They were actually there for a few years before I owned it and never had a noise complaint, but just recently they started to call my father about the new tenants. The new tenants keep banging on the walls and yelling. Oh now it’s getting interesting.
With my interest peaked, I emailed the previous tenant with a follow up survey of how she found the unit. One question was about noise in the unit and another about noise in the neighborhood. No complaints, she loved the unit and would move back if she could afford it.
To make a long story shorter…
The tenant sent me an email on Feb 17th which you may have noticed in the photo above. They’re moving out in the morning. HOORAY! His last email was another apology…which was odd…but it wasn’t quite over. After 10 days of occupancy he felt the need to write this email after I returned his damage deposit.
Now I won’t lie, I got a bit worked up from this series of blatant lies. It’s insulting to me and more importantly my father. My father is a man who’s lived in a small town in an area with a crumbling economy and population shrinkage all his life and has managed to build and grow multiple businesses over the last 3 decades which are all thriving. You can’t really do that if you lacked integrity or were a liar. I started to write an email back to him pointing out why all of his lines are lies but I just sent him this email instead because I honestly feel bad for him.
Now this was my first really irritating tenant, which really wasn’t that bad in hindsight because he still paid his rent and didn’t damage the property. Overall I just think he was either going through a very rough spot in life or has some major issues.
Wait, what was the “recent perfect ending” you mentioned early on?
Well…After my above email to him wishing him well he emailed me about mail they were expecting and I told him he can get mail forwarded by Canada Post or I can keep an eye out for it and forward it to him. Then nothing; no reply with his address; no emails for almost 5 months. Then jump to me sitting in my office at work and my phone vibrates. I pick it up and see this email from the very same tenant.
I was shocked. I went back and searched the email address to make sure it was the same tenant and yes, it was the tenant who just over 5 months ago called me by far the worse “landlord”. As you read, he described living in my unit being torture and that he was going to make sure that no one ever rented it again (it was rented the next month fyi). So if my rental was by FAR the worst experience they ever had in a place then how bad are the other units in town?
So that’s the first of hopefully very few downsides of being a landlord. Even though as I said, in hindsight it really wasn’t that bad. I could have muted my emails and become a little less responsive, maybe only answered one or two times a day. There’s tons of things I learned from this situation so I’m glad it was only irritating level bad and not a financial strain.
How have you guys fared with tenants? Does this deter you from wanting to become a landlord? Let me know what you all think about the experience below in the comments!