The Crazies

Real Estate Technology with Rentec Direct

Today, when I was helping a new customer get his properties setup in our property management software, we took a little time to talk "shop" - you know, the sort of thing you do with your clients that has nothing really to do with business, but matters when it comes to your business relationship?  He was going in 15 different directions, only one of which involved our software, and was struggling to pull all his professional pieces together, even though he was obviously a sharp business person.   At the end of the day, it's our relationships that get us through the tough stuff, so I listened, even though I also had a long list of things to accomplish after our call. I could tell his day was far more stressful than my own.  

After he vented about some of his difficult renters making his job very challenging, I could sense he needed a little sympatico, so I shared a memory I have from my days as a property manager, back in 2002.

(art from the Alvin Schwartz book)  

I was conducting my yearly unit inspections on a 100-unit property in an nice, middle-class suburban area.  I had inspected about 850 units at this point, and was happy I was nearing the end of inspection month. The site manager was accompanying me with the maintenance records and filling me in on any needed property repairs.   When we got to unit #91, I read the notes that the tenant had lived there for 3 years, yet this was the first time we had inspected his unit. I asked the site manager why and she said "he's a nice guy, works as an engineer, super quiet, yet was always sick and asking us to reschedule..."  I started to give the "well, we still need to get inside each year..." lecture as I was opening the door to his unit and before I could finish, the worst possible smell on the planet came wafting into my nose and we both actually turned and ran away!  After the gagging stopped, we weren't sure if we should even enter or if we should call the police, as something smelled very dead.  

Trepidly, we went back, with respirators, and peaked in the door.  The entry closet was open, with freshly dry-cleaned clothes on the rack, polished shoes lined up on the floor and Freebreeze on the shelf.  All the lightbulbs were burned out, and the curtains were closed, so we could barely see. Yet we could make out that the air was full of flies, sort of stagnantly floating. Even in the dim light, I had never seen such a mess in all my life! Two-foot-tall piles of cigarette butts next to the couch.  Standing goo on the floor.  Bags and bags of garbage. Endless dirty dishes.   I saw a broom bracing the refrigerator door shut. When I moved it to get through the kitchen, 3 years of decomposed food fell out of it. The bedroom was stark, with only a blow-up doll and a bed.  The bathroom plumbing had not worked for a long time. It was a horror story stage, for sure.  But, nothing dead.

We filed eviction papers immediately and were sure we would have to completely gut the unit when the tenant finally was out. I imagined the sub-floors were rotten from standing fluids.  

30 days later the tenant returned keys to the office in the night-drop and left without a word.  

When we entered again, to begin the punch-list, we were equally blown away.  The home was spotless. Not a trace of what we had seen just weeks before.  Nor smelled. Like it had never happened.  Ten years later, I still think about that incident and wonder what the story was behind that person. Inadvertently, he taught me a quasi-life-lesson about reserving judgement. Good and bad.

Oh... and my customer enjoyed the brief distraction from his daily grind.  There are days it's good to remember someone, somewhere is dealing with crazier stuff. Helps keep it all in perspective.  

So, who out there in the Rain has a good crazy story to share?


Rentec Direct Property Management Software

Janell is a member of Rentec Direct, a web-based property management software program designed to help streamline tenant criminal and credit checks and the day-to-day operations of landlords and property managers.  You'll find many other useful articles like this on the Rentec Direct Blog.








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Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker
Janisch & Co. - Conroe, TX
Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you!

Now that is a real horror story.  We ran into some weirdo's when we used to do property management but nothing like this.  Glad it had a happy ending.

Jun 26, 2012 10:08 AM #1
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Janell, that is a good story, I have to wonder if his living environment caused him to be sick or was that just an excuse? 

Jun 26, 2012 10:12 AM #2
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Now that is a story for the record!! WOW, I was really enjoying and thought the ending would be much different.  Perhaps I watch too much Criminal Minds ;-)  What an interesting story and I'm glad it helped your customer to hear it.

Jun 26, 2012 10:13 AM #3
Janell Kittleson
Rentec Direct - Grants Pass, OR
Rentec Direct

Carla... I have to laugh a bit, seeing that you're in PDX, as you easily could have passed this fellow in the grocery mart out in the Tanasbourne area and never known.  Wild, 'eh?

Adrian - Great insight!  I just assumed the sick-part was a ploy to keep us out, but now that I think of it, there's no way anyone could have been healthy living there.

Jeanne & Ralph - I figure when you're dealing with such a broad variety of folks, as we do in the real estate/property management biz, you're bound to come across a few wackos. Such is life!


Jun 26, 2012 02:09 PM #4
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Janell, I did an inspection of an apartment building for an investor.  One of the units you literally could not walk anywhere in the unit without walking on something too nasty to discuss in a public forum.  The Tenant had literally been using the toilet with the lid closed for what appeared to be several weeks---that kind of math I could do without.  Anyway, you literally could not stay in the bathroom and fortunately we could manage to get the door closed.

Jun 26, 2012 04:32 PM #5
Janell Kittleson
Rentec Direct - Grants Pass, OR
Rentec Direct

Wow Charles!  I think we are running neck-in-neck for the top gross story!  I can imagine you see all kinds of stuff, being an inspector.  Invaluable resource, you are, and I always cringe when I hear about DIY-ers handling their own inspections.

Jun 27, 2012 04:50 AM #6
Wayne Jackson
Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109 - Hayden, ID
North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake

Janell, Great story, It's hard to believe people can exist on those conditions.

Jun 27, 2012 02:33 PM #7
Mark Delgado
houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove - Benicia, CA
Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h
I'm curious as to what the basis of the eviction was. There are people with known disabilities that fit into exactly what you describe. In CA you can't evict a person for having a disability.
Jun 28, 2012 09:43 PM #8
Janell Kittleson
Rentec Direct - Grants Pass, OR
Rentec Direct

Mark - The eviction was a For-Cause eviction based on the extreme hazardous nature of the tenant's apartment.  Not only were the conditions hazardous to the tenant living in the unit, it was potentially toxic for the adjoining units (which had complained about the very "smelly" dumpster by their unit that we repeatedy had cleaned...ha!)  And then there was the structural damage potential...

In Oregon, with a For-Cause eviction, you do have to provide a remedy period with a no-repeat clause and we did provide that to this tenant, however he never contested and moved out without any communiction to the staff. You're right, that this screams mental disorder, however it is not our job to diagnose and the disablity was never brought to the attention of the management company.  Had it been, we would have worked within the perameters of reasonable occomodation while requiring habitability. 



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Janell Kittleson

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