If you follow a fool, you get a fool's reward

By
Managing Real Estate Broker with Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119
http://actvra.in/rfL

If you follow a fool, you get a fools reward.  That's life according to Mike.  It's also my assessment of the dealings with some of my rental clients last year.  In a particular property, I had 5 tenants from a company that was installing a new power lines through our area.

In the beginning, they were awesome tenants.  The first 5 were very responsible, paid their rent on time and always kept me up to date in the event the house had any issues.  It was great.  Then, the main contact had a family emergency and had to go home to Michigan.

He was replaced by a fellow from Florida.  If you're familiar with the Winchester/Frederick County area you know it's more like Michigan than Florida.  We have all four seasons and it can get pretty cold and snowy in the  Fall and Winter seasons.

When the replacement took over the role of the former leader, things started to decline.  The rent was late, he complained all the time and over the holidays he let the heating fuel run out and the pipes broke.  That was followed by January rent that didn't come. 

When I called to request it, he told me that they wouldn't pay the rent until I had the heating system serviced.  We had already had the heating system serviced so I knew it was working fine.  He was cold, and he figured it must be our heating system. It couldn't possibly be the 8 degree temperature outside and fact that he only put 30 gallons of oil in the fuel tank (1500 gallon tank) at a time.  I explained to him that he could not live there free to which he replied, "OK then, kick us out!" 

A few days later he received his 5 day notice to move, and that was followed by a summons to court.  He decided to represent himself.  My attorney told me over and over, "This guy thinks he's an attorney." It has been said that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. 

In court, he told the judge he didn't owe the rent because the house was a horrible place to live, and court date was set.  In the interim, he had a home inspector go through the house, and with his help, he pointed out everything that needed to be repaired. 

I could have put the list on a 3X5 index card.  Ironically, they caused most of the problems.  Well, I'm not foolish enough to represent myself in court at this level, so my attorney took him and his crew of mindless followers apart, and of course, we won.  They were required to pay all back rent, court costs and interest for the time in question and move.

Before you follow someone down a path, make sure he knows where the path will lead.  If not, you may both fall in the ditch, or even worse, be lost.  "Nature teaches beasts to know their friends."  William Shakespeare, (Coriolanus, Act II, Scene I).

 

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Rainmaker
234,955
Anne M. Costello
Weidel Realtors - Yardley, PA

Mike: I suppose that tenant thought he could best you. Ha! I knew that would never happen. It's a wonder it didn't cost a fortune to have the heating oil delivered more often!

Jan 14, 2012 12:45 PM #1
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Anne, that was one of the mysteries.  It did cost more.  I can't imagine what he was thinking.  I guess he figured 30 gallons should do it.  Really?  It's 8 degrees.  It was frustrating (and just a little entertaining) at the time.  8-)

Jan 14, 2012 12:51 PM #2
Ambassador
427,978
Mimi Foster
EPIC Real Estate Group - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Oh, Mike, this is a story I have had personal experience with on so many occasions.  The houses that we rented were located by an exclusive local College, and a large percentage of the kids had parents that were lawyers.  They always beat their chest, they always lost.  But the point is more the strain of having to deal with Neanderthals who have no respect for other people.  I'm sorry you had to go thru that.

Jan 14, 2012 12:52 PM #3
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Mimi, that's the best part in your case.  Beating an attorney at his own game gets extra points!

Jan 14, 2012 12:54 PM #4
Rainmaker
101,040
Brint Wahlberg
Windermere Real Estate - Missoula, MT
The Wahlberg Team

Sounds like an incredibly similar situation my wife up here in Montana went through (she's a property manager). 

 

Also goes to show, that's why we need to use professionals.

Jan 14, 2012 12:56 PM #5
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

You bet, Brint.  It cost those goobers $10,000 to get out of court.  I bet the rest of that crew wished them hadn't listened to the brains of the operation.  Ouch!

Jan 14, 2012 01:00 PM #6
Ambassador
1,271,820
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Mike - It's good news that there are still jurisdictions where landlords who are in the right can prevail. Unfortunately, in our local courts, there seems to be a presumption that the landlord is always the bad guy, and you need the right judge on a good day and a great attorney, as well as the preponderance of facts, for even a shot at justice.

Jan 14, 2012 01:44 PM #7
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

I've felt that way in VA a couple times, but knock on wood, we've never lost a case.  If tenants spent as much time working to pay the rent as they do studying landlord / tenant laws we'd be OK.  Happy Weekend!

Jan 14, 2012 01:50 PM #8
Ambassador
427,978
Mimi Foster
EPIC Real Estate Group - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Over the many years that we owned Colorado College rentals, we learned A LOT from the previous tenants and what they would try to come at us with.  Each year our lease always had an extra section, each year we took pictures before move in to prove what their 'precious' had done in their first experience living on their own.  It was definitely a learning experience. 

Jan 14, 2012 03:02 PM #9
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

That sounds like us, Mimi.  We even photographed the ceilings.  It's shame that you've got to go to those extremes, but you do.  Have a great weekend!

Jan 14, 2012 03:08 PM #10
Rainer
96,555
Chris Hardy
Elevations Real Estate, LLC www.BuyFortCollinsHomes.com - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Real Estate

Great post!  Love the story AND the Shakespeare!  Good for you in doing the right thing and maintaining your properties appropriately.  Sadly, there are so many property owners that just don't care about their rentals and truly deserving of the term 'slum-lord'.  Thanks for showing us how it is done right!  BTW, what's heating oil?  :)

Jan 14, 2012 05:53 PM #11
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Hey, I know it gets cold out there, Chris.  I was out in Denver a few years ago doing the Courage Classic bicycle ride for the Denver's Children's Hospital.  It was late July.  Up beyond Leadville we had temps at 30 degrees at 8 am.  Brrrr.  I thought, "It's summer!"  8-)

Jan 14, 2012 06:11 PM #12
Rainmaker
540,238
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. "Said and Done!" - Merrick, NY
Long Island's South Shore Real Estate Agent

Great quote from Shakespeare. I don't worry about you at all. You can hold your own.

Jan 14, 2012 08:16 PM #13
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Thank you, Jill.  I have sparred with the best of them.  While studying karate, I learned that the best to deal with an adversary is to strike quickly and neutalize him before he has a chance to touch you.  These guys didn't have a chance.  8-)  Have a great evening.

Jan 14, 2012 09:41 PM #14
Rainer
234,320
Doug Bullwinkel
Vitek Mortgage Group - Roseville, CA
NMLS #281609

Not only do you have to know your friends, you have to pick your friends well so they don't drag you down the wrong path.  Strike quickly is good advice when someone is coming after you.  I always enjoy your posts.

Jan 15, 2012 12:57 AM #15
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Absolutely, Doug.  Have a great Sunday!

Jan 15, 2012 08:30 AM #16
Rainer
204,570
Mark Delgado
houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove - Benicia, CA
Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h

Ironic how a good situation can turn so easily. But, handling things correctly, as you did, will always help you to prevail in the end. 

Jan 15, 2012 05:22 PM #17
Rainmaker
839,944
Mike Cooper
Winchester Real Estate Sales, Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro

Mark, that's kind of how I felt with this one.  I kept thinking this guy is pulling my leg.  Nope.  He was a moron.  8-)

Jan 15, 2012 06:47 PM #18
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Rainmaker
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Mike Cooper

Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Pro
Winchester has a place for you! Call me.
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