Mark Albert

  416-520-8258 

Hell Hath No Tenants...like These

07 December 2018
Mark Albert

Hell Hath No Tenants...like these

We continue on our journey of the trial and tribulations in the life of an agent.  I have told you about when I was a secret agent – that being an agent that no one knew about.  Now I will continue with the mandate I set out to reveal. Some of the secrets of my agency.

The stories that follow will be true in their essence but names and addresses may be altered to protect the innocent or the criminal.

Let’s look at some of the events that surrounded the sale of place we will call Lairden.  It proved to be a den of iniquity.

I had chosen to extend my skills as agent and negotiator to include property management.  I already had a couple of properties that I was managing; so one more, for a friend, who was leaving the country for an undetermined amount of time, seemed to be a natural progression.

With just a few adjustments in the few years that we (my wife, Lois, was instrumental in this) managed the place; we installed two brothers, in their early 20’s, in the two-bedroom basement apartment.  When the main floor and its second floor space became vacant; the brothers urged us to lease the space to their parents.  Great, we thought.  There would be no argument about heat and utilities between the two tenanted units. Who knew that we had just granted shelter to the The Hatfields and we were to become the McCoys.

Problems ensued.  Among them, a developing issue with mold in the basement.  The brothers had mentioned it, but then when I responded, wishing to resolve it, they chose to simply dismissed it. Time passed.  Other issues were raised.  One brother moved out and a sister moved in without establishing a contract or relationship with Landlord/Owner.

The mold issue was once again introduced; now by the raging and ranting parents living upstairs, mostly mommy dearest.  To further make their point, father and son had torn down an entire room in the basement exposing most of the to cement floor and the wall framing.  Was there mold? Yes. It was a 50-year-old basement after all.  But it could hardly be detected by the naked eye. We, landlord and agent, engaged a professional mold removal company to come in and remedy the issue.  We then hired contractors to renovate, at great expense to the owner. Compensation was given to the compromised tenants but there seemed to be no satisfying them.  We were now at war and it was the feud-filled brood of tenants’ family members versus the Landlord.  Landlord/owner costs and unilateral tempers were mounting.

“Sell, sell, sell”…I, the agent caught in the cross-fire, implored the Owner.

The owner agreed, and when an occasion arose where he was visiting the country and his property; he met with the lions of the lair.  They had a litany of services, improvements and complaints that they wanted the Landlord to invest in. So they were quite surprised when it was declared that we were terminating their month-to-month tenancy, at this point delinquent in payments, in order to facilitate at sale.

“Well, we may just buy the place, ourselves”,  was machine-gun-mouth Mama’s retort. This seemed unlikely but worth consideration.  We now had hostile tenants and showings were bound to be challenging.  We would invite the tenants' offer first in this process.  We suggested an asking price, that we had arrived at, doing our “home” work and in consultation with the owner. The tenants insisted that we show them the justification for this listing price. It seemed unreasonable - was their response and hence they would not likely be the buyers.

The score:  we had angry tenants; who were being displaced; did not have a place to go; and now realized that they had enjoyed one heck of great rental deal.  The landlord had chosen, in the past years, not increase their rent on more than one occasion, though entitled to do so.  Their rent also included a steadily climbing utilities bill, that was the owner's expense.

I finally met with the tenants after several requests to do so and we decided on a very tentative and restrictive showing schedule of possibly twice a week.

With that, I could now list the property and advertise restrictive showings. Tenants agreed to give us appointment times of certain hours on certain weekdays and an “Open House” for Saturday and Sunday.

The market was heating up and this listing would prove to be a welcome entry.  Appointments were immediate. They were made and refused. Made and refused.  With no one yet getting through the house, all appointments were now restricted to the upcoming  Open Houses on Saturday and Sunday.  More than twenty appointments were registered for Saturday’s Open House. I had requested of the appointment desk, that this was now notbe a public open house but by registered appointments only.  In preparation, on Open House day, I had recruited and stationed a sentry(someone assisting) at the door.  The basement tenants were a challenge.  We had access to the apartment but the bedroom occupied by the son was locked and he was away. The bedroom occupied by his sister was seen by only a couple of prospects; as she was apparently recovering from a hangover.  Some twenty-five parties squeezed into the two-hour time slot on Saturday.  When Momma and Poppa Bears returned, they announced that all further showings were off, including the second scheduled Open House. They stated there were too many people coming through “their” home and it was too disruptive. That was it then.  That was our two hours of public exposure and any possible fortune.  All bets were off.  The window and doors were now closed.

Four offers came in; including a firm unconditional offer over asking price.  We took the firm offer; much to the chagrin of those out-in-the-cold, frustrated and angry agents and their prospective buyers unable to accommodate our ,now passed, sole two-hour showing window. It was sold.

Yes, of course there were some bumps on the road to completion.  One such was the young mortgage appraiser sent to assess the house for the buyer’s mortgagee.   I met her there, again after several attempts to get her in. She appeared as a young, unassuming professional, already intimidated by the extreme difficulty we had in securing her right to entry. An irate Ma and Pa tenant greeted us outside the door and demanded proof of the appraiser’s credentials.  She satisfied them with a business card.

Some hours after her appraisal, the tenants called her up on her cell phone and accused the Landlord of possibly running a grow house or crack house on the premises, prior to their tenancy.  The statement was completely a unsubstantiated fabrication and, of course, without a thread of truth. When the tenants were confronted, by me on the phone, they declared that they “thought” they had heard this from the neighbours. In truth, there was a very nice and professional couple living in the house prior to these tenants and after the owner.  The basement had been occupied, for almost a decade, by a quiet and accommodating  middle-aged woman and her cat.  When this libelous statement by the Tenant was met with a letter from the Seller’s very astute lawyer, further sabotage attempts seemed to wane.

In the end, the house closed. The Seller profited…and the tenants did not ask for us to vouch as their references.  Go figure.

Next....