Robber Baron Landlords 2
We had never been landlords before, so we approached the job with a dangerous mixture of confidence and naivety.
This was uncharted territory. We had no idea how to manage rentals, especially the people part. On the other hand, we were excited to be on our way to having a second stream of income.
We were Virgin Property Managers.
We were sure we knew how to be a good landlord. After all, we’d both been tenants before. Except we forgot to look at the situation from a landlord’s perspective.
Then emotions got in the way.
I really loved the house: after all, it came with a dragon in the backyard!
It had history and great character so I wanted tenants who would appreciate it.
So, we had an open house for potential renters. That resulted in quite a few applications. It was also a gong show as it was difficult to have a decent conversation with any single applicant.
We interviewed people on the fly and checked references for the ones that seemed like good possibilities.
Next we weighed the pros and cons.
There was a lot of over thinking.
Should we rent to a family (more stable), or a couple (maybe partiers)? Did they have to have a job, or was a fixed income OK if they had proof? Was a single parent a good risk?
Our personal opinions clouded our thinking. Was it fair to choose? That felt a lot like we were playing god. Should we take the first applicant that qualified? That felt riskier.
Seriously. We were trying to be ‘fair’.
Eventually we decided. We went with our gut feeling. Our first tenants in the Dragon House were a young couple. She was a single mom with two children and she had a new boyfriend. They ticked all the boxes. Clean, polite, both with good jobs; their references checked out so they moved in at the end of the month.
In hindsight, the warning sign was “New Boyfriend”.
When they moved in, we noticed they had a lot of belongings. The house was full to the brim. It was a surprise to us that a young couple had so many belongings.
A month later, the young man phoned me, IN TEARS. She had moved back in with her ex-husband because he was threatening to take the children.
Of course he couldn’t afford the house on his own. It turned out that all of that ‘stuff’ was hers and she’d taken it with her. I’m not sure who was more surprised, him or us.
She broke his Heart.
Lesson learned. Things aren’t always as they seem. Check the facts, keep your emotions out of it and don’t overthink. And we didn’t have to be ‘fair.’
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