Thursday, June 29, 2006


I too have had my share of bad rental experiences: the big hole in my ceiling where water drained down from the unit above, the iceberg that fell on my car, the shootings in the lobby, the fire in the garbage chutes, et al. But over all, I was fairly happy with the several apartments I rented and how management responded to issues (except that hole in the ceiling thing - they were a serious problem in that case).

Now that I'm a landlord myself, I get to see the other side of the coin: renters who are constantly late on their rent, or non-paying, yet want to know why an improvement to counters or fencing isn't going in, renters who break their lease and ask for their deposit in the same breath, renters who leave cigarette burns in carpets after writing no-smoking clauses into their leases themselves, phantom charges from waste disposal for sofas and appliances, holes in the ceiling, refinished wood floors and trim to accomodate DirectTV (now DirectTV actually asks - they don't always), unreported drips that could be easily fixed but are ignored or even covered up, spilled aquariums, porn stashes in the drop-down ceilings, and then there's the insidious, horrible, disease-infested leavings on the walls, floors, and ceilings, some residue presumably as old as the renting. As my wife has grown fond of telling me just to see me squirm, "I am sick of cleaning up other people's pubic hair."

At the same time, I find myself somewhat disturbed when I realize how much most landlords don't do. For example, five bot over at MNSpeak posted today about the great legal help and documentation you can find at the MN Legal Services site, like the Tenants Rights in Minnesota document. Only today I met with a tenant to sign a lease for one of my properties, and on the list of the things they initial for is a copy of the Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsbilities document by Mike Hatch. It's always our hope that an informed tenant is a tenant who will report a leak or answer their phone/mail regarding a maintenance visit. So far that's been mostly wishful thinking.

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