My Favorite Eviction Horror Story

Once upon a time not too long ago there was a little family in a little house on a little (desirable) street in Detroit.  In it lived an aunt, a mother and an adult son.  

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The son, we'll call him Sam, served our country in the Vietnam War.  Unfortunately, he was injured and is now using a walker.  He came home to his little house in Detroit and settled in the living room.  At some point the aunt and the mother passed away.  But he didn't much leave the living room.

Sam had the good fortune of a house to live in.  A house with no mortgage.  All he had to do was pay the taxes.  He did not pay the taxes.  Wayne County sent him many letters suggesting he get on a payment plan.  

He did not get on a payment plan.  

Then they posted on his door that he was about to lose the house.  Come get on a payment plan.  

He did not get on a payment plan.  

The house was up for auction in 2016.  We drove by and saw a lovely home on one of the prettiest streets and decided to buy it.  

Our daughter Molly house shopping with Pat.

Our daughter Molly house shopping with Pat.

 

Then we met Sam.  He was in the living room.  We told Sam he could stay for free until we were ready to work on the house, but then he would have to move.  Sam stayed for free until renovation time.

But then Sam wouldn't move.  Sam wouldn't even pay us ANYTHING to stay.  We had to evict Sam.  We felt like jerks evicting a war vet.

EVICTION DAY

Sam knew it was coming.  But Sam did not prepare.  The bailiff offered to arrange for him containers to move to a storage unit.  Sam said no.  

The Bailiff said he'd better gather his most precious belongings then because it's time.  Sam got up and grabbed his garbage bag full of marijuana.  

Then the bailiff called the Veteran's Association and was able to find Sam lodging with medical care.  

It took us SEVEN dumpsters to empty the house.  All his mother's and aunt's belongings were everywhere and covered in dust.  

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In the end Sam thanked my husband and told him it was time for a fresh start.  

And now we have a beautiful house in our portfolio.  

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Sorry, Sam.  

Thank you, Sam.  

 

 

How I Stuck My Foot in my Mouth with this Future Tenant's Mother in Detroit

This is what I saw coming down this street in the City of Detroit to do a home visit for a new tenant who was living with her mother.  I always like to see how they live before I let them live in one of my own Detroit investment properties.  

And on the other side of the street, I saw this.

I was starting to worry, but then I saw where this tenant was living with her mother and my heart sang!  Yes!  She cares about her house and she actually takes care of her flowers.  Not that the daughter will, but hopefully this apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I felt so much compassion for this family who lived on a street full of abandoned houses and an abandoned apartment building.  They were literally the last house standing.  

Then I started feeling really good about myself that I was able to move this adult daughter from this horrible area into one of our thriving neighborhoods where all the lawns are kept and there are people for neighbors, not rats and packs of dogs and thugs who must hide out in these houses.  

The more I thought about it, the more I decided I'd better not tell my husband what a scary neighborhood I just put myself in today!  

That's when I opened my big mouth and I said to the mother how she must feel great that her daughter is moving to our house and getting away from here.  "I mean, gosh, these houses are all abandoned.  You must live in perpetual fear."

The mother looked at me and patted my shaking knee and said, "Oh, honey, not at all.  It's never been so peaceful in all my life.  I'm so proud to be the last house standing on this block."  

When you hear Detroit described as a city full of people with GRIT, that right there is WHY!

And I'm sorry to report, the daughter has none of her mother's green thumb.  But the grass is at least cut!

If you're looking for a property manager who speaks her mind, for better or worse, you found her!  Give me a call and I will let you know the value of investing in Detroit.  248-390-3982.

 

Do NOT Buy This Cheap House in Detroit!

You have this great idea.  You hear Detroit is the Come Back City.  It's out of bankruptcy, people are moving back to town, more of the tech industry is moving in...naturally it is time to buy these cheap houses!  All you need to do is call a real estate agent, find yourself some trusted renovators, then find a property management company that works in Detroit.  How hard could it be?

Lemme tell ya just how hard all of that is!  (But it's okay, I have solutions too.)

  1. Choosing the location.  If you look on Google earth and see the rest of the street you may not see that the house just to the left of it is gorgeous and well maintained, but the rest of the street is abandoned and it's surrounded by abandoned businesses.  Do you even know what year that Google image was taken?  No!  Solution:  You need a local person who drives the city regularly who knows where the thriving, desirable pockets of Detroit are.  Sorry, there won't be houses for $1,000 there either, but still the prices will give you a good ROI. We know where these places are.

  2. Choosing your Real Estate Agent.  We agents make our money off commissions.  We get commissions when you hurry up and buy it. Our famous line is, "All it needs is a little paint and it's move-in ready."  Solution:  You need the agent who is also in charge of the renovating and tenant placement and keeping the buyer happy for the long term benefit of a good ROI on his investment.  I'm not after the piddly commission.  I'm looking toward the future because I think like an investor because I am an investor too.  

  3. Finding your renovator.  Have you heard of the woes of those contractors who don't show up once they have their deposit or if they do, they sure don't do the job you thought they were going to do, but then they follow it up with a bill you sure didn't expect? That's typical anywhere.  Solution:  Don't even deal with THAT mess.  Buy the house once it's already renovated.  No big surprises that way.  How did I solve the contractor blues?  My head contractor is my husband.  He's in it too for the final ROI for the investors.  What is good for our investors is good for us. 

  4. Finding the property management company that isn't going to rip you off.  A favorite tactic of property management companies is to bill you A LOT for maintenance.  Or to place the first rental applicant that comes through the door without doing appropriate background research.  Solution:  Our company believes in transparency.  We show you maintenance receipts and photographs.  And our backgrounding checking is extensive.  We want long term tenants.  We want the tenants who will give YOU the best ROI.  We won't even sell you the house unless the tenants have proven themselves to keep the house up and pay rent timely for three months.  

What kind of ROI you wonder?  It is anywhere from 12-18%.  Better than that 401k you have, isn't it?  We make every day a great day with that ROI!  That's why we are Great Day Property Management.  

Give me a call for more details.  I love talking shop!  248-390-3982.  

Lies & Truths about Detroit Section 8 Tenants -- Part 2

Face of a smart cookie with a smart mother!

Face of a smart cookie with a smart mother!

 

Lie:  Before they had Section 8they probably had rough lives including evictions and arrests, so they’re not the type of people to work with.

Truth:  They cannot have any felonies on their record to qualify for Section 8.  They may have evictions on their records, but there are enough applicants that I can weed out the Masters of Rent Payment Evasion from the ones who have kept their record clean.  Their "rough lives" actually make them especially appreciative of our good houses and appreciative of the way we treat them.

 

Lie:  There are so many houses in Detroit for rent now,  it’s hard to find good Section 8 tenants.

Truth:  There are a lot of houses in Detroit for rent, but most of them are in what I call war zone areas or they are managed by slumlords.  I only have houses in desirable areas and my houses are better than what my tenants tell me they see out there.

 

Lie:  All the landlords want the Section 8 tenants so it’s hard to get one for myself.

Truth:  Most landlords are afraid to have a Section 8 tenant because they feel they won’t be able to pass an inspection.  Passing the inspections is not hard when you have a decent house. 

 

Lie:  Section 8 takes forever to pay so you lose money.

Truth:  They can take from one to three months before you start seeing rent.  But they always pay RETROACTIVELY to the time the tenant moved in.  Getting through their paperwork and dealing with their lack of communication or rudeness when they do communicate, is a challenge, but well worth it to me to see those checks come in regularly right to my bank account each month. 

 

My truth is that whenever a tenant comes to me and tentatively admits they have Section 8, I’m doing a big happy dance, rolling out the red carpet and letting them know they found their home.  Welcome!

Give me a call and I would love to tell you more.  My number is 248-390-3982.  

Or please comment.  Did I change any of your assumptions?

 

Lies & Truths about Detroit Section 8 Tenants -- Part 1

Move in day in Detroit.  These are the real people.  You are looking at Honors students who are going places.

Move in day in Detroit.  These are the real people.  You are looking at Honors students who are going places.

Lie:  Lazy people living off the system.

Truth:  My Section 8 tenants are usually single mothers who work as they go to college.  Yes, they are using government money to pay for part of their rent, but they are bettering themselves, which likely will make a better life for their children who may not ever need government help.

 

Lie:  They trash houses.

Truth:  They do not trash houses because there is more to lose for them than someone without the Section 8 voucher.  If they do anything that is a lease violation, they can go to court.  If they get a judgment against them, they can lose their voucher.  Section 8 does yearly inspections to ensure the house is safe.  If there are tenant-caused damages, the inspector cites the tenant who has to make the repair or Section 8 can revoke their voucher.

 

Lie:  They move all the time.

Truth:  Not in Detroit!  I have noticed over the years that tenants seek housing that is close to their sister, mother, auntie or grandma.  They are the most family centered people I’ve ever known.  They all support one another.  If the tenant appreciates the quality of the house and it is close to their family, they never want to move.

 

Lie:  They are not very smart or they wouldn’t be on the system, which makes them really hard to do business with.

Truth:  In order to get on Section 8, they had to first figure out how to apply.  Most of the Section 8 offices are not taking new applicants.  When the office is given money, they open up to just a few new applicants.  The applicants have to be able to fill out a mountain of paperwork.  The hardest part, in my opinion, is how they are treated at the  Detroit Section 8 office.  They have to tolerate an incredible amount of rudeness toward them without blowing up. They negotiate their business well.

  • Do they have criminal records?  
  • Are there enough people on Section 8 to fill my houses?  
  • Is it hard to get the Section 8 money?  

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Please give me a call if you have questions.  248-390-3982.  I would love to hear from you.

Tenant Placement Tricks - Part I - The Phone Interview Top Questions

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Avoiding evictions at Great Day Property Management starts during the tenant screening.  Every step is vital to the success of a good tenant placement. 

I keep a couple attractive clipboards around my office and in my car.  On the clipboard I have typed up my list of questions that I print on the back of scrap paper.  I'm all about saving the planet and streamlining my costs! 

Besides the standard questions like name, phone number, when do you need to move, I do have my most revealing questions that I ask.

  1. Can you please tell me about your ability to pay the rent?  The standard rule is that rent should be one third of their income.  I read this all the time and I think it would be tough finding tenants. You can find my income ratio rule on my website under Rental Screening Process.  Besides income, I'm looking to see how solid their income is.  This begets the questions of how long they have been at their job and what other sources of income they might have.  If they say they are counting on their child support checks, I do not consider that to be very solid.  They may say they have  disability checks or Section 8.  By the way, do not ask what their disability is!  That is protected under the Fair Housing Act.  So is source of income.  You cannot discriminate against someone because they have public assistance. 
  2. Why are you moving?  This is my favorite question.  This gets them talking about their relationship with their current landlord.  I listen to hear if their reason for moving seems reasonable.  Even if their reason is that the landlord is awful, I follow up this question with, "What's your relationship with your landlord if I have to call him?"  I'd like to know before I make that call later.
  3. What pets do you have?  Notice I didn't say, "Do you have pets?"  My pet policy varies between my different owners.  I've learned that if an owner accepts pets, then there are many more tenants from whom to choose.  If the owner does not allow pets, then when the tenant has a pet anyway, we are in the tough position of enforcing our fines.  Oftentimes I get an answer stating the tenant is allergic or scared of dogs.  That is more reassuring if there is a no pet policy.
  4. The security deposit is _____.  Will you be able to come up with that?  Very important question!  If they ask if they can pay it once they are in the house, resist the urge to hang right up on them.  Be up front.  Tell them "It doesn't sound like we are a good match for each other."  You can "discriminate" against someone not having the proper funds to do business with you.

If they sound like a good match, set up the time to meet.  Tell them to call you on their way to the property.  This prevents you from being stood up. 

Now save that questionnaire in case someone feels you discriminated against them.  He or she with the most proof shall win!

In my next blog, I will explain how to further interview the tenant at the house showing.  Let the fun begin!