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True Tenant Tales, Volume One

Working with tenants can be an amazing experience. (Owners and contractors are equally astounding, but those are subjects for another day.) It seems I get my most memorable anecdotes over the phone. Here are a few of the ones I've culled from my blog and experience and put together for your reading amazement.

First was a late-night phone call I took:




"Hi, my smoke alarm keeps going off."


"Is there a fire?"


"No. It does this every time I open the oven."


"Well have you cleaned the oven?"


"I've opened the windows and door but it won't stop."


"Why don't you wave the smoke away with a magazine?"


"Okay, I've got the fan in the kitchen now. What did you say about the oven?"


"Have you cleaned it? There's a product you can buy called EZ-Off. It's, well, pretty easy to use."


"Really? Okay, I guess I'll try that."


"I think it may help."

"Thanks. Have a good night."

"Good night."

You'll notice I didn't suggest disconnecting the battery.


The next was a call in the late morning.

"Landlord for Hire."

"Terence, I have a really bad problem."

"What's wrong?"

"There's a bee between the door and the storm door, and I can't get out."

"Well, I wouldn't swat it. It's probably as scared as you are."

"Okay. Can you come over and open the door for me?"

"Well, I'm a half-hour drive from there. Is there someone closer you could call?"

"Not really."

"How about this: open the inside door and the storm door very quickly, and then close the inside door. You'll bring the bee out with you and it will fly away. You'll be doing it a favor."

"What if it gets inside?"

"Be quick and it won't ? I have faith in you. Call me if you're still stuck after you try it."

I didn't get a call back.


Springtime brought this little gem:

"Terence, it's really hot in here? Why is the heat still on?"

"Have you turned it from "Heat" to "Cold?"

"Um, no . . . "


The last I have right now was a simple voice mail, of chilling consequences:

"Mr. Terence, I wanted to call to let you know there's a problem with the drain in the basement. Thank you."

"A problem" was three feet of water and human waste in the basement. The tenant was late on her rent and, according to the plumber, must have endured the stench for a week or more before she screwed up the courage to call me. That was a rental I owned myself, and that tenant taught me a lot of the lessons I use to guide my property management philosophy, including not selecting tenants out of fear, not accepting excuses for late rent, and always assuming that your tenants are better at understatement than you are!

© 2005 Terence P Ward, all rights reserved. Terence P Ward is the President of Landlord for Hire, a residential property management service of Green and Clean Corporation, based in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. You may find contact information for him on either of his company's web pages.

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