I’m beginning to think that there’s a common misconception about people who choose to rent out the property they own is that they are rich slum lords getting rich off the backs of the common folk who pay them rent. I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s certainly not the case with me. I tried to sell my house in 2011, but couldn’t even get enough money for it to break even, let alone pay the realtor and the closing costs.
I was forced to rent out my house – first to a psycho who ran out on his lease and caused a ton of damage to my property, then to a very nice couple who were terrific, always paid on time, but unfortunately only stayed one year, and now my current tenants. Their rent payments don’t even cover my entire mortgage, and when you throw in the insurance I pay to ensure everything runs and the appliances work, I’m nearly $400 in the red each month. Each. Month.
Some slum lord, eh?
When I tried to refinance, the mortgage company tried to charge me something close to $10,000 in closing costs, because they said my house is an “investment property,” which certainly sounds like they think I’m rich enough to have “investment property,” so they can shake me down for higher closing costs. It’s not an investment property, shitbags. It’s an albatross I can’t shake, because home prices have bottomed out, and I’m forced to rent it to deadbeats who think paying just a little rent is OK, because I’m apparently rich.
Well, it’s not. So…
Dear Tenants –
I realize it’s right after the holiday season, and times may be hard, but given the fact that you’ve been late or short on paying rent on the house I own and in which you’re living for a few months now, and given the fact that you’ve been completely nonchalant about it, thinking it’s no big deal, because it’s only a “few hundred dollars,” and I’m apparently rich enough to suck it up, let me disabuse you of a few erroneous notions.
I pay a monthly mortgage on the house in which I allow you to live. Said mortgage is actually several hundred more dollars than your rent. That’s right. I’m in the red every month due to circumstances beyond my control. When you add in the monthly insurance I’m paying to ensure that your appliances, plumbing, electrical, etc. are functioning correctly, I’m very much in the red. And yet, I’ve raised your rent only nominally and only once.
When you don’t pay your rent, I cannot pay my mortgage. Know why? Because my rent, combined with the mortgage I have to pay comes to nearly 80 percent of my takehome pay each month. That’s right – 80 percent. So when you don’t pay, or when you short me, I have to decide whether to pay the mortgage, pay my own rent, pay my utilities, make my car payments, or feed my kid! So that “few hundred dollars” you think is no big deal actually means quite a bit to me.
If I don’t pay my mortgage, my credit score is affected, and unlike some people, who would be very kind and would rent to you despite the bankruptcy you declared, most landlords aren’t so nice. Security sections at certain jobs aren’t so nice either. I don’t blame them. Their job is to ensure that people with security clearances aren’t having so much financial trouble, that they’re susceptible to bribery and would perhaps give away classified information. So if I don’t pay my mortgage, and my credit score goes down, my career could be jeopardized…
…all thanks to that “few hundred dollars” you don’t seem to think is a big deal. And by the way – those utility bills you’re also failing to pay are billed to me as well. So when you don’t pay them, guess who is held accountable!
You seem to think that everyone who owns a home and is renting it out is “rich,” so if you short them on rent or just not pay on time, they can wait or suck it up. Hate to tell you this (I’m trying really hard not to call you parasitic deadbeats), but some of us don’t have investment properties by choice. Some of us had to rent out our house to make ends meet. Some of us tried, but couldn’t sell our house, because it was underwater thanks to this awesome economy, and because the house lost over a third of its value since it was purchased. Some of us are facing increasing property taxes. Some of us are simply getting by.
I am not your slumlord. I am someone who relies on that rent check every month to keep afloat. That house is beautiful and spacious. It was home to us for seven years before you moved your asses into it. If you were living where I live, you would be paying $4,000+ per month for a five-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house with a finished basement on a corner lot, on a third of an acre of land and a fenced-in yard, and not the measly $1650 you are paying and defaulting on now. You’re getting a damn good deal, so have the common courtesy to pay in full and on time. And if you can no longer afford to live there, then get a smaller, cheaper place in a less desirable area. But don’t, for a moment, think that because I happen to own the property on which you live, that I’m independently wealthy, and that “few hundred dollars” doesn’t mean a whole lot or that you’re entitled to screw me.
It means a lot. It’s not OK. Not even remotely.
And further, you have a rental agreement – a contract according to which you’re obligated to pay a certain amount by a certain date. I could charge you penalties, but I haven’t so far. At least be grateful for that, and don’t act like you’re doing me a favor by not being even more behind on rent than you already are!
I write this on behalf of every homeowner who’s been in my situation, and who has struggled to make ends meet, because they were forced to allow strangers to live in their house for a price and become dependent on that income to pay the mortgage.
It’s not OK to abuse them. Trust me.