"You gonna get another job?"...

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Zombie Hunter
Got a text from the renter this morning. He says he has the paperwork for rent assistance. So I guess I'm going to have to get back to him soon. I was kind of hoping this one would just go away.

In Olden Dayes (of a year or so ago) you wanted tenants who wanted multi-year leases. I'd just about warmed to that and I guess now best practice is month-to-month. Anyhow, the point is, when this guy moved in in February, he explicitly wanted a 1 year lease. And there was the understanding that he was able to pay the rent (he actually asked why the rent was so cheap, but that's another story). He hasn't been a major headache, just a minor one. But I'm still thinking "you know what? It's nothing personal, but I'm not renewing your lease. You need to move out by the end of February." I'd feel a little bad about that, given that he has a couple kids. But that isn't my problem. My problem is getting my rent paid reliably and without any worries for me. Besides, I could always extend month-to-month if he needs some time to find a place. If I chose to.
 

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Zombie Hunter
Oh. Here's the other wrinkle: Before everything went to shit, I got the ball rolling on lining up credit to buy my next rental. I've been slugging away in these jobs I hate because I figured it would help me secure capital. But they rob me of time to look for deals, renovate them, and market them. So The Plan was to use my current rental income as a cushion to make payments after quitting at least 1 job, while I was getting my next renter in. As it stands, I'm looking at coming up on no rental income and no time to find renters. But I guess that's the advantage of a HELOC over a regular mortgage: It only starts when I actually draw money from it. There are small maintenance fees, but I can have the money lined up and just sitting there with relatively little risk, and pull the trigger when I'm ready.

I guess.
 

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Zombie Hunter
Fuckin' knew it. I had to be honest and up front with this guy and point out that not renewing the lease was an option and now he's all butt-hurt that I even mentioned it.
 

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Zombie Hunter
It's like trying to get all your stuff moved out before you break up with a girl.
 

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Zombie Hunter
So as he's venting his butthurt he lets it slip that he's on unemployment. And I'm thinking 1) well geez, now I *really* want to work to keep you as a tenant and 2) how can you be unemployed in Louisville Kentucky in November of 2021? GE will pay you around $17 an hour--no experience necessary. UPS is paying $21. Shit, I think McDonald's is paying $15 these days. If you've been laid off because your work is slow in the winter, suck it up, drop the kids off with gramma, and go get a job until things pick up again. Maybe you don't want to put the same part on a dishwasher every 16 seconds for 8 hours. Tough. I don't think anyone on a factory line WANTS do be there. But they need the money to buy food and pay the rent and stuff. So they suck it up and do it.
 

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Zombie Hunter
The past 2 months, rent has been due on a night I work, so I have to stop by after midnight, when I get off work, to pick up the rent check from the drop and I can see him still up, playing X-Box on his 65" TV. Boy, it must be rough, trying to make ends meet. I wish *I* had time to play video games into the middle of the night.
 

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Zombie Hunter
No fuckin' kidding. I keep popping back here because I'm still stewing over all this. How somehow I'm the bad guy for doing what I can to accommodate this guy while balancing my best interests. Shit, I pushed him towards a 2 year lease, but no, he EXPLICITLY wanted a 1 year lease "just to see how things go." And I agreed to that because "just to see how things go" works both ways. Now that's backfired for him and he's trying to make me feel like I'm the dick for holding him to the contract he wanted.
 

Lanzman

No-one of consequence
You're basically running a business. You can't be your tenants' friend, you're their landlord. You have to be direct. It's not personal, unless you've grown a Snidely Whiplash mustache you can twirl as you kick the tenant out into the snow.
 

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Zombie Hunter
THANK YOU. All day, literally anyone I mention this to is like "It sounds like he's taking initiative to solve the problem" or "what difference does it make as long as you get paid?" The difference is one of the criteria to rent is that you have to have income equal to 3x the rent and clearly that isn't the case if, by November (he's in tree trimming) his savings are gone and he's subsisting on unemployment, then he lied to me on the application. Or he's really bad with money. And if this is a problem within the first year, it is likely going to be an ongoing problem. Meh. I *could* do a month-to-month for awhile and see how that goes. A lot of the attorneys are advising month-to-month anyhow in light of the whole recently lifted eviction ban. Because you may not be able to evict someone if they say they can't pay rent because of Covid, but you most certainly CAN refuse to renew their lease. Which doesn't even involve having to go to court. Just "sorry, you need to move out."
 

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Zombie Hunter
So, a story I really don't have time to tell--but feel like it: I have a rare vintage motorcycle. Every year it gets harder and harder to find parts for. Back around 2016 it was having charging problems. The battery would run down faster than it would recharge. Various mechanics suggested various fixes for it. One was to replace the stator. Problem is, that they don't make that stator anymore. I found an aftermarket one that was supposed to work, but was told that it didn't--wiring wasn't right. Ultimately I found a shop that looked promising. Good online reviews, nice website, seemed to align with my needs. Brought the bike in--oh, I forgot, it wasn't running either because I hadn't yet learned the trick of shutting off the fuel when parking and letting it run until it dies. That way there's no gasoline in the carb to gum it up and clog it. So I needed to get it running again, I wanted the seat reupholstered, I wanted new tires, and I hoped they'd be able to solve the charging issue. (Disclosure: I'd also hit a small deer at fairly low speed that summer and the charging issues started some time after that.)

They did get the bike running. And the seat reupholstered. But the charging gremlins were more problematic. Such is life. But the worrisome thing was that pretty much every time I'd call them, they'd say "by the way, these tires look pretty bad. You want us to change them?" And I'd say "...Yes." And they'd ask again the next time I called. Eventually we gave up on the charging and I had them install a battery tender on the battery so I could plug it in between rides. I came to pick the bike up at the late side of when they said it would be ready. Took the train, lugging my helmet and jacket. It wasn't ready. They'd gotten the wrong sized front tire. Getting the right tire took another 2 hours--not enough time to go back home but too much time to kill in a warehouse district. Finally got the bike. On the way home, the neutral indicator light started acting up. When I got home, I found they'd managed to route the wire for it right next to the chain and the chain had ripped it loose. I also found that they'd still managed to put the wrong sized tire on the front wheel and the fender and the tire were destroying each other.

Brought it back and they agreed to repair the fender because, again, you can't just buy a new fender anymore, and put the right tire on. That took forever and I got excuses like "we're having trouble with the paint match." When I'd gotten the bike fixed after the deer accident, the body shop I used for my Mustang that I decided to trust with the bike looked at a sticker under the seat and went "Oh, this should be easy. It's a standard paint code for a Honda Accord." When I explained this I was told "yes, but we use *Sherwin Williams* paint. So? Bring the Honda paint code to the Sherwin Williams people and I bet they can match it. Finally, after constant badgering, I was told the bike would be ready for a thing I had the upcoming Saturday. Checked on Friday and was told they had, again, ordered the wrong-sized tire.

I should explain at this point: They not only had the bike, they had the owner's manual, the shop manual, and links from me via e-mail showing what sized tire they needed. At this point I tracked down the right sized tire at another motorcycle shop and planned to offer to bring it to them to install. Except when I got there, the guy had his arm in a sling. He'd been so offended by my frustration that he'd managed to crash his bike in a race the day before and broken his collarbone. So even with the right sized tire, he couldn't change the tire. He suggested I just take the bike to my thing without the front fender.

As it happens, the oil fill cap was also either missing or loose enough to vibrate off, and I wound up spending the rest of the day having oil pour out of the crankcase directly in front of the rear tire every time I needed to use the brakes. It was a lot of fun. At this point I'm just trying to extract myself from this mess so I just kept my mouth shut about that.

A couple other things I need to circle back to: They'd said the forks were a little out of line and offered to adjust them at some point. Since an auto body place had done the work, I had given them the go-ahead. And one of the reasons I wanted the tires changed is because I'd gotten a flat in Hawaii and my shop didn't have the right sized rear tube so they put in a larger size and that tube never held air right. So I'd always have to pump up the rear tire before riding. Well, of course these guys hadn't noticed this so they just used the shitty tube and the rear tire still had a slow leak. So when I finally got the bike back, I forgot to check the rear tire. First time I tried to make a turn, the bike dumped because there was no air in the back tire. And the forks got twisted because they hadn't tightened them properly. I was able to limp it home after finding a station and putting some air in the back tire and eventually found a mechanic who wasn't an idiot. He still couldn't lick the charging problem, but the bike was rideable again. (As I type all this, I do have to wonder if the guy was merely inept or by the end was actively trying to kill me.)

I mention this because naturally, at this point I got on Yelp! and gave the shop a terrible review. And by this point there were other terrible reviews too. Well after each bad review, the owner would get on, be verbally abusive, and accuse the reviewer of being a liar, while spinning his own version of events.

My renter reminds me a bit of this guy. No guilt, no self accountability, hostile and defensive. It isn't his fault that he isn't making as much money as he said he did on his rent application--he hadn't been late in the course of 9 months and there was no reason to not renew the lease, which had nothing, in his mind, to do with his rent problems 3 months before the lease is up. Not, "I can see your concern and understand it. I'm going to make sure things are right between us and show you I'm reliable." Nope. It was "How can you do that to me?!" Well, you lock yourself out about once a month and need me to come let you in. You almost missed paying rent on time the first 2 months you were here. One time you made the check out for the wrong amount and I had to get that fixed. You clearly weren't honest with me on your rental application, and you presently don't meet the criteria to rent from me. I'm sorry if that puts you in a bind, but that isn't my problem. I didn't get you into this mess. It isn't my job to help you through it."

Which brings me to one of my Great Truths: You can't solve some people's problems. All you can do is shoulder the consequences of their problems and free them up to go find new problems to get into.
 

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Zombie Hunter
OK. Here's a fun one I just learned from our resident real estate attorney.

9 months ago our county decided to force landlords to accept Section 8 rent assistance.

That said, today I got to thinking: One of my requirements for a qualified renter is that their income must equal 3x the rent. Ergo, if rent was, say $1,000 a month and rent assistance covered the full $1,000, I could still reject an applicant if they didn't have $2,000 a month in other income.

Nope.

That's not the way it works. According to the attorney, the ordinance is written so you can only require 3x the balance of the rent not covered by subsidies. So if rent is $1,000 and Section 8 pays $1,000 they've met your 3x rent income requirement--even though their income is only $1,000 and your requirement was $3,000.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Say your rent is $1,200 and Section 8 only pays $1,000. Then by that definition, they've still got to come up with $600 in additional income (1,200-1,000=200. 200x3=600), right? WRONG! Because not only must you subtract the amount of subsidy from the rent you must also count that subsidy as income. So rent is $1,200. But knock off $1,000 for the subsidy. $200. They need $600 a month of income to meet your 3x income requirement. But now you count their $1,000 a month rent subsidy and they've met your income requirement with $400 to spare--even though they've only actually got $1,000 of the $3,600 you're requiring. AND they've met the income requirement while actually being $200 short on being able to pay rent each month. "Heads I win, tails you lose." I need to just sell my houses in Jefferson County and move to Bullitt County.
 

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Zombie Hunter
My shifty little pinhead tenant, after 24 hours of silence, just texted me, asking if I had 4 or more rental properties. If you have 4 or more rental properties, you're bound by Equal Housing Laws. With 2 rentals, I can totally legally say that I won't rent to Chinks, niggers, or the Irish and someone can sue me, but if the court is honest and fair, they will lose. Might be a coincidence, but it might not.

The trick in life is, when you make a plan based on the information you have, but later that information turns out to be wrong, you need to be able to realize it and willing to change your plan to something that maybe didn't work at all based on the old info. A year ago, I had a dog that didn't do well with me having a 40 hour a week job and it looked like if I could just add another rental property, I could quit punching a clock. Well now my dog is dead, one of my properties is vacant, the other is occupied for the next 3 months by someone who can't pay the bills and is probably looking for ways to screw me and the county has told me that, in addition to these risks, I'm required to take money from capricious government organizations or face consequences and I can't even have reasonable safeguards that my homes are occupied by responsible people. No thankee. I'll just take a reliable stress free 7% or so ROI from the stock market and maybe consider starting again in a county that actually encourages investment.

One worry is, since I never thought I'd be selling one of my rentals, and I had a hole in the backyard from an "above ground pool" and a chimney that needed to be rebuilt, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and put the old bricks into the hole in the backyard before adding many many tons of dirt on top of them. I don't know what the rammifications are if I sell the place and the new owner says "this yard would be perfect for a pool" and comes in with a backhoe.
 

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Zombie Hunter
Long ago, I had a cat. And 2 chairs in the living room. The Cat (named "Cat") wanted to sharpen his claws on the chairs. I did not want this. I was larger and in charge, but he had 24/7 to try to get what he wanted and I had only a limited amount of time to get what I wanted--among many other things. In the end we compromised and I let him destroy 1 chair and he agreed to leave the other one alone. Similar situation with The Dog and the most recent Cat (not named "Cat")--all their energy can be bent to getting what they want while you've got a million things you're trying to stay on top of, so where possible it's simplest to just let them have what they want.

I'm starting to feel this with renters too. You're trying to balance a personal life, maybe pets, a job or two, and a rental property or two and all they've got is getting what they want. And there are lawyers and politicians who are only too happy to help them. It's a very hard fight to win.
 

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Zombie Hunter
Another weekend in the books. It's really nice that the grass doesn't need to be cut every week. If I have the discipline to write some checks and do some bookkeeping I'll have crossed off everything on the weekend chores. Had a nice talk with a friend and fellow landlord that got me feeling a bit better about my current problem and texted him a bit today to smooth things over a bit. Didn't manage to do anything proactive on the vacant rental--or around my house--but you gotta pick your fights. And truth be told, I did need a little downtime.

Didn't get everything I'd have liked for a Thanksgiving dinner, but I got stuff that would make do. Ideally I'd get a couple thighs and drumsticks, but that wasn't possible so I had to settle for a breast. Because I don't want a Cornish game hen or a chicken and I do NOT need a 21# bird. The supermarket did actually have geese and that seemed novel--until I saw how much the bastards cost. I could've got 2 turkeys, threw one away, and then threw away the leftovers and still come out cheaper than buying a goose.

Well, again, I should do some bookkeeping. And there isn't that much of it. But I'm clean and warm and wrapped in a bathrobe and enjoying a nice cocktail, so it's hard to get excited about the thought of doing accounting. But on the other hand, the only other thing to do is finish rereading "1984" so I guess I should get to it. (The bookkeeping.)
 

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Zombie Hunter
Well shit. I jumped through a bunch of hoops to secure a HELOC to buy my next rental. I just wanted a VA loan mortgage but more than a couple people--including my freaking *banker* were like "no, you want a HELOC." Well, OK. I guess.

After the introductory rate, the LOWEST the interest on the HELOC is 4%. By my math, interest alone on $90,0000 at 4% is $3,600. That would suck up rent on the property, rent on my other properties, and some pocket money to boot--just to pay the interest. So I've basically wasted a bunch of time and energy to get myself a deal that doesn't actually work.
 

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Zombie Hunter
Yeah. I just don't understand how interest works. Forget I said anything.
 

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Zombie Hunter
You can't just take the APR and multiply that by the principal. You need to plug all this into a mortgage rate calculator. I was off by almost a factor of 10.
 

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Zombie Hunter
Office follies. Working tonight at the factory. Realized I needed more sleep. Had a meeting today. Turned out that it was a lot later than I realized, so after breakfast I went back to sleep. When I tried to join the meeting, Teams wouldn't open the meeting tool. Wound up having to reboot, losing the train of thought of everything I'm working on. Got into the meeting and there's a 10 minute conversation about how Oracle works and what data field you need to use to get a unique line item. It's like watching Geordie and Picard discussing how to remodulate the shield to solve The Problem of The Week. Only much, much more boring.

And the wonks we're providing data to want to use a data field they can't use. So my friend tells them they can't use that. And then they tell him they want to.

And I don't know what any of it means. Or care, for that matter. I want to get my vacant rental ready and rented. I want to make sure my existing renter is able to pay his rent. I want to get enough sleep to make it through the night tonight. I don't care about how Oracle records journal entries.
 

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Zombie Hunter
The other thing the call reminded me of was the "This one goes up to 11" bit from "This is Spinal Tap."

Anyhow, my friend fired up a chat with me as soon as the call wrapped up. And because I'm a damned fine human being, I didn't bill his company for it. STUPID! I SHOULD bill them for it.

Anyhow, he likely will come down for a few days. He is trying to line up a date, but if that falls through, he wants to make the 9 hour drive. Ostensibly to assuage guilt for sidelining me from my Plan to do his fucking accounting data analysis. But if it happens I'll likely use it as an excuse to explore the town I've lived in for over 4 years and have seen almost nothing of because I had a dog that needed to come along on every possible adventure and many adventures don't allow dogs. It turns out the town may be a lot cooler than I realized. But that's another story. During the conversation we somehow got to how Louisville doesn't really have a cool 2nd run movie theater. To me a cool 2nd run movie theater is a theater that has movies that are 4-6 months old and have moved out of AMC and Cinemark. It should be in a cool old building--whether an old theater or a repurposed space like a former Quaker mission. It should have microbrews and gastropub food to enjoy while watching the movie. Every town I've lived in as an adult (OK, maybe not in Virginia. Or California. Shit, forget "every town") in Minneapolis and Portland, there were theaters like this. The closest thing in Louisville is a boring 8plex that has popcorn and fountain drinks and candy.

So my friend is like "They even have one in La Crosse. ...You should start one yourself!" And when I demurred politely, he said "You sound like our mothers." (Implying that I was playing things too safe and missing a great opportunity.)

OK. I don't know what order this is going to fall out but:
Don't get advice from people who don't know what they're talking about. If you want to do project management, get advice from project managers. If you want to do tech, talk to tech people. It you want to do apparel, talk to apparel people. Do NOT get advice on starting a pub/theater from a career accountant for a Fortune 500(?) company. I do not know anything about running a restaurant or pub. I do not know anything about running a movie theater (other than that you NEED a digital projector these days (along with a film one) and that they are obscenely expensive). So I'm really going to have to put together a team to make something like that work. Also, if there isn't something like this, there may very well be a reason there isn't something like this. As late as the late 1990s(?) there was a theater somewhat like this in town. It is a parking lot today because it just wasn't making money.

Finally(?) my friend is NOT the person to be playing the punk card on entrepreneurship. This is a guy who's been an accountant for the same Big Company for 30 years or so. He's living the American Dream--found his Grown-Up Job and stayed in it. I've had... at least 5 ventures. 6 if you count the due diligence I did for him when he had an idea awhile back. (He ignored my advice on the next step and just let the idea drop.) I know the risks and costs and ways things can go sideways. I've tried and failed over and over and over. Hopefully I'll eventually find the last one that works, but I certainly know how to assess risk and reward and decide if it is worth going forward. If I knew a cook and a bartender and a guy who managed a movie theater for 20 years and they were all willing to work cheap and I had a line on a decent space (and maybe some valid market research beyond 1 or 2 guys saying "that sounds cool" in a conversation, I might be tempted to risk some money. But it really isn't a good risk based on what I know right now.
 
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