We got a call from a gal on the East Coast a couple of weeks ago. Seems she inherited a Federal Way, WA house from her father about a year ago. Her sister had lived in the house rent free for 30 years!! The father and our client dumped about $75,000 into this house for upgrades. Remember, this is all being done from 3,000 miles away. The deal was that the sister would fix up the house in exchange for rent.
That works IF the sister is fixing up the house! But if the sister is living off the money, well, you get the picture. All that $75,000 got our client was a laminate floor. The rest of the house is trashed — a combination of unfinished projects and 30 years of pack ratting. It is gross. It will take us another $75,000 just to clean it up and fix it up the way it was supposed to be.
To make matters worse, the sister moved out and her daughter (the niece) moved in. There is no lease. There is no agreement. Nothing. We were tasked with first getting the squatting niece out of there before tackling the remodel.
So we put together a 1-page lease saying we are going to start collecting rent in 30 days. We were going to post it on her door except the niece answered the door and so we handed it to her. She said she would go quietly and could we give her 2 weeks. We granted her the 2 weeks and are keeping our fingers crossed that she isn’t playing us. I don’t think she is. I’ve been at this awhile and have a pretty good feel for when I am getting lied to. This isn’t one of them.
This story underscores why we decided we would inspect every one of the properties we manage once a year. Here’s a description of our Construction & Maintenance Services. That way we can keep tabs on stuff just like this — maybe save an owner a few tens of thousands!!