Podcast 310: Tenant Sounds Off

We cover questions from our community from an angry tenant and how to handle abandoned property.

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Show Transcription:

Eric Worral: (00:00)
Hey everybody! Welcome back to another episode of RentPrep for Landlords. This is episode #310. And I’m your host, Eric Worral. And today we’re going to be looking at comments and voicemails that have been left for us over the last couple of months. Kind of going through some of the better ones, answering some of the questions that people have for us on the blog, and random blog posts. Some of them were pretty good and we got a pretty good one that’s kind of given us some insights from a tenant who was really upset and frustrated and that’s gonna be the first one we’re going to get to. Cause I I thought it was a pretty good voicemail and pretty reasonable actually. But just a good voicemail. I’m going to get to that right after this.

Voice Over: (00:40)
Welcome to the RentPrep for Landlords podcast and now your host, Eric Worral. So this voicemail comes from a person looking for housing in the Santa Monica area. She’s pretty frustrated and she’s gonna make her case. And why don’t we take a listen to that and a recap after the voicemail, so why don’t we take a listen right here.

Voice Mail 1: (01:02)
I am so disgusted with Santa Cruz County. I’m a single mom. I have a 17-year-old, a daughter and a six-year-old son and currently, I am homeless. I’m bouncing around and it seems like, Mmm. Landlords will hear that and automatically I’m denied you know, over and over again and it’s just, it’s disgusting. The students in this town who aren’t even from this town get preferential treatment and, you know, they’re the ones that are partying and, you know, drinking and leaving places a disaster. And I’m local. Both my kids are local in Santa Cruz County and it just, it’s disgusting to me. I just got denied a studio because I had my six-year-old with me. I’m half time and yeah, it’s really discouraging and it needs to stop and you know, it just, we need to get the word out there that, you know, it’s not right at all. So you landlords who, you know, I want to discriminate. I hope you get some really crappy people in your places. Honestly,

Eric Worral: (02:09)
I I appreciated the ending on that. I feel like there was a little bit of a pause and she’s like, you know what, I’m going to throw a singer in here but I’m going to give this person the complete pass. As far as her frustrations, mainly because if she’s really bouncing around with two kids, those ages looking for a place to live right now in this climate that’s a really tough position to be in. And the cynical part of my brain thinks, okay, is there something else on the on her background report or something else that might be concerning? Is she employed? What are sources of income, those types of things, the things that are lawful to discriminate against somebody with, but we don’t really have that context? I know a lot of times I kind of go back to the analogy of in high school when you know, somebody breaks up with their boyfriend or girlfriend and if it’s friend, you know, you get their version of it and that person was horrible and they did this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and you, you kind of gloss over every awful thing about yourself.

Eric Worral: (03:09)
You know, that might be the case here or it might be truly that she’s getting discriminated against because she’s going to these showings with kids or putting that on her application and people are looking pastor and I think I said Santa Monica before, but I think she corrected me there in Santa Cruz. But it’s a good reminder to mind your business when it comes to your tenant screening, selection criteria. You know, things like excluding somebody from your rental because they have kids or race, origin sexual orientation, all of those things, you just can’t do it. I look up FHA housing rules, you know, refresh yourself on it. They do change and they are by municipality sometimes. I know here in the Buffalo New York area especially when it comes to things that are newer such as gender orientation, those can actually change based on the township.

Eric Worral: (04:02)
So I believe like Hamburg, New York had certain rules around it where the town I grew up in orchard park didn’t have any establish the last time I checked. And that may change. It may have changed in this last time I checked. So it’s always good to kind of just stay up on the laws especially in the municipality of your rental property. The easiest way I’ve found just call the town clerk and you know, they’re pretty easy to get ahold of in most towns. And just tell him, Hey, I just want to make sure I’m up to date on everything and want to make sure I’m doing things by the right way. What are the rules and regulations that you know, I should be aware of in the town? And you might find something too that you weren’t even thinking of. Maybe it’s a noise ordinance or way the trash is handled or whatever it may be, but it’s a, it’s a good thing to do. It’s a good practice to work on and yeah I think she was a good opportunity to just share a tenant’s point of view and somebody who’s potentially dealing with discrimination and how it’s having a negative impact on her life. So I think it’s cool to get that dewpoint from the tenant. So why don’t we move on to the next voicemail and have a listen here?

Voice Mail 2: (05:06)
My daughter’s mom and myself and my daughter have lived in this house and she recently has been acting out and leaving every day and staying at someone else’s house and not coming home, but an hour a day. And this time she has left for over a week straight with no contact. And my question is, when can you change the locks and not allow her to come back in legally for abandonment of her residence? My parents own the house and we rent off of them and we want her out. So we were wondering what the abandonment of residency laws in Pennsylvania.

Eric Worral: (05:52)
So this is a pretty detailed question. From what I gather, it’s his daughter’s mom lives with him. They rent from his parents. She is going a wall leaving. And in case you’re wondering, this voicemail was from April 16th, so a month plus into COVID-19. So you can see why somebody, especially with kids home, so concerned when somebody just leaving and then coming back a week later and you have no idea where they’ve been or what they’ve been up to. Pretty frustrating situation no matter what your situation would be, but especially during Coronavirus and these times as far as how to handle it, I mean, and the first thing I would think of in this particular case is it who’s actually on the lease. I wonder how that was handled since it’s his parents. Sometimes I’ve seen situations where people are not as they don’t cross their T’s and dot their I’s, so to speak.

Eric Worral: (06:43)
When it comes to renting to their kids, they may just say, Hey, you’re good. And they don’t even have a lease or maybe he’s only on the lease and she isn’t. Those are all things that I think are the most important things to look at first in these types of situations. We used to joke, you would say, what’s your, at least say cause we would be writing that so much in the Facebook group when people have questions like this. But I’d start with the lease. And then in this particular situation you know, it’s going to be state specific. He mentioned it’s Pennsylvania. There are different rules on abandonment and how you handle that for each state. So those are things you don’t want to consider. And in these types of tricky situations, I would definitely consider actually going to an attorney and getting their advice.

Eric Worral: (07:24)
One of the services I’ve recommended in the past, which I still recommend is AVVO, avvo.com because they have an opportunity where you can get like 15 minutes of consultation for 45 bucks, which is a pretty good deal. But they also have a forum that you can go to and post legal questions. And I’ve tried this out at least like five different times and I think almost every time I got an answer from an attorney in that town or that area who gave me really good legal advice and you know, they’re doing it for free because they’re hoping you use them if you need them in the future. So I thought that was a pretty cool service. If you want to check that out for questions like this, they get a little bit more detailed and have some nuances to them with some locality or location-specific details that are gonna come into play. So let’s take a listen to the next voicemail and see what we got here.

Voice Mail 3: (08:11)
Hi, I’m calling to find out. I have a person that rents a room in my home. She recently had a stroke and they took her to the hospital. It looks as though the hospital will be releasing her to long term nursing facility. Her mother will not return my calls or respond to anything that I do. What should I do? Should I keep her stuff in a room nicely boxed up and labeled? Or what should I do? It doesn’t look like she will be returning to the room that she rented. Thank you.

Eric Worral: (08:43)
So this one’s kind of a different angle on abandonment. Obviously it’s not a contentious relationship that we had mentioned before. I think she hits the nail on the head about keeping this stuff boxed up in the room for now. But we, you can do in these types of situations is a lot of times you know, with evictions and different things that happen in your County, it may come up to the sheriff. So the sheriff is not a bad place to start. I can call your local town sheriff and get their opinion on this matter. Cause this doesn’t sound like one that you know, you’re gonna have a tenant fighting with you after the fact, but you never know. And like I mentioned on the previous voicemail, it’s all state-specific. So one state may require you to even put it into storage and have it there for up to 60 days or another state may not have a law on it at all.

Eric Worral: (09:32)
So it’s really going to depend on what state you’re in on how long you’re expected to keep that person’s possessions. And unfortunately, I mean, this is a tough one because the person’s in a hospital and nobody’s responding. It’s good that she does have the emergency contact makes a good case for why, you know, I know it’s tedious when you have somebody fill out an application and you ask them for two emergency contacts, but this is why you might do that because in this particular case, obviously, the mom’s not responding. So another thing I might try is depending on the person’s age, if you can find them on social media you know, you might be able to find close contacts via social media and reach out to them and just say, Hey, I’m trying to get ahold of the mom, you know, here’s the situation.

Eric Worral: (10:15)
But yeah, I would say call the local sheriff to see if they have any insights. If they do not, again, you can go through a service like to talk to an attorney to get, you know, very specific advice based on your location. But the one thing you don’t want to do is definitely, you don’t want to throw that stuff out for a couple of reasons, right? You use somebody who’s going through a really tough time and you want to do the right thing by them and you know, have it so they have their stuff, whether they end up moving into a senior living facility and needs some of that stuff. But also for legal reasons as well, cause you could be on the hook and be paying that person a lot of money if you throw their stuff out prematurely.

Eric Worral: (10:48)
So really good questions. Kind of fun just kinda getting into some of the voicemails that we’ve been getting on the, on the blog lately. And I thought it’d be a nice break from some of the COVID-19 content that we’re producing on the podcast, but I hope you guys are doing well. I know personally I’m starting to kind of feel like I’m turning the corner a little bit with this. I think at least out the Gates it’s a lot of shocks and just kinda like processing and then, you know, it’s kinda then eventually your, your new normal kind of sets in. And I think my new normal is kind of setting in, you know, working from home trying to navigate that with a young family and those types of things by, at least for me, I feel like I’m starting to get to that point where navigating that new normal, so to speak. And yeah, I hope other people are as well. And they’re still maintaining social distancing, doing their part to, you know, get through this and get through it together. So hope you guys are doing well and I look forward to catching up with you next week. All right, guys, take care.