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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Renter Games

After returning from my last trip, I went back to working nights at the college, and days at my neighbors'. I spent time with friends and family, worked on my property, taught another friend how to ride the motorbike... and worked some more. I was quite busy, so the last thing I wanted was drama from my renter(s).

On Monday, June 5th, I went over to my dad's. Over the next couple of days I made my usual effort to clean up around my property - did some weeding, painting, caulking, and put in a new screen so that my renters could let fresh air in... Four days later, the emails began.

It had been a rough year with the rental. They had only paid on time once or twice, and the other payments were usually in the neighborhood of 2-3 weeks late. I was hoping this was just part of their flaky behavior that I had come to expect but, unfortunately, it was a prelude to what my mom likes to call The Renter Games. I hadn't expected that I could be so fortunate (sarcasm) but, as it turned out, I had myself some of those professional renters - the ones that like to take advantage of the renter-friendly laws in Washington State.

Things escalated pretty fast. First, they complained that I wasn't doing enough for them. Then they started messing with the neighbors - letting their dog poo on the neighbors' lawns, making huge garbage fires, and just being antisocial in general. Finally, I guess they were feeling pretty bold, because they started making excuses for not having paid the rent... by claiming that it wasn't their fault. Of course, I say "they" because my renter's boyfriend had moved in (a while back to be fair) and was now looking to take control of the situation. They decided that my attempts at communicating with the woman needed to stop - not that I had been having much luck with that in the first place. So, the boyfriend requested that I communicate only with him. I figured, "why not?"

Well, he was definitely better at responding to my messages. The only problem was that he responded with claims of being abused by me. I made an improvement to MY shed; he complained that it wasn't good enough. I asked for rent to be deposited; he complained that going into banks made his girlfriend nervous. I asked them to pay or quit; he threatened to drag it out for months without paying (technically possible if I wasn't willing to hire an expensive attorney). Finally, a week into it, I went to drop off the eviction notice. While I was there they put on a big show with firemen and police while filming and yelling that nothing there belonged to me. I gave them until the 30th. Surprisingly, they agreed to leave... on the 30th... at 11:59pm. This was technically a big win for me. If they had fought harder it would cost me more than just a months rent.

Nevertheless, we kept at it. After they removed their stuff from my shed, we spent a day cleaning up their remaining garbage, cigarette butts, residue, etc., and then re-keyed the shed. At this point, they thought it would be fun to leave their semi-truck on my property so that my new renter couldn't move on. So, we sent an email to the truck company saying that it was abandoned on my land - the truck was gone the next morning. Finally, the renters from hell had gone off to torture some other poor landowner. I hope he's more prepared than I was.

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