I haven't written much about my career. Which is a shame, really, because my job is amazingly fulfilling, fun, a lot of hard work, and often hilarious. I've decided to post once a week about the highs and lows (and everything in betweeen) of my career as a Real Estate Broker, and Landlord Extraordinaire (I deserve the caps - I've earned them).
First up, the rental process. It's a strange thing, really. Very similar to applying for a job. Some houses are comparable to professional jobs; most of the applicants have college degrees (or are working toward them), have golden retrievers, ride their bikes to work, and choose to recycle. In this situation, there is always a meeting; sometimes at a coffee shop, maybe at the park, which is really just seeing if our personalities are a good fit. Almost a mutual interview to see not only if I will enjoy them as tenants, but if they'll enjoy me as a landlord. We usually talk about skiing, hiking, music, or other like things. THEN, there's the OTHER houses. I liken these to menial jobs. Think McDonalds. Most of the applicants need the place - like yesterday - because they're facing eviction, which is bullshit because they've never paid late. Their pit bull never barks, never digs, and doesn't have a mean bone in it's body (as it's growling at me). Their baby's daddy is not going to live at the house, but is going to help with the rent when and if he gets a job. All of these stories are told to me within layers of heroic feats of cancer, kids getting teeth knocked out by grocery carts, and all of the odds they've conquered in their lives. Oh, and can I work with them on the deposit?
I had a prospective tenant last night that does not "get it". In a mere half an hour he told us that 1. He had burned a house down 2. Wasn't allowed back because the neighbors were afraid of his (docile) pit bull 3. has four cars on blocks in his driveway 4. had gotten into a motorcycle accident when he was 15, suffered severe brain damage, and has chronic pain in his knee. "They" are still pursuing him for the bills 5. has a great job, but only works 10 hours a week 6. has ruined the driveway and landscaping at his current house, but it isn't his fault 7. can't afford his place because the landlord's are jacking the rent up ($300 less than the rent we're charging) 8. has a sick baby 9. lived at a hotel until he was kicked out 10. his wife doesn' know how they can afford it, but "there's always a way" and finally can he have some of the furniture from the house if we don't choose him? Strong sell, no?
It's a tough thing, to have to sort through all of this bullshit. I always believe in the good in people and that maybe, just maybe, if I give them a chance and treat them better then they're used to be treated, they'll pay rent this time - they won't lie to me - They'll change. They never do. Which is my I am learning to not be a "tenant enabler". I've become somewhat calloused. I don't believe that all 5 of their kids have severe asthma (as they chainsmoke), and have all had cancer in the last 10 years. I've even learned to walk away in the middle of such stories. Being a Sociology major, this generates major guilt in me. Am I perpetuating scripts in their life? Am I holding them down? Or, do they just not get it? And which came first? Are they in their life situation because they don't get it? Or do they not get it because of their life situation?