All landlords have a renter horror story, I am no different. As a landlord, I meet many interesting people. As a Section 8 landlord in my early days, the people were MUCH more interesting. Now I meet people who have jobs, might have a kid or two (with the same last name), and strive for success in a more standard method. Most have never been arrested, let alone actually ever been in jail. Quite a boring life…
Before this story gets started too far, I want to express my sincerest sympathies to the family and friends of GR. I never had the chance to meet GR, I know she was a great person that did not deserve to have her life taken away so soon.
If you are a landlord, engaged in risky behaviors of not doing a background check, you will soon have a horror story too. In actuality, this was not too bad of a story, but it could have been worse, if the crime scene was my property. Luckily for me, it was another landlord’s issue.
Anyone who has been a Section 8 landlord for longer than about 4 hours will know about common problems with the entitlement crowd of Section 8. The most common is extra move in boyfriends.
‘L’ was my first section 8 tenant. I can remember all of the preparations I went through to make sure the apartment were fit to rent. It was an older building, so I knew lead paint might be an issue. The previous tenants were hard on the property. I put in new carpet, replaced windows, replaced counter tops, painted, and did a terrific job of getting the place ready to go. And I cleaned out 1,000’s of roaches.
Since I did not have a great turnover plan, and was a bit lazy back then, it took almost 18 months to get the place ready. Thinking back, I could have hired the most expensive company in the area to do the work, and would have been $10K ahead. Remember, vacancy is an opportunity cost. It is real.
‘L’ moved in, and I passed the inspection without issues. I was well on my way to Section 8 riches! In total, ‘L’ stayed at the apartment for almost five years.
Back when I only had a few renters, I used to collect rent in person. I figured that I could get a brief inspection of the property while I looked over the tenants shoulder, and get some face time with the person who was borrowing a $100K apartment from me. I viewed it as a customer service thing.
When I am at the apartment, I try to make some small talk when I pick up rent to determine if I am going to have future issues. Things like “How’s the job going?”, “Is everything working OK in the apartment?” If I see a new person there, I try to figure out who they are, and how long they will be staying there.
‘L’ had her share of visiting guests, but one that moved in after she was there for a year seemed like a solid person. His name was Mike. Mike was the one who actually paid the tenant’s portion of the rent. I believe he worked a construction job, and made decent money. He was very articulate, and seemed to be able to communicate at a higher level. It was almost as he had a college background, and maybe he did. He seemed to know how the world operated. If you talked about complicated matters to him, he understood and could contribute. All in all, he seemed like an upstanding character – if you didn’t know better. I suppose Ted Bundy was similar.
Mike had four kids of his own. They must have lived with their mother, because I never saw them at my rental. At least not in the 5-10 minutes per month I was there picking up rent. Mike’s brothers were mostly in law enforcement of some sort or another from what I understand. They were deputies, jailers, and that sort of thing. I am not 100% sure exactly how many brothers he had, but it seemed like he was from a larger family. Remember, I am only getting bits and pieces in the five to ten minutes every month as I collected rent.
At some point towards the end of this tenant’s lease, Mike told me he was moving out. He was breaking up with ‘L’. I assumed that maybe it was a temporary thing; I even offered him one of my vacant places for a few days to get away for a bit. Of course I assumed he would just take a few days for a break, and move back in with ‘L’. Then, my rental would stay occupied and I would make more money.
I have written before about long term guests. Always do a background check on them. At least Google their name, at a minimum. I had not done any searches, so I was unaware he may have had a dark past, even though you could not tell from his exterior. In reality, his past was filled with drug possession, driving without insurance, driving after revocation, disorderly conduct, etc. He was even acquitted for a drive-by shooting.
One day, ‘L’ called me, and says she needs to move out. Her lease still had about six months to go. I inquired as to why, and she said “You heard about Mike, haven’t you?” At that point, I had no clue. She wanted to move away from the area as she was always getting asked about him. She didn’t want to be associated with him or the area anymore. I didn’t know Mike’s last name. So she said just Google his name and that will tell you. I asked for his name, and did the search.
He was in jail, for murder. Luckily for me, he did not commit the murder in my rental, but after he moved out. The murder was about a mile away. It is a bit gruesome, but the Criminal Complaint is here. He is in prison for the rest of his life, no parole.
My tenant moved out. I did hear back from her a year or so later, she was looking for a place to rent and wondered if I had any places available. Since I did not have any vacant places, I have never heard from her again.
So there you have it. Do a background check. A leopard doesn’t change their spots. Assume the tenant will do for the next seven years, what they did for the previous seven years. Or ten years.
So, now I know someone famous? But what good is it to know a murderer, when they are already in jail? (sarc)
Have you ever rented to a hardened criminal? Ever know a murderer? How about a movie star?