If you follow my blog, you may remember that two summers ago, I was doing a lot of home improvement, preparing to move out of my house and allow Other People to live in it for a small fee, aka, “rent.” I put “rent” into quotes because that’s what I got — theoretical “rent.”
I loved my tenants at first. They paid their rent on time and sometimes early. They loved dogs like I do. They promised to take care of my baby, my first home, the home I worked so hard to make nice.
Then the rent started coming more slowly, and eventually stopped. There was always a crisis, something terrible happening that had prevented them from paying. I’m too nice of a person to throw someone out on the street, so I kept trying to give them chances. Then a second chance turned into a third, a fourth and finally, it’s Christmas.
I couldn’t bear to throw a single mom out right before Christmas, so I dragged my feet a bit and sent her a letter saying get out by Dec. 31. On Jan. 2, I went to the house and there had been no movement. When I confronted her, she said she was trying to get her taxes done early. What? We’re way past that. I explained to her that I needed to get someone in there who could pay rent or I was going to lose the house. I can’t afford to carry her. And if I didn’t kick her out, the mortgage company would and then we’d both be in trouble.
So, given her space-cadet attitude, I decided it was time to move. I went to small claims court to get an official eviction. They set a court date for Jan. 27, and apparently, she saw that as, “Hey, I’ve got until Jan. 27!” She didn’t show up for court and told me she’d be out by Saturday. She didn’t have a choice: the court ruled in my favor and she had seven days to get out.
On Sunday, Steve and I went to check on the house. It was awful.
The main floor smelled like cigarette smoke, and the basement smelled like dog poo. Apparently, they had let their dogs use the basement as their personal toilet. My bathroom vanity, which I had bought and installed myself, was broken, as if someone had sat on it and crushed it. The tub was rusted out and the tub drain was clogged. A basement window was broken, and the window frame bent.
We got the poo off the floor and swept out the basement. Boyfriend hosed the basement floor down, used simple green and a push broom to scrub the floor and bleached the worst areas. We were pretty satisfied that it was clean, so we left and let the floor dry. A couple of days later, we came back and as soon as we opened the front door, we were smacked in the face with dog-poo smell. I was heartbroken. Was this ever going to come out?
I looked online and found a blog about getting pet smells out of concrete floors. So, Boyfriend pored four gallons of vinegar on the floor and let it soak in as long as possible. He said it smells much better. I haven’t been over there yet. The blog said to use an enzyme cleaner on it, too, which Boyfriend ordered online. Once that’s done, we have to seal the floor to keep the smells locked into the concrete.
He also worked to unclog the drain, and he made some progress, though it is still really slow. We are both so busy, it’s hard to find the time to get there.
I replaced the toilet seat and cleaned the toilet, which looked like it had never been cleaned. I also washed down the window sills, which were filthy. I still need to wash all the walls and touch up the paint. It looks like only one room will need to be fully painted, which is good.
I also have to replace the caulk in the bathroom, though that’s not the tenant’s fault. Remember when I installed a tub surround in the bathroom and it was beautiful?
Well, no longer. The caulk turned yellow. We asked a guy at Lowe’s who said that you have to use 100 percent silicone caulk or it will do that. Yay. I wish someone had told me that back then.
We’re going to have to refinish or replace the tub, too. Because the tub was clogged, the tenants either left the water sitting in it or put drain cleaner in it, which ruined the finish. It wasn’t perfect before, but now it’s awful.
Last weekend, I managed to get all the yellowed caulk off the surround, but I’m not re-caulking until we figure out what will happen with the tub.
I just don’t know how people can be so filthy. I know there’s a certain amount of wear and tear to be expected, but the whole house looks like someone with dirty hands touched every surface in the house. Also, I can’t imagine what it looked like before they cleaned it out!
We also had to toss lots of stuff left behind in the house and garage. My friend who owns several rental houses says this is normal. I imagine it could have been a lot worse, and one big metal cabinet had been there since I bought the house, so I take blame for that.
I know the place could be a lot worse because I’ve heard many horror stories. But it still hurts. I’m angry because I trusted them and they took advantage of that trust. It’s more than just a house: It was my first home, and a home I spent a lot of time and money fixing up. I know I have to start looking at it as an investment property now, but it still really pisses me off.
I will post more pictures as we make progress, though I don’t expect it to be ready for a tenant until about April. People suck. Even the Queen says so.