Life As A Landlord – Where Is The Rent?!

This is part of an ongoing series about how I became the owner of a rental property in Florida while living in Utah, and all the adventures I have had along the way. If you’re just joining me now, you can check out the first installments here:

While having to repair our rental property here and there sucked, it was something I expected. What came next I did not expect.

Where is the rent?

After the repair bills, things were quiet for a while. The rent was coming in on schedule, bills were getting paid and I didn’t hear much from the management company for about 8 months. I felt good about everything. Then one day things seemed a bit tight – the rent hadn’t been deposited into our account!

I was really confused. Rent was pretty regular by this point and had stopped keeping that close of an eye on things but when we didn’t have any money in our checking, I thought something was wrong. I checked into my online landlord portal and there was a big fat zero where there should have been a $1,200 for the months rent.

I wasn’t really sure what to do about this. For one thing, when I bought the property, the investment company told me that it was government subsidized meaning the government paid part or all of the tenants rent. So why was their rent not paid? It became painfully apparent that this property was not government subsidized.

After a few days went by and the rent still had not shown up, I contacted the management company to see if they knew anything. They told me the tenants hadn’t paid their rent but assured the management company that it would be in by the next month.

My wife and I had some savings built up so it wouldn’t be too much of a problem but it really didn’t feel very good. We paid the mortgage and crossed our fingers that rent would come through.

Well the tenants were good on their word…sort of. They paid 2/3 of the rent for the previous month and then a couple weeks later paid the remaining $400. We were happy about that, but it also put a little worry in me about the following months and for good reason. The following couple months were also late, but the tenants did get the entire amount in to us in a fairly reasonable amount of time.

Then only a portion of the rent came through. The tenants were telling the management company that they were just having financial trouble and would get things straightened out as soon as possible, but for us, being several thousand miles away and unable to even really talk to the tenants, this wasn’t good news.

Months were slipping away and we would get a few hundred here and a few there, a trickle of the rent payment and it was really starting to hurt on our end. The management company was telling me that the tenants wouldn’t return calls or answer the door when visited. This looked bad and the word eviction started to surface from my contact at the management company.

It’s obvious I am inexperienced here and honestly, the eviction process scared me to death. I really wanted to have faith in the tenants rather than go with eviction for a few reasons. First, because having a bad tenant seemed better than having no tenant at all and I knew that finding a tenant would take time but also that signing a new tenant would cost me a months rent. Plus I had no idea what the eviction process even was. How long would it take? What did I have to do? Were their any costs associated with removal of the tenant?

Well, I found out soon enough…

Image by Robert Hruzek

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10 People have left comments on this post

» Claire MoylanNo Gravatar said: { Mar 31, 2011 - 12:03:00 }

So sorry to hear about this rental problem. I decided not to rent out my home because of the bad economy and the inability to qualify even good renters as a good risk for rental payments. Once someone loses a job, they just won't pay the rent and it can take months to evict, and you're still holding the mortgage, but living somewhere else. Major bummer!

» Yvonne Dee Dee ChristensenNo Gravatar said: { Mar 31, 2011 - 12:03:00 }

is this for real?

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Mar 31, 2011 - 12:03:00 }

@Claire yea I don't think I'd do it again if the econ looked like it does now. This all went down a year before things really went south. There's more to the story though, you'll have to check back tomorrow to see how the eviction went..

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Mar 31, 2011 - 12:03:00 }

@Dee Dee Yea it's real hah

» krantcentsNo Gravatar said: { Mar 31, 2011 - 01:03:14 }

Your management company should be helping you collect the rent, be on top of the tenant when they are late and doing the first steps of the eviction process. The first step generally is a three notice to pay or vacate (may be different in each state), but a basic notice to start the legal eviction process. Ask the management company who (lawyer) they use for evictions? This is part of the problem of not being local.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Not to give away tomorrows part of the story, but we did learn a lot about eviction in the last few months 🙂 I’ll share the details and how things vary between states in tomorrows +another upcoming post. Long distance relationships are tricky for sure 🙂

Mark @ Ghillie Suit WarehouseNo Gravatar Reply:

Can’t wait to read tomorrow’s part. Just wondering if this ordeal is still ongoing or if this is a thing of the past. I had Section 8 (gov. subsidized) tenants before and they are hit and miss. Sounds like your tenants weren’t section 8 at all

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

This all started in October of 2008 and I closed in early 09. Check todays post to see exactly where we stand, but it’s not over yet 🙂

Yea I’m not sure why I was told, and Ireally should have verified my tenant section status….I was pretty naive and it hurt me

» Edward @ Punching Bags WarehouseNo Gravatar said: { Apr 8, 2013 - 07:04:07 }

I’m all too familiar with this situation. I’ll never deal with Section 8 tenants again. It’s a little more work finding other tenants, but they seem to be much more reliable than Section 8 renters.

» George HallNo Gravatar said: { Apr 10, 2013 - 08:04:41 }

The one thing about rentals is: Nothing is ever certain. Just when you think you can sigh a breath of relief, something comes up! The process of being a landlord is a wonderful crazy ride – good luck!

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