Saturday, September 17, 2016

In which I am resolved never ever ever to get into the landlord business

OK. Where was I?

Last week, the former tenant (FT) wrote Keith that she had not gotten her deposit back and if he didn't send it, she was going to small claims court.

I told Keith I would help him answer. I asked him to bring the receipt for the certified letter and a copy of the money order he had sent.

He had a receipt for the money order but had not made a photocopy.

He had not sent the letter certified mail.

Let me repeat that because I know your stomach is sinking at this news.

He. Did. Not. Use. Certified. Mail.

He came over clutching a handful of papers.

He is really good about keeping all documentation. But he didn't do it right! I told him and told him to send the letter certified mail so he would have proof!

"But you get all WAHWAHWAH! and I get all confused when you talk!" he said. "I didn't know what certified mail meant."

Oh dear. I do get all WAHWAHWAH! I am very emphatic when I speak and I tell people what to do, especially when I am losing my patience.

But - no proof.

He did, however, have a receipt for mailing a letter on May 20 to the zip code specified in her forwarding address.

We had three pieces of data:

  1. A receipt from the post office that a letter had been mailed on May 20 to her zip code
  2. A receipt from the bank for a money order for $500, the amount she is getting back from her $1,250 deposit
  3. A copy of the information she had given him with her forwarding address

We emailed,

Dear Ms FT,

On May 20, I sent a letter and a money order from BMO Harris Bank (receipt dated May 20 attached) to you at  

FT/Former tenant's friend who lives at this address
City, State, Zip

This is the forwarding address you left with me (copy of note with address attached).

I have also attached a receipt from the post office for the postage for the letter to you. Note that it is dated May 20, as well.

Have you had a chance to check with [your friend] to see if any mail has arrived for you? Would you please ask her if the letter has arrived and let me know? I am very concerned that something may have happened to the portion of the deposit that is due to you. 



We wanted to be snarky and nasty but snarky and nasty might not play well in small claims court. If we would have to go to court, my strategy was going to be keeping Keith calm while FT blew another gasket like she did when she called 911 because we were doing her checkout walkthrough. 

She emailed back,

I will ask, but hope you send a description with the details of how you end up with $500 from $1250 based on contract and checklist of walk thru of condition of departure the only 2 complains you should really charge me is for the Burners not clean $20.00 and the additional general cleaning which are $30.00, Don't forget the deposit given to you was $2000, $750 for rent, $750 deposit and $500 pet.(see pictures) 

Umm. FT. That $750 for rent? That does not get returned.

I don't know what pictures she is talking about. 

The next day, Keith went to the bank to see if the money order had been cashed. It had not. The guy at the bank told Keith not to worry - that he had done everything right and there was nothing for him to do right now. 

I really hoped it had, as it appears that state law restricts a tenant's right to sue about the deposit if she cashes a check for a portion of it.

I know, I know. I know there are bad landlords.

But man there are also bad tenants. Now I understand why no landlord ever raised my rent. I was a really good tenant! And, except for Michelle McMichael in Austin, who was a horrible, horrible landlady who would stop in my duplex just to get a drink of water on her way home from aerobics, I have always had great landlords. 

(Well, the landlord in Miami who did not respond very quickly to my panicked phone calls to him that the roof was leaking and the  plaster ceiling was going to fall in soon - AND IT DID - was not the best, either, but he was just lazy, not a jerk. DO NOT RENT FROM MICHELLE MCMICHAEL IN AUSTIN.)

Keith is a super nice guy. He is a good landlord. He does not deserve to be berated by mean people.

(And I told him not to rent to someone who had been evicted and had filed for bankruptcy! I told him!)

She wrote back on Friday,

Nothing has been received, and based on your pictures that only proves you took $500 out of a bank account and bought a money order for same amount, and you send it to somewhere at [my zip code]. It does NOT SPECIFY it was for and only Former Tenant was able to cash..  I don't know how you going to but you need to track the letter and find out if it got cashed. If by June 10th, 2016 I will proceed with law proceeding. 

When I overlook her meanness and the typos, I think, That woman would make an excellent lawyer.

But it's not Keith's responsibility to track the letter. It's her responsibility to check her mail.

Still, neither of us slept well Friday night. 

I was messaging with a friend whose parents own seven rental properties. She said her dad, who is 93 years old and in hospice for cancer, still has - to this day - nightmares about tenants from years ago.

I will never be a landlord. Never.


  1. Can the bank cancel the money order and issue a new one, since he has the stub from the money order? It's worth asking. Then he can get a new one, make a copy of it before sending, and actually send it Certified Mail this time.

  2. Ack. Poor Keith.

    When I was selling my condo 10 years ago, any number of people told me to keep it and rent it out. NO, just no.

    I hope this woman goes away, far, far away. And getting her $750 rent back . . . wow, clueless.

    The landlord in my building has been trying to evict a very odd woman, who causes the only problems in this building of 20 suites. She is still here, despite at least 3 months out of the year she neglects to pay rent, gets an eviction notice, somehow comes up with the money (she doesn't work) and it all starts over again.

    No, never, ever be a landlord.


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