Friday, May 27, 2011

27 May 1957 “Bad Tenants and Loss of Freedoms”

womanpurse I would like to apologize for not posting yesterday. As many of you may know, I have been dealing with the worse tenant situation I have ever had. We have a house we rent out for the amount it costs to pay the mortgage. We make zero dollars from it and quite often end up paying more for various things like water and repairs.

Our latest tenants have stopped paying rent two months ago. They have destroyed the house beyond belief. The home reeks of animal waste and the yard has bags of actual garbage as well as an odd array of broken furniture, various appliances in disrepair and more ‘free’ garbage, not bagged. It appears they literally eat, drink, or smoke something and then let it fall where it may.

The last week has been one of talking to lawyers, going to various government offices (where they seem to care very little) and to the local sheriffs office. What I have come to fine, and this is not an exaggeration, as a homeowner/landlord in MA I have NO legal rights to the house. I have to give a 30 day amount of time AFTER they have stopped paying rent. It has to be delivered BEFORE the last of the month it gives as the final month. It has to be signed for by the tenant by certifies mail (which I paid for) BUT if they do NOT accept the letter and go pick it up. That counts as their NOT having it! I couldn’t believe that, because obviously they have done this before.

So, now I have to pay seventy dollars to have it legally served, that gives another month free. Then if they don’t leave, I have to pay more money to have a sheriff serve an eviction notice which really only gives them a court date THREE weeks after it is served. After that court date even if they DO NOT show up for it and we ‘win’ they can file an injunction within 10 days WITHOUT a reason and it can be held up two more months. SO, quite literally, they can continue to live in my house rent free, continue to destroy it and I have no recourse. IF I tried on my own to evict them, such as turning off power or changing locks, they can sue me. And that is called trying to take the law into my own hands.

This is what bothers me. We own the house (well the bank owns it and we pay our mortgage) and we pay our taxes. Yet the taxes support a system that allows those who wish to be leeches to have ALL the right. If we want to protect our own property we have NO laws. People go on and on about for or against gun laws in our country yet no one bothers about the actual laws that really protect private property. As a property owner I have no legal recourse against my own property. Now, we have to drain our savings to continue to pay for a house for the next multiple months so that our dead beat tenants can continue to live and destroy the place. They even started calling and harassing me on the phone!

Again, I am sorry to unburden myself here with this. This blog is not about this. Yet, it has been about my life and the realities of the 1950’s and today. If this were 1957 I would have more legal recourse. And that legal recourse would, in a sense, require people to be responsible for their own actions. I also know for a fact that the tenants receive various government monies and therefore have even more time at home to not clean but apparently make more mess. It is very frustrating and I Just have to grin and bear it. I am off, again, today to have to go and file more paperwork. It is odd that it is even costing me more money to try and get them out because they didn’t pay money already.

When I asked, “What would happen if I did nothing but asked them to leave and they continued to not pay rent” and I was told, “They can just live there forever”. So, I asked, “Why did we pay a lawyer to draw up a contract that states all these reasons they can be evicted if they don’t apply?” The response from my helpful government employee, who was eating her lunch at the time I might add at the counter, with her mouth full of food: as an ‘I don’t know’ Shrug.

I feel quite used as I believed in my own personal rights, my rights of property and even my rights of a document I paid to have made and signed with legal fervor. All, to find out, it was simply some sort of charade I was expected to play to give me a sense of Freedom, which when questioned or attacked, has the strength of a wet noodle. I have never felt more used nor more put upon nor more un-free (if that is a term) than I do now. I am still aghast.

I am not sure WHY these various laws came about. I know they were first to protect the needy from the greedy, but when did reason and rightful law on the side of the small property owner go away?
I also used to be a small business owner and my eyes were opened quite a bit to the realities of our day then as well. Where my business was, was an upscale outdoor ‘Market Place’ those types of out door malls that look like little towns. They are built to fool one into a sense of community, though the whole ‘town’ is owned by one person or one corporation.

We often struggled with the high rent at the low times of the year, as we live in a seasonal area. I later found out that all the large corporate chains, The Gap, Banana Republic, and their ilk, had their large buildings built to their specs at the cost of the outdoor market place. When I received my little spot, I had to literally pay to have it plumbed, put a finished floor in, paint, put up counters and interior walls etc. We also paid insane electric bills and had to pay an additional association fee. I found out that the large chain stores paid NO electricity nor the extra fees. And came to find out the extra ‘maintenance fees’ covered the electric bills of the large chains. The Mall began with many small business touting the great ‘support’ of small local business. They used that to lure the larger chains and when they arrived, the rent and ‘fees’ went up. The average life of a small business in that complex is about one year.

In many ways my project has shown me the vast changes to personal rights and freedoms since the 1950’s. It has shown how the middle class grew up so quickly for one generation and then has deteriorated since. It isn’t as if I have chosen to BE middle class. I got stuck there by our means to want to own our home, invest what we could and try and MAKE our community with business and jobs. But, what happens is we are steam-rollered by the Big Guys and sucked dry by those ‘below’ us (though I hate to use that term, but not sure how else to describe it) I know that many, such as my tenants, seem to have endless free time to waste and not be responsible on top of the fact that they, themselves, are parents and are teaching up another generation to take and not care and now they will always have ‘their rights’ as my tenant shouted at me on her last voicemail.

I wish I knew what I could do to make it better, but after this week, I am not sure if there is a real solution. I am sorry to be rather down today, but it has been a rather bad week. I shall persevere, of course, for what else can one do? I haven’t anywhere to turn to get help, as others seem to have, only our own hard work and savings.

I know that in the 1950’s it was not all sunshine and lollipops, but I do know that it was TAUGHT in schools and in HOMEs to be responsible for ones own actions, take what you sign as a statement of fact, and that if you work hard and are a good person you shall get ahead, as you will be seen so in your community. Today community doesn’t work like that; things have changed greatly.

I have included the following video in today’s news as well, but felt it was worth posting here. At the end it talks of personal and private rights. I know it is a bit ‘hokey’ but its points are valid and I wish still true:

I hope all have a lovely holiday weekend for Memorial Day, and those out of the U.S. have a lovely weekend.


  1. donna,
    sorry for your situation. i know that that house has sentimental value, but perhaps it's now time to sell it. it is a sad state of affairs in america today, but the only people who have rights are big corporations, big government, big unions, and the underclass. middle class america, who pays the bills for everyone else, is getting squeezed from every side. i have a feeling that the whole house of cards will be coming down soon, and i am kinda looking forward to it. maybe we will be free again. until then, good luck with your situation.
    stacy in florida

  2. Sorry you're having to deal with such frustration 50's gal. My husband and I have considered rental properties. But the tenants you have described are what make me fearful of becoming a landlord. It seems like with some people if they have no ownership in a house, they treat it anyway they please. Sad they would want to live that way though. Hope things get better.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  3. Stacy-here is the situation, the house we rent out is NOT the house that has sentimental value. We currently live in that house, our lovely old 300 year old Cape, that is fraught with family memories. We had intended to sell the rental house, met with a real estate woman and due to the damage and current condition of the house due to the tenants and the great fall of the market even since last year, what we could list the house for would be LESS than we owe on the house.
    Really we are living all the current sad situations of the common American. A house worth less than owed, dead beat tenants, increasing devalue of housing market. Even our buying that house during the boom was because we believed in the boom, as did most people. We had planned on that house being a sort of retirement plan, to sell off when we retire and just deal with tenants along the way. Now, it is a noose around our neck.
    But, we shall deal with it as many other Americans are dealing and try to come to some resolution. We now have a few months ahead of us to deal with the tenants legally and then the clean up will begin because you would not believe the condition of the place.
    Yet, I hate to bring a negative to the blog, but at the same time, I feel sharing what is happening to us currently and contrasting it with the middle class in 1950's ,when a home was literally the cost of three years salary, and not much more than a car. How vastly the world has changed in over 50 years.

  4. Have you looked into a short sale for the house? It might be the way to just get out from underneath it. I'm not sure if a short sale affects credit scores but at least you would be out from the house and be able to slowly build your credit back up in time if that's the case. I'll pray for you in this situation. Hugs!

  5. 50sgal,
    sorry, i got the houses mixed up. that's right, you live in the 300 year old cottage. i really feel for you in this situation. i agree with pandorasjen, maybe you could short sale. even if the bank came after you for the difference, sometimes that is better in the long run. friends of ours were in a no win situation like yours, and they finally short saled the house. they now have to pay $250.00/month to make up the difference, but they no longer have to worry about tenants or the upkeep and responbility of their rental. another possibility, is walking away from the property and letting the bank have it. i know everyone reading this is aghast that i even suggest this, but when you signed the mortgage that was the agreement you signed. if you did not continue to make payments, the bank takes the house. many people find this view morally wrong, but it is really a business decision. both of you entered into the agreement and you are exercising your rights within that agreement. what would be morally wrong would be to not make the payments and try to squat in the house or destroy the house or something to that effect. whatever happens, i am hoping the best for you. i don't usually comment to your blog but i read and check in every day. i sometimes think that i was born decades late and i live in the wrong time.
    stacy in florida

  6. Thank you all, we have considered both short sale and walk away. As of right now, legally the tenants will end up being allowed to be there until about August. As we just officially redid the you must leave paper for the sheriff to deliver. The one we hand delivered and registered mail (that they purposely did NOT sign for) does not count, so the June 1 option is now gone.
    They now have until July 1 and then they can still not leave then we have to file for eviction with court date at end of July and they get another 10 days after the court date (even if they lose) and then if they file then they can get another month!
    So, during all this time we HAVE to pay mortgage out of savings. And we cannot short sale the house even now because of its current condition, the real estate tells us as well as the new owners would then legally have to start AGAIN getting these tenants out. Can you believe that?
    I have just been more and more disillusioned by our modern day laws in so many facets. We have some more freedoms for minorities and women but overall the general populace (including minorities and women if they are home owners) have very few if almost NO actual rights to their property.
    Oh, to live betwixt the happy bubble game halcyon days of 1950's and the realizations of the second decade of the 21st century. Quite a contrast, I can tell you.

  7. That's just... well... crap for lack of a better (nicer) word. It's amazing to me that people can just basically do whatever they want. But if you were to turn around and evict them, you would be in trouble. First a persons word didn't stand up and now legal contracts aren't held up. What's next?

  8. What is also interesting to point out is if we, the owners, were living there and defaulted, the laws are much easier for the banks (insert the Big Guys here and our mortgage has been sold over 10 times in the past 6 years!) would find it much easier to get rid of us! Very odd indeed.

  9. That is a terrible, terrible situation that you are in. I don't know how these things come about, either. My in-laws had a problem like that (not nearly as bad), but the people finally moved out, thank God, but owing a month rent. My mother-in-law filed somewhere, I don't know where, that ended up with the couple getting a bad credit report. When the couple went to buy a house several months later, they could not get a loan because their credit was bad. They paid my in-laws and my in-laws removed the bad credit report. This is really awful, Donna, and you have my sympathies.

  10. I feel your pain, 50's gal! Situations like these make me question whether it's worthwhile to have integrity, pay your bills, and follow the law when there are deadbeats out there, and the law is protecting them! We own an manufacturing/industrial building that is near a neighborhood and railroad tracks. The building has been there MORE THAN 100 YEARS, and the houses were built after that. The building was somewhat dormant when we bought it. It's a huge building, so the mortgage is quite high. When we finally got a tenant in there, the neighbors were up in arms about the noise from trucks coming and going. For the past 95 years, major noise was generated, nothing like the noise from our trucks. What did these people expect when they moved into the neighborhood?! Because of their constant complaining, unwarranted tickets, police harassment, and the mayor's caving in to the people's demands (regardless of our zoned right to be there and the CITY HAVING AUTHORIZED A PERMIT FOR OUR TENANT TO BE THERE before the complaining started, and the noise does not exceed decibel limit), our tenant is leaving. Sure, we could sue the tenant, but that costs money, too. Now we have no one to pay rent, yet we still have to pay the mortgage and real estate taxes. These same neighbors are parking their inoperable cars in our alley/driveway (legally owned by us) yet the police refuse to tow them away. Talk about pathetic! If someone buys a house near an airport, and THEN discover it is noisy, do they have any right to complain? Should the airport be shut down? Should train lines be shut down because someone didn't notice the train tracks in their backyard before they rented/bought the house? There are too many idiots out there--not enough common sense--and decent, hard-working people have to pay the bill (and we also probably get to support them because they very likely are on some sort of government assistance). Whatever happened to common sense and self sufficiency?!

    Thanks for the opportunity to vent. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees that things are out of whack.

  11. So sorry to hear about your frustrations, 50s Gal. How hopeless you must feel.

    Anonymous: A few years ago, someone did buy a home close to railroad tracks and began to make a huge fuss. Local people couldn't believe his stupidity and arrogance.

    As far as the big guys having all the rights...we own a newspaper and website. One of our clients is a national chain (I won't say who). They currently owe us $500 in advertising fees. I'm sure this place makes $500 in an hour of business. Yet, our situation has been referred to their legal department. I guess to find holes in our humble little advertising agreement. However, we are nervous now that their lawyers are involved, so we plan to do nothing about it.

    National Chain: $500 in stolen advertising.
    Small Business: Victim.

    Why are big guys such bullies?


  12. speaking of big guys against the little guys: general electrics flawed nuclear power plant design may wipe out the japanese people as a race (children exposed to radiation tend to grow up to be adults that can't reproduce), yet they paid zero income tax in this country last year.

  13. Speaking of another case in which the big guy, and I WILL name names, Walmart, affected our little flower shop. We HAD to take credit cards as it was a lot of phone business. When you own a business and take credit debit cards, you pay a percentage to them for everything you sell. It was 2 % but with fees it was really 4%. Right about that time, Walmart sued Visa/mastercard because they did NOT want to pay fees or large fees, what have you. They won and how the cost was covered? All the small business' fees they had to pay visa went up. We were not walmart and could not scare them. So, the cheap items at walmart not only hurt the country in their being made outside the country but they kill small business not just by their underpricing but their ability to even gouge prices because they pay like 1/2 % for an item while a small business has to pay 5- 6%. It is really sad. Many people don't realize the hidden harm to business (real business not giant monopolies) to our country as a whole. Sad state indeed.

  14. Hi 50s Gal, I'm so sorry for your current predicament.I have some ideas for the future you might consider as obviously selling the house is not an option. Once you get these wretches out, you might have the option to make the house available to education or military services accommodation. Here in Australia, I can list my house as 'education housing' which makes it an option for teachers from other parts of the state coming here on long contracts (we're guaranteed 10mths' rent), then there is the off-campus defence forces housing option and lastly offering it as executive housing for university professors (again on long contracts). Many of these options, while not covering all the rent all of the time, will at least cover costs and, in the case of defence forces housing, they maintain the houses themselves. Just a thought to get you through. Viv

  15. This makes me fume that you are being taken advantage of like this and the laws are not in your favor. I wish it were different. I have a feeling you will persevere and come out stronger than ever because of it though. I really do.

  16. I am shaking my head throughout reading the whole of your woeful story. And then, the comments too. I feel myself so steamed up over this, & I don't even know you!!

    There MUST be something you can do to remedy this problem. Why, WHY are there no laws that are actually enforced to get these filthy squatters off your property?

    My mother's words are reverberating in my head: "When you rent a house/apartment, make sure that you leave it better than you found it." Though we are homeowners now we rented in enough places & each time I tried to treat that dwelling as though it were my own. When we moved out of our last rental I cleaned while the guys loaded everything onto the trucks. Several months later I got wind of the impression of our efforts, as the landlady (who had come by the place to clean a couple of days after we left) found she had nothing to do. That's as it should be.

    I truly hope things will be resolved in your favor. And until then, may God grant you the fortitude you need to get through this.


  17. Thank you again all. I now, isn't it frustrating! I spent a week racking my brains, researching and talking to our lawywer trying to find a loophole. There is none. And, as I said, because the law says that their refusal to accept the letter I had sent registered mail (Because if I give it to them in person that ALSO doesn't count) means they do not know of it. Yet, they chose of their own accord to not recieve it. So, having now only sent out the Notice to Quit means they now legally have all of June rent free (so that makes month number three with no payment) And if they do not leave July 1, then I have to wait until July 24 to go to court and they get another 10 days after that so that would also mean July rent free. AND if they DO file in that 10 day period it could lead to another month! That is the law.
    I hope it does make me stronger. It has only made me think more seriously about another plan I have had for our life for the coming year more so. I shall share it all with you if and when it comes about, but now I have to simply grin and bear it and try to let it go as water off a ducks back. My anger or sadness will solve nothing and I am trying to move forward and getting it out of my mind.
    Thank you again for all your concern.


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