Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stinky People

Why do so many people stink?

I can't even tell you the number of times that we have had customers in our office stinking up the place- several times. every. single. day.

When the customer finally leaves, the secretary and I will bid them farewell with a friendly smile. We wait for the door to latch behind them. Then we look at each other to see who is going to grab the Febreze air freshener first. Let's not ever forget to buy that stuff when we order office supplies- it is super important!

How can so many people not know that they stink?

We were discussing whether it is body odor or a dirty clothes smell. I can understand that there are some cases where those living in poverty may not be able to wash their clothes on a regular basis (launder mats get expensive!). But what about those who just don't bother to clean themselves? A bar of soap is cheap! But guess what? We have seen where some tenants prefer to use their bathtub as a storage area. Can you imagine?!

There was a tenant who mentioned- after living in her place for over a year- that her shower wasn't working right. So we send someone over there to take a look, and they find that the tub is packed full of boxes. Then she mentioned that she has never been able to use it, ever since she moved there (it was a different landlord when she moved in, BTW). It seems that her inability to take a bath or shower just wasn't a big enough deal for her to bother mentioning to anyone during the first year. I hear that her apartment smelled just like you would imagine. She no longer lives there. And the house is for sale now...LOL. Apparently, Febreze just isn't going to solve that particular smell.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

(names in this story may have been changed to protect identity...)

I recently met a man with a touching and heart breaking real life story. He was applying to rent one of our homes, and explained that he was looking for a place for himself and his four kids- 2 teens and 2 toddlers. I started asking specific questions about his living situation, trying to determine if he needed a 2 or a 3 bedroom unit (if he has all 4 kids full time, etc). He explained that he does in fact have all the kids full time because his wife is in CA dealing with some problems in becoming a citizen.

I asked him if there was a reason she couldn't deal with those issues from Michigan? Unfortunately, yes there is...

Her name is Maria. She came to California before her first child was born. She was here legally with a work visa (?). She has spent most of her adult life here working and trying to make a good life for here and her kids. She paid a lawyer to help get her citizenship, and thought everything was all set. Soon, she met my new friend Anthony, fell in love, got married and started a family with him. She wanted to make sure that everything really was legal with her citizenship. That's when everything went wrong. Apparently, that lawyer who helped her didn't really help her. He did what many lawyers helping immigrants do, took the money and did nothing. So it turns out that there was a couple months of lapse between when her visa expired and when she got married, meaning that she was unknowingly here illegally during that time. An investigation started and now she is having all sorts of problems becoming a citizen, even though she is married to an American, and all four of her kids are citizens. Last year she was detained in a prison camp while our government decides if she can stay or if she will be deported. Her youngest would have been about 6 months old at the time.

Anthony tells me that they were allowed to go see here once per week. The older toddler would cry the whole time they were there. Can you imagine how that must feel to the mother who has been taken away from her children? The one time per week that she sees them, he is so distraught by the situation that he just cries.

As the legal battle continued to drag on, Anthony decided that he needed to move back to Michigan to have the support of his family. I'm sure it is difficult to afford the cost of living in CA on one income, and on top of that he was suddenly raising 2 teens and 2 toddlers on his own.

He told me about how much he loves all of the kids, and about how difficult it is to raise them all on his own. He told me how much more he respects all that Maria had done- working, caring for the kids all day, keeping the house clean. He said he knows now that she worked much harder than he ever gave her credit for.

I asked him how much longer until this might get resolved. The soonest that it could happen is in March. that's the next court date. If it goes well, she could get out and come back to be with her family again as a citizen. Or, it could keep getting delayed with more court dates and more waiting periods. All while her kids keep growing up without her and keep needing a mom. It could go on for 5 years, or she could just get deported at any time if that's what they decide.

Maria cries a lot. How could she not? I can't even imagine being able to handle such an awful situation. It's like a nightmare come true. All because she wanted to check and make sure that everything was done correctly and legally.

I told Anthony that I would be praying for this situation. Please join me in praying...
-for Maria and her sadness in not being with the kids, and also that this will all come to an end in March and she will be released as a citizen to come live with her family again.
-for Anthony as he struggles to raise all the kids on his own for now, and for the difficulties he faces both financially and emotionally.
-for the kids as they struggle to live a stable life without their mother. for fear of the unknown. For teenagers who may really need their mother's influence in their lives right now, and who have had to adjust to their step dad as the only parent. For toddlers who may be too young to even remember their mom right now, that they will adjust to having her back with open arms with minimal emotional scarring.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A while back, there was a tenant that decided she no longer needed to pay rent. She kept living there, but she wouldn't return calls or answer her door, etc. During an inspection, the apartment was found to be extremely unkept with food out all over the kitchen rotting, complete with maggots. Nice.

A few days later, the collection worker was in the neighborhood and noticed that the tenant was home. As usual, she did not answer the door when he knocked. The downstairs tenant came out and confirmed that she was in fact home, but suddenly got quiet and stopped moving around as soon as our worker came to her door. At that point, he noticed that the dead beat tenant had a vehicle from the car lot he used to work for. Logical reasoning told him that if she wasn't paying her rent, she probably wasn't paying her car payment either. So he made a quick call to his former coworker to inquire about the vehicle in question. Sure enough, payments were very past due, and they did not have any current contact info.

In just a short time, the collection person watched the vehicle being repossessed. The tenant continued to hide.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


We have an especially needy tenant at work. She calls nearly every day for any thing she can think of, whether it is real or imaginary. She is the type who can't figure out how to screw in her own light bulbs.

On Saturday, she started calling the emergency maintenance line at 6:48 a.m. She needed someone to come over immediately to take care of her emergency. Turns out there was a bat in her house.

Granted, it's no fun to have a bat in your house, but I don't think it qualifies as an emergency for your landlord rush over either.

After dealing with this frantic tenant on the phone on and off all weekend, we did send a maintenance person over to try to locate the bat on Monday morning. Of course, it isn't easy to locate a bat during the day. You can't just call for it to come out and expect it to appear, you know? After looking for it without any luck, the maintenance man was ready to go on to his next appointment. But NO, this lady would not let him leave until he found the bat.

At this point, the other maintenance man calls to check on the progress. After hearing that Ms. Crazy won't let our guy leave until the bat is found, he heads over to "help".

Ms. Crazy insists the bat is behind the fridge where they have already looked to no avail. So they go ahead and pull the fridge out again to look. Guy 1 takes out his wallet and tosses it on the floor without her noticing. Guy 2 dives on the floor with a bag and captures the wallet. "I got it!" he announces. They put the fridge back and quickly exit with the "bat" in the bag, and Ms. Crazy is happy.

Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do...LOL.