Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tough Decision

The reason I haven't been writing is that I've been consumed by a tough decision that I have had to make. A friend is always in a tough situation. She had never been able to hold down a job, until I finally found her one with a fellow businessman. I couldn't afford to risk my reputation, but she promised she'd not let me down.

However, she calls in sick constantly, and is unreliable. Thankfully, they allow her to get away with it. Privately, I've told them not to hold me to what she does or doesn't do. If I'd known this was going to happen, of course, I would never have recommended her. Still, she hasn't been a complete disgrace, thankfully.

Then there was the problem of her housing. She was living in a hotel room with her son for years. This would be interspersed with brief times of living with friends or family until someone got good and sick of her and they would angrily part ways. Being somewhat gullible, I always felt badly for her, believing that she simply never made enough money to make ends meet, and there will always be tension between people if someone stays in another person's house for an extended period of time.

Finally, I purchased a small mobile home, fixed it up, and told her that she could rent from ME. Then I knew they'd have at least one bedroom, it would be vastly cheaper for her, and I wouldn't have to worry about her being out in the cold.

But she didn't pay me for the first three months.

Later, after I had to get firm, she began to pay me on a weekly basis, but by then it was too late. Because she hadn't been paying me, I didn't have the money I needed to have to pay the IRS and they began to assess me huge fines. I ended up losing over $2,000 in fines alone. I told her about this, but she was miraculously unaffected by it. In other words, she couldn't care less.

Then she began whining: It wasn't good enough. She needed another bedroom (as opposed to the no-bedroom hotel rooms she'd lived in for years). She didn't like the fact that it wasn't electrically rigged to withstand high loads of amperage when her spoiled teenage son plugged all his expensive guitar, amps, computer, airconditioner, and other equipment in at the same time. She felt it was somehow my fault that she would blow a fuse each time, and disdainfully declared the trailer a fire hazard (even though everyone told her otherwise).

This brings us to the next question: Where did her son get all the expensive equipment?

I found out only after she moved in that she'd won $9,000 in a settlement last November, and blew it all in a month and a half. Much of what she threw away was on toys for her son, though she also spent it on trips and gifts and non-essentials.

She didn't save a dime.

When she needed a new car, it took a number of us to beg her to reconsider getting further into debt. We steered her to a car that was reliable which she could afford. She finally agreed, then declared herself to be very happy with the car.

But then her behavior became bizarre. A relative of hers has privately told me that this is what happens each time. This is why she never stays anywhere for long. This is why she can't stay in a relationship.

Apparently at first, she is thrilled with whatever 'new toy' she has been given. But as time goes by, she grows increasingly discontented. She goes from wanting to marry the guy in the first week of their relationship to hating him by the sixth month. And she went from loving her little home and car to declaring that they were all crap, she hated living there and driving that car, and it is suddenly my fault that she has to pay me rent.

However, she is making good money! So where is it all going?

Well, I've discovered she smokes pot. In addition, she continues to desperately try to buy off her son by getting him whatever he wants. In turn, he is almost 18, does drugs, steals from her, and has brought his girlfriend into the house to live with them. Neither of the kids work, they only sponge off her, and he is mentally abusive to both of the women.

A week and a half ago, her spoiled son blew another fuse. Not knowing what was happening, my friend and I drove over to see what was wrong. Again, it was merely a fuse blown due to his excessive use. We tried to explain this to her, but she became increasingly irrational, declaring that she wanted out, hated living there, and even a hotel room was preferable.

She had done this once before. At that time, I was alarmed and had tried to persuade her to stay, pointing out all the benefits for her (even though I had lost a vast amount of money on the deal). She reluctantly capitulated then. Now I was facing the same thing, but even worse than before. She railed, she ranted, and she insisted that she wanted to leave.

I finally left.

And I thought about it.

And then I sent her a letter detailing everything, and asking her for a move-out date.

She didn't respond for a week, until she finally dropped off a payment in my mailbox. On the envelope, she'd written " I guess I'm still not ready to address your email but I will." No, I decided, I am NOT going to continue to wait upon her pleasure. I had enough, and this was going nowhere.

On Monday, I served her with an eviction notice. Following the eviction notice, she sent me an increasing amount of angry emails. I attempted to handle each one truthfully and logically. But what it all boils down to is...

I am done.


Anonymous said...

I think you learned a good lesson, you can't help someone who is not willing to help themselves. I will tell you I have gone through a period in my life where I did not make the best decisions. I come from a good, stable and supportive family but unfortunately during this time they had to let me hit rock bottom.

This woman sounds like she probably suffers from some mental disorders and has never learned the tough rules of the world. Maybe she will never learn, but it is not your place to teach her or show her, she is an adult and needs to take responsibility for her own actions. If she does not, it is not your problem.

I honestly think you made a bad choice in giving her a place to stay and a good job. She didn't earn any of that, thus she can't really appreciate any of it.

Good luck on getting her evicted, I know this can be a very trying process.


The Lazy Iguana said...

If you are going to be a landlord, you have to be an asshole. Trying to be nice will only get you a tenant who never pays rent.

What you need to do now is hope the woman and her son do not trash the place on their way out. If you can not get the rent no way you will ever collect damage.

Once the place is empty, sell the trailer and cut your losses. You do not want to be a landlord to one of those things.

I have a relative who is a slum lord and owns a trailer park somewhere in or near Tampa. If you need the place sold, and it is not trashed, Ill float you the number to his trailer park. He may (or may not) want to buy it.

He collects rent weekly.

Kathleen said...

No good deed goes unpunished.

Just in case you don't know, if you accept any money from her now you will void the eviction notice.

Good luck. You have my sympathy.

Mr. Grey Ghost said...

"Friends" don't take advantage of you like this woman has. You've done everything you can for this person, now it's way past time to move on. Misery loves company so part ways now before this woman really brings you down in the gutter with her. I would even go so far as to cut my losses and change my telephone number because logic and reason doesn't work this people like this, they're just too stuck on ignorance.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Kathleen stated the obvious. WE still have to try, but to recognize when it isn't working.

Ed Abbey said...

Although it is mostly too late for you, someone told me this a long time ago and it has served me well. Whenever you load someone money in any form, such as buying a trailor to help someone out, kiss the money goodbye and mentally think that you are giving it up never to be seen again. If you don't ever see any back, i.e. in the form of rent, you got your expectation. If you do get it back, its a happy day.

I've lived that way for years and mostly I've been happy but several times only my expectations have been met.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, I've heard this too. Being as I believe that human nature is essentially evil, I would agree with you. However, if we all had this experience, there would be no mortgage companies or landlords anywhere. I am sure there are SOME good people out there... just not many. As for the rest, they are held to contractual agreements though legal means.

Happily I was wise enough to not loan her any money outright.

3 Score & 10, How very true: We still have to try.

Mr. Grey Ghost, and that is what my true friends and family have repeatedly told me. I agonized over this for a while, because I hate to lose a friend. However, a true friend would never have dealt with the situation in this way. No fear - I won't need to change my number. She will not want to have anything to do with me. I have found that the truth is abhorrent to people when they're in such a situation, and I have been the unfortunate bearer of it.

Kathleen, Thanks for reminding me of my grandmother - that was one of her favorite sayings. I've repeated it myself several times in the last two weeks. I appreciate the tip about the money. I'll double check on that, because I'd think that she'd have to pay for whatever time she spent there(?)

Lazy, yeah, do email me his information, would you? I doubt they'll trash the place, because they'd end up in small claims court right away. And she believes in a form of karma, so I don't think she'd be that stupid. Still, one never knows with her son - he's a nasty piece of goods.

Ange, thanks for the weigh-in. I'll agree: it was a big mistake. Her relatives have asked me incredulously why I ever did it... apparently they knew better. :P

Kathleen said...

Saur, this is a bit technical, but Florida Statute requires you to issue a 3-Day Eviction Notice, which is a curable notice ... meaning she has three (business) days to cure the arears. She can do that by paying all the past due rent, or by striking a repayment agreement with you if you agree. (I don't recommend the latter) Once you have issued the notice, you will void the notice if you accept any money from her. Now if she is going to pay you in full, that is what you have asked her to do. Then she has cured. Also note, you may not include any monies on your notice that are not actual past due rent on the notice. (no late fees, damages, etc.) If she does not resolve the problem within the time frame, the process moves to filing with the court. I don't know if you are working with an attorney (as the owner you can do this yourself) but, if not there are some technicalities that you need to pay close attention to or you risk being turned down by the courts and have to start the process all over again.

Good luck.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Kathleen, thanks! This is actually a little different. Under Florida law, if she rents on a weekly basis, I only have to give her a week to move out. If she had rented on a monthly basis, I'd have to give her a month. Nice, simple, and incontrovertible, thankfully. ;o)

Miss Cellania said...

Sounds like you have made the right choice already. Evictions can drag out in court, though. Is there any chance you could sell the trailer? Or let the bank foreclose?

Emma Sometimes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emma Sometimes said...

Hard decisions, Saur.

Mr. Coffee always say never let emotion take over your intellect. I see you have a good heart. You know the saying, "You can lead a horse to water..." My point is I hope you don't feel bad about "being done". You can only do so much for someone who clearly doesn't want help. It takes guts and a lot of patience, which you've been more than accommodating.

I hope you can get some peace with this.