I rented my townhouse to the Joe and Fran Pilla family in South New Jersey in February 1999. Their first months rent check bounced, which made me immediately concerned. I was mailed a money order, which was fine. The next 5 months rent was paid, but most of the time either late, or not the correct amount.
I continuously gave this family chances, which many people called me "stupid". The gas bill was in my name, so I would pay it, then send them a copy of the bill and ask them to pay me. They started to not pay that starting in June. October came, and the rent was late, so I mailed out the normal late letter, asking them to pay me the rent and the late fee. I never heard from them. I then called, and I got a sob story that would have made anyone feel bad, so I agreed to pay the rent for them and for them to pay me back October over a 5 month period. Stupid with a capital "S".
I got November's rent, and on time. Still no gas bill. December came, and no rent, and of course no gas bill. I mailed out my normal late letter asking for the rent, late fee, and gas bills again!. I didn't hear back, so I generated an eviction letter, on December 10, stating that they had 30 days to get out or I was going to file for eviction. I tried to call them to tell them this on the phone as well, and they had disconnected the phone and left no way to get in touch with them.
My realtor drove to the house and got their cell phone number and I immediately called to find out what was going on. I left a number of messages, and never got a returned call. On January 11th, my daughter was born so I couldn't get up to N.J., from MD., until Jan 13th. I got up there, knocked on the door, and the entire family was home at 10:30 in the morning. Joe and Fran were there, and their two teenage kids were still asleep. Needless to say, I was furious, and left out of the house to go to the courthouse. I filed an eviction, got a court date, appeared with my wife and newborn to hear that they had claimed bankruptcy. I was at a loss for words. At this point they owed me Oct., Dec., Jan., Feb., 6 months of gas bills, 2 quarters of sewage bills, and they did this. I was frantically scraping for money as it was, now I had to even scrape more.
I went to the bankruptcy court, who told me they had a hearing on March 6th. I hired an attorney, who told me he would handle things and keep me posted. Robert Manchel did not do that. On March 12th, after me trying to desperately get in touch with him, he decided to call me back to let me know that their case had been dismissed. This meant that I could file for eviction again. Just to make sure, since it is a 2.5 hour drive to N.J. for me, I made some calls. I spoke to a real nice lady at the bankruptcy court who told me that their case was dismissed, like I thought, but that they had filed for another case in their name, and were protected until April 3rd. I contacted another attorney at this time, and he gave me some good advice, and I am currently in the middle of my hell with these people.
The moral to this story is to never, never trust anyone that you don't already know. Treat the rental like EVERYONE is going to screw you and you will be better off. I have learned alot in this whole mess, and I'm not sure where I'm going to end up before it's all through.
These tenants did things like take the for sale sign out of the window of the house, turn away showings, etc. Real winners.
In all of this mess, I had someone make an offer on the house. I got excited, and relieved, signed the contract, not knowing they could drag this out forever.
Needless to say, the new buyers smelled an opportunity and are now suing us for breech of contract. I sure hope this hell ends for me soon. I'm at the point where it's hard to get money for groceries, because I'm so worried about keeping my credit clean and making their mortgage, and mine as well.
Learn from my mistakes,