Case File 2: You Can’t Park There

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Above is an HOA (Homeowner’s Association) ordinance. Checkout the underlined statement. It says “no automobiles or other vehicles may be parked overnight on any roadway within the property.” The tenants refused to abide by the ordinance for a few months. What happens? You get a big fat bill for the violations accrued and you have to pay it. Ultimately, you as the owner are responsible for your tenants actions within an HOA. This issues can be costly. In this scenario it was hovering at around $350. It could have been worse. A lot worse.

Many subdivisions and condos have some type of HOA arrangement nowadays. The arrangement pretty much is as follows. You are paying them to maintain common areas and to also police you and your neighbors to preserve property values and provide quiet enjoyment. It is quite a trade off. Whether HOA’s are good or bad is a debate on its own and we are not going there in this article. My only concern was the issue at hand, that $350 in violations that could easily become $1000 in violations. I hate fines. I hate fines that are close to $350 even more. When they reach $1000…my hate for fines reaches its monetary limit.

I worked out a deal with the tenants. I asked them to move out in 60 days with the promise that I would be fair with their deposit and not blankly keep it all due to the issues that were transpiring . Then I emailed the HOA inspector at the end of October 2016, asking him to give me a two month grace period to solve the problem. He agreed! About 2 weeks from the time they moved out in January 2017 I sent an email to the HOA manager stating that their will be no more cars parked on the street overnight. Problem solved. They had moved out. I also requested for all the violation fees to be waived. Did they waive them off? Here is there response:

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All the violations were waived! Communication was key. I communicated with the HOA inspector about giving me a grace period. I communicated with the tenants, explaining that it would be better off if they moved due to the amount of violations that they were receiving. I then communicated with the manager and asked for the violations to be waived. More importantly, I also did not pay any of the violations until I solved the problem. Then, at least, you can negotiate the fines down or in my case, waived! Hope this helps anybody who has had an issue with an HOA!

Case File 1: Lime Made Me Sick

I am a little paranoid sometimes. Are those people talking about me? Are parasites controlling my brain? Are there aliens among us humans? Are my tenants sabotaging my properties? Am I going too far? Most of the time I shove those thoughts to the side and say “nah, it can’t be possible.” What happens when the paranoid thought becomes true? My mind blows up, that’s what happens. Of course not literally, but maybe it will. Remember, I am a little paranoid.

Last year I had an engineer as a tenant. I became suspicious of him. There are reasons why of course! He would call almost every week about an issue on the property. About half the time the issue was a non-issue and the other half the issues were minor. There were a few calls that were legitimate.But then I would begin to wonder. Did he sabotage? Did he cause them? Of course, with my dominant rational side, I shoved those negative thoughts to the side…until that one dreadful day.

It was about 1o pm, in my bed, when I get an email stating that water was not passing through in the kitchen sink. I follow up the next evening, turn on the faucet and sure enough water is not going down. There is a clog. I open up the piping below the sink and what do I find? This:

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ACTUAL PICTURE

Limes. A bunch of cut limes stuck in the pipe. What the heck? How could large pieces of lime get through the garbage disposal? I check to see if there is a hole in the garbage disposal and there isn’t. The limes couldn’t have passed through there unless they were grounded into tiny bits but these are whole pieces if lime! I feel sick. The only other way those limes could have ended up in the pipe was through here:

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ACTUAL PICTURE

You see those tiny holes. The limes had to be squeezed through there! I was sabotaged. My paranoid thought became a reality. My tenant was sabotaging my property! Now what do I do? Do I get angry? Call him up and say I caught you! Nope. I simply sent the picture of the limes stating that that was cause of the problem. I never blamed them. I never asked why they did it. I simply texted them the evidence. They knew that I knew. Surprisingly and not surprisingly I never got a call, email, or text since then, only when they gave 30 days notice to leave a few months later. Phew!

Now to tackle the veracity of my next paranoid thought. Are there parasites in my brain?

Motivated by Death

 

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When I was in middle school I constantly thought about my own mortality. One day I would cease to exist. One day I will not be here. Then a shudder would flow through my body thinking of my own annihilation. The thought of death filled my mind, in the car, at school, at night, as I laid on my bed. It followed and affected me into my sophomore year of high school. The rational part of my brain would think. Since I am destined to die why do anything at all. Why wake up in the morning, why do my homework, why even work, why talk to people, why even get up in the morning? My grades went down, I refused to socialize, going into a downward spiral with the thought of killing myself consuming me. If I am dying anyways, why not speed up the process.

The train was coming my way. I needed to jump in front of it to finish it. I could hear the sirens coming closer and smell the coal getting nearer. Then something caught my eye. It was a pigeon. It was struggling to move when a cat jumped on top of it. I thought it was dead when suddenly the bird was 15 feet away from the cat…then it went behind a fence. It was survival. Here I was trying to kill myself when other beings were fighting to live. I felt weak. I walked home.

During the walk I rationalized some more. A surge of hope and energy filled my body. Death was still inevitable but my attitude towards it changed. I am going to die one day I thought so why not live, why not get good grades, why not socialize, why not be successful, why not become the best person I could be, why not shape my life the way I want it. And if death comes early so what? At least I lived. At least I tried. I changed that day.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

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When I was waiting for that train I was busy dying. Since that day I have gotten busy living.

Sometimes, just like I did in the past and like many other people have done. I would lay on my bed thinking about my death. How will it happen? When will it happen? You have thought about it too. We all have. Then I say to myself….I know I will perish one day, therefore, I am going to be the best version of me I can be….attitude is everything…..Get busy living or get busy dying.

 

How I Lost $8000 Dollars?!!!

20170118_114923I lost $8000 dollars. It could have been prevented. I could have avoided it. I didn’t. It happened. And surprisingly, I don’t feel that bad about it. Am I losing sleep over it? No, I’m not. Am I banging my head against the wall? Not even. And its not because I think $8000 is a small amount. Both vehicles that I currently drive are worth less than that. I could have used that money to fund my children’s education, to buy a better car, a nice vacation, to invest, many other things. But now that money is gone….and you know what? I probably won’t miss it.

Now you may be saying to yourself….”What the heck is wrong with you? It’s $8000 freaking dollars guy!” My response. I shrug my shoulders and respond, “Oh, well. Life goes on.” Trust me, I have a valid reason. And I would be willing to bet that if you were in my shoes you would feel the same way. I talked to somebody who lost that much money in the same manner and guess what? They did it on purpose. I, at least attempted not to lose it even though my efforts in hindsight where “blinded efforts.” That other person lost about $7500 and they did it on purpose! If you think I am crazy for not feeling “that bad” about losing $8000, now imagine somebody losing $7500 on purpose. In fact, they planned on losing that money. They planned it! So don’t call me crazy now.

Now let me explain. I have a rental property (we can call it “Ignored”) that always leases out fast. In the first week of October the tenants moved out and my wife and I did the make-ready lightning fast. I did a glance over and started doing light touch-up on the place and my wife did some light cleaning on the kitchen only. We finished in one day. Placed it for lease right away and narrowly focused on the remodel of the other home I had just purchased (we can call it “Sponge”). Sponge consumed all my time due to the fact that it was an extensive remodel. My days were filled with my daily routine, the addition of trips to home improvement shops, placing light fixtures, trim, and other decorative features on Sponge. My work days would be ending at 9 pm every day.

October passed. Like a leaf, November blew away. December left like a souped up sleigh. And now we are in January and finally I began to wonder…Why the heck hasn’t Ignored been leased? Ignored has been leased out for about $2000-$2200 before and 4 months have passed with no takers. Four months without a tenant is a loss of $8000! I go back to Ignored, and this time do a thorough walk through and what do I see? Mold. Grimy mold is on the bathroom tiles and also notice that the bottom trim is filthy all over the house. Sponge had consumed so much of my life that I overlooked many obvious defects that would have deterred any potential renters. In all my years I have never lost that many months on a rental. Now I lost 4 months. I lost $8000. And that doesn’t include the loss of mortgage, insurance, and taxes paid for those months.

The next day I scrub that mold to oblivion and paint that trim like a classical painter. That same week the property was leased. Problem solved. I blamed myself for allowing Sponge to consume my life. It cost me a lot of money. But that still doesn’t answer the question. Why don’t I feel that bad about losing that money?

I never had it. I never touched it. It was never in my account. It was phantom money. Money that I very likely could have had had I done the right thing from the start. But since I didn’t it never came. My investor friend has a place in Florida that he rents out for $1500 and he decided not to lease it out to anybody for 5 months because he wanted to stay in it on his trip there for 7 days. He lost $7500. He could have stayed in a hotel instead and used the difference to spend on his vacation. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was losing money because we talked about it. But he was OK with it. He never had it. He never touched it. It was never in his account. It was phantom money.

That being said. If that money was in my shoe box and then by mistake placed in the recycling bin, and the recycling bin had been picked up, I would be cursing like when you are barefoot and step on a Lego in the middle of night. Then I would probably curl up in the fetal position at night wondering and whispering to myself over and over again…. where is it? Why? Why? And the mental anguish of losing it would bother me for days…until time would eventually heal the pain. Yes, I lost $8000. Will I do a better job to prevent such a loss in the future? You bet. Do I feel bad about it?…Now that I think about it…a little bit more now….

Laborer vs Teacher?: Who gets home more tired at the end of the day?

During the remodel of the property just purchased, as I was throwing debris onto the back of my van, I reflected on how much physical work I put into the remodel. Especially this pass week where I put in 10 hours daily of hard labor from demolition, to painting, to electrical work, to loading and unloading material, plus more…During the first days my body got sore but by the end of the week my body became accustomed to the work. And this was not the first time in my life I have done hard labor for a long period of time. There was one summer I spent as a landscape helper and another as an HVAC installer.

In landscaping I remember the long hours in 100 degree plus weather mowing lawns, pulling weeds, cutting branches under the hot sun. In HVAC you were not under the sun but in 110-120 degree attics among insulation and tight places. Both were intense jobs and when I would get home my body would be tired but my brain would still be alive to focus on other tasks in my life.

My stint as a full time middle school teacher lasted 6 years. I was 22 years old and full of false bravado that got me nowhere in my new occupation. By the end of the month I was sitting on the toilet with my hands clasped against my face…crying. It was too much, disrespectful students, dismissive administration, meetings, supervising duties. I remember getting home depressed and exhausted. The exhaustion was so severe at times that I could not stay awake on my 20 minute drive home. The following year I improved as a teacher, especially with discipline and organization. My students became very well behaved but it was a catch-22 because I had to work very hard to maintain that discipline and organization, which tired me out just the same. Although I blossomed into a way better teacher, it did not solve the problem of me getting home tired. I left teaching after 6 years and worked in the non-profit industry, at a bank, as a realtor, also did stints of construction work, yet no other work was a able to duplicate the deep exhaustion caused by teaching.

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One of the reasons I got into teaching was for the vacation days, shorter work days, and holidays where I didn’t have to work. Then I found myself working during those times that I naively believed I would have time to relax. My brain would always be thinking about my job…it never stopped. I would try not to think about my job while at home and only found that it made me a bad teacher…good teachers have to think about their jobs constantly to solve problems meaning that exhaustion is a requirement for being a “good teacher.”

Last year, my wife saw some guy doing custodial/janitor work and commented “poor guy, he must get home exhausted.” I laughed and told her to not feel sorry for that guy,”your a teacher, remember.” She acknowledged the truth of the statement. A few months later she left her job when the school year ended.

To sum up…who gets more tired at the end of the day…laborer or teacher? I vote teacher. How about you?