Thursday, January 10, 2013

Well, actually that's a joke. I know that everyone in the government doesn't hate business but there is a large group of government employees in Roanoke City that seem to. Yes, a website called would be a huge hit. Would draw attention of all of the media and the the citizens of Roanoke as a result. But I can't force myself to actually believe that, even though it feels like that as a small business owner in this city.

There are countless examples of there being a huge division between small business and the Roanoke City government. I hear REI of Virginia members stories on a weekly basis. We have been diligently working with the city to try to find common ground but all of our expressions for change seem to end up falling on deaf ears.

For example, one of the largest issues in the city pertains to the blighted neighborhoods we are faced with. And there is no group of people that understand blight more than property investors. We know the reasons for the various forms of blight and good solutions that will work to fix it as we are in the trenches day after day. 

I had a tenant that moved into one of my properties and she left many items surrounding the house outside that she said she didn't have room for inside. I am 100% on the citizens of Roanoke and the cities side. I 100% agree that what she had done was contributing to blight in the city and agree that the tenant needs to be summoned to court and appear before the judge who would force her to clean up her mess and comply with the simple rules we go by to keep Roanoke a nice place to live for everyone.

I was given court papers written by a code enforcer and served by the police as a promise to appear for the outdoor storage that my tenant is accountable for. I did everything I could to try to convince this lady to get rid of the stuff and sent her all kinds of threatening letters that if she doesn't she's going to have to pay my court fines, pay $100 per hour for my time in court, and I'm going to have to evict her. No matter what I said she didn't care. The items remained outside.

I went to my first court date and fortunately the judge understood the problem and was aware that the code enforcement was taking me to court for something that the tenant was supposed to be accountable for. So she cut me a break and gave me adequate time to try to get this tenant into compliance or out of my house through eviction.

But the cities policy for attacking the small business owner, who is trying to work with them, instead of going after the tenant simply doesn't work and further exacerbates the problem.

You see, the previous city attorney told people in the code enforcement department that it is OK for them to hold the tenant accountable for what they have done and take them to court as long as they subpoena the landlord.

I'm sick of getting violations and fines from the city for tenants behavior. Tenants leaving the trash can in front of the house and I get a trash violation and fine. Having a vehicle in the yard that they are working on repairing as they don't have enough money to have a shop do it and I get an inoperable vehicle threat letter and potential large fine and criminal charges. Leaving their bulk trash items at the street on the wrong week because it's practically impossible to remember what week is bulk week and what week is brush week and I get a trash violation and a huge fine. Leaving items outside their house even if it is one or two things that aren't being used on a daily basis which is considered outside storage and I get criminal charges and potential massive fines.

Enough is enough already. The problem never goes away. This is an issue that Roanoke City has always dealt with. Do you want to know why? It's because they continually hold the landlord responsible for the tenants actions. I can guarantee you that if the tenant was facing criminal charges and huge fines for what they have done they will NEVER behave like that again within our city limits. And the tenant created blight problem will largely fix itself within a couple years. But it's the cities policy to go after the landlord and they have absolutely no interest in holding the person who is responsible accountable for their behavior.

I've heard all kinds of excuses but most often it's one primary statement. That the landlord owns the property so they should be responsible for everything that happens on it. So should I be responsible for some tenant that went nuts and killed his wife and kids? Should I be responsible for tenants that ended up taking a wrong path and using drugs in the property? How about if we start giving landlords domestic violence charges instead of the guy that was beating on his wife? And giving criminal charges and fines to landlords who's residents are misbehaving in some other way.... Ohh yea, we are already doing that. I've got news for you. It's hard enough to get your children to always listen to you let alone a grown man or woman.

Well, to bring this whole thing back around full circle, Remember the lady that had a large outdoor storage problem around my house and she wouldn't get it up because she wasn't the one who was being taken to court? I finally got that nasty woman and her family evicted and her day of reckoning was yesterday.  I met the Sheriff over there for my writ of possession (Eviction). She got me for a couple months of rent. I was waiting over at the house for the Sheriff and she left quickly to go down to the court house and try to get a stay. That is where the judge lets them stay after the landlord was already granted possession of the property. She waited too late and that didn't work out for her. If she would have done it the day before she probably would have got it.

The Sheriff asked the husband if he could come in. The guy was very hostile with him. Yelling at the Sheriff. Not a good idea. So he kept doing it and the Sheriff told him that he needs to shut his trap because he is treating him with respect and he deserves the same. The guy kept doing it as we walked in the house and the Sheriff finally got him to shut up by having some words with him.

The place was unbelievable. I have never in my life seen such tremendous damage done to a rental property. There was trash everywhere and the floor was covered with a layer of dog feces smeared in. Not just in one place. It was EVERYWHERE. There was no place that you could walk that didn't have smeared in dog feces. It was shocking. There were 3 of those small ankle biter dogs and I could hear the German Shepard barking down in the basement which is like a little prison with a dirt floor. I have seen the Shepard outside chained up from time to time. I think the little dogs never went outside as I have never seen them and there was enough feces on the floor in the 5 months they lived there for that to be the case. I also saw large areas of the floor that are damaged because that's where they urinated.

Horrible animal abuse in that house! There is nothing that makes me more angry than animal abuse besides severe child neglect. This infant and 3 or 4 year old were crawling around in that dog feces and urine and pushing the trash out of the way as they made their way across the floor.

So then the tenant drives up and runs into the house. She says Dallas I've got your money. Please don't make me leave as I have no where else to go.  She started crying and causing all of this drama yelling out and nasty stuff while she was crying. She first acted like she didn't know and the Sheriff stopped that garbage real quick. Then she was pleading with me again and I told her she needs to save that money because she is going to need somewhere to live. That she can't live in my house.

So she yells out you're a slumlord and you're worse than my last landlord Spanky Macher. Unfortunately she rented from Spanky and my contractor didn't do a background check on this one because she seemed like a nice person at first and gave this BS story that her last house burned down and she needed a place quick as her and her children are having to live on the street. My contractor has a heart and let her stay there. If we did a background check on her we would have seen that Spanky went through the same problem and had to evict her and that she has a number of dog neglect charges that were all dismissed. I later heard that same story from another friend of mine when she was trying to find another place to live.

First, let me tell you, that place was freshly painted, everything worked and was completely spotless when they moved in because that's the way I roll. And it had a valid rental exemption certificate that was granted to me by the city as it is fully up to code like all of my properties.

So the lady keeps yelling at me making a fool of herself in front of the Sheriff and said she has done everything right and I have no reason to evict her. I tell her she hasn't paid me rent in 2 months and has trashed the place. She told the Sheriff that she just didn't have time to clean this morning.  What a joke. She asked again if she could give me the money and then she said she didn't have enough to go anywhere else. I told her you owe me 2 months. She said no, only 1. I said I have one refrence for you. That reference is Joy Sylvester Johnson at the Rescue Mission as she is the only person in the city kind enough to not charge rent. She was MAD NOW!

So I worked my way past her out of the house with the Sheriff and we had a little talk. He suggested that Social Services be called because those kids are being mistreated. I completely agreed and he called them and requested that I hang around for a while until his backup shows up or the lady from Social Services. So we talked in disbelief of the conditions inside. We then walked down to the house and told her that we are waiting for Social Services. She screamed out she doesn't give a **** and she's dealt with them many times. A couple of case workers from Social Services showed up and the end result is they took away her kids. She has a large "Emo type" 18 year old kid that ran towards the Sheriff and I and then turned right at the last minute before hitting us that got to stay with Mom.

Needless to say she doesn't have her little ones as a result of this and doesn't seem to care just like she didn't care about leaving all of that stuff around the house that I was held accountable for. This filthy lady never will care about anything. And believe it or not, there are many people in this city that are just like her. I am a low income landlord and see it all the time. But the city sees it fit to go after me for their actions rather than them.

My code enforcer friend turned out to be a pretty good guy. I had a talk with him before my court charges and came to an understanding that the he is only doing what he is told. The city has a policy to not contact landlords to warn them that there is a problem before writing them up and pressing charges. And they also have the policy to take the landlord to court rather than the tenant. It wouldn't take more than a phone call to get the name of the tenant, date of birth, social security number or anything they need as we have all of this information.

There is a crystal clear solution to ending tenant created blight within the city but no one who wants to do it. There is a certain point in time where I would think that one would naturally see that what has been done over many years isn't working and there is a point in time where new ideas should be tried. However as many times we try to communicate this to the city there is always resistance. A local real estate investment group that I belong to, REI of Virginia, has been attempting to work with the city to develop good solutions to ending blight from the day of it's inception. I personally with another landlord met with a few of the upper management of the building and planning department which includes code enforcement, building permits, etc. We together decided to develop an Anti Blight Committee. It took about 9 months until this committee was formed and the city decided to not allow me to be a part of the discussion. I can tell you I'm a guy with many out of the box ideas and a firm understanding of every form of blight within our city and the reasons for all of it.

Ohh well......  A smack in the face from the city makes me want to say the same thing I hear weekly from my small business owner friends. "I will never buy another house in the city" but I keep thinking that there are some people within the city government that realize how important it is for the government to not act as if they hate business but rather the exact opposite. It is crutial to every single citizen of Roanoke for the city to have a strong positive relationship with local business.

As many of my friends, I rehab blighted property. That is what I like to buy. Boarded up houses that are in terrible condition. I fix them up and make them nice places for low income people to live. In doing so I increase the value of the property surrounding it significantly. A homeowners property in the block of a boarded up house can lose value by well over 20,000 dollars simply because there is a blighted property near by. What my friends and I do has a dramatic impact on the city's income via property taxes. 63% of the single family homes in the city are owned by landlords. When you count the multifamily homes which are primarily owned by landlords that do not live in them you're talking about roughly 80 to 85% of the homes in the city being landlord owned. REI of Virginia represents 80 to 85% of the property in the city and we are asking the city for a good positive relationship so we can work towards making Roanoke the best place to live in this state.

The state of the currant negative relationship where small business property investors are wanting to move out of the city does nothing but harm for everyone. It's very simple supply and demand economics. When a large group of investors decide to put their money in Roanoke County, Vinton or Salem, the homeowners  that have a house in an area of the city where there is rental property suffer. When there is a large supply of property for sale as property investors are not interested in doing business in the city, property values decrease due to the large supply of property and the small demand for that property. This helps me out tremendously as a landlord as I can get property for next to nothing but everyone else suffers.

A city that has a great positive working relationship with small business is a city that will shine. Property values go through the roof when there are many people trying to buy a small handful of property. Roanoke has the potential to really be the Star of Virginia but it's going to take someone in upper management of the city to grab the bull by the horns and make it happen.  REI of Virginia is a willing participant.

I would love to be the one with the great ideas who starts the website: 


Anonymous said...

Several properties in my area are rental dwellings and myself and other property owners are fed up with ghetto tenants who do all the things mentioned in the above article. The solution is for these deadbeat landlords to get off their bums and enforce rules and regulations to their tenants because the behavior is no longer tolerated. A slumlord has no right to make a profit while their tenants are making other property owners miserable.

Dallas ® on January 30, 2013 at 6:20 PM said...

So I'm a slumlord. It's interesting how every single house I have has a valid rental certificate and I offer section 8 as well so they also have passed a Section 8 HUD inspection by the federal government. Do you actually think that the city and federal inspections are not sufficient? Give me a break fool.

The root of your anger is actually Wealth Envy. "A slumlord has no right to make a profit...."

LOL... I love it. And that's exactly why you will never have any. You're so caught up in petty crap like a tenant putting their couch on the porch or setting their trash out on the wrong day. Get a life loser.

I agree that low income people often live different. In many cases there is lack in class and lack of care for the rules and regulations that are so close to your heart. But you have no right to dictate what other people do with their life. They were not put on this earth by God, Supreme Being, they, them, it or whatever you want to call it assuming you're not an atheist, to be under the thumb of you. They have the right to live their life they way they wish as long as they are not hurting other people.

If you want rules and regulations than move to a neighborhood with a homeowners association. They get along because there all want to live the same way and that's why homeowners associations exist.

I'm sorry that I have to teach you this but it's a good example of why the Federal Department of Education needs to be shut down and control of education needs to go back to the states where it belongs and where it was pre 1970's when this country was the most innovative and educated country in the World.

Your idea that people shouldn't be accountable for their own actions clearly defines your idiocy.

"Enforce rules." I'm sure that you have been fully capable of making your children listen to you all the time. Imagine trying to get a grown adult that is not related to you to do whatever you say. As if they care.

I would bet that your answer would be it should say it in your lease. Guess what buddy, it does. And if you knew anything about the legal system than you would know that when people rent a place they have all of the exact same rights as a homeowner while they are paying for it.

It's real easy to get a tenant out that is not paying as they are forfeiting their rights to control of the property. Not the case when they are paying rent though.

When a tenant breaks city codes and the city takes the landlord to court. That's the only one difference in the equasion. Tenants have full legal rights to do as they wish on the property that they are paying for but if they break city codes the city takes the wrong person to court. When something doesn't work you don't keep beating the dead horse. Good God you are mentally THICK.

I'm sorry that you are so bigoted towards low income people as if they don't have a right to live anywhere. You don't like it when you invite friends over to your house and they see a beater car out front of both houses next to you. Makes you feel like you live in the ghetto.

You need some professional help for your hatred towards a lower socioeconomic class. Low income people live different and you have no right to tell them how to live as long as it is not personally affecting you.

Get over it buddy because not everyone has the same amount of money. Times are hard. And even if they weren't you will never be able to get everyone to live the same way that you do.

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