• Charna Kinneberg

Lessons learned from being a Land Lord - Part 1

20 years ago in January 1998 I rented my condo in Houston Texas to a man. I never met the man. I live in Maryland. I used to live in Houston and still had property there but I had not been back to visit in many years. When I did, I'd see some friends who live there but never met my renter.


I used a real estate firm who located my potential renter. They qualified him financially, no criminal history - seemed like a great guy. He signed a lease. I got a deposit. He took care of the place like his own. I did not want to raise the rent much. A stable tenant is worth more than a little extra rent. His checks were never late. He took care of issues as they arose. He did not demand that I replace carpet or repaint. He lived there, traveled for work and once every year or two I would hear from him.


When the weather got bad - like Hurricane Harvey - I called to check on him as much as my property. One of my last conversations with him ended with him saying "After all this time, don't you think I'd call you if there were an issue?" Yes, he would.


It was a total shock when the call came in to my husband on January 9, 2018 from the man's employer asking if we knew my renter. My husband said yes. My renter had died. He had been at his deceased parent's home in another state. The neighbors had not seen him in a few days, his car had not moved. They wanted to see if he was okay. The police ascertained that no - he was not okay. That started an 8 month process with a ton of lessons.


The first thing was a fall back to my knowledge of elder care. Step one - call an attorney. I was uncertain what had to be done. But I know a good elder care attorney would know what to do. Sure enough - his advice was to get an attorney in Houston and so I did. Over the next few weeks I'll describe the various things I've learned from this experience. But for now - my first lesson to pass along is when it comes to confusing issues with elder care, a good, knowledgeable attorney is an invaluable asset. Find one. Keep their number handy. You just never know when the phone call you get will toss you into a mess you have no way of knowing how to handle.

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