By turtledove follow 2013 Jan 18, 6:45am 1,151 views 6 comments
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My mother learned this week that her house was turned into a grow house by her new tenants. Here's the background:
My mother has a couple of properties that she rents out in Florida (she lives out of state). The SFH home was rented out starting in December to a couple who were fully background checked prior to lease signing. They paid their deposits (including a pet deposit) and supposedly moved in Dec. 1. The realtor checked on them at the end of December and they were there, but claimed that they hadn't moved their furniture up because it was too expensive. They were planning to move things a little at a time.
The neighborhood is a nice family neighborhood. The houses have decent lots, but they are fairly close together. Neighbors include tons of families, a sheriff, some general contractors... Really nice people.
Earlier this week, a teenager was walking her dog and noticed a smell coming from the home. The dog got off leash and so she ran home to tell her mother. The mother went to check out the smell and find the dog. Apparently, it was a very noticeable, skunky smell. She called the cops.
The cops broke into the house and found that the home was a grow house for marijuana. The tenants are still at large.
The cops confiscated all the plants, but told my mom she could have all the equipment to sell (seems like evidence, but okay). There are hoses on the walls... and they removed a wall, but the damage doesn't seem to be too bad. Also, they rewired things to bypass the meter so they wouldn't raise any flags with the electric company.
My mother is understandably upset. Is this kind of thing very common? Why would anyone think that that kind of neighborhood would be a good idea for such an endeavor? If you're growing drugs, I would think the last thing you'd want is a bunch of nosey neighbors around.... Little girls coming to the door selling girl scout cookies... Neighbors knocking on your door to invite you to the latest block party. What made her house a target? How does one protect himself from this? What more can you do besides a background check?
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This situation is precisely why I would stick to investing in high yield bond funds instead of being a landlord!
Being a long distance landlord makes it easier for these crimes to happen to you. I have no doubt these people profiled your mom from the beginning and knew exactly what they were going to do. The only way you guard yourself from this is checking up on the property regularly. This may mean living next door or mowing there lawns on the weekend. Unfortunately many long distance landlords get fleeced in ways like this and that is why most people here do not recommend becoming a long distance landlord.
Being local is not possible for my mother. This used to be her primary residence. Her husband lost his job in 2008. They relocated for his new job. Moving back, right now, isn't possible.
If you really want to be secure, put into the lease that YOU will personally change the ac/heat air filter every 2 months or so. Minor inconvenience, but for that 10 minute visit you end any possibility of the scenario you just described, and you will know if they are mistreating your home in advance.
Good tip. Will pass that along.
I have no doubt these people profiled your mom from the beginning and knew exactly what they were going to do.
No doubt. Too bad they were done in by a little girl... and her dog.
The sheriff across the street probably isn't going to let this go either.
All the neighbors (who've known my mom for a decade and a half) have offered to keep a better eye on the property. Doubtless, they don't want to see their neighborhood turned into a crime scene. But are nosey neighbors enough?
What about outside services? Would they manage a property at any level of detail to prevent such a thing from happening again?
I appreciate your insights. I have no experience in this area, and I know we have a lot of savvy people on this site.
My father has a dozen or so rental units and puts a pretty tight filter on his applicants. I think he has had 1 or 2 that were doing some sort of grow operation (small scale) in their apartment.
The house I am in the process of buying had a hidden room that was dug out of the crawlspace. A neighbor tells me (unequivocally) that it was a grow room that a long term tenant made.
Just anecdotal data, but I'm not surprised by what you described. If the damage is minor, I wouldn't sweat it and move on. It's a bit out of band, but dealing with BS is part of the rental business. Be glad they weren't cooking meth.