I actually made this decision a few months ago, but I’ve waited to put it on the blog until all of my landlords and tenants have had a chance to hear the news for themselves, make the decisions that are best for each of them individually, and wrap up all of the formalities associated with those decisions (primarily the transfer of repair funds and security deposits).
Why did I close my business? For a reason I never expected: my personal health. You see, with the current economic climate (and I absolutely hate that phrase, by the way), I was having approximately one unexpected vacancy every month. Whether it was an eviction; a tenant calling and saying they cannot pay; a tenant moving out in the middle of the night, never to be heard from since; or even the strangest of cases: a tenant that was kidnapped from his home and is presumed dead; at least one property a month was experiencing an unexpected vacancy.
Although I don’t actually think these vacancies were my fault, at the moment of crisis I would consider it such, and worse, would consider myself a failure. If you look at my tenant placement stats, they are kind of sick. 90% of the time, I personally find the tenant through my marketing efforts. So if I wasn’t to blame (since I found this bad apple tenant), who was? Certainly not the landlord. But we all need someone to blame, so the easy answer was me.
Unfortunately, I typically found I was nearly unable to face or discuss the situation with the landlord, often going a week or more without ever answering my phone directly. This is a horrible behavior in the face of crisis, which would further make it look like I was to blame. In reality, though, I would plummet into a state of depression that I never, ever expected of myself…and it was happening every month. Worse, the problem was affecting the way I managed every single property, not just the one in crisis.
Nine or Ten months of this scenario, and a very, very agonizing day on the sofa with my dear wife Jan, and I came to the realization that I had to stop the problem, before it stopped me. And thus, I’ve closed it down.
I am now back to managing just my own properties. And while I’m certainly not immune from the occasional bad apple tenant, I don’t fret talking to myself about the need to clean up, repair, re-market, or in other words, pay for the acquisition of the next tenant. I mention my own properties, because I’ve already had a few people say, “Hey! I thought you were closing this down, but I see one of your ads on craigslist!” Rest assured I’m not playing favorites, but rather, just trying to fill my vacancies like any other landlord.