"You’ve got roaches”. Those were the first words I ever heard, from the first tenant I ever had.
We had just closed on our first rental, a foreclosure with a 4-family building and two mobile homes and some 13 acres with beautiful views. Back in those days, actual bank officers attended closings, and we had no idea that they usually weren't that jovial during the proceedings. They were laughing at our naivete. The house had peeling paint, bucket seats for lawn chairs, and beer cans for lawn ornaments. But the views! Ah, the views! Of course, we had been so enamored of that view that we never got around to checking whether or not there was plumbing or a furnace in the house.
That day, leaving the bank, we had just $1000 left to our name, the clock was ticking on our new mortgage payment, but we were going to collect our first rents!
Soon I was gingerly perched at the top of a very narrow, winding stairway, simultanously collecting my first rent and giving my first eviction notice. Hoping I didn’t get pushed down the stairs. My husband, who in the future will be known as “The Man”, was at the bottom of the stairs, providing “backup”, or maybe just preparing to break my fall. Meanwhile I was still trying to figure out how those roaches got from the bank to the house faster than we did.
But that tenant was right. We did have roaches. And flies. And rats big enough to snack on the crumbs left between the sofa seats by their kids. And she was loudly unhappy at my having snatched the rent money just before giving her the eviction notice. But I survived that first tenant encounter.
Afterwards, we met the rest of the tenants. Apparently all four families were related, or as they’d call it in the back country, inbred. As in “Hi, my name is Darryl, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl”. Except they weren’t that friendly. While we were checking to see if we had working plumbing, the Darryls were in the barn figuring out how to take out the new landlord. If we knew all that stuff, we might’ve been worried. But we didn’t find out till much later. So we weren’t – worried, that is. We should’ve been. For lots of reasons, not all having to do with this bunch of tenants.
We were just 24. How the heck did we ever get ourselves into this?