Frustrated 5-plex owner...need ideas!!

I’ve owned THE 5-plex from hell for 2 years. I want out…or do I? I want to keep it but I don’t have money for continued repairs and I can’t get renters.

I’ve tried wholesalers and realtors to sell, local non-profits to get renters, I’ve been ripped off by management companies, renovation companies and insurance companies. Without renters I get drug/gangs in destroying the place so I’ve coordinated with police to arrest squaters.

I can’t loose more money but I want to be a REI. This property is destroying my LIFE…I need unique solution ideas. Help. :banghead

Any suggestions?

It sounds to me like you need to take control. All the gurus tout this hand’s off approach to being a landlord, but as you’ve found out there is a HUGE difference between the guru nonsense and the real world.

If you live close to this property, I would suggest managing it yourself. No-one cares about your property like you! Screen the tenants yourself. Make frequent trips to the property. Show that you’re a hands-on manager. I have taken over many problem apartment buildings and they always are a challenge.

You’ve got to rapidly identify and get rid of the riff-raff. Then, you’ve got to make the building look relatively attractive so that you can get decent tenants. Be VERY STRICT with the tenants. If they don’t obey the lease - EVICT THEM IMMEDIATELY.

If there is a lot of riff-raff in the area, you might want to consider a surveillance system. I just installed one today in my latest 7-unit apartment building and I am confident that it will cut down on problems in the area. Once fully active, I’ll be able to sit at home and view all 8 cameras on my computer simultaneously. The system also records all 8 cameras and can print a DVD if I need to provide evidence to the police.

Good Luck,


what is a squater ??

sorry to hear about your situation.

A squatter is generally a homeless person that lives in your dwelling illegally.

I’m sorry to hear about your situation; however I agree with Mike’s advice.

Agreed! YOU need to take a hold of the situation. It sounds like you need to sit down and come up with a game plan. Do a SWOT analysis for the situation. Address the problems and possible future problems. Weigh pros and cons heavily. You need a plan of action and should address certain problems more immediately than others.

I am not trying to be mean, but maybe you do not have the right personality to do real estate. It sounds to me like it is not only the tenants that are your problem, look at all of the people that have ripped you off. (Not that I haven’t been ripped off.) For example, I was trying to buy properties from people that were in foreclosure, I found out I just don’t have the personality for that. I needed to be much more aggressive (or a good liar) than I was comfortable with, so I have backed away from that. One time I was talking to the accountant that did my taxes, he congratulated me on doing so well, he said that after seeing how much some people could make in real estate, he decided to start investing - for him it was a disaster and he lost a lot of money. In my experiences with him, he did not have a problem with being aggressive, actually I think his problem might have been that he was too aggressive.
Just an idea…

Now is a terrible time to sell. Unless you want to get skinned. There was a trend in this country from 1940-2000 where real estate made moderate appreciation, Then in 2000-2005, we had an unusual bubble, now we are having an unusual correction. Wait until the trendline continues before you sell unless your carrying costs will ruin you.
Before you decide that this property isn’t working, manage it up.
If your management company is unscrupulous, find another one or do it yourself. If a property manager is telling you that they had to “fix the gate” or “adjust the closet door” get all repairs in writing, and ask the tenant if the property management company is actually doing these repairs. If the manager sounds like they don’t care, they probably don’t. Do not waste your time or your money doing business with people who do not care. There are plenty of property managers in the world, some of them are actually bright and good at what they do. If you are having a problem with tenants, it’s because of poor property management. Even the worst neighborhoods can have well managed buildings. You should educate yourself about how to manage a property well, whether you are doing it yourself or hiring it out.

If renovation companies are ripping you off, don’t pay them. Keep the negotiating power in your hands. You should only have to offer money for materials up front, and if they are dishonest or inept, sue them. It’s worth the time. You can blacken their credit, and if the dollar amount is high enough, you can garnish their wages or attach their accounts. Complain to the State Contractor’s Licensing Board, the Better Business Bureau, and any other consumer watchdog group that will listen. This only takes a day or two, and you will be surprised how these people suddenly change their attitude.
If you have a particularly problematic property, get a home warranty. When you pay a home warranty company $500 per year, their goal is to fix things as cheaply but effectively as possible. Think about it…what’s to stop a dishonest roofer from drilling holes in you roof? Or a dishonest plumber from causing leaks in your plumbing? Or a dishonest electrician from causing an electrical hazard? Then they tell you “Oh my God! You need to throw money at me, you rich landlord!”
Insurance is necessary to have, but you should try to never use it. There is a bureau called CLUE which monitors how much money you take out of insurance companies’ pockets in the form of claims. When you get in an accident, even if it’s not your fault, don’t be surprised to find your premiums going up. This is not a risk adjusted profile, as the company would like you to believe, it is a 30 year loan to cover the cost of your claim. Some insurance companies just let the money fall out of their pockets, no questions, no grief; not surprisingly, these companies charge a lot more for premiums than companies that run a much tighter ship. I suggest that you develop a relationship with an insurance broker. Be careful because insurance brokers often get paid based upon how much you pay for premiums, so they have a conflict of interest! They want you to pay more. Let these folks know that the last broker that you used charge too much and provided inadequate coverage. Let them watch you dump a few insurance companies if they charge you too much. I’m not telling you to be unreasonable, but if you get stuck paying too much, you can change insurance companies, and usually get prorated refunds from the company that is over charging you. It’s worth every penny and every minute of your time.
Honest, hard working, intelligent people are out there, but not everyone fits this description. When you find someone like this, count your blessings and treat them fairly. If they deserve to get paid well, pay them well. A lot of this business is about having connections and knowing the difference between valuable people and a people need to be exposed as the fraudulent incompetents that they are.

I agree with the above posts–you need to either get out of property ownership completely or get more involved. The buck stops with you.

Can you move in? Why not? Have some relatives or buddies stay there for free with you while you fix it up.
Drive there at night and walk around. Is there safe outside lighting? Here we can have a pole with a big light put in for $9.00/month from our electric utility.
It is better to have 4 empty units and 1 unit with a good tenant than 5 units rented to bad tenants. The bad tenants stop any decent tenants from even applying.

!. Get rid of bad tenants.

  1. Security lighting

  2. Fenced yards for kids and pets

  3. Clean up all junk, trash, alleys by your property. We make routine alley clean-up runs. If a prospective tenant drives there, clean it up.

  4. Green mowed grass and some shrubs. Make it look decent.

  5. If you were a nice working person with 2 kids, would you rent from you?

  6. Renovate the units one-by-one.

Trashy people rent trashy places. Nice people rent nice places.
So it’s a hard job, but why not have the nicest place on the block? It often doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does mean stopping and getting out of your car for every beer can and piece of junk polluting your place. It’s YOUR place.



I am sorry about your plight. Just like somebody said earlier to either get more involved or get out. Take a hard look at the situation, if it is within your power to correct like fixing, painting or renovation, find money and do it, but if it is a neighborhood issue, no amount of money you spend will fix the problem, you might consider getting rid of it.

I have a personal experience similar to yours, mine lasted 4+ years, it was a neighborhood problem and I paid too much for it. I had bad tenants that tear the place up, losing money every month, All efforts to sell proved difficult because of bad neighborhood, no appreciation. I lost money selling it last year but I am glad I no longer deal with the headache,

Take a hard look at this property and see if you have to get more involved or get out.

You learned from your mistake which matters the most. Sometimes, especially in your case, it is easier to cut your losses and call it a day.