Nov 23

The who’s who of Milwaukee rental housing were in attendance at Joe Peter’s funeral.  So many that one person commented that if a bomb hit the church nobody in Milwaukee would have to pay rent again.  A lot of folks I had not seen in years.  It’s sad that the only time we see these people anymore are funerals for friends.

One such person was Mike, a former board member of the Apartment Association.  He asked if I remembered having lunch with him a number of years ago.  I admitted I didn’t and kiddingly asked if I had skipped out on my portion of the bill. He assured me I hadn’t and that he just wanted to thank me for the sage advice I had given him that helped him succeed when others failed.  I had him remind me of what I shared with him that he felt was so valuable.  Once he told me, I felt it still rings so true that I would share it again.

At that lunch back in probably 2005 or 2006, the height of the silliness we were seeing in real estate pricing, Mike wanted to know how to acquire more units.  I cautioned him that his focus was wrong.

It’s not about how many units you own.  It’s about being sustainably profitable.

Unit fever is a disease that has wiped many owners in both good and bad economies. So don’t aim to have 50,100, 200, a thousand units.  Rather do the math and aim to only own profitable units and create scalable infrastructure before getting big.

Nov 18

A reader asks via FaceBook: (cleaned up a bit from the original)

I seem to be caught in the middle of my tenants who broke up and are going their separate ways in a battle over the security deposit of $1,000. She has the copy of the check she wrote out of her account for it. The receipt I gave them just says I received $1,000 from both of their names. (lesson learned let me tell you.) The receipt did not specify what form of payment I received it in, but she has the copy of the check. Do I split it in half or do I give it all to her? (minus any damge charges of course.) I don’t need to end up in court with court costs over this. Can you give me your opinion on how to handle the deposit? Would appreciate it. Thanks.

This is a pretty easy one.  In most cases you must write the check to all tenants on the rental agreement.  Here is the law:

ATCP 134.06(2)(d) If a landlord returns a security deposit in the form of a check, draft or money order, the landlord shall make the check, draft or money order payable to all tenants who are parties to the rental agreement, unless the tenants designate a payee in writing.

This leads to a follow up question:

So even though she wroite the check out of her own separate account, because they were both on the lease I make out on check to both? Just want to be sure I understand correctly. Thanks for your help. So then that leaves me out of the picture as they fight over the money? And since they are separated no, how do I give it to both, if I give it to her I know she’ll sign his name to it, but then he can go after her for forgery, and that still leaves me out of it, right?

By writing the check to both of them you are following the law.  As long as you don’t encourage or suggest that she forges his name, it is an issue between them and possibly the authorities.  When she pushes the issue with you giver her a copy of the law.

Is this fair to the person who provided the deposit?  Perhaps not , but it’s the law since January 1999.  If you do what you feel is right instead of what is legal you will be paying double deposit plus attorney fees.

Nov 13

A different way of municipalities interacting with property owners

In Washington  D.C. they have  The Housing Provider Ombudsman a information resource for small housing providers.

Blacklisting bad tenants

THE NAMES of 400,000 Australian renters have swelled national blacklists for crimes ranging from pouring concrete down toilets to stealing entire kitchens from properties. [Source]

Nov 13

The untimely passing of Joe Peters taught me another lesson –  no matter how well things seem it can all end tomorrow.

Today is probably as good as day as good as day as any to write down some instructions for those things that only you know, but your employees, friends and family  will have to know to put the pieces together when you are gone.

Nov 05

November 5th, 2011 was a very sad day, as our industry has lost yet another one of its few superstars, Attorney Joe Peters.  I met joe twenty plus years ago at an apartment association meeting. I don’t think he ever missed more than a handful of those meetings in the ensuing years, but now we will all deeply miss him

What Joe taught me:  Continue reading »

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