A few years ago I inherited a property from my father in the neighborhood of Arbutus, MD. Arbutus is located in southern Baltimore. The first 6 months the property sat vacant. I was busy with the funeral arrangements and then just could find the energy to do anything further with the property. After a little while I got past the grieving process and decided it was time for action, I was going to turn it into an investment property.
I called a few property management companies but wasn’t impressed with their customer service. With the lack of quality managers I decided to go at the management alone. How hard could it be? I made a listing on Craigslist and had a handful of interested renters in a matter of hours. “This is going to be easy,” I thought to myself. Boy was I wrong.
Meeting the renters at the property, they seemed like good people. The wife was a local nurse at Johns Hopkins and the husband was a for-hire carpenter. They grew up in the area and were looking for a larger house with more space for their kids. Although my gut instinct was to go through a formal background and credit check, I decided that they seemed honest and had them sign a lease then and there. They gave me the first month’s rent, a security deposit, and I was on my way to being a landlord.
The next month I waited for a check in the mail but it never came. My heart sank but I comforted myself with the idea that if must have been lost in the mail. I tried calling them a few times but no answer. Getting impatient I went over to the house. The wife answered the door. She apologized for being behind on the rent, that her husband had been out of work. Where was this information a month ago? This was the beginning of my nightmare experience being an Arbutus real estate investor.
I was overcome with anger and regret. How could I have been so stupid. I decided to suck up my pride and call a local Maryland lawyer I know and he gave me the rent court address. “It’s going to be a long process,” he said to me as we hung up. Drained and slightly defeated and laid on my couch. I no longer had the visions of being the next Baltimore millionaire and was quickly learning that owning rental properties was not for me.