I am a bit late writing about this, but felt compelled to add to the story.
From the TV news stations to the Facebook posts; the story of William and Heather Schwab has spread throughout North Texas. They are referred to as the Serial Squatters. The story seems so astonishing since they owe past landlords so much money. The news says thousands of dollars, but that amount would probably be the total for each landlord. More than likely the total amount they owe all the landlords could easily exceed tens of thousands of dollars.
You can see how quickly things can get out of hand.
Another reason they have hit the news with such fervor, is they are able to rent some very nice homes and were supposed to pay a very high rent. Which, in the end, they did not pay.
Though the news story makes this couple out to be some sort of astonishing scam artists. Which they are. But they are not the only ones. They just did so on a much grander scale than most others.
I have met their kind before. There are many of them. They live out their lives scamming unsuspecting and or inexperienced landlords. In this couple’s case one of the landlords was experienced and did vet them properly. The only problem is they are very good at lying, deceiving and presenting fake background data.
At one time, I owned many rental properties. And I admittedly got sucked in by their kind more than once. Over the years I learned from my mistakes and did perform the background checks and reviewed the credit reports. But I still would end up renting to people like the Schwab’s from time to time. And would run them through the eviction process. In fact, my name is embossed on one of the courthouse pews for the many, many evictions I conducted at a particular court house.
And the excuses, I would like to say I have heard them all, but I haven’t. One time, the tenant flat out said to me, “well, . . . I am all out of excuses”. What bothers me is she said it in a manner that I expected and enjoyed hearing her excuses. I do not know how I gave her that notion.
The take away, there are many people like the Schwab’s that prey on landlords.
If you are going to be a landlord you must take the additional steps to protect your property. Much of the following came from a good friend and realtor, Dick Gann.
You must call prior landlords. And by the way, I found apartment managers will not tell you anything about prior renters.
You must call current and prior employers.
You must call references.
Also, in your lease, you must state that you will come by to pick up the rent monthly on a set date. Say for instance the first Saturday of each month. If the tenant says they cannot meet you on that date, tell them to leave it on the kitchen counter. And as a part of the collection of the rent, you must replace the A/C filter and check all plumbing fixtures for leaks. And anything else you think you should inspect. You tell the tenant that this is to properly maintain the house and the A/C equipment.
It is fair to say that A/C equipment should be cared for since it is so expensive to repair and replace. Plumbing leaks are nor cheap either.
You should also explain to them it is for their benefit that you conduct the inspection.
This way, you collect the rent timely and see how the property is being taken care of.
These last few items I did not do. And I paid dearly for it.
Also, remember, you are the evil landlord. If you do not believe me, visit the housing authority office in your city. There will be brochures titled “What to do with a bad landlord”. Now the housing authorities are there to provide low cost government assisted housing. I am not suggesting you should go there to find your tenants. I am pointing out the material out there stacking the tenant’s views against you.
And be prepared to evict. Be prepared to do so properly and quickly within the rule of the law.
One last thought. A neighbor of one of my properties called me a few times to tell me and complain about my tenants. And she also told me that they were crazy. Based upon their actions and the fact I had to evict them, I agreed. I told my neighbor that I did my best to vet them and they looked and seemed normal. She promptly explained to me that crazy people always look normal!
In closing, Serial Squatters are living off of the backs of hard working people who provide a great service and product that is needed. These people have committed a large sum of their hard earned capital to provide these living spaces. This abuse trickles down on the good tenants.
I hope you found this information useful.
Corey N. Callaway
Investment Advisor Representative