No Tenants and No Toilets? You are joking, right?

June 22, 2013 — 3 Comments

New real estate investors and landlords are always warned about dealing with “tenants and toilets”.  The question is always, “Do you want to take calls from tenants in the middle of the night when their toilet is stopped up.”  I have always heard of this horror story, but it hasn’t happened to me in my 11 years of buying and selling houses as a real estate investor.

Recently, quite the opposite happened to me. This is a bit of a real estate investor horror story, but it is the truth.  I got a call, and I had NO TENANTS AND NO TOILETS!

First, watch this video:

OK. That video was sent to me by my landscaper. He was mowing the lawn of my only vacant rental when he called me. I was just sitting down at home with my family. I just finished grilling some beautiful porterhouse steaks when he called. It was about 7:00 PM. That is when there are typically rent house issues.

The video shows the hall bathroom. The toilet has been pulled from the drain, and the supply line is spraying all over the bathroom. It had been like that for several hours.   First, I’ll tell you what happened, and then what I did to fix it.

  1. The house was vacated on June 1.
  2. I hired my General Contractor to conduct a plumbing test. I suspected a sewer leak because the foundation was mounding. Mounding is when the foundation has a swell in the middle of the home for no explainable reason.
  3. The water service was not active when the test was preformed.
  4. The water shutoff for the toilet was not functioning properly, or the plumber did not turn it off. This part is debatable, but I’ll tell you why it does not matter in a moment.
  5. I requested water service on June 11.
  6. Luckily, my landscaper was there that day.

After my landscaper called to tell me there was “water running out of the house”, I took the following steps:

  1.  I gave him the combination to the lock box, and told him how to shut the water off at the cutoff.
  2. I then walked him through turning the water off at the water meter.
  3. I told him not to worry about the water heater, because we had not restarted it again yet.
  4. I told him to lock the house up and go.
  5. The next call was to my handyman. He only lives 5 miles away.
  6. I had him go open up the house, place fans, and remove the carpet.
  7. Then I told him to leave.
  8. The third call was to the General Contractor. He lives an hour away.
  9. His plumber stated that it could not have been their fault.
  10. He drove to the house, and stayed until 2:00 AM himself drying out the house and cutting the Sheetrock up 12 inches from the floor. This is done to prevent mildew or other types of further damage.
  11. He returned to the house several times over the next week to check the drying, and then repaired the Sheetrock damage, and repainted.

This entire experience cost me about $400. The carpet was going to be replaced already.  The General Contractor even offered to cover that, and I said No.

The takeaways?

  1. Self managing can save you money, but it will cost you time.  
  2. If you are going to self manage, you better know what you are doing, because improperly handling issues can cost you a lot of money.
  3. Hiring a General Contractor can save you time, money, and provide you with an invaluable team member.

What do you think?  Should an experienced real estate investor hire a property manager? What about a general contractor?


if you have read to this point, do me a favor, share this article, and/or comment below. Let me know if this is helpful, or if you have questions.


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I started at the bottom, worked hard and am now one of the top Real Estate Investors in the business. I learned from some of the best, excelling early as an acquisitions manager and then moved on to partner with other skilled investors to create my own portfolio of productive rental properties and later to mentor others to do the same. I am still actively involved in Real Estate, giving a current awareness to the training I share. My wife, Jennifer, and I live in Rockwall with our sons, Alex and Will.

3 responses to No Tenants and No Toilets? You are joking, right?

  1. Tim – Hire right, and also screen right and you are less likely to have issues, ask me how I know!

  2. read it

  3. Chuck Fleischer July 13, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Every time I talk to, read, or listen to Tim I learn something.

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