I had an interesting time with contractors last week. We have five rehabs going right now, which means we are dealing with lots of contractors and many different schedules. And last week’ workflow was, well, inefficient at best.
I had one contractor go MIA. I chose that term because we didn’t know he was gone. He normally goes out, works and sends us his invoice when he is done. At the end of the week, we went to do property inspections saw nothing had happened; none of our contractors had seen him, either. Turns out, he had been in the hospital all week.
Next, we had two houses that needed to have the floors refinished. One house was ready for the floor crew, and we had the job scheduled for this past Monday. Somehow, our flooring contractor mistakenly thought we weren’t ready and took us off the schedule without notice.
The refinishing process takes four to five days and we can’t have anyone in there working until the polyurethane dries completely. This scheduling miscalculation meant we had a house sitting for over a week with no work being done on it.
During this time we also had a painter try to submit an invoice before the job was finished.
I’m sure you are familiar with this custom. The contractor will submit the invoice and claim they only have an hour’s worth of work left to complete the job. Two days later, however, they still aren’t done.
Most of the time this is because of the contractors’ personal drama leaching into their professional lives. Whether it’s addiction or just money mismanagement, it’s a pain the neck that will cause them to lose your business.
Something different had happened with this painter, however.
As investors, we all know the rental market is crazy right now. Availability is low, causing our rents to go through the roof. These factors have caused prospective tenants to become a little desperate, thus making a niche for scam artists.
Our painter needed to move into a new place. He found one, viewed the inside of the property, and filled out an application right then and there. But in order to secure his spot in the rental, the “property manager” asked him to pay the first month’s rent, deposit and application fee … in cash.
You can guess what happened. The guy took off with all of the painter’s money.
The painter had no reason to believe the man showing the house was a thief. He said the “property manager” was well dressed, drove a nice car and showed the interior of the property. He was desperate to secure the rental before someone else got it and was willing to do whatever it took, i.e., pay cash up front with no receipt.
Last month, we learned of man who was coming to one of our houses, showing the exterior of the property and claiming to be the owner. He didn’t ask the would-be tenants for money. Instead, he wanted to get their bank information so he could draft the funds from their account.
He didn’t get very far thanks to quick response of the Cartersville PD.
This crazy rental market has made for desperate tenants, and scam artists are capitalizing on the situation.
If you’re reading this and are currently in the market to rent a house, be careful. You can protect yourself by doing things like paying with money orders instead of cash. This gives you a receipt that’s traceable. Don’t give your bank account number to anyone until you have a signed lease and keys in hand. And finally, just be smart. If it smells fishy, walk away. Don’t become so frantic trying to find a place that you allow a scam artist to take what you have worked hard for.
Landlords, be vigilant. The last thing you want is to find that someone has moved into your house after signing a lease with a scam artist.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.