Working at the Rent Houses

This is from the now being edited “Notes About Growing Up”. It deals with my Dad’s rent houses and some interesting things tied to that, and also mentions some events when I had some for comparison. Having rent houses is not the easy care-free lifestyle the folks on TV say it is….

My Dad and Mom bought some rent houses as investments. Dad would scour the older neighborhoods for wood frame houses and find a deal. After they were bought they were rented out and he managed them also doing the vast majority of the repairs and maintenance. And of course Dad made me go with him to help. Doing that work was something I hated as a kid but it also paid off when I was a grown up.

Usually doing the repairs was not that big of a deal but two events showed that was not always the case. One rent house was not far from our old home on Congress Street and was on Texas Street near the TWU campus. After Dad had evicted some non-paying tenants we went over to clean the place up and get it ready to rent to someone else. What we saw there still makes us shake in horror. The place was not torn up per se but was laid to waste with filth. Inside there were fleas and other pet filth but one special mess I was personally detailed to clean up was where the idiots fed their dogs. Where you ask? There was a big hole in the front sidewalk leading to the door and the morons had simply used it as a bowl for their dried dog food. Suffice to say the uneaten food had massed and congealed into a maggot infested world filled morass of disgustingness. I got a shovel and scooped it all up, tossing it onto the yard – I trust the maggots adapted to that change in venue just fine.. A wonderful sight to behold let me tell you.

On another extreme, one not dealing with scumbag tenants I might add , was Dad bought a house on Mulberry Street, not the land it was on, and had it moved to the south side on Daugherty Street. It was set up on cinder blocks or maybe some pier and beam structure and we spent the whole summer re-modeling it. Yep our summer was not spent in leisure by some swimming pool but in the hot non-air conditioned house putting up sheet rock, tape and bedding it, and painting the walls. And of course doing some plumbing and related chores that were more like torture than a purposeful task one was glad to perform. You might now realize I hated every minute of it but in the end the place looked pretty nice and dad rented it out.

As a side note some flight attendants moved out of a house we had on Wood Street on the east side. They left a bunch of junk, including my future black and white TV. But as a side bonus they left some things most suited to a hormone rift teen: a stack of underground comics with all kinds of irreverent and X-rated stuff inside. Famous figures like Hungry Chuck Biscuits and Shuman the Human adorned these off the wall works and I smuggled them into my room. I thought the lady masturbating by sitting on two crow-bars were especially interesting and from time to time I would pull them out, gaze at their lurid and hilarious content, and then return them to their hiding place. But my Mom found them and they disappeared forever one day. Yes your parents might be going through your stuff looking for “unsuitable” items. She never said anything about them however. But you can find old copies on eBay even now. By the way I have not replaced them.

But things come full circle and in my 20s the kid’s mom and I bought two duplexes in Arlington and like my Dad and Mom we did most of the repairs and stuff, including evictions – one was a modern version of Texas street with dog crap, soaked carpet, needles, and used condoms strewn across the little duplex’s west side on Wilkinson Street in Arlington. And the crazy lady I asked to move out who was talking to herself while imagining things were on the roof plotting to get her” the other tenants said they would move out if she didn’t. And the one that took the cake was the drug fiend who faked disability – I took a lawyer with to the local Justice Of The Peace court on that one unlike the other evictions I had to do which were very routine (Texas is thankfully pro-landlord – you don’t pay the rent you quickly go elsewhere). But you get the point; having rent property has its ups, and the obvious downs, and is not the care-free easy money the no money down phonies say it is.

And eviction aside, and also like my parents, I dragged my kids to mine when I needed to go fix something or collect the rent. And what did they do? They bitched about it just like I did when I was a kid and still laughingly throw that up to me. Funny thing, my Dad said that might happen one day. And indeed that rent did become due. But I later sold off the remaining rent houses too – the widening of Center Street got the Wilkinson duplexes – which provided some hassle-free emotional rent in the end.

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