Did you know the NH government is directly encouraging people to be irresponsible, shiftless losers? There’s apparently a law here in NH that prevents landlords from collecting last month’s rent upon entering into a lease with a tenant. The NH government is essentially telling people that they can’t make up their own minds and write their own leases to the satisfaction of both parties. This law does not “protect” tenants; it encourages them to screw over landlords. Here’s my story.
When I purchased a duplex here in Keene and inherited the prior owner’s lease, I knew there was going to be a problem. One, there was no last month’s rent collected. I at first thought the old landlords were sloppy; now I know it’s the government’s doing. Two, the tenants with the nearest lease expiration were college students. Some college students haven’t lived outside of their parents’ home and have not really had an opportunity to experience the “real world”. Hence they have little to no understanding of responsibility, contracts, and honor.
I purchased the home in May, and the tenants’ lease was coming up for renewal at the end of August. After closing, I sent written notice to the tenants that they were to move out at the end of the lease. This amounted to 90 days notice! That’s plenty of time to find a new place and move out. I consider that pretty reasonable, but they apparently took it personally.
There is much more to this story:
Both June and July passed and both months they were late with the rent. As August arrived, they claimed they couldn’t pay their last month’s rent. Surprise, surprise! They threatened to coerce me into signing up for City of Keene welfare, which I refused considering it’s not my responsibility to jump through government hoops to get the rent *the tenants* are obligated to pay me. They then decided they’d just consider the security deposit as last month’s rent. This was still another violation of the lease. One tenant tells me they’ll be out on time and will leave the house in good shape. I have no reason to believe him.
My friends who had been taking care of my Keene property while I was still in Florida call Labor Day weekend to tell me there’s junk in the house, and that it appears someone is still sleeping there. My girlfriend, co-host, and I decide not to let the situation get us down and we embark on a 26 hour, 1500+ mile journey up the east coast to arrive in Keene on Labor Day. At around noon, we pull up to my Keene duplex hoping to throw down an air mattress and crash for a while before unloading the truck. We went inside.
There was no room to throw down any size air mattress! The house was trashed. It could have been a lot worse, but at the time it was pretty overwhelming. Fetid, dirty dishes in the kitchen, trash and belongings all over the place, flying insects, a mud room full of months of trash, and I’ll spare you the rest.
The at-this-point former tenants arrive. One, we’ll call him Mr. Amazing, claims he’s going to clean the house and makes a beeline for his drum set in the basement. He’s now trespassing on my property, but we give him his first break, choose not to call the cops, and try not to escalate an already heated situation. Considering we can’t afford to wait around for them to “clean” the house at their leisure, we secure the property once they are gone and begin cleaning up the mess so we can finally sleep.
As we begin to clean up, what had been a nightmare arrival in Keene begins to morph into a very revealing look into the lives of the former tenants, especially Mr. Amazing. The first marijuana growroom we found was in the upstairs closet. The second was in the basement. The plants and lights were gone, but all of the other evidence was there: dried marijuana leaves, harvested stems, plant pots, insect killer, plant food, hooks, white reflective boards, and notes. Yes, notes. Notes that clearly indicated that not only was he growing pot, but also selling it.
The strangest thing was a note we found in the freezer. Well, it was strange until we read it. It was another business note, but this one about “tabs”. Considering that the note was in the freezer, “tabs” likely means LSD. It appears Mr. Amazing was selling a variety of interesting things! (But couldn’t pay the last month’s rent?)
The next time I saw him, I let him know we knew what he’d been doing, and also pointed out that we were not taking the evidence to the Keene PD. While he looked visibly relieved, when we broached the topic of the last month’s rent he continued to have a “the world owes me something” attitude and left telling us that if there’s one thing he’s learned from all of this it’s that people from Florida are assholes! As though being born on a particular plot of land determines anything about one’s personality.
I’d like to point out that I’m not bothered in the least by the grow rooms, sale of, or usage of pot and LSD. In fact, Mr. Amazing in his astounding display of sloth and ignorance unknowingly burned a bridge of a potential ally. I’m someone who considers the government’s War on Drugs a scourge upon America, and I want to end it. I’ll have more on deregulating drugs in another column. What I am bothered by is the fact that these guys stiffed me on the rent and left me a trashed house.
I’m also bothered by their breach of contract, and the fact that by preventing landlords from charging last month’s rent in advance, NH’s government encourages tenants like them to be irresponsible and develop an entitlement mentality.
I hope Mr. Amazing and his friend make good, because they are about out of any karma they might have acquired in their short “adult” life. Either way, they should chalk this all up as a learning experience. I hope as they mature they realize that they got very lucky they encountered us instead of someone stupid, violent, and likely to call the cops. Things could have been much worse for the former tenants, but because we’re good people, we let it slide.
Oh, and it wasn’t just us. My realtor tells me that when she was looking at the house for me while I was still in Florida, that the guys attempted to prevent her from getting into the grow closet upstairs. She went in anyway and discovered the grow operation while the plants were still there! Like us, she also did not call the Keene PD. It’s clear from our otherwise enjoyable experience here thus far, that there are plenty of good people in Keene, and I’m glad to be here with you.