Ever have a friend ask you to rent them something?...One word: DON"T!!! I did and I am still suffering the consequences. After you read this, I have a question that I really want to get answer on: WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE???
First of all-This man is not a close friend--more a business rather than a close friend and I have seen him infrequently over the 20 years that we have known each other, BUT, We have many mutual friends and I did not want to risk my reputation by making any mistakes!
I heard from him a month ago when he asked me to find a house for him to rent for the 2 weeks around Labor Day--he needed a tennis court too! He asked me to please find a great house for him and he would rent it sight unseen--he said he totally trusted my taste! He also asked me to find him a personal chef, since he is by himself and he does not cook! he was planning to bring his own housekeeper but he would need extra help during the 2 weeks as well since he expected his family to come for a few days over the Labor Day weekend.
I found a pretty, fresh, clean house that had a hard core tennis court on a beautiful village lot---one of the best rental houses here in the Hamptons. The chef I found for him was a young very successful personal chef who had worked for many tenants here and he had all the references needed.
My friend happily signed the lease and sent the rent and security deposit back to me and we were all set---I thought! I knew he would be very happy there!---well I thought he would be very happy there!---well, I guess you never really know, right?
The day before he was to arrive his private secretary called me to ask me to please tell the housekeeper not to use any fragrances in the laundry. It seems he has deadly allergies that he forgot to tell me about. He can die from the attacks if he breathes any fragrances...especially Bounce for the clothes dryer; it makes him violently ill. I told her he should have told me that; It would have made a big difference what house I found for him! I had new houses that had never been lived in that have tennis courts---that kind of a house is what he should have rented!!! She said everything would be fine, just make sure there was no fragrance in the house.
Well, I went right over to the house--the owner had been cleaning with the housekeeper to get the house ready for my friend. The smell of many different fragrances hit me as soon as I walked into the house. I asked if i could go around and remove the frangrances, explaining why. and we all proceeded to go through the house with a fine tooth comb, re-doing the laundry, scrubbing away any fragrance that still remained and even throwing away soaps that have fragrance and even the laundry detergent.
Whew! What a project! Now my friend is a well respected business man in New York City; none of us wanted to see this man suffer! ...and we for sure did not want to have an "allergy death" on our hands either!
Finally he arrived! I had a call within a half hour of his arrival...He saw the coffee pot had mold in it, no drainer at the sink, no cutting board and there was no stove---"how can my chef cook without a stove???"
Yes! There is a stove, just a stove top that is glass; a very popular stove top for some people but not all---neither he or his chef saw it apparently.---I went and bought a coffee pot, a cutting board and a drainer from the local hardware store and took it over to him---my mistake, and a big one too! I never should have gone near the house!!! I explained to him that by real estate law and in the case of a rental, I was not supposed to re-enter the house after I rented it to someone. And because of that law I was not going to come back while he was in residence.
After that I started getting text messages every hour on the hour:
- "Need more umbrellas--there is only one here."
- "I can smell fragrance on all the bedding!--can't sleep in the master!"
- "Sun is like an oven--need more umbrellas"
- "Chef is worthless--he's 18 years old!"
- "choked and coughed all night!"
- "This is the most terrible tennis court--my back hurts"
- This is a hard core tennis court---I needed a Har-Tru court!"
.....and on and on. It didn't end there--The hurricane was coming so I held my breath and called him to tell him he needed to prepare for that by putting things away like the umbrellas (I borrowed one for him from a fellow agent in the office) and the light weight things that could blow around---your standard preparedness for a storm.
The next thing I knew he texted me that he was back in the city and very unhappy with his experience--he wanted a refund. I gave him the owners name and phone number but he never called her---he kept texting me until I just shut off my phone.
Now, I don't do many rentals---I never developed that part of my business---I always rent my own house out and that is such a tricky thing that I never had the drive to persue them and never really had many calls for rentals either.
This experience was one that I will never repeat..I felt compelled to make this tenant happy and it was not in the cards!!! he was going to be difficult no matter what; I finally figured that out. The biggest irony is that he never put anything away for the hurricane and even though we did not get a direct hit, my friends umbrella is shot!!!
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE??? I am dying to know what you would have done in this situation...where did I go wrong???
**ALL INFORMATION AND CONTENT IN THIS BLOG IS ORIGINAL TO PAULA I. HATHAWAY. The views expressed herein are my personal views and do not reflect the views of Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Paula I. Hathaway, Senior Broker Associate, Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Southamtpon Village Real Estate Specialist since 1995; Also Specializes in North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill and Bridgehampton, New York
Diamond , Gold and Chairman's Circle Awards; Top Producer since 2005
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