After arriving at the appointed time and waiting for a few minutes, Bill showed up alone. Turns out Sandy wanted to be there, but couldn't, an excuse that would be repeated often in the future...we're still not sure what Sandy's involvement in what went down after this point was, but needless to say we're pretty sure they could use a marriage-family counselor, though that was the least of our worries.
Anyway, Bill arrived with another addition to his story. The scoop, he said, was that they were planning on a cash purchase of their new home and that they were being "yanked around" by the seller. It seems that his wife didn't want to relocate so she was dragging her feet on moving out and they were now being told it would be the first of May at the soonest before they could get into their new property. Couldn't we please just give them an additional couple of weeks, at least, so they could stay in one location. They'd be extra cooperative with showings, and all we needed to do was say the word and they'd work with us however we needed, even if the showings were last minute, or inconvenient, they were our people.
The furniture and possessions in the property that were in somewhat-worse-than-good condition? Purchases off Craigslist so he could avoid unpacking his storage unit until he got into his big, beautiful house.
His wife? Neurotic, please don't contact her in the future, she doesn't deal well with changes.
And the room color? Well he guessed if he thought really hard about it he did remember us saying neutral, but Diva was just so excited about having her own room again, and she just loved those colors so much, and he's pretty sure if we just gave it a chance we'd see how stylish she'd made it. Um, yeah. Stylish for a 14-year-old, maybe. Buyer appropriate, not a chance. When we reiterated that we did in fact mean neutral, and only neutral he told us he'd get right on that. Couldn't do it the following day as he had evening meetings, but the day after for sure he'd get that fixed right up. He also informed us that he's quite a handy painter and it would be no problem. We dropped the paint off the next morning and assumed it had been taken care of.
Following our meeting with Bill and subsequent conversations with our agent, we reluctantly agreed to the May 1st move-out date, on the condition that showings were being accommodated and the property was in good condition, a situation our Realtor was comfortable with and we felt we could tolerate. We were somewhat concerned that we'd be missing our peak window for a sale this summer with the tax-credit expiring on the 30th of April, but we were trying to do the right thing and not be selfish. What help a crystal ball would have been...
While they did in fact allow showings over the next couple of weeks without too much hassle, we now get to the crux of the problem. As you probably recall, Bill had paid for February and March in cash at lease signing. He'd also provided an advance on the utilities which ran out about mid-March. During our meeting we mentioned that the cash for utilities had been expended and we'd be needing more and he assured us it was no problem, just let him know and he'd get it right to us. So, on April 1st we were anticipating receiving a check for April's rent and the amount we'd let him know was due on utilities. April 1 came and went, no check. On April 5th, the date the late payment went into effect, James called to give him a reminder that payment had not been received and to make sure the money was on its way. Bill was very apologetic and informed us that he'd been out of town the previous week, but he'd get a check out to us right away. By the beginning of the following week, we'd still received no payment, so we checked in with him again. He told us that he'd mailed it the day he and James had last talked (6 days prior) so the post office must have lost it. He'd put a stop payment on his check and get us a new one right away. ANOTHER five days passed. When we had still not received any payment, James and I were starting to get highly frustrated, though Bill didn't seem to pick up on it. As happily as you please he told us that when he talked to Sandy, he found out she hadn't sent the check until two days later, so if we'd just wait another three days he was sure we'd have it. (Keep in mind the postal service had the difficult task of delivering this check approximately 1.7 miles, perhaps as much as 3 if you figure the triangle between his house, the post office, and our house.) Annoyed, but just wanting our money, we waited the requested time and then contacted him again. His excuse? The post office must have lost it again! Really? In a same-town delivery over the course of two weeks the post office has lost not one, but two letters containing your rent check? What bad luck!
He informed us he was just too frustrated with sending the mail and was done dealing in checks, he'd just pay us cash the following day. We agreed that cash would be fine and he and James set up a time the next day to meet. About 15 minutes before that meeting was supposed to happen he emailed to say that he had something "really important" that he'd forgotten about and he'd have to cancel and wait until the following day. This process went on for the next ten days, each day he'd forget about a meeting, or have to leave a the last minute, or once he "had to make a last minute trip to Milwaukee overnight" though interestingly when we dropped by the property on our way out of town at 8:30 the following morning he was present, but he just didn't have the money on him, though he would later that afternoon. All this time, he didn't seem to find anything unusual about his behavior, or understand why our patience might be limited. And again, newbie mistakes, we didn't start investigating our options nearly soon enough.
His next tactic was an interesting one, and one I would never have thought to make up, so perhaps it was true, perhaps he's just a great storyteller. The basics: he directs a non-profit and told James that he'd played "creative" games with our great nations friendly revenue collection service and "gotten busted." According to his story, they'd put a freeze on his account so he couldn't get any money out, but his assets were supposed to be unfrozen "tomorrow" and he'd get us the money right away. During this time he also had a couple of scandalously high utility bills arrive, but when pressed for the money to pay those he made similar excuses and asked for copies of the statements. And so the plot thickens.
To Be Continued...