The original plan was for them to meet at a local coffee-house around noon. When James checked around 11am to verify that the meeting was still on, Bill requested that the meeting be pushed back until 1pm. Due to the kids naptimes and James' work schedules, 1pm was not going to work for either of us, but he agreed to 12:45, only to cancel a few minutes before. Again.
However, he told James, if he'd just come by the house at his convenience anytime after 3pm he'd be there and have the money waiting for him so he could quickly be on his way. James dropped by after work to find no one home, but a note waiting for him on the door. Inside was a check and a note. This should be good, right? Not so much. The note told James that he didn't have the cash after all, but he didn't want to leave him with nothing, so he wrote him a check. A post-dated check. For $1400.00 For the 30th of April. From an account with neither name verification, nor a number. Opened in Bill's name using our address. From an account, we learned upon presenting it to the bank it was written against, which had been open for approximately 6 hours at the time it was left for James and which contained the grand sum of $100. Um, yeah...
In addition to the non-payment, we had another significant problem brewing. When our agent was at the property for a showing that same week he gave us a disturbing heads up. Anyone recall the move-out date we'd hesitantly and over-generously agreed to? May 1st, right? So you'd think by the last week in April there would be some sign of packing/organizing/preparing to move. Surprisingly, from anything our Realtor could tell there were none. Unsure what to do since about it, we just hoped they were last-minute procrastinators who would magically pack and move as planned in the next week. Though, after the chain of events from the previous month, we were less than optimistic.
About this time, though most of our correspondence had been with Bill, we decided to contact Sandy again and see if she was any more helpful in getting the payment problem resolved. When we got her on the phone she was "shocked" to learn that Bill had not paid the rent. She told us she'd given him the money to do so a couple of weeks prior, and he'd informed her it was taken care of. She apologized profusely and promised that none of their future payments would be late. Future payments, this was a red flag, how was someone who was aware that they were due to move out in just days even mentioning future payments? She told us she was currently at work, couldn't provide us with an email because Bill was constantly snooping in hers and she was in the process of creating another (really? how long does getting a yahoo or google mail account take?I'm pretty sure I could create one, or five, while writing this post.) but would call us as soon as she was finished and get it straightened out. We weren't sure what to believe about all this, until Bill called James in a huff less than an hour later. How could we have gone behind his back to complain to his wife, that was so low, he said he'd get us the money, etc. So, it's a bit hard to believe she's really the clueless, in-the-dark wife if she called him immediately, especially since we didn't hear a word from her again. Ever.
Unsurprisingly, when April 30th dawned, there was no where near the amount to cover the check that was written earlier in the week, and by this point we were honestly just hoping they'd get out on May 1st and we could move on, even if it was without the rent money due us. All we really wanted to do was sell the house. So we emailed asking what time he'd like to drop off the keys since his lease expired at midnight.
His reply? Well, they'd run into some more delays with the house and the little run in with the taxmen had delayed their purchase yet again and they'd let us know when they got that resolved. Let us know, huh? Whose house is this anyway? I've asked myself that alot over the past couple of months. And the money? Oh yeah, he actually doesn't have it, he should have been more open and forthcoming about that. You think? He assured us that we're very important to him though, and he would get us the money as soon as he could.
At this point what I really wanted to know is why he thought that information would be re-assuring. Oh yeah, I'm not actually moving out of your house as promised, and no I don't have your month-late rent, but you're very important to me, I'll let you know when it's available. Does this really placate ANYONE living?
We also informed him that due to his non-payment of utilities for the previous month and a half, he had three days during which he could either provide us with the remaining information we'd need to set up utilities in his name on his behalf, or he could call and change them himself, but we would have them turned off on our end as of the 3rd. (Something we should have done at least a month previously.) Turns out, he must have thought we wouldn't really follow through and didn't leave himself enough time, and apparently didn't have the credit/correct information to use the electric company's online form which may or may not have resulted in a brief interruption of his electric service. Oops! Not.
At this point (about a month too late, again with the hindsight thing...) we started formal eviction proceedings. Only to find that Wisconsin is one of the most tenant friendly states in the country, and oh yeah, our county is even more tenant-biased than the state at large. Our first (and only) step if we wanted them out without the option to pay-and-stay was a 14-day notice of contract violation. No problem, at this point they were not only in violation of the contract, they actually had no valid contract and were squatting. Check! 14 days passed with not only no attempt on Bill and Sandy's part at resolution, but no return contact whatsoever. We spent much of the time collecting data, checking out our options, learning much more about the eviction process than we ever wanted to know, mailing more registered mail than ever before in our lifetimes combined, and trying to be ready to go when the waiting period passed. We called and received a court date for June 12th (thanks to Memorial Day we were one business day short of the required waiting period for a date the previous week) and then got to learn all about process servers, court filing fees, and other legal processes of which most law-abiding citizens are completely unawares. I would have been happy to stay with that group for the foreseeable future, but it was enlightening. Thankfully my wonderful husband has much more patience than I do and was a champ about dutifully filling out forms, following up on forms, and patiently waiting for our day in court. So, though we wanted them out in April, we now were forced to come to grips with the fact it would be at least mid-June before we again had access to the property. And our peak summer selling season was quickly rolling past with us unable to show. :(
To Be Continued...