My voice was quivering when I made my final plea: “Please, Mr. X, just take the $5,000 and move out before the sheriff gets here.”
The guy refused. He and his wife stayed right up until the sheriff arrived to lock him out of the apartment. I had to appreciate the pride he carried within him, even if the stupidity made me sad.
How did we get to this point? When we bought the eight unit building on Clinton St. where all of this happened, all the units were occupied. We negotiated voluntary vacancy agreements with the seven of the eight tenants, paying them thousands of dollars to move so we could renovate.
We didn’t even try to negotiate with Mr. X, because he was paying $500 / month for his large apartment. We figured there was no way he’d take any amount of money to leave. But then a strange thing happened.
When the first of the month came around, Mr. X didn’t pay rent. We posted and mailed a 3 day pay-rent-or-quit notice. Still no rent.
I couldn’t believe it. We went to Dennis Block and filed an unlawful detainer case. We went to court.
Before the trial, I offered Mr. X a deal: Take $12,000 and agree to move out before the trial. He refused. I raised my offer to $15,000. He refused again. I asked my lawyer to review the evidence. He thought it was an open and shut case. I offered one more time. Mr. X’s wife asked him to accept. He refused. We went to trial.
We got the judge’s decision in the mail two weeks later. Evicted. Feeling awful, I offered Mr. X $5,000 if he would just move out before the sheriff came. There was no real need to offer the money. But I hoped it would ease the move and, also, my conscience. (In retrospect, I shouldn’t have felt bad. Why should someone get to live in my apartment without paying rent?)
Mr. X declined my offer and moved out. But not before teaching me something terrible but true about being a landlord.