Avoid the Hole in the Floorin HPN Blog
Whew! Now that tax time is over, we have a little bit of time for reading…
I have a hole in my bathroom floor. Every morning, I step right on the edge, and my foot slips on the rug into the hole, and I almost crack my head on the counter. You’d think I’d know where to step after doing this for almost 3 years. The hole is there because there was a leak in the hot water line. When the carpet in the bedroom turned into a swamp overnight, I realized there was something major going on. It was so big, they had to cut a 2×5 foot hole through the slab to fix it. They did a rough patch, but I haven’t done a smooth patch and laid new tiles. We have stacked up cardboard and covered it with a rug, so we’re not stepping on bare concrete, but it’s not a good fix… obviously.
No wonder the cats loved laying there, warming their bellies. No wonder the shower was always nice and hot as soon as we turned it on. Normally, I would make a repair like this and would have opted to just retiled the entire bathroom (and rejoiced to have a justification for doing it because I hate that tile). Because I am not currently the homeowner of record, I don’t want to complete the repair. As it was, perhaps I should have left the water thing alone, but it’s probably a good thing I didn’t, because, as it is, there was already a gaping cave excavated from under the slab. I can’t imagine how big it would be 3 years’ worth of showers later!
But the point is, I am not the only homeowner alone in this. When the ownership of the dwelling you call home is being contested, it just doesn’t make sense, in my opinion, to put money into fixing other than the most pressing issues. Because if the courts order me to pay rent, I can then ask my new “landlord” to pay for the repairs. And if I decide to leave, well, I won’t have wasted my money. So, I’m keeping on my list of things that need to be repaired: the cracked toilet that’s not yet leaking, the solar sensor that leaves my outdoor garage lights burning 24/7, the widening cracks in the stucco, the fading paint job, the slowly dying dishwasher. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t salivate over new appliances, patio furniture, or new yard designs I love. I just have to remind myself that I don’t know where I’ll be living next month, so what’s the point? I’ll just add those things into my plan for the future.
We just received word on the commissioner’s decision in the eviction case, where a higher court ordered that my mortgage company rent back to me until the civil suits are settled – he is ordering me to pay $1,960 a month in rent – not as bad as expected, but still unreasonable, given the evidence. My attorney has already appealed the decision. A large part of his argument against this comes from the mortgage company themselves. Isn’t it great when you can use their own work against them?
In the first Unlawful Detainer action they filed, they were seeking $33.33 a day as a fair market rental value. Under perjury. Then, in the second Unlawful Detainer action, they stated that $50.00 a day was fair market rental value. Again, under perjury. See the pattern here? Along comes a third value, based solely on figures derived from Zillow.com. Don’t get me wrong, I like Zillow, but was shocked to see the “zestimated” rental values in my neighborhood. When I looked at Craigslist, it became apparent that the numbers on Zillow don’t match up with reality. I’m not sure how the higher court will look at the presentation of three varying figures submitted under perjury, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon! Once again… I don’t feel I should have to pay more in rent than I paid for a mortgage, especially when the house is currently worth less than the mortgage I was paying on. And where do I get my valuation for the current market value of my home? Zillow. So, if the rental numbers are inflated, the market value has got to be inflated, as well.
I have made my plans… if the rent is too much, we will move in with a friend. I haven’t started packing the rest of my things, though. If we could get a roommate we don’t mind living with to help defray the cost of rent, that would help avoid moving. But it has to be someone we really like, and all of those people we know already have a place to live.
For many people who are facing difficulty meeting their monthly payments, renting out a room can be a lifesaver. This wasn’t an option I pursued at the time, because I simply didn’t consider it, in particular because I believed that my lender was going to work with me. Think about what a relief it could be to you to have an extra $300-500 more a month. Would that be a relief for you? Then consider renting. There are a lot of things to consider when opening up your home to a renter, though.
You may want to pay to run credit checks on the renters. There are many stories of people having their homes ruined, renters refusing to pay, then abandoning the property without paying. It is a lengthy and costly process to get someone out of your house – at least three months in California and some other states.
Another thing to consider is what your rights are as a homeowner. In California, your renter has access to every part of your home, and you cannot keep them out of any room – not even your bedroom. You could be in defiance of the law if you put a lock on your bedroom door; however, your renter is allowed to put a lock on their door, and you are not to enter their room at any time. Right? So they could potentially go through all your belongings, but you could be arrested for entering the area they rent!
Now, back to the waiting game. And tomorrow morning, I’ll try not to fall into the hole in the bathroom floor!
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Is there anything special you’ve added to your home or yard that you don’t want to leave behind? Make a plan for how you will move and store them if you need to do it in a hurry.
I have some of my mother’s roses – some of which were planted before I was born. I was only able to take a small portion of her 70 rose bushes when I sold her home, and they surround my home now. One of my biggest concerns is about saving those while possibly living in several temporary places before finding a new home. I have called some nurseries in my area to see if they can plant them into movable pots, how quickly they can mobilize, if they can store them, and how much that will cost. You can do the same for whatever special plants or other special items you have, like statues, fountains, chandeliers, etc. It’s better to be prepared and have a plan in place than to be scurrying at the last minute when you may not be thinking clearly.