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- November 2002
Susie Kruse

Landlord Since 1981
State: Texas
Property Type: Residential Homes

Times are stressful. The economy is fragile, and job security is almost non-existent. The only safe place for your retirement money is in a can buried in the backyard. But the truth remains. I have to pay my rent or I am out on the street. Same goes for my renters.

Philosophy of the Working Landlord

Treat people the way you would like to be treated. We provide a clean, updated, maintained property, attractive inside, as well as out. Why? Why not? Providing dignity for someone provides us with a respectable reputation. We aren't making millions on the rent. I guess that is not God's plan for us. But we will still do the right thing, and hopefully what you give, you get back.

How We Do It

Prayer (and alot of it), along with a level headed husband helps.

  • Being a do-it-yourselfer is a must unless you want to kiss any profits you make, (& some of your own savings) good-bye.
  • Develop a relationship with the neighbors and let them have your phone number in case of daytime emergencies, or nighttime disturbances.
  • Meet the cops assigned to your property area. Let them know who you are, and which property is yours. I felt alot safer knowing how to get a hold of them when I worked alone late nights at the house while it was empty and being repaired. Peace of mind is a good thing.

    The Lease...

    Usually handled by my husband. Prospects were screened as best as the law allows, but things change once they are in. I call it the Jeckle and Hyde Syndrome. What seemed like a decent family turned into a nightmare after 2 years. He left her (unfortunately he did all the upkeep and repairs), she went on disability, took in "roommates" to subsidize the rent, sent rent late, or sometimes not at all. Y'all know the drill.
    Being a member of LPA has provided us with valuable information and an education we would normally have been learning the hard way. We even have rights! Who knew?
    John Nuzzolese has certainly done his homework to show us how to protect ourselves, our property, and our investments. I only wish I knew about LPA alot sooner! Thanks, John, for providing a much needed service! Knowledge is power!


    Lay a good relationship foundation with new tenants. Supply them with useful phone #'s (util- ities, deputy #'s, maintenance boards, etc.) as well as area info.

  • Be fair, but firm. Find a comfortable balance between a personal and business relationship. Being too tough only gets your place trashed.

    Managing The Rentals...

  • Look into AMERICAN HOME SHIELD service plan. Once a member, repairs for electrical, plumbing, appliance ,airconditioning, etc. are covered for the cost of a service call ($35 in Houston). Well worth it for these older homes.
  • ARS is also a good company nationwide that services property maintenance problems at a fair price and excellent, prompt service .
  • All repairs are covered initially by the tenant up to $75. (our requirement.)
  • Being specific and playing hardball with habitual dead beats is the only language they know. Most of them know the system better than than we do, and know how to abuse it.
  • Never needed one yet, but it's not a bad idea to have a good property lawyer on hand.
  • If a tenant is habitually late with rent, might as well raise it to cover your late fees to protect your credit.
  • Changes to property must be approved by us. (right down to nail holes for picture hanging.)

    Legal Tips and Words of Wisdom:

  • Listen to the right sources (i.e. John Nuzzolese) professionals, or other successful landlords. We all have horror stories to tell, but I'd rather hear the viable solutions, not get into the pity parties.
  • Do the right thing. Don't compromise your good reputation in a fit of anger.

    Thank you, LPA, for recognition as Landlord of the Month!

    The LPA would like to thank Susie for all her valuable input and sharing of knowledge with us. Landlords everywhere have the opportunity to benefit from the lessons and knowledge brought to us by our Landlords of the Month.

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