Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz too. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



The meanest, baddest landlord in America is John T. Reed, a West Point grad in Alamo, California.  In Reed’s world, if you’re a day late with your rent, you’re on the curb with your cat and kitty litter.

Reed lost a ton of money in real estate, and made a lot of money writing about it.  I’ve read most of his books; he’s a good writer and smart.  (There are many savvy landlords but not many can write.  They’re too busy at target practice.)  Reed shows you how to twist tenants’ arms until they say: “Here’s the rent, sir, and it’s a day early!”

Reed claims you can mail it in — not the rent, but your on-site supervision.  Reed, living in California, owned apartments in Texas, so he sent postcards to his tenants, instructing them to drop dimes/postcards on his custodians and their job performances.

That long-distance supervision doesn’t work.  If I don’t check my buildings  at least once a week in person, the buildings will turn into dumps — Magic Marker on the mailbox labels, the exit lights burned out, and 100 cigarette butts on the stoop.

Nothing gets done if I don’t show up.  The painter, his back goes out until I show up.  I’m better than a chiropractor.  The Yellow Pages directories pile high in the lobby until I show up.  The grass doesn’t get cut until I show up.  I understand all that.

I say to my building managers: “You need to take care of this right away.”  And I show up.

I conduct exit surveys. I ask my former tenants if my buildings and managers are good.  The ex-tenants, long gone, are totally honest because they face no repercussions from building managers.

Here is a sample of  former tenants’ replies:

The apartment flooded.  It was not my fault!

I didn’t know I would need air conditioning in Ohio. And there wasn’t any!  [From a Californian.]

Water pressure — terrible.

Workers parked in my spot, and I was paying for it.

The marijuana smoke from the alley was very strong, and spending the summer with the windows closed was not acceptable.

The favorable comments, you don’t want to hear.  Too self-serving, too bubbly.

Maybe I should write a Nice Guy Landlord handbook.  That’s a niche John T. Reed won’t fill.  My title: How to Manage Apartments and Jam with Your Tenants, with accompanying CD featuring the songs “You Tore Out My Window Screens, Now my Heart?”, “I’d Like to Go Month-to-Month with You, Baby” and “I Can’t Find the Handle (To Your Refrigerator of Love).”

John T. Reed could be my sound man at real estate conventions.  We could share a booth. Do a good cop/ bad cop thing and split the profits.

1 of 2 posts for 7/21/10.  Please see the post below too.

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1 comment

1 Teddy { 07.21.10 at 12:13 pm }

I’m trying to negotiate a month-to-month with my current landlord. Is that song on iTunes yet?

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