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.



re: my op-ed  in today’s NYT (2/29/12).

Do you want to read more landlord stories?  I have millions.  Here are two good ones: “Diving for Dollars” and “Tossed Out.”  Or just scroll down to the next post.

Best idea: Read my piece in the latest City Journal mag.  This article is my best writing.  If you are looking for top-quality real-estate lit, the City Journal article is the way to go. 

Must read long amusing article about real estate now.  Yes, you must.

I do a two-man music/prose show, “Dear Landlord: Real Music and Real Estate.”  You — or your real estate group —  should hire “Dear Landlord.”  We’re ready for the real estate conventions.

My band, Yiddishe Cup, plays all over the country.

I post up here every Wednesday morning.  Please subscribe to this blog.


–Bert Stratton

P.S.  Regular blog readers,  please read the post below too.  It’s fresh.

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1 Dan { 02.29.12 at 5:38 am }

Hi . I can match you story for story after having been a small landlord with a few properties in NY/PA for over 30 years . If the Courts were more realistic , I probably would have been extremely wealthy , as I would have bought many more rental properties over the years , but the threat of 6months , a year , or more of back and forth in Court each time with problem tenants caused me not to expand in the tenant friendly NY .
In retrospect , I should have bought larger “hands off” properties and had managers , supers , and lawyers take care of business . In NY , appreciation and amortization alone would have been more than enough , even if no cash flow after expenses , to become wealthy .
But I went small , did everything myself , and it is fair to say that “landlording” ruled my life , always worrying about a call at midnite of “no heat” in winter , or non payments , or “we’re moving” . I’d routinely opened bank accounts at suspect tenants banks to “vet” the checks prior to cashing – Ah , those emotionally stimulating words from the teller –
Pure depression when told “insufficient funds available” , verses pure joy at “no problem , it’s fine”.

2 Dan Walter { 02.29.12 at 7:17 am }

Great piece in NYT Bert. I think you are better off identifying your self as a landlord rather than a Realtor. A recent real estate transaction prompted me to post this on my blog:

3 Kate Gillette { 02.29.12 at 9:05 am }

Hi Bert,
Great column in the NYT this morning, although I was so surprised to see the name of a former neighbor writing in the Times that I nearly spit out my coffee all over my iPad. Say hello to Alice!
Kate Gillette
(now living in Colorado after an expat experience in Belgium)

4 Bill Jones { 02.29.12 at 10:12 am }

Mazel tov on hitting the NY Times high end “real estate” part of the paper.
May your writing reputation only increase, maybe some money with it, too.
Always wondered who in Cleveland Hts would replace Harvey Pekar as our poet laureate.

5 Richard Grayson { 02.29.12 at 10:45 am }

Great op-ed! It’s great to see you in the Times.
My best friend is a landlord in NYC (my landlord, actually) and I suspect things are very different in the city than they are anywhere else.

You don’t have any properties with just two or three apartments in the building?

6 Anya { 02.29.12 at 12:15 pm }

Great article in NY Times. Question: what advice do you have on where to go and what to do for the background checks?

7 zach { 02.29.12 at 12:36 pm }

great seeing your pearls of wisdom in the times!

8 hb { 02.29.12 at 4:20 pm }

nice reading in the nyt..this blog looks good, too.

9 Dream City { 02.29.12 at 4:48 pm }

This is how you handle people who bounce rent checks. You accept checks for rent until the first time the rent check bounces. Then you only accept money orders, those can’t bounce. Or you only accept money orders for the next six, eight or 12 months. Also, regarding the “no heat” at 3 am call, either let the call go to voice mail and answer it and get on it in the AM, or hire a management company to do that for you. Also, no tenant should be calling their landlord at 3 am for anything unless they have called the police first.

Advice from a tenant.

10 Glenn Charles { 02.29.12 at 5:22 pm }

The other side of the story is when someone with no record of anything but bad credit seeks to rent a “property”–within income levels, since that’s usually checked–and is repeatedly declined. And that unfortunately is the story at least within Southern Oregon. What is most amazing are the components to having good credit, like having a credit card and using it.

11 Mike { 02.29.12 at 5:31 pm }

Hey, that article was useless. I am not sure why it was written, submitted to any newspaper, reviewed by an editor let alone why it was printed. I couldn’t comment at NYT, so I felt the need to come here and tell you that putting a few anecdotes into some loose paragraph structure is neither an op-ed piece nor worth the energy it took to produce. Don’t do it again please. Thanks.

12 Seth { 02.29.12 at 5:50 pm }

Hey, I like Mike…not his substance but his writing style. He should do an op-ed.
Poor Dan…having lament at 5:38am.

13 Laura Schnell { 02.29.12 at 7:49 pm }

I saw your article and I just wanted to leave you a note with my thoughts. You sound exactly like the kind of discriminating douche bag landlord that makes people hate landlords. Sure, it’s a free country and I’m assuming you can get away with your discriminatory habits, but I hope future tenants rent from some one else. As a person with no record, who has never been arrested, who has never missed a rent check, and who is universally considered a model renter (as I am almost always explicitly told), I would never rent from you. Individuals who have made a mistake in their past and paid their time deserve a place to live just like anyone else. Servers and bartenders aren’t always party animals and they too need somewhere to stay. People don’t hate landlords because they didn’t pay rent as a child, they understand how the system works and are just trying to make it like everyone else. People hate landlords because of you.

14 don friedman { 02.29.12 at 8:53 pm }

really enjoyed the ‘tale’, Bert. Made me think of the years at Ellacot apts. When I moved, the brothers let me paint my pad and returned the deposit. I was a good painter.

15 Louis Debraclave { 02.29.12 at 10:54 pm }

People hate landlords because they are parasites. They are people who produce nothing and are good for nothing. You don’t want to provide a place to live you want to get rich without working for it. They did not build the buildings nor do they usually maintain them properly. Just remember its entirely possible one of those psychos you messed with might decide to come back one day and kill you just for fun. It would not be the first such case I have heard about.

16 Nora { 03.01.12 at 12:29 am }

People hate landlords because of their experiences with landlords who are unreasonable, discriminatory, bottom-feeding idiots. Most people who are landlords do so because they desperately need a career that gives them license to be an asshole in a socially acceptable way. What kind of inhuman jerk locks an old woman’s belongings in the basement? Get a real job, like those bartenders you refuse to rent to.

17 Niek { 03.01.12 at 12:47 am }

Very interesting piece and website. I have been scrolling through the articles and have chuckled quite a bit along the way.

As a young landlord with only 2 rental houses I’m excited to learn more from your experience!

Also, don’t let the troll comments above get to you, they obviously have no idea what landlording means. :)

18 James Johnston { 03.01.12 at 12:57 am }

Many years ago – 1985 to be exact – on a very gray and gloomy March 1 (there is no other kind in Anchorage) I awoke and all of a sudden I understood what ML King meant when he said “Free at last! Thank the great God almighty, free at last”

What it meant for me was that after more than fifteen years I no longer (thanks to the divorce decree) had responsibility for the rental units.

The Klezmer Guy – well – he may have a more hospitable climate (legally speaking) or maybe not – but good for him – I couldn’t take it any more

19 Isaac Rabinovitch { 03.01.12 at 1:01 am }

Hey Burt, not to start a landlord-tenant flame war, but could you explain pet fees to me? I can understand landlords wanting an extra deposit against pet damages, but how do pets represent a recurring cost?

20 Anymouse { 03.01.12 at 2:13 am }

Hey, just got linked to your NYT article. I’m a working artist who busts ass, starves, and barely sleeps to make what I do make money. Bunches of my friends are working dead-end jobs because that’s what they can get. In the meantime, you’re making your living by already having money. The world’s smallest violin for you.

21 Bert { 03.01.12 at 9:32 am }

Thanks, everybody, for the comments. (Make that almost everybody.)

I could spend an hour responding to the particulars from the comments here. And maybe I will.

But not now.

My best writing is in the latest City Journal mag. Here’s the link.

Please check it out. The story is about the landlord biz. It’s my best work. Bonus: comments section is as lively as here.

22 Karl { 03.01.12 at 9:38 am }

Just finished reading your article in the times, been a landlord for about twenty years, and sounds like we have had pretty much the same experiences but I don’t charge extra for pets. I would say by far the worst tenants I have ever had were nurses, interestingly I have usually had pretty good luck with waitresses and bar tenders. In terms of evictions I’ve learned to td the three day notice myself and the usually do the initial filing, if the person doesn’t leave at that point it’s usually best to let an attorney take over, they seem to know some “magic” way to get the sherrif to move the people out within a couple weeks that I can never figure out.

Enjoyable article, good job

23 Garry Kanter { 03.02.12 at 12:57 am }

Great job, as always, Bert!

24 Steve { 03.03.12 at 9:00 pm }

I can’t believe so many people think it’s about the landlord part. It’s about the story, the writing…reality as a vehicle. I’m a pretty good with music and have incredible stories to tell…if only I could write. Great writing, Bert.

25 Jared { 03.03.12 at 9:46 pm }

They say you can’t write a good piece without making someone upset. Some people just need to lighten up. I enjoyed the articles, great writing and great stories. I’ll miss playing with you guys next week, hopefully you’ll still play some blues on Purim.

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