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My mother collects rents. She tracks down delinquent tenants every third of the month. She’s a bit forgetful — she misplaces checks — but she still makes the rounds, chasing tenants. She’s 80 and owns 38 units on the East Side of Cleveland.
She wants me to do the collecting. I don’t want to.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t want to dun 22 year olds for their rent. I prefer to be at work; I’m a lawyer, and have been for 29 years.
I have manilla folders with notes from my mom. She collects legal clauses like some old ladies collect Hummels. I once tried to streamline her five-page lease but she wouldn’t let me. She instructs her tenants to use a string mop. That’s in the lease! Why? What 22 year old even owns a mop?
My mother hides apartment keys everywhere, and says to me, “Now this key is to that room, which is next to this door. Turn right, and reach your hand around the corner and it’s on this ledge.”
I have to write all that down. My sister is in Texas. It’s all on me.
I ran into Bert Stratton, the real estate blogger, the other day. His klezmer band really should hang it up. How long have they been around? Pass the torch (Havdalah candle), Bert! Bert always asks me the same thing: “What are you going to do when your mother dies?”
I don’t want to collect rents and fix leaky toilets, Bert, understand?
Bert says he understands that, but then mentions the real estate gig is, if nothing else, parnassah. Bert likes to sling Yiddish. Sling this, Bert: Va fangool! (Parnassah means livelihood in Yiddish.)
I’ve got a livelihood! I’m 54 with a successful law practice.
Stratton: “Really, what are you going to do when your mother dies?”
“Call you, Bert.”
That shuts him up.
No disrespect to anybody.
For more on the landlord biz, check out my interview on NPR yesterday, from the show The Story. I got my 15 minutes. No, 20 minutes. It’s long, yet amusing.