I was raised by a white, middle class family in a medium-size city. I am a college graduate and in a fairly successful business. I have had the opportunity to invest some of our savings into a few rental properties; and there lies my problem. I was raised without any form of prejudice. In fact, I found myself distancing myself from adult friends as they began to drop lousy racial bombs. I would have never tolerated my sons from using such hateful language. However, something is changing in me. All three of my rental properties are being rented by black families. Although not super expensive, these are not low rent duplexes. I am constantly appalled by the condition of my properties when they leave. My last renter (of 9 years!) left so much damage as well as crap behind; it is costing me $12,000 to fix it back up. Another renter left not only their broken furniture, but a garage stacked almost to the ceiling with junk. She even left bags of untouched groceries rotting on the kitchen table! You’ve heard “everything but the kitchen sink”? Another renter took the kitchen sink. I find myself beginning to harbor a dislike for blacks, and I don’t want to be like this. Any ideas?
Fuming in Ft. Worth
Dear Mr. Fume,
It sure might have been easier for you had you been born a bigot. Clearly however, that is not the case. I agree with you that you are indeed in a pickle. I used to harbor some degree of “slob prejudice” against the extremely poor. Plenty of low rent places look like junk. Trash in their yard, along with a broken down car or two. Grass and weeds to your knees, etc. Years ago when I was working for the public mental health agency, another counselor and I were sent to a woman’s home who was threatening suicide with some big scissors. We were obviously on the “poor side of town”. Her scared husband met us at the door and escorted us in. My partner and I settled her down, and sat and visited with the rest of the family. This house was so immaculate you could have eaten off the floor. The yard was equally as impressive. They wanted to offer us a coke, but the electricity had just been turned back on two hours before, so everything was still warm. I remember being quietly embarrassed that I had expected nastiness, and instead was greeted with extreme cleanliness.
I don’t know why plenty of people have no self pride or the proper morals to not hurt other people: in this case you. Obviously, as in my scissor case, it’s not only poverty. However, like you, I would seriously object to a group of people changing my world view. You are not asking me renting advice, of which I would be an amateur. So asking first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a substantial damage deposit seems unnecessary for me to mention. As would me suggesting requiring an occasional walk-through to keep renters on their toes. Professional background checks also seem a worthy investment. But enough renters’ advise, of which I have only limited experience. As with people I counsel who work with soul-sucking clientele, I will generally advise them to expand their people base, including socially. Pay attention to minorities who appear to be great human beings. Patient mothers in a store with nice children in tow are inspirational. Hard working men doing talented work are worth carefully noting. People you know, or knew back in the day that are memorable are reminders that not all minorities are sink-stealing slugs. My deceased friend Charles was likely the most talented child counselor I have ever met. I have not forgotten him or his example. Personally, if you are going to stay in the renting business, fight for your right to have your own view of life. You can seriously dislike dishonest people: one shithead at a time. Don’t let crappo people represent all of mankind. They only represent their own sorryass selves.