Dear Dave: I have a relative who recently entered a rehab center to treat her drug addiction. I’ve been trying to help with things on the outside, and recently I discovered she has about $20,000 in debt. This is in addition to the rent owed on her apartment. I don’t have a lot of money, but do you think I should start trying to pay some of these bills for her?
Dear Jeremy: I’m really sorry to hear about your relative. Addiction is painful thing for the addict and for their family and friends. While what you’re suggesting is noble, my advice would be to leave the debt alone. I would, however, notify her landlord of what’s happened. If he won’t hold her place, then get her stuff out and turn over the keys so he or she can find another tenant.
As far as the debt obligations are concerned, just let her creditors cry and whine. They’re going to do that anyway, and you’re in no position to help financially at this point. Once she’s out and healthy again, one of the first things she’ll have to do is re-create her life and income. When that’s been done, then she needs to go back and make arrangements with her creditors.
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But right now, she needs to concentrate on herself. And as her family, you need to pour as much love and support as you can into the healing process. You’ve got a great heart, Jeremy, but the money stuff can wait until she’s out, healthy and established again. Then, if you want and have been able to save a bit, you might gift her a little money to help her get started again.
Dear Dave: I own a rental property that brings in enough to pay the taxes and insurance with a little left over. Recently, I found out that my tenant, who just signed a new two-year lease, is subleasing the property for the short term as a vacation site. This kind of thing happened once before and is prohibited in the agreement. Do you think I should approach him about the situation or let it go until it becomes problematic?
Dear Catherine: It’s already a problem, because he’s in violation of the lease agreement. Call him today and tell him to stop the sublease immediately. Let him know that he’ll be evicted if anything like this ever happens again.
This may sound harsh, but an agreement is an agreement. You may not have experienced any big problems up until now, but what happens when he pulls this again and the next people who come in are a bunch of partiers? You could end up with broken windows, holes in the walls and a bad reputation. On top of all that, what if they leave and he doesn’t have the money to fix things? It’s all on you. Why? Because you lost control of your property!
As a landlord, I always try to be gentle and nice but really clear about things. But this guy needs to understand that you mean what you say in the lease agreement. Once more, and he’s gone!
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