In this episode, we cleaned out the apartment of a guy who moved out and abandoned most of his stuff. That wasn’t so bad, though. Tons of perishable food inside and outside of the fridge left in a sealed up apartment for almost a month without electricity? That was kind of bad.
So, let me tell you about the time I was a racist.
(This post will be a bit different. There were a couple of humorous points along the way, but it was still deadly serious as well.)
It all started when we acquired a nice, 3 bed / 2.5 bath ranch in a nice neighborhood east of town. It has a nice yard, large basement, the works! We knew right away we’d have no trouble filling this property with a good lease/purchase buyer, as it’s in one of the most desirable areas outside of the genuinely ritzy parts of town.
Sure enough, no sooner did we do our prep work, throw up ads and put a sign in the yard then we had a deluge of calls and requests for showings. I lost track of how many people walked through that place.
Anyway, one of the earlier viewers, and one of several in the first two weeks to submit an application, was a single mom with her two kids. She seemed nice enough, but when we ran her application the next day it was clear that there was no way she could afford the place: Her income, such as it was, was only a little over double the house payment of $1,250. Just on that point alone there’s no way she could qualify. The fact that she had an eviction about eight months previous didn’t help either. We put the app aside and informed her the next day that she didn’t qualify.
As expected, we quickly found a buyer. They put up the down payment, first month, and moved in. All seemed well.
Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later I received a certified letter from the city informing me that our company was being investigated for racial discrimination in housing. The single mom, you see, was black, and had decided that the only reason on God’s green earth that I would have refused to rent to her was because she was black.
Now I admit this does sound a bit funny when you consider that she in no way qualified for that property. What you don’t understand is that a charge like that can ruin you. No, that’s not hyperbole, IT CAN RUIN YOU. Period.
And so began a lot of back and forth with the city investigation. It took almost a month to get through. Luckily I didn’t have to pull in our attorney. In the end, they found in my favor and dismissed her accusation as baseless. I spent most of my time arguing that her lack of income and the eviction on her record disqualified her according to our written policy. Thing is, the city didn’t seem to care.
Now THINK about what was going on here. I had to PROVE my own INNOCENCE. Let that idea sink in.
What was my ace in the hole? Well, it took so long because I didn’t want to use it at first. I thought the facts spoke for themselves. It was only later that month when I realized it was taking way too long and I didn’t want to get slammed in a BS charge. So, after talking with them on the phone, I gave the contact info of the tenant/buyers to the investigator. Why did that matter?
Because the people we had sold the place to were black.
That’s what finally ended the whole charade. They told the lady to take a hike and cleared me.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it had been a very near thing. What if the family I had ended up selling that house to had not been black? What if that Chinese guy and his mother had put in their applications much earlier and I had instead sold it to them? Would them not being white be enough to ‘prove’ that I wasn’t a racist?
What the hell is wrong with our system?