DEAR BARRY: My friend is a home inspector, and he sometimes tells me crazy stories about buyers, sellers and agents. I’ve been reading your column for years, and you’ve covered countless topics of interest. But you’ve never mentioned any personal experiences from the trenches. How about a couple of interesting stories? –Ben
DEAR BEN: I’m grinning broadly as I write this. Great question, by the way.
The main character of the first story was an apparently disturbed lady who rented the home that was scheduled for inspection. The property was in escrow and the tenant had been notified that we would need access. The property manager met me at the house, but the front door wouldn’t open because the tenant had installed a slide bolt.
The manager called a locksmith, who opened the back door, but the volatile tenant was on the war path. She had locked herself in the master bedroom, and when we knocked, she threatened to call the police if we did not leave.
The inspection proceeded, but the tension in the house vibrated. Suddenly, the angry woman opened the door, locked it behind her, and declared that she would call the police from the neighbor’s house. This was gratifying news, because the police would enable us to complete the inspection and eliminate the need to come back another day.
While the tenant was out, I unlocked the bedroom door with a credit card and placed my ladder in the master closet, beneath the attic access. As I inspected the attic, the disgruntled occupant returned, removed my ladder from the access, and yelled, "Get out of my house!" I told her that I could not get out because she had removed the ladder. Again, she demanded, "Get out of my house!" So I repeated that I needed the ladder in order to get out. She replaced the ladder and I came down, just as the police arrived. …CONTINUED
The officers entered cautiously, expecting to find a burglary in progress, as that was the complaint the tenant had filed. Realizing that this was a home inspection, not a burglary, they called headquarters to cancel the five other squad cars that were on the way. For nearly 30 minutes, the tenant harangued the policemen, demanding that they arrest the property manager and the home inspector.
The officers gradually lost patience and informed her that she, not we, would be arrested if she did not quiet down and listen to what they had to say.
Convinced that they meant business, she toned down the volume, as they warned her not to interfere with the inspection. But she still complained about the proceedings, declaring that she would sue the home inspector for touching the clothes in her closet without having washed his hands.
The inspection was finally completed, and the moment of departure was a relief for everyone, including the police.
Story No. 2 involves another interesting tenant. This one would allow the buyers, agents and the home inspector in a given room only if he were present at every moment. He didn’t trust anyone to be alone with his vast array of collectibles.
As the inspection of each room was completed, he would line everyone up in single file and march us into the next room. At one point, he chastised the buyers’ agent for being in the wrong place in the line. In the end, he expressed outrage that we had upset the menagerie of cats that populated the master bathroom.
What fiction writer could invent such details?
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
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