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Jewish World Review June 7, 2000 /4 Sivan, 5760

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams
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Consumer Reports

The trouble with tenants -- DEAR BRUCE: We have a duplex. We rent one side and live in the other. It has worked out very well. I know that you have mentioned many times that you have advised your youngsters to do this for their first home. For the last two years, your advice has worked very well.

Our last tenant, however, was a different story. I heard sob story after sob story and, like a sucker, I listened to them to the point that they became three months behind in their rent.

Then they moved out in the middle of the night, and you should see the inside of the house. It looks as if a group of vandals had struck.

Will it pay for us to track these people down? I suspect that it can be done, although I may have to spend some money. They jump from job to job, so even if we got a judgment, it would be very difficult to garnish their wages because as soon as they were garnished, they would quit. I am a very frustrated landlord. --R.R., via e-mail

DEAR R.R.: Unfortunately it goes with the territory of being a landlord. Most people are responsible, but every so often, you get a real stinker like this one. Not only did they stiff you, which is partially your fault, but they also wrecked the place.

Unhappily, going after them will only result in more frustration.

If I were you, I would get the place fixed up as quickly as possible for the income stream and be as selective as the law allows with your tenants. But by all means, if they get behind, get rid of them. Don't allow them to get two to three months into you. When that happens, you almost never recover your money.

DEAR BRUCE: I am considering buying a fast-food franchise currently in operation. I understand through the grapevine that the reason the place is for sale is because the current operator, is going crazy trying to find counter and kitchen help. It's hard for me to believe that there isn't a sufficient number of high school and college students for these jobs. If it's serious enough for him to consider selling, should I consider buying? -- T.S., via e-mail

DEAR T.S.: I am involved in an enterprise where we employ many young people, and I can tell you it's like pulling teeth out of a giraffe. While I suspect that this low unemployment rate is good for the economy, candidates for the lower-paying jobs simply are so much in demand that they can pick and choose. And these employees only work a short time, particularly if they are able to save a little money and then give up working.

While I don't know if this is a reason to go out of business, I would hope that you and your spouse (if you are married) are resilient enough to put in 15 or 18 hours a day if the business requires it. Otherwise, I wouldn't buy this operation even if it could otherwise be very profitable.

DEAR BRUCE: We are going on our first overseas vacation, but we have to choose between Paris and London. I believe that you have visited both. Which would be your choice? -- L.C. Tulsa, Oklahoma

DEAR L.C.: If you have at least seven days I would do both. I realize that you could spend far more time in either of these two cities, but given the fact that you may not get back, I would try to spend three days in one and three days in the other. With the Eurostar, which goes under the channel, it's a quick trip from one to the other.

In three days in Paris, you could easily see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Napoleon's tomb, Notre Dame, Versailles, at least a couple of the world's renowned restaurants and take a trip on the Seine.

In London, you could very easily see the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and take a trip on the Thames. You could also get to St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and, a favorite of mine, a museum to a man who never was. Of course I am referring to the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker street in London.

There are many things to see in both of these fine cities, and I am sure that you will find that you can fly into one and out of the other. I would not visit one to the exclusion of the other. Have a great trip!

Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).


06/05/00: Do I really need title insurance?
06/01/00: The truth about nursing home insurance
05/30/00: Keep mother-daughter loan simple
05/25/00: CDs for security, not investment
05/24/00: Battling with collection agency
05/22/00: Are callable CDs a waste of time?
05/18/00: Building a college fund
05/16/00: Even death brings no relief
05/15/00: House is 'worth' what's offered
05/12/00: Borrow from Mom and Dad?
05/11/00: Your heirs, your choice
05/09/00: Mutual-fund investigations
05/05/00: Credit cards vs. debit cards
05/04/00: Lawyer are good for something
05/03/00: The binding nature of contracts
05/02/00: You know you are in trouble when ...
05/01/00: Can primary residence be rented out?
04/28/00: A full refund after five years?
04/25/00: Get a homeowner's title policy!
04/24/00: Beware of errors in your favor
04/18/00: $10,000 limit on gifts
04/17/00: Invest or repay student loans?
04/13/00: Beware of Internet auctions
04/11/00: Six percent is a pittance
04/10/00: Married couples should share windfall
04/07/00: How not to blow an inheritance
04/06/00: Get genetic screening for Tay-Sachs
04/05/00: Beating the look-back period
04/04/00: Providing for retirement
04/03/00: Readers disagree on time shares
03/30/00: The road back to good credit
03/29/00: Pre-tax dollars in IRA taxed later
03/27/00: Gambling on business ventures
03/22/00: Old cars as hobby, not investment
03/20/00: Tax on foreign gifts?
03/16/00: How to buy government bonds
03/13/00: Buying treasury instruments
03/09/00: Subcontractors must pay S.S.
03/08/00: Real-estate lawyers are essential
03/07/00: Don't expect compensation for ideas
03/06/00: Too rich for a Roth IRA?
03/01/00: Is time-sharing a scam?
02/29/00: Paying for nursing-home care
02/28/00: Rely on a real-estate lawyer
02/23/00: Keeping child's money safe from divorce
02/16/00: Just how important is a 401(k)?
02/14/00: Shaky partnership buying house
02/11/00: Protection by residential zoning
02/09/00: Benefiting from a reverse mortgage
02/07/00: Ensure your insurability
02/04/00: Absurd community zoning laws
02/02/00: Money or securities?
02/01/00: Can we KO a custodian?
01/31/00: Why sell a home you love?
01/26/00: Everyone needs a will
01/25/00: Will splitting stocks affect rollover?
01/24/00: Should early retirees contribute to SEP?
01/21/00: Strategies for paying off debt
01/20/00: Is 15-percent growth achievable?
01/19/00: Selling a second home
01/18/00: Running from a time-share
01/14/00: Don't be a spendthrift!
01/13/00: Who gets the house?
01/11/00: It all depends on size of estate
01/06/00: Check references before hiring an advisor
01/04/00: Savings bonds a bad investment
12/31/99: Out of state ain't that great
12/29/99: Warranty rip-offs
12/27/99: Checking up on investment handlers
12/23/99: Options good only when company's strong
12/20/99: Capital gains tax sometimes best
12/17/99: Don't give up your nest egg
12/15/99: Small-claims court no panacea
12/13/99: Termite company not liable for termites?
12/10/99: Services provided must be paid for
12/06/99: How do we minimize house-sale gain?
12/06/99: Maximize your tax shelter!
12/02/99: My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility
12/01/99: Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
11/18/99: Students can work and learn
11/16/99: Value is what will sell
11/11/99: Y2K: No big deal for real estate
11/08/99: Real life is tough luck
11/03/99: The right time to cash a savings bond
11/01/99: Slow road for savings accounts
10/29/99: What do you want from insurance?
10/27/99: You have a right to see your tax forms!
10/25/99: Why own a house at 65?
10/22/99: Online fine, but CDs?
10/20/99: Love, honor -- and separate credit
10/18/99: Find the value of your stocks
10/15/99: Property lien prevents trade
10/13/99: Clear up debt, only then tie the knot
10/11/99: If it ain't broke...
10/04/99: Should I stick with the company IRA?
10/04/99: Get a financial education!
10/01/99: Insurance: Not much one person can do
09/30/99: Lost tickets are lost cash
09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
09/24/99: Tips for first-time home buyers
09/21/99: Use the rule of 72s!
09/17/99: Legal strategy can be a pain
09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
09/03/99: How can I work out my IRS payments?
09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
08/26/99: Landlords vary on security deposits
08/25/99: Educational IRAs must be spent on education
08/23/99: Finding out the value of old stocks
08/20/99: How to get an FHA refund
08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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