I was on my way to Germany to a conference while the SBA was looking for a bank to issue the loan for me. The building I was working and living in had just been sold — to a man who deserves his karma when it finally catches up with him.

This man was running quite the scam (and I knew something about scams by this point). He made a living out of buying buildings and throwing out the longest-living tenants as quickly as he could. Then he’d repaint the place and put a new carpet in it as he withheld the security deposit of the person he’d just evicted so he could finance the remodel. He then told the illegal, unlicensed workers that he had hired that they had done a terrible job and paid them only what he “thought” the job was worth. He rented the newly remodeled apartments, mostly to minorities and women as he felt they were easier to intimidate when he needed to get rid of them for the next round of remodels/tenants. His goal? To raise rents to market standards quickly and get a better return on his investment by running out the lower-paying tenants and replacing them with market-rate tenants. It didn’t matter whom he hurt in the process. He even had the nerve to use my house address as his business address so nobody knew where he lived.

For a long time we were unable to do a thing about his actions. This man terrorized me and his other tenants with threatening phone calls and buried us in useless (but legal) paperwork, to drive us out. One neighbor received a phone call that unless she moved out her dog would be harmed. My office staff received numerous phone calls until my neighbors and I filed a police report. With a trace on our phones we caught the landlord’s then fiancé who lived in Florida who was making the calls for him.

As a side note, once the scam with the fiancé was out in the open, he broke off their engagement. He did not need her anymore. But, it’s never a good idea to underestimate a scorned woman. She and her father called me, apologized, and gave me enough information to locate him and sue him. We had five tenants and a total of seven lawsuits against him. We did not all win, but for the first time someone stood up to him.

Gina and I had lived in that house for 10 years. I had a bad feeling about heading for Germany at that particular time, but business was calling. This was not a good time for a change.

My life hung in a delicate balance.

Was there ever a time in your life when you were walking on a tightrope, feeling that your next move was gong to make or break you? Did you ever have to do something terribly important in your life, while at the same time you knew you needed to stay focused on something essential to your well-being? Were you ever torn between two demanding situations? How did you face them? Let me know – I’d love to hear from you.


Image provided by Michael Albany Photography

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