Dear PoPville – Held Hostage by the American Dream

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

“Dear PoPville,

Held Hostage by the American Dream, Home Ownership

I can’t be the only one this has happened to so I’m writing to get advice and to find out what others have done in similar situations. I have a rental property that I formally lived in (bought in 2003) and had to move from due to family issues. I bought another house (in 2008) that I currently live in and I have been renting out the original house since then, mostly at a loss, since it’s been upside down in the current market.

The first tenants were great and I was happy despite the loss. Those tenants moved for work. The tenants that live in the rental house now, haven’t been as easy or pleasant. Additionally, in this market the rent continues to cover the mortgage less and less so that I’m losing more and more. I’ve also hired a prop manager and so I’m losing, still, more. I’m pretty unhappy with the prop manager anyway. So the situation is that the tenants are difficult, the property manager is inefficient enough so that I’m still dealing with the rental house almost every day, and with the diminishing rental income the mortgage is no where near getting paid for without me personally subsidizing it every month.

At this point, I am losing a significant amount of money each month (and sanity) and trying to figure out what to do with this rental property – a short sale seems so unlikely and long term, especially with these tenants in the house. If the tenants are out of the house (ideal for selling), then how can I afford both mortgages, does that mean foreclosure for sure? Everyone talks about stopping the payment of the mortgage to the rental house but that seems like a road once started you can’t change.

I’ve tried several recommends on attorneys to get guidance but have gotten no where. Very few will return calls and so many are either title attorneys or landlord/tenant attorneys. They really have no practical experience with “investment” (hardly my idea of the word) properties. Any of the short sale attorneys I see online and one I’ve talked to personally seem to be bankruptcy attorneys and so far seem to push that – which is not where I’m hoping to go. Who can I talk to without paying $300/hr to find out if I believe in the attorney or not. Who else out there has gone through this? It feels like I’ll have to jump off and learn the hard way since I can’t get any decent answers up front.”

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