Friendship Destroyer aka Something Not to Do to Enhance Friendship aka Never rent to a Friend – by an anonymous friend

This summary was written in response to a request by my friend, Billy Lee who asked me to write the story. I was telling Billy about friendship or lost friendship.  i.e. it may be considered a case of how to lose a friend.  Exact names and locations are somewhat different but the story is exactly the same.


Never Rent To a Friend

Circa 1984 my wife and I were living, as empty nesters, in a desirable area in the San Francisco Bay area and owned a lovely home.   Sam was the realtor representing us in buying this lovely home and he did a good job.  He was a very nice man and we stayed friends for years after. 

 My wife and I were very happy.  I was a Senior Program Manager for a defense contractor and really enjoyed my position.  My wife found a position very similar to what she had at our previous location and she was quite happy.  We were both happy.

About 1989 U.S. defense contracts were drying up since the country was making more love than war in that time frame.  Yes, I was laid off.

Finding employment – at my level and age 51 – was a definite challenge.  Yes I know it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of age but …..I’m just saying you know.   Long story short I accepted a position with a company outside of Dallas, TX.   I had consulted for this company during much of this period of about 9 months of unemployment.

When it came time to relocate we of course called our friend Sam regarding selling our house and considered ourselves fortunate to have a nice honest realtor to deal with etc.  Much to our surprise he asked would we be interested in renting our house……to him!  He gave us a very logical summary of the benefits to us including something that we had never really thought of i.e. we would have a home in CA if we wanted to come back, as we probably would, since we had half our family here i.e. our son and his family.   Sam clearly indicated the projected unbelievable appreciation of real estate in our area and how difficult it would be to get another home like ours in the future.  Sam also told us that he wanted to sell his house, take out the large equity value therein and invest it in an opportunity that had been offered him which he indicated was a really good deal.    Us renting our house to him would solve lots of problems with his plan and allow him to stay as a realtor in our area; he felt the timing was exceptional.  We thanked Sam and told him we would let him know.

We did think about it.  Financially it was a win-win for both parties.  Although we had never rented before a major factor to me in renting was having good tenants that will take care of and won’t damage your property.  Since we were certain Sam would take care of the property that major consideration was of no real concern with this deal.  We decided to do it.

Watch this great story go downhill!

Things went well for about 4 months.  Well is defined as payments on time and no unusual maintenance problems.  Month #5 payment was about 10 days late and month #6 payment was even later.  Month #7 there was no payment.  I reluctantly called Sam.  I was reluctant because it’s not a pleasant type of conversation to have and since Sam was a friend it made it more uncomfortable.  Sam indicated he was very sorry and embarrassed.  He indicated there was a problem with his investment not panning out as planned,  but things were in the process of being corrected that would allow him to recover and send us all back payments etc. I told him that I also was sorry to hear about the investment turmoil but I could not carry both mortgages.  He promised to call if any further problems develop.

Month 7 payment never came and midway through month 8th I called Sam to ask where are payments 7 & 8.  He explained not only the major investment turnaround was going slower than planned but his wife had become ill and needed to be taken care of further delaying progressive efforts.  Of course I told him I was sorry to hear about his wife however we need to get this rental situation corrected as I could not continue without timely payments.  He assured me it would be corrected soon however would not give me a definitive date as to when.  I closed by telling Sam I would pray for his wife but we need to resolve this matter quickly.

Month 9 not only had no payment but we were unable to contact Sam.  After leaving several messages on his phone, my last message advised Sam that I was sorry but I would be turning this matter over to a lawyer…..which we did I’m sorry to say.  We hired an attorney in the town where the house was and she sent a letter to Sam regarding the problem.  About a week later I was contacted by Sam’s son who lived in Southern CA.  Although he was irritated with me he promised immediate action to provide all back funds….and he did in a timely manner. 

Sam promptly vacated our property and our life as I’ve never seen him again. I believe he went Instead of renting the house further, we promptly sold it, using of course, and another realtor.   Although this created some stress and hard feelings I wish we hadn’t lost Sam as a friend…. but I suppose that’s life.???



BILLY’S COMMENTS : Most friends like to help each other whenever possible, but sometime it is not financially possible. The problem in this story started with Sam’s unfortunate investment plus his wife’s illness. The lawyer’s threat to sue apparently forced Sam to get help from his son. The son was honorable and paid back nobly. I hope that the old friends will meet again and laugh over that crisis and cheer and congratulate Sam for having such a Wonderful Son. Sam’s son should be commended, indeed !