Published On: September 19, 2012

Never Answer the 9 o’clock Knock

This was *not* the happy happy fun time, let me tell you. But the PM was right about 1 thing (foreshadowing)--the process did take a long time. In fact, when it came time to renew our lease in February (lease wasn't up til July 31), we hadn't heard anything else . And, since what we'd be served with was actually a request by the bank to initiate the foreclosure process, for all we knew they could have settled something. So we decided to stay another year. That was probably our second mistake. At any rate, by the end of summer the notices were coming fast and furious (but by mail this time, no more 9 o'clock knocks), and included Todd's name, now (probably since he signed for the first notices). We finally got a notice of the actual foreclosure hearing and decided (since we were named on it, and all), that we should probably attend it just to make sure we knew what was up. In the mean time, we'd researched our rights under the Tenant Protection Act, and knew we would be allowed, by law, to finish out our lease. The PM also confirmed, via email, that once the foreclosure went through, we wouldn't pay them the rent, we'd pay it to the bank. Only, well, the lawyer at the foreclosure hearing filled us in a bit more. Banks don't want to own rental property, they want to sell it as fast as possible, so usually a Cash for Keys notice is sent out by the office handling the foreclosure as incentive for the tenants to vacate quickly. We confirmed this with the appropriate office, and started to think that moving, especially with $1000 to cover deposits, transfers, and other expenses, might not be a bad idea. We confirmed with our PM that we could shift our security deposit from the Longview house to another of their properties and forgo all the applications, etc., and we started checking out what would be available in December. We were misinformed. Apparently, even though the mortgage was held by US Bank (who are NOT easy to get a hold of, by the way), the loan was a VA loan, and those had to be transferred to the VA-approved bank, which happened to be Bank of America (another one impossible to get on the phone), and that could take several months. Cash for Keys wasn't an option, but the wheels on our end had already been set in motion. On December 1, the new title was filed with the Clerk of Court listing US Bank as the property owner. On December 6, I came home to a 3-Day Notice on the door. In other words, the PM was trying to evict us for not paying December's rent. Despite the fact that their contract was null and void by the fact that the property owner... wasn't. The next 10 days were pure hell. We'd found a property to move into, even signed a lease with the PM and paid the pro-rated rent for the last half of December on the new place. Only to have them tell us, the week of the move, that they wouldn't honor that new lease unless we paid them December's rent on the Longview house. "To pay to whom," I asked, "the former property owner?" "I suppose so," replied the PM. "Over. My. DEAD. BODY!!!" I not-so-calmly screamed into the phone. At work. Like I said. Hell. Our options were pretty much

a) pay up and keep the wheels moving

b) find a new place and incur even more costs as we'd already made all the arrangements for the "new" house

c) squat at the Longview house, go to court to fight the eviction process, and take our chances

The sheriff was called, the clerk's office was called, a lawyer was consulted, and we still went with option a. I'm still not 100% happy about it, but we compromised, a bit, in writing the disputed rent check directly to the escrow account that held security deposits. It's been almost 2 years and the deed still hasn't been transferred, because there's a 3 year backlog on foreclosures. Still, 2 days before the move I dropped off the December ransom payment, picked up our keys, and we got everything moved in exactly 1 week before Christmas. Part of the benefit of getting the move done then was that my office was closing the week surrounding Christmas, and I thought it would be better served cleaning out the old place and unpacking the new, which is what we did.


Why am I posting this long story instead of drawing it out (hah!) over the next however many months? Because it's time to live--and draw--in the present. Drawing these old strips has been like pulling teeth for some reason, and this weekend it hit me: I need to change things up again. So from here on out, Cocktail Hour will be a when-something-strikes-me-worth-drawing sort of webcomic. Or, really, not a webcomic so much as a sporadic something. Because what I really want to do, now, after 5 years spent in comicdom, more or less, is work on short one-shots or longer-form works that don't tie me to a weekly schedule. What this means for Where the Geeks Are, I'm still deciding. But I'm freeing up a little of my schedule a lit more at a time.

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