Need to evict deadbeat tenant? Let your Health Dept. do it!

John Merchant, JD, originally wrote this article for THE PAPER SOURCE JOURNAL.  It’s an ingenious way to deal with deadbeat tenants!

Need to evict a deadbeat tenant?
Let your Health Dept. do it!

by John Merchant, JD

john-merchant-jd-50“What? Now how in the world would that work and why in the world might the Health Dept. be interested in doing that? And what would give them that right?”

Well, in many (most? all?) cities and counties around the country, it’s a violation of their Municipal Ordinances or County Regs and state laws, and their Health Regulations in particular, to live in any residence without lights, water or sewer or septic all working and in order.

So if their Health Dept. learns that anybody in their fair city is doing that – living in a house or apartment without lights, running water or sewer or septic – they’ll break all speed records to get those people out of that property, right now!

Frankly I did not know about this and it had never even occurred to me that this situation might work to the advantage of the Landlord until I experienced a series of events that woke me up and taught me a valuable lesson.

Several years back I was talking one day to a friend and he mentioned he was sure sick of dealing with one of his rentals, as the crummy tenant, a little unemployed woman who he suspected was a druggie, had not paid him any rent in months and had just told him that she didn’t intend to pay him rent and defied him to do anything about it.

I told him I might be interested in taking over that little property on right price and terms and I soon had the place in my name for a low purchase price.

Not that I knew any better than he did about how to go about evicting that bad tenant except through the usual costly and prolonged legal fight, during which time the Tenant would likely proceed to tear up the house, but I set out to contact the tenant and see for myself.

So one early winter evening I was at her door to talk to her if possible.

She came to the door and I proceeded to tell her I was now the owner and asked her what her plan was to catch up on the overdue rent and get current.

She told me basically the same thing she’d told my seller and sneeringly said she dared me to evict her.

I was standing there contemplating my options and thinking what to do next when I happened to see something really interesting.

She was standing in her front door, and behind her I caught a glimpse of a car battery on the floor, with a wire running to a battery powered lantern hanging from the ceiling light fixture and I remember thinking “How Odd! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before and wonder why in the world she’s hooked up that contraption.”

So she and I parted ways and I still had no clue as to the best way to get her out and make that property start producing rent.

A couple of nights later, like maybe 3 or 4 am, it came to me (hey, I’m kinda slow sometimes!) WHY she was using that car battery and lantern.

Maybe her lights were turned off because her electric was off? And just maybe that was because of a delinquent, non-payment of the light bill!

Sure enough when I called the power company the next day, they confirmed that her electricity was indeed turned off and had been for months and they were very interested to know if I’d help them collect their $1000 + electric bill!

And then it came to me to wonder if that practice of using batteries for household electric power was maybe a violation of some kind to city ordinances. Maybe a fire hazard or something?

So I had a look at our city ordinances online and decided that this might be a concern to the city Health Dept as they might view it as an unhealthy or even dangerous way to live.

When I got one of the Health Dept (HD) folks on the line, they were immediately very interested in hearing about this situation and the HD employee I was talking to informed me with some emphasis that this was indeed an illegal, unhealthy and dangerous practice.

That HD employee immediately got one of their Health Inspectors on the line with me and he and I made a plan to go to the house within an hour, with a city police officer, and confront the offending tenant.

So within an hour we three met at that house and the police officer knocked on her door and ordered her to vacate that house NOW!

So while I was leaning on her front gate, just enjoying the little drama, she was forced to get her coat, leave the house and hand the keys to me.

She was a little more pleasant to me than she’d been earlier and asked if she might give me a call to make arrangements to get her things out of the house.

But my goal of getting her gone had been accomplished and she hadn’t even had time to further trash or destroy my little house and that was all I wanted.

So if you have a similar situation where you even suspect the Tenant has had his/her power, water or gas heat turned off, go check the meter on the outside of the house (probably can only do this practically if it’s your rental property) and you may find you have an easy way to evict that tenant, as I did.

In fact, think about how any occupant of any residence who’s causing you trouble, might well be in obvious violation of his/her/their law…such as maybe too many people living in the house, no working door, no lights or heat in the house, etc.

On any such situation it would just take you a few minutes to give your health dept. a call and see if this might be something of interest to them. You might find out, as I did, that the tenant or resident of such property is in big violation of your health department and the health department would immediately evict them for such. ##

(Editor’s note: always make sure you check the law in your jurisdiction and seek the advice of a legal professional before engaging in any such activity.)


John Merchant, JD, is an experienced lawyer who’s been helping clients solve their legal problems for many years.  He is a frequent author for THE PAPER SOURCE JOURNAL and an authority on the use of tax sheltered retirement plans to legally invest in real estate and commercial realty (and has written a book dealing with use of IRA for RE investment – and has spoken to a number of investment groups on various legal topics. He has held Real Estate and Securities Brokers licenses and managed real estate and securities offices. He has been the featured speaker on The Paper Source’s Note Boat, a B.C. to Alaska Cruise for professionals dealing with promissory notes and the problems and opportunities in that field.


10 Principles Of Financial Independence

1.  Save consistently by living on less than you earn.

2.  Study the investment methods and strategies of successful people, and seek advice only from those who are competent — through their own achievements — to give it.  Learn from people who have earned the right to teach.

3.  Learn to apply the principles of compounding, discounting and leveraging.

4.  Never bet on a loser because you think its luck is about to change.

5.  Don’t invest in anything that eats or can be driven, sailed or flown away.

6.  Don’t invest in anything you can’t explain to your spouse.
(Stolen by permission of my friend John Schaub, whose advice has made me a lot of money; and, more importantly, kept me from losing a lot of money.  His website is

7.  Reinvest all proceeds until you achieve financial independence.

8.  Never get involved in anything that promises easy or quick riches. Trying to get rich quick is just a form of gambling. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5).

If you try to get rich quick you’ll get poor even quicker.

9.  Be constantly on guard against every form of greed.
No matter how much you have, wealth never brings lasting happiness.  The more you have, the more you want.
     “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses.
     The ground of a certain rich man was very productive.  And he said to himself, ‘What shall I do, because I have no room to store my crops?  I know: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to myself, ‘I have so much laid up for many years; take it easy, eat, drink, and be merry.’
     But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be which you have stored up?’  So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” — Luke 12:15-21

10.  Get Started! A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. Unless you were born wealthy, you will have to sacrifice financially during part of your life.  It is much better if that happens by choice when you are young than by force when you are too old to recover.  The decision is yours.

     Based upon material originally written by Dave Smith and used with his permission.  PUBLISHED IN THE MAY, 2015 ISSUE OF THE PAPER SOURCE JOURNAL.  FOR INFORMATION AND A FREE RECENT ISSUE: 

Why some note investors won’t buy in certain states

 If you wonder why some note investors won't buy notes in certain states, this article  will tell you why (thanks to Denny Stanz' CA Notebuyer Newsletter:

Withdrawing $ From Your Bank May Be Illegal

This article explains why you have to be careful when you withdraw money from a bank account.  Do it the wrong way and the Feds will pay you a visit!

Money & The Economy Explained In 1 Lesson

Economics for Everyone: A review of How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes
By Michael Wagner 

Economics affects everyone but few people care to learn much about it. All the numbers and graphs make it seem complex and quite boring. 

Of course some subjects are so important that even if they were boring we’d just have to soldier on and learn them anyway. And you could certainly make that case for economics—every citizen has to get a handle on the basics of economics so we can properly evaluate government policies and get a handle on where the economy may be heading.  

However, Peter Schiff and Andrew Schiff have done us a service by making it possible to learn economics without being bored to sleep. Peter Schiff is an investment manager who was also an economic adviser to Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. Andrew, Peter’s brother, is the communications director for Peter’s investment firm. In 2014 they released a Collector’s Edition of their book How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes (John Wiley & Sons) that is part fiction, part comic book, and educationally entertaining throughout. 

A fish story 

Their book is written in the form of a story, with some cartoon illustrations thrown in, which makes this a lot easier to digest and follow than, say, a university economics textbook. 

The story begins as follows: Three men, Able, Baker, and Charlie, live on an island and survive by catching fish with their bare hands. They just barely subsist from day to day, catching only enough for their next meal. 

Then Able gets the idea of making a simple net to catch fish, but to make it, he has to invest a day’s worth of time. Instead of going fishing, he spends the day crafting the net. This investment is costly—he has to go a day without food! And it is also risky—he doesn’t know whether his net will even work. But Able is an entrepreneur, so he takes the risk, and makes the investment. 

And work it does. The net enables him to dramatically increase the amount of fish he catches, and therefore improves his lifestyle. The net is “capital” he created that increased his productivity. He subsequently catches more fish than he can consume, and this situation initiates improvements on the island. The lesson, as the Schiffs write, is that “spare production is the lifeblood of a healthy economy” (p. 9). 

Because he has surplus fish, Able lends them to Baker and Charlie. Those two fellows can then take time off from catching fish with their hands to make nets for themselves. That is, they too create capital to improve production. With the extra fish they can now catch, they pay Able back with interest, and all three of the men are better off than before. Even though they had to pay interest, Baker and Charlie increased their own standard of living. 

Able’s motivation in loaning the fish was to earn a profit. But the loan he provided benefited the other two men as well as himself. As the Schiffs explain, “The pursuit of profit drives innovation, business formation, and economic growth. It’s the force that raises everyone’s living standard. A big profit just means that a business is good at satisfying customers. Those who earn it should be celebrated not vilified” (p. 61). 

Increasing productivity 

The story continues from this point with the three men able to spend less time fishing, and more time developing other tools and implements (capital) for improving their lives. For example, they make more nets to build larger fish-catching devices. The new capital they create increases productivity even further. 

The Schiffs strongly emphasize the importance of increasing productivity as the key to a successful economy. It benefits everyone. Besides using their story to show how, they also add a real-life example: the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century. They write that the “vastly increased productivity of the industrial revolution made it possible for working-class people to afford all kinds of goods, like upholstered furniture, tailored clothing, plumbing, and wheeled transportation, that were previously available only to the rich” (p. 63). 

Eventually Able, Baker and Charlie begin trading with people on other islands. Immigrants come to their island, a government is formed, and the economy becomes more complex. Their island society becomes known as Usonia. It’s an easy story to follow with lessons on basic economics interwoven with the story’s events. 

Paper currency 

Fish function in this story not only as food but also as currency. Everyone eats fish and they are easy to exchange for other items. 

Once a government is created for Usonia, it issues paper currency backed by fish. Each “Fish Reserve Note” could be redeemed for actual fish at a central bank. Using paper money was much easier than carrying actual fish, so it became the common currency. 

Over time, though, the government produces larger and larger amounts of paper currency without maintaining enough fish to redeem the notes. Eventually the government declares that the Fish Reserve Notes could not be redeemed for actual fish after all. The value of the currency then becomes based on the citizens’ confidence in the government. 

This is much like the situation with money in the world today. The currencies of modern nations are no longer based on particular sources of value (like gold) but on confidence in the nations’ governments. The Canadian and US dollars were at one time backed by gold (that is, a dollar represented a specific amount of gold), but that is no longer the case. Now they are just paper. The Schiffs point out that this kind of paper money is “commonly called ‘fiat’ money. The word ‘fiat’ comes from Latin and literally means ‘let it be done.’ The word applies because paper money does not have any intrinsic worth, but rather derives its value from government decree” (p. 165). 

Right now the worldwide economy based on fiat money seems to be working. But the Schiffs do not think it will last. They do not consider fiat money to be real money because it has no inherent value, the way gold and other precious metals do. In their view, “we are in a ‘through the looking glass’ world where, for the past 40 years, no country issues real money. This is the biggest monetary experiment ever conducted. No one knows how or when it will end. But rest assured, it will” (p. 166). 

Government debt 

The government of Usonia, like actual governments today, increases spending beyond its means and finances its operations through increased taxes, borrowing money, and also printing more paper money. These activities are harmful to the economy in the long run. The Schiffs state that “Taxes and borrowing merely divert private-sector spending or investment to government. Printed money has the same effect. Newly created money spent into circulation by the government depresses the purchasing power of money held by the public” (p. 201). 

In the United States, President Barack Obama has pursued a policy of high government expenditures financed by borrowing and printing money. The US government debt is so large, in fact, that the Schiffs do not believe it can ever be paid. They paint a rather unnerving picture: “Ultimately the U.S. government will have only two options: default (tell our creditors that we can’t pay, and negotiate a settlement) or inflate (print money to pay off maturing debt). Either option will lead to painful consequences” (p. 201). 

They believe that the value of the US dollar will drop steeply because so much is currently being printed. However, its status as the official “reserve currency” of the world keeps its value artificially propped up. Being the international reserve currency means that “the dollar is accepted as the exchange currency for any international transaction. This means that everyone, not just the United States and its trading partners, needs dollars to conduct trade. So even if no one actually buys things that are made in this country, dollars are always in demand. No other country has this monetary good fortune” (pp. 140-141). 

In their view, if the US dollar was to lose reserve status, its value would drop severely, wiping out much of the wealth Americans currently possess. Its present value only remains high because of its wide acceptance around the world. 


Economics may not be inherently exciting to many people but it affects everyone. The basics are understandable if they are presented properly, and the Schiff brothers do a great job in their book. They provide a simple basis for understanding the kinds of measures that help an economy grow as well as those that stifle growth. 

Some policies (such as printing more money) provide a temporary illusion of prosperity followed by a financial downturn. Politicians campaigning for re-election love policies that provide an illusion of prosperity. They often make decisions that will benefit themselves in the short run but actually harm the economy in the long run. 

The Schiffs emphasize work, saving, thrift, and innovation as keys to economic success. To a large degree the virtues that lead to prosperity are also Biblical virtues. Therefore, even though the book is not specifically Christian, it reflects much that is compatible with Biblical Christianity.

(Originally published in the May 2015 issue of Reformed Perspective magazine (, pages 24-27, and reprinted by permission of the author.)

“If You Don’t Understand How Money Works, How Can You Expect To Have Any?” — Lonnie Scruggs

mysterycoverjpg150  Are you so busy trying to make a living that you aren’t making any real money? Most people spend their entire life working for money, only to wind up old  and broke.

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 Taking The Mystery Out Of Money is loaded with case histories, examples and money-making ideas to help you understand money & financing so you can  reach your financial goals. Making money is easy…if you know how.

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