Tenant in Distress… What Would You Do?

Tenant in Distress... What Would You Do? 

These situations apparently caused a severe depression to engulf the tenant. 

Appraisers, last week I received a call from an appraiser who was very upset about an encounter at the Subject dwelling, within city limits, not long before, and wanted to know ‘what to do.’

The appraiser scheduled an inspection for a dwelling being sold, and uses a ‘MLS Key’ for entry to homes with a lockbox, without having an agent present. The appraiser had previously been told by the listing agent that the tenant of the dwelling might be present, in a state of distress, because that person had been acting very bizarrely when the listed dwelling was being accessed by agents with prospective purchasers.

When the appraiser arrived at the dwelling, the doorbell was rung, but no one answered. The appraiser used the ‘MLS Key’ and went inside. During the interior observations, the appraiser opened a bedroom door, to find the tenant sprawled out on the bed, with a couple of dogs in the room, which had done what dogs do, on the bed and on the tenant when they ‘need to go’ and can’t get out. The tenant apparently was in a stupor due to consuming a mass quantity of alcohol, and was barely functional.

The appraiser had been told that the tenant’s wife had left the partnership a few weeks earlier, and now the dwelling was being sold, which meant that the tenant apparently had no place to go to live. These situations apparently caused a severe depression to engulf the tenant.

Once the appraiser finished the observations/inspection of the dwelling, the appraiser was extremely upset and called me, basically in a panic and wanted to know what should be done.

What would you do?

After hearing the details, the first thing I said was that the local police non-emergency phone line should be called, the situation explained, and a request for a welfare check be done ASAP. Then, because the appraiser was not at the dwelling, we agreed that the listing agent should be called.

The agent made the welfare check call, and met the responders at the dwelling to provide access. Our emergency services process here has fire department medics make welfare checks.

Thinking back about this after the fact, using the 911 emergency call system would be appropriate.

The appraiser notified me later that the tenant was taken to our local hospital for observation and safe keeping temporarily, and the dogs were retrieved by the tenant’s sister.

The point of this message is to advise appraisers that some situations involve more intervention and action than just ‘being an appraiser.’ Humans and their furry companions often need additional assistance, which can be provided, if appraisers take the initiative and notify the proper authorities when non-normal situations are encountered.

I complimented the distressed appraiser for contacting me. The unfortunate situation was resolved appropriately. Much thanks goes to the emergency service personnel who provided assistance.

Dave Towne
Image credit flickr - Sun-anda
Dave Towne

Dave Towne

AGA, MNAA, Accredited Green Appraiser - Licensed in WA State since 2003. Dave Towne on e-AppraisersDirectory.com

You may also like...

11 Responses

  1. Baggins Baggins says:

    Yet another reason to always insist when homes are occupied, someone be there to meet and greet with you, let you in, and walk you through the property. This is an agent side duty which the appraiser should not accept responsibility for.

  2. Avatar Bill Johnson says:

    Thank you to the emergency service personnel who provided assistance. On a side note, if it was an AMC order, I wonder if the appraiser looked through the 48 page engagement letter to look for guidance. If on site and blank happens, “please contact the AMC for guidance”.

    Seek the truth and never be afraid to help those in need.

  3. Avatar Jaydee says:

    Tough one, the home was occupied by a tenant that “might be” present? The appraiser did everything right. Lucky the furry one’s didn’t attack. In the end again, the appraiser did the right thing.

    Make sure either the tenants home or the home is indeed vacant. Appraiser could have been shot by the distressed drunk. No easy answers here.

  4. Avatar Don Orttenburger says:

    This was not an appraisal question. It is a humanity question. If you were simply walking down the street and found someone in distress, what would you do-you would call the authorities. I think sometimes we have to put aside our license responsabilities and apply our human responsabilities. Just remember, you were a member of the human race before you were an appraiser. As for AMC directions to the contrary-the hell with them.

  5. Avatar PJTMC says:

    Without a doubt, if your safety is in question (and it appears it could have been) refuse the assignment or, at the very least, insist that someone meet you at the property as well as ensure the tenant has vacated if his or her mental stability is at questions. It is not the appraiser’s responsibility to enter into a compromising situation and risk their wellbeing. That said and having not been done, I would have left the dwelling immediately, called the realtor and advise they contact the police for a wellness check. Seems the humane and right thing to do. You don’t get paid enough to risk your life (especially in today’s world).

  6. Avatar CJK says:

    I will not go into occupied properties by myself. When I first started in 1983 most of the agents measured the home, showed up for the appraisal and had a packet of information. Now I cannot even get some of them to show up for the appraisal. Conversely some agents are very helpful, professional and respectful. I have seen some strange things on inspection, and I have called to let others know. We also have the Good Samaritan Law .

    • Baggins Baggins says:

      That’s right. Don’t volunteer to perform the realtors job portions for them, for free of charge. The agents have totally different insurance than appraisers too. That’s going around lately, this notion that everything should be automated. It’s all bad news, adjust your schedule, wait in line, or just tell your client they’ve put you the appraiser on hold due to their own scheduling conflicts and non availability. One call from the mortgage broker, suddenly the realty agent becomes available, on your schedule too. Happens every time. It’s better that way because quite often these excuses are just that, and the order is on the edge of being cancelled so why bother. When I hear non availability I instantly presume there is an underlying problem or some borrower hesitance and the order is likely to get cancelled. Just run with that sort of presumption instead. You should only deal with lockboxes for under construction, vacant, or repossessed units.

  7. Avatar Don Orttenburger says:

    I realey don’t care if the agent is there or not. And I wounder, what do all you “agents have to be there” guys do on a refinance. I do my inspection without any inpute from the agent but am happy to review any information they want to provide. I do alot of sketchy neighborhoods in Detroit (most homes burned out or vacant lots) for one client (all drive-bys-appraiser drive bys that is) that said they had a problem with finding appraisers that would go to those neighborhoods. I advised them that I have met some of the nicest folks in those neighborhoods and that I do shoot back. This is not a macho thing, just a situational awarness thing based on my training. I have 32 years in the business and over 15,000 appraisals.

  8. Avatar CJK says:

    “I realey don’t care if the agent is there or not.”

    So, if the property is occupied by the owner or tenant but they are out of town on the day you want to do the inspection. You go into the property without the Relator or someone else with you? You better make sure your insurance covers you if they say that you damaged something or you took the $500 and Rolex that was on the dresser. Do you also go into the property if the only person at home is a 13-year-old?

    “what do all you “agents have to be there” guys do on a refinance.”

    The owner or the tenant lets me in. My issues is when the house if full of the occupants’ personal items, the agent knows that no one will be home and they do not want to meet me. It is not my responsibility to let myself into someone’s home. Do you understand now?


Leave a Reply

We welcome critical posts & opposing points of view. We value robust & civil discourse. You may openly disagree, but state your case in an atmosphere of mutual respect, in which everyone has a right to a particular view about the topic of conversation. Please keep remarks about the topic at hand, & PLEASE avoid personal attacks. If the poster gets you upset, it is the Internet, you can walk away from it.

Personal attacks harm the collegial atmosphere we encourage on AppraisersBlogs.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

xml sitemap

Tenant in Distress… What Would You Do?

by Dave Towne time to read: 2 min