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Landlord Stiffed, Miffed But Should Take Back Gift

Tue., May 16, 1995

Bob Flory’s the best landlord a deadbeat ever had.

The poor guy gets stiffed on rent, damages and the water bill, yet he’s kindhearted enough to deliver two truckloads of debris his delinquent ex-tenant left when he moved.

Donna Sprague has a darker view of Flory’s benevolence.

She believes the Spokane man was trying to get back at her nephew, David Skjothaug, when Flory dumped a considerable mound of junk in her front yard on Hallett Road.

The problem, says Sprague bitterly, is that Flory bombed the wrong target.

“This is my property,” she says of her mobile home and two-acre lot west of Spokane. “David doesn’t live here.”

Sprague is also steamed her no-account nephew gave Flory her home as a forwarding address.

“I’d like to wring his neck,” she says.

The landlord’s special delivery is still strewn along the driveway of Sprague’s modest estate: old tires, empty food boxes, plastic jugs, a brown and shriveled Christmas tree, a decrepit TV, a moldy couch, sacks of garbage, lawn clippings….

Sprague, 49, is a college custodian, which only adds to her insult. The last thing this single woman wants to face when she comes home from a day of cleaning is more garbage.

“Careful, Doug,” warns Flory, 45, a wry tone to his voice. “You don’t want to judge a man’s possessions.”

Flory swears Skjothaug promised to pay him $125 to haul the empty Cream of Wheat boxes and dried leaves, etc.

The landlord says Skjothaug left the stuff piled when he moved out of the East First rental house Flory’s corporation owns.

My efforts to reach the elusive Skjothaug failed. But he told a KHQ reporter last week that he never hired his ex-landlord to haul anything.

“It was a verbal contract,” counters Flory.

Let me get this straight.

Flory claims Skjothaug dinged him for about $1,000. Now he wants me to believe he took the guy’s word for another 125 scoots.

Bob, you can’t be that dumb.

“I’m not at liberty to say a lot of things I’d like to say,” he explains.

Flory is a very likable guy. He believes responsible citizens should “stand up against less responsible” people. The more I talked to this man, the more I identified with him.

Back when my wife and I were young and foolish, we spent a year managing a 20-unit apartment complex on Spokane’s North Side.

We got to live there rent-free, which sounded like a swell deal. Until we met some of our tenants.

There was the drunk who, when he wasn’t using his wife as a punching bag, spent his free time throwing a Bowie knife into the living room wall.

One three-bedroom apartment was infested with nine hookers. Judging from the amount of taxi traffic, they were very popular girls.

How low can a wormy tenant crawl? One of them stole all our freshly washed sheets and MY UNDERWEAR out of the laundry room.

When a man’s Jockeys aren’t safe, can the end of civilization be far behind?

Our career as landlords ended one night while driving back to the apartments. We found ourselves following several screaming fire engines.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if they were going to our place?” my wife said jokingly.

Hysterical. Sure enough, while we were out two of our tenants’ brats set the communal rec room ablaze while smoking marijuana.

I’m the last guy to blame any landlord for trying to give a bum tenant a bit of his own medicine.

But Flory needs to return to the scene of the grime and remove the mini-landfill.

“I can understand his frustration,” says Sprague. “I’d be happy to help him clean it up if he’ll haul it away. I just don’t want to have to look at this mess.”

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