Current Location: Miami, FL

When Life Throws You Lemons, What Do You Do?

Notice of Violation - Unauthorized People

Man, what a morning…

In the span of 10 minutes, I lost an $800-$1,000/month income stream and I got a letter threatening me with a lawsuit.

Oh, and some other lovely stuff too (see below)…

I received 2 (legally threatening) “It has come to our attention” letters in the same day.

Everything shifted in the matter of 10 minutes…

When Life Throws You Lemons, What Do You Do?

Here’s the first letter… hand-delivered from my landlord today…

“It has come to our attention that you have unauthorized people living in your apartment and are subletting part of your unit.  As per your signed lease, you acknowledge that subletting is not allowed without prior written consent of the landlord.

Demand is hereby made that you remedy the non-compliance within seven (7) days of receipt of this notice or your lease shall be deemed terminated and you must vacate the premises.”

Why does this suck?

Well because I’ve been renting out my extra bedroom on AirBnB.com, a website where you can rent your home, spare bedroom, extra couch, etc. to travelers.

Not only have I been meeting cool people from all over the world, but my rent, for the past few months, has pretty much been $0.  Some months, I’ve even turned a profit.

Now that’s over and I have to pay rent all by myself!  

This is unusual for me.

I sell real estate (as a Realtor®) and invest in property as well, so I’m always looking for ways to generate “cashflow”.

That just took away $800-$1,000/month in income and now I need to fill that source…

… which is a bummer, since I haven’t had to look for part-time work (while I build my businesses) because of the creative lifestyle I have [offsetting expenses and building creative sources of income].

This is what I did when I lived in Philadelphia… I leased a 7-bedroom house near a University, and then I subletted all the remaining 6 bedrooms to undergraduate students, graduate students and young professionals.  I pretty much didn’t pay rent for 3+ years.

Shortly after this letter arrived, I received an email with a scanned document which arrived at one of my Pennsylvania addresses…

“It has come to our attention that you are using an image (or images) represented by [company name] for online promotional and/or editorial purposes.  We have searched our records and have not been able to locate a valid license for the use of the image(s) under your company’s name.  Attached is a copy of the image(s) in question along with the usage found on your company’s website….

… Total Due Upon Receipt: $875.00″

Damn, this sucks!

In the Frequently Asked Questions of the letter, it says:

Q: What if I remove the images?  Could I simply consider the matter closed?

A: While we appreciate the removal of our represented images from your website, removal of the images alone does not settle the matter.  Since your company has already infringed the copyright by using the images without a valid license, our photographers are entitled to compensation for their work.  Therefore, [company name] will continue to pursue settlement of the demand.  We are seeking payment for the unlicensed use of the images, and would be happy to work with you on correctly licensing any future use.

Damn, this really sucks!

Since I build and teach people how to use websites, I get this question a lot: “Where should I get images from?”

(most people just use photos they don’t have rights to)..

I tell people it’s really up to their level of comfort (and how risky they want to be).

I’ve even told people, “I’ve never had any issues…”

I’m such an ass LOL!

I even told one of my assistants, “Just use any images you want, and then if something happens, I’ll start buying the rights to photos.”

Smart-ass me thought I wouldn’t be effected.

Instead of just spending the $1-$3 per image, now I have to pay $875.00…

… I also have to go through multiple websites and not only remove images, but find (and pay for) their replacements.

More Lemons

Paying the Mortgage…

To further talk about “lemons”, about an hour ago, I got a phone call from my property manager.

We’ve been trying to rent one of my 3-bedroom homes in Philadelphia.

The house has been sitting vacant since October 2012 (it’s currently April 2013… that’s 6 months of vacancy… and of me paying the mortgage!)

“Matt, I’ve showed this place over 30 times and we’ve only got two (poor) applications.  We need to go ahead and paint the unit.  I’ll send my guy out there and get you a quote this week.”

This will easily be $1,000+

Dental Work…

Matt Horwitz with Braces - 2013.3.12_325x244

Oh, by they way, I got braces about 5 months ago.
It’s crazy how fast they work… here’s a photo from 3 moths ago!

While I’m on the topic of venting about financial frustrations, I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned recently…

… turns out I have 6 cavities.  Six!

WTF ?!

Here I was thinking I was all healthy and that I’ve been taken care of my body (I don’t drink soda, I don’t eat candy and I stay away from poor-quality food), and it turns out I have 6 cavities.

Price: $900.  Damn!

Furthermore, I have a mesioden (extra tooth) in my upper gumline which I need to get surgically removed… that will most likely be expensive.

Taxes

And to top it all off, I have taxes which I must pay in the next 2 weeks.

What Have I Learned From All This?

No matter what happens, I can choose my reaction/response.

It’s good to be honest and upfront when you’re caught.  I owned up to the consequences.

I realized I need to start making more money and then saving it for unexpected expenses.

I’ve already cancelled the 8 reservations I had on AirBnB and I’ve dealt with the reality that I no longer can have that as an income source (at least not at this property).

I called the landlord and told them I will no longer be having travelers here.

I was honest when I spoke with them, I didn’t beat around the bush… I told them, “Yes, I was making money and renting the room out.”  I told them I understand their situation and the neighbor’s situation (some suspicious neighbors reported me after seeing the frequency of guests with large suitcases coming and going), and that I’ll take care of it.

I going to contact the “photo company” and see if I can negotiate the $875 pay-off.

I’m no longer just going to use images without purchasing the rights.

I’m going to start saving the money to get my cavities taken care of.

I feel that no matter what happens, life is here to teach us lessons and to help us grow.

When Life Throws You Lemons, What Can You Do?

1. Accept the reality (unless you can change it)

2. Learn as much as you can

3. Remedy the situation(s)

4. Move forward (don’t dwell on how things were for too long)

5. Don’t forget to bring the lessons learned with you ;)

Keep rockin’, no matter what gets in your way!

About Matt

I'm passionate about learning, teaching and growing. I'm an entrepreneur and an adventurer, and I bring my work with me when I travel. This blog documents my journey in life. Read more about me here → More details.

8 comments

  1. Damn dude, that SUCKS. Wow.

    Re: finding images to legally use online, try my buddy Nick Reese’s WP plugin Photo Dropper. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/photo-dropper/

  2. This message was perfect timing and gave me an extra boost of inspiration. I really admire your frankness and steps you took to rectify the situation and not be a victim. I’m dealing with my own batch of lemonade as within the last two weeks my work and home life has shifted dramatically. My role in a business I helped build seems to be crumbling (lesson: get it in writing from the start!) and I haven’t found a new home to live YET. My lease expired yesterday and I
    spent last night sleeping in my car which really sucked! Despite all of this I look at it as an opportunity to evolve to a higher quality of life and that it was necessary for these things to fall away so that could happen. I think it’s so important for us to be the leaders in our life and go and make it happen – no matter what the circumstance. With vision, consistency and persistence we can make it happen. AND maintaining an attitude of gratitude for the little and big things in our life. Feeling so blessed. Keep on rockin’ Matt! Lots of joy and aloha to you. :)

    • Awesome Michelle! Rock it out with the whole “sleepin’ in the car” thing… I slept in the car for a few nights when I first drove down to Miami… man, 2 weeks later when I got my mattress (slept on a tile floor for 1 week) I was SO APPRECIATIVE!

      I always trust there is something bigger and better ahead… and of course lots of lessons and things to integrate during these events. Sounds like a good thing that the work has shifted.. bringing you closer to something more aligned with your gifts and passions.

      I know things will work out for you.. because you make it happen. Keep rockin’ Micelle.. and chat with you soon! Keep me posted when all smooths over ;)

      • Thanks Matt. A miracle occurred the next day and not only did I find a place to stay temporarily that is freakin’ awesome… but I also found my new home I’m moving into next week. The beach is right down the street too! After the night in the car I decided to stop being stubborn and ask my friends for help lol. The lesson for me is to ask for help when I need it and be open to receive. :)

        We def got to catch up soon. Lots of good things going on and would love to hear what you’re up to. Bless up!

        • That sounds pretty dope! Asking for help… ah yes, an important lesson for sure. It’s so easy for us to just “tough it out”… sometimes calling upon support is good. Sounds like all around though it was a sweet experience!

          And yes, let’s chat soon!