My family has spent a week in the Poconos Mountains every winter for skiing ever since we’ve been a family. Our favorite place is Blakeslee, PA, where we ski at Jack Frost and Big Boulder. A few years ago, we pulled the trigger on a long-standing dream and purchased a little condo on Jack Frost Mountain. We go up whenever there’s a confluence of our schedule and the rental schedule, and this year we reserved it for our own use over Thanksgiving. We love to relax in our little getaway (and I keep fantasizing about a writing retreat there, although I haven’t tried it yet), but the realities of owning the place require us to play landlord, as well.

We rent through a website. (Are you considering a little vacay in the Poconos? Here’s a link to our rental page on We sometimes rent to friends, relatives, and repeat tenants, but most of the people who stay in our home are strangers. We’ve had mostly good luck. People seem to like our home and appreciate the little amenities we provide. We sometimes discover bonus items left behind such as wine, vodka, beer, ice cream, puzzles, books, and games. One of our favorite repeat tenants never stays without leaving a gift behind, such as candles, oven mitts, or a spice rack.

But we’ve also discovered blackened pots and pans and dented bowls, and we can never understand why some tenants disconnect all the wires on the TV and remove the batteries from the remote control. That’s the downside of owning a rental unit: playing the game of What the Heck Did They Do Here?

Some of the not so nice things we’ve found at the house:
· Potatoes sprouting in the back of the closet
· Thong underwear hanging in the window
· Marital aids left in the dresser drawers
· Bags full of garbage thrown into the basement crawl space
· The aftermath of a fire being lit in the electric grill
· Marijuana nubs in the bottom of the trash can
· An exploded casserole dish left in the oven, along with its moldering contents
· Kitchen chair smashed to bits (think Goldilocks and Baby Bear)
· Hole kicked in bathroom door after a Super Bowl Party (guess their team lost)

Overall, we love our house and enjoy sharing it with people so they can have a relaxing vacation – and help us meet the mortgage.

But being a landlady has also reduced me to hanging signs in my house that say things like: