My property was trashed. Everything would need to be replaced... new floors, new paint, major repairs everywhere you look. Even random illogical things like wires in the garage were cut for some mysterious reason.

In the backyard was this bearded dragon. This lizard is native to Australia... far, far from where the property was located (Texas). It was extremely weak, hungry and dehydrated. Its jaw was extremely crooked. I don't know if a cat or dog attacked it or if it's some kind of symptom that arose from severe neglect/ malnutrition.

All would be super expensive to fix and get the property back into good shape to be rented out to future tenants.

The tenants (who I later found out were drug dealers) had bailed on the lease and stuck me with $30,000 in damages.

What's worse... this is the third time in a row that a tenant had bailed on the lease early. And I had used a property management company all three times that was supposed to screen out these people! One would think I would have learned from the previous two times but this was literally probably about priority number 1000 on my list. It was supposed to be passive income.

What can we learn from my mistakes?

Sadly just hiring a hiring a property management company that has good reviews isn't enough. You need to micromanage them to some extent.

Make sure that the management company pulls all three of these reports: (1) credit history (2) criminal record and (3) eviction. Many property management companies just take the first person that can come up with the deposit. That's far from enough screening. Ask to see the report. Don't just take their word for it. It could end up costing you five figures.

As for the bearded dragon? We named her Loretta. We nursed her back to health and found her a good home.