HANOVER TWP. — In a front room of an Oxford Street property, Adam Peters stored his new refrigerators, kitchen cabinets and toilets to be installed in the four units of this soon-to-be renovated apartment building.
He expects the work to be done and ready for tenants in two months.
The opening couldn’t come soon enough for Peters, a Montgomery County resident who’s slowly buying properties in this area with the money he earns from hauling produce as a truck driver.
An apartment he owns on Carlisle Street, about a half mile away in Wilkes-Barre, was shut down Friday for six months under the city’s new one-strike ordinance targeting what officials consider problem properties. He will lose a stream of rental income during that time.
The city’s move, which came after police said they seized crack cocaine and nearly $30,000 in cash in the second-floor unit, angered Peters who sees himself as part of the solution to making communities better by restoring rundown and vacant properties.
“I feel I’m getting the hard end of the deal,” Peters said Saturday. He plans to challenge the shutdown to the city’s new Housing Board of Appeals.
Rather than dwell on what’s been done, he turned his attention to the what’s being done in the work-in-progress rental.
Peters, 26, who’s married and lives with his wife in Red Hill, said he got into real estate to make money. He decided to buy properties in Northeastern Pennsylvania because he has relatives in the Carbondale area and travels through Northeastern Pennsylvania on Interstate 81.
“When I was 18 I started a vending company. I’ve always had that entrepreneur mindset,” he said. “I thought about franchises and whatnot, and I really like the idea of real estate.” The properties provide income and increase in value, he added.
When he became a landlord he noticed the reaction of tenants to his apartments, and that experience changed his perspective.
Peters, who doesn’t do the work himself, said he takes pride in providing homes more so than apartments and awaited the reaction to the Hanover Township property. They’ll rent for between $700 and $750 a month, he said.
“When these people come in here from wherever they’re coming from, they’re going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the nicest place.’ And that’s, that’s what it’s about,” he said.
Peters said he would live in any of the apartments he owns, including the one that was shut down. He has put $70,000 into the Oxford Street rental, he said, and intends to spend another $25,000 to $35,000. When it’s completed, just about everything will be new: floors, electrical service, baseboard heaters, windows and roof.
Being an out-of-town landlord doesn’t have to have bad connotations, Peters said.
“Every single person that works in here, everything I buy, everything is local,” he said. “Everything stays in the area. All the tax dollars come here. All the people working here live here, I mean, it’s all local, it’s all local stuff.”
He might be local someday, too. He and his wife would like to move to be within a 20-mile radius of the Wyoming Valley properties. He had a house under contract in Nanticoke, but the deal fell through, he said.
Until that happens he’ll make the drive to Luzerne County to check on the apartments — and do it more frequently since the shutdown, he said.
Prospective tenants will get a more scrutiny, too.
“Finding a good tenant is playing the lottery,” he said, adding the good ones “have lived at someplace for 30 years.”
Still, he’s going to play it with the hope of winning. “You can’t go around expecting the worst of everybody,” he said.
His first apartment as a tenant was in Boston when he was 16 and out on his own. He had to duck his 6-foot-2-inch frame to avoid hitting his head.
“But you know what, that guy gave me a chance,” he said. “Guess what, I was never late on the rent. I didn’t cause any damage to the property. I’m kind of like the same way. I’m going to give you a chance until you give me a reason to prove, you’re not, you know, you’re not eligible.”