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Maintenance, helpfulness make Lushbaugh the winning lanlord

March 06, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

"Life's been good to me, so why shouldn't I be good to people?"

So says Leonard "Pat" Lushbaugh, nominated by Juanita King as the Hagerstown's best landlord. There were several nominations, but based on King's letter, she wins the $25 prize.

King says she noticed the "for rent" sign on the building at 49 E. Franklin St. in 1991, just when she had decided to make "that leap from renting with roommates to having my (own) apartment."

King says "the apartment attracted me the instant I looked inside the hallway...(because) the building was well-maintained."

King says Lushbaugh showed her a vacant apartment on the third floor, then told her that if she moved in she would have to respect the other tenants, who had been living there for years,

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"The tenants were very friendly and made me feel welcome," she said, adding that Lushbaugh told her that "if I had any maintenance problem, he would fix it."

The few problems she did have, she said, Lushbaugh always took care of, and never raised her rent.

"He said he was not a landlord for the money, but just liked to help people,' she wrote.

On holidays, she said, he would deliver food baskets, donated from his church to the tenants and once rented to a young couple with children who were having financial difficulties and gave them furniture and toys for the kids.

"I cannot say enough about Mr. Lusbaugh, He has an unselfish heart," King said.

King's description was so nice that I began tofear that publicity in this column would lead someone to take advantage of Lushbaugh's kind nature. I needn't have worried, because Lushbaugh has since sold the building, although he still runs a small shop - Back Door Antiques - in the rear on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"I'm 82 years old and I just felt it was time to unload it," he said.

For years, Lushbaugh said, the building held his business, the Office Equipment Company, so his priority was not making money on the tenants, but on getting steady renters who would stay a while.

Asked how he found good tenants, Lushbaugh said they were recommended by peoiple who already lived there. That makes sense, because if people want good neighbors, they're not going to give a reference to just anyone.

The food baskets were something he did through his church. Lushbaugh said, for people who were deserving.

"I haven't refused anybody rent," he said, "but I did have some that didn't treat me right. They weren't all perfect tenants."

Maybe not, but Lushbaugh sounds as if he was the perfect landlord to me. If King will call me and tell me whether she wants the $25 for herself, or to be sent to a charity, I'll do that.

Other nominations included:

- One from Belinda Whittington, on behalf of several tenants of the Alexander House, an elderly housing complex on Hagerstown's Public Square.

He nominee is Jean Hettenhouser, who's been the managing agent there for 22 years.

Hettenhouser is "more than just a landlady. She cares about her tenants. We have seen her laugh and cry with them and stand up for their rights." Whittington said.

One example was allowing the tenants to sit outside their building on Public Square, Whittington said.

"Others said it didn't look good, but she spoke up for us and asked what harm was being done," Whittington said.

Not only is the building secure, she wrote, but every Christmas there's a party for the tenants, with catered food and live entertainment.

"One thing is true: If we didn't like our landlord, or should I say, our management, we wouldn't have stayed here this long," Whittington said.

- A woman who asked that her name not be used nominated Reza Mirdamadi, theiur landlord at the Northgate development.

"He and his wife, Debbie, and their two young sons were simply wonderful. Upon moving in, we had no furniture or cookware because of a glitch with our moving company. Debbie cooked a giant pan of lasagna for us and included paper plates and plastic utensils," she said.

- Douglas Scott Arey nominated Marytland Correctional Institution Warden Lloyd "Pete" Waters.

No county landlord "provides more accomodations than Warden Waters." said Arey, an imate at MCI.

Arey added that Waters patrols the property himself, even stopping into housing areas in the middle of the night to "make a spot check on staff performance and property cleanliness."

Despite Waters' fine performance, Arey said he would "strongly caution the public that they never want to get the felony conviction necessary to obatin this housing. The physical and psychological prices are too high."

Thanks to all who participated. If you have a comment or a suggestion for another contest, please send it to Bob Maginnis, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md., 21741.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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