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View Full Version : I want to move into a warehouse and turn it into a bike shop. Thoughts?



DIABOLUS
08-21-2017, 1:45 AM
Looking to make the move to Las Vegas this October for career opportunities (bartending) and lower cost of living that would let me finally set up shop and start wrenching on bikes. I've always dreamed about living in a motorcycle shop, and am ready to pull the trigger and make it a reality.

Searching the Craigslist listings, I see a bunch of units that are HVAC equipped, and many that have a restroom (toilet and sink only), and a roll-up door. The way I see it, I can join a 24-hour gym that has shower facilities (also a good excuse to hit the gym regularly). Laundromat takes care of my clothing needs, and a mini fridge, hot plate, and microwave can serve as my kitchen. Don't have any dependents (woman, kids, pets, or otherwise).

Looking further into some of the listings, some of the Landlord requirements are listed below:

Accepting leases for 3yr, 5yr, or longer options (don't mind signing a 3yr lease and possibly upgrading to a larger unit in three years)

No automotive, church or dispensary (am I screwed here? I'd be doing primarily metalworking, and the occasional partial teardown of a bike or two. Not oil changes on ten different bikes, etc.)

Tenant to complete Credit Application (my credit is only fair, but I have plenty in savings)

Provide Financials: Tax Returns, Bank Statements or Profit and Loss Statements (I can provide first two, but can't do the third as I don't have a legally-registered business at this time)

Must show enough in reserves to cover six months of rent (no issues here)

Another concern I have is that the units are described as being set up for 120/240 Volt, Single Phase, 100 Amp power. I don't know if this will meet my future needs. I plan on buying a Bridgeport mill and a Miller Dynasty 280DX welder, and want to be sure I can run them where I'm living.

And of course, there's the whole risk of getting caught living in such a unit that's not zoned for residency. Working in a nightclub, My work hours will likely be 10pm - 4am. I'd be leaving the unit around 9pm (people might think I've closed up shop for the night), and come back around 6am (when a lot of people would be starting their workday). So to an outside observer, they don't "see" anyone staying in the unit overnight (at least on my working nights). When I come back in the morning I'd probably sleep until 11am or so, then work on bike stuff until the evening when I leave for work again.

I'm not looking to host parties, or have anyone over aside from the occasional girl. I'm just trying to save on costs and do what I love. But I wonder if these kinds of places do regular inspections of the units, or if the property managers generally don't give a shit as long as you pay your rent on time....

WillSCB
08-21-2017, 2:36 AM
Don't have answers to all of your questions, but can tell you one thing to look at. I have an acquaintance that did something similar to what you are talking about. He discovered that his lease permitted a security guard to remain on premises round the clock, so he simply served as his own security guard. Take a look at the lease, and there might be a similar loophole. By the way, this was in Las Vegas (where I am at now.) Good luck, and maybe see you when you get here.

DIABOLUS
08-21-2017, 10:24 AM
Don't have answers to all of your questions, but can tell you one thing to look at. I have an acquaintance that did something similar to what you are talking about. He discovered that his lease permitted a security guard to remain on premises round the clock, so he simply served as his own security guard. Take a look at the lease, and there might be a similar loophole. By the way, this was in Las Vegas (where I am at now.) Good luck, and maybe see you when you get here.

Security guard, ha! That's clever. I'll look into that for sure, thanks.

DustyDave
08-21-2017, 10:38 AM
I had a boss that bought an aircraft hangar for less than he could rent a warehouse when he retired. He looked at ware houses for several years before he thought of hangars.
Dusty

Dragstews
08-21-2017, 11:03 AM
Security guard, ha! That's clever. I'll look into that for sure, thanks.

You're going to need the Security living in Vegas ....
Town is full people waiting to rip you off...

DIABOLUS
08-21-2017, 12:54 PM
I had a boss that bought an aircraft hangar for less than he could rent a warehouse when he retired. He looked at ware houses for several years before he thought of hangars.
Dusty

I like that. Something to plan for my retirement years, having my own stand-alone building. Always thought it'd be neat to have a modern loft apartment upstairs that overlooks the shop below.


You're going to need the Security living in Vegas ....
Town is full people waiting to rip you off...

I definitely plan on investing in security cameras and alarm systems. I've amassed some nice things over the years.

littledill
08-22-2017, 2:33 PM
Every state is different, but in Florida, you say that its a potter workshop and you can set up a shower inside as well.
Sounds like the dream man, do it!

farmall
08-22-2017, 7:50 PM
I'd use a full fridge. Same footprint as baby fridge and you can buy bulk.

100A will do for lathe, mill, welder etc since you won't be running them at the same time.

Lathe and mill can and should be three phase, since you can run them off VFDs to use single phase power and get variable speed control which is a nice bonus. They don't need much juice.

Max load would be the welder and that should be about 80A rated input for your Dynasty. See your manual of course. (The Miller welding forums are the best manufacturer forums are always a good read.)

I made long heavy duty extension cords like a jobsite to power my welders and machine tools since I rearrange things often. You can order the wire and connectors from a local electrical supply. Twist lock connectors are $$$ (collect all ya can get free/cheap in your travels) so I've not switched to them yet. Conventional welder plugs on mill, lathe and welders make swapping easy. A spider box is a wonderful thing but I've not made or bought one yet since I'm not doing production.

A tear gas alarm setup might be useful. I forget who makes those but they exist.

Dougtheinternetannoyance123
08-23-2017, 2:02 AM
I cant speak for Nevada, but my opinion is thats its fun to visit but you couldnt pay me enough to live there. I know some who do, and Vegas and Reno are their own little altered universe. I would be very careful about locking yourself into anything more than a 6 month lease. One other logistical issue is its pretty miserable in Nevada weather wise. Damn hot at times, and surprisingly cold at night all in the same day.

In the military we had a guy we called "Biff Malibu" and he was from Michigan or someplace and his dream was to live in SoCal and adopt the beach bum and surfer lifestyle. He had never been there of course, but he was certain it was gonna be awesome. After he got out, he packed up his birkenstocks, raybans, board shorts and all his other stuff and moved to SoCal. I saw him briefly before I deployed overseas on his way back to Michigan or where ever he was from. Massively disappointed. For a variety of reasons it did not pan out for him. The lesson here is, do a trial run or short term gig and see if its something you can live with long term before you lock yourself in.

I have done property mgmt of one sort or another for 18 years. Lets just say your lease agreements anticipate guys like you and most landlords been there-done that. I have a few friends who still manage properties and we enjoy telling war stories about weird ass shit in that business.

I CAN tell you that you would be in violation of any of those leases right off the bat. Legally you would be F**ked and not a leg to stand on. I can also tell you that legally in MY area I could evict you on a 24hr notice and keep all your money you paid down as well as have you on the hook for the full term of your lease. There are numerous credit collection agencies who will happily buy the contract and they will chase you down, any place you use your social security number I can track you, also garnish your wages, bank accts, or tax returns in some states. I still attend classes about once a year to stay current and lets just say there is a LOT of resources for landlords and not very many for tenants. I know the laws locally and I know how to win, each and every time.

I have numerous FEDs cases and never lost. (Forced Eviction Decrees) and if you have a FED on your credit you are totally hosed for at least 7 years. I often rent to people with bad credit.Divorces and even a few convicts,,(They often are the BEST renters!) but I NEVER rent to anyone with a FED or Landlord collections history.

My advice is figure out a way NOT to try and beat the system. Do it legal, Nothing worse than having your entire world upended or worrying about losing your home. There IS creative solutions to your problem, and people figure out a way to make things work, but walking into the above scenario is a losing proposition. Perhaps find a farmer or industrial site where you can have a win-win. Or lock down a lease in a existing business. The landlord is worried about code violations as well as insurance liability. He will have insurance but you HAVE to as well. How the hell can you pull renters insurance on the above scenario?? A welder?? Seriously???

I used to lease a commercial farm, 20 acres as well as another 40 acres nearby. I had a home, 3 car garage and a 3 bay shop as well as barn and out buildings. I paid 1100 a month of 10 years and subleased rooms out. I lived there for $275 per month plus utilities. I had 4 revenue streams coming in and did such a good job I started working for 2 different prop mgmt businesses as well. But insurance was a BIOTCH!!!!! Some insurers wanted full credit and rental histories on my renters and my rates went thru the roof. Did not matter. Some insurers had a problem with my cows and pigs but did not care about my 2 Dobermans. Other insurers had a problem with the Dobies but did not care about the cows and pigs. Some freaked out because I had metal fab equipment and welding equipment. (I never disclosed the paint booth, that was a deal breaker for every insurer) It was a sweet setup but the legal logistics were killing me and did me in. I got sued twice but got off on technicalities. The stress was huge.

Locally, for years MANY people DID rent industrial sites and commercial workspaces like what you are discussing., But now with Pot being legal here in my state, good luck finding ANY industrial or warehouse spaces. ALL the hipsters who moved here are all sniveling and whining that they cant afford to live here anymore. But I have several friends who did do the gig you are talking about, but 99% of the time they got around the housing issue by living on site in a RV or converted bus. Thats getting harder as well. Some worked around the crackdown by moving onto boats on the local rivers and lakes. For a while they were in a legal loophole and as long as the boat moved every 2 weeks or month they were in the clear. At one point there was flotillas of people living in boat communities on the local waterways.
As to be expected, laws were passed, ordinances enacted and they are cracking down.

So, not trying to pee on your dreams, but I am trying to offer you advice (You asked for) to save you a lot of grief. I hope you can make it work.

farmall
08-23-2017, 8:56 AM
DTIA is wise. :killerjob:

I got tired of TDYs to Nellis and have no use for Las Vegas. No one else did either until the Air Force then later the Mafia figured out what to do with desert.

Bartenders can work anywhere so I suggest a long reconnaissance visit unless you've done that already before committing. If Vegas looks cheap then my condolences on your current location.

If I bartended and wanted a shop I'd look to buy property reasonably somewhere instead of renting. A shop is a considerable investment and if you have to move because landlord sells it etc then you didn't get shit for your rent money and you have to figure out equipment movement and storage logistics.

Don't expect to turn a profit for a while, and do check out the competition because the market may be saturated. After working at an independent shop I decided customers are idiots who make me want to twist the heads off kittens. I bought property and equipped myself nicely to do whatever I want, but I don't take outside work. The money it saved me doing non-bike stuff for myself paid for most of it.

Bars make more money much faster than bike shops unless the owner is an absentee trusting idiot or a drunk. Consider starting a bar somewhere unless you are tired of bars.

Ask any shop owner in this forum how long it took to get profitable enough to self-sustain and have some cash cushion. I bet you'll get some interesting stories! Then ask them how much riding time they got before and after the shop.

No matter what you do, keep strict accounting from the start because what's not measured is not controlled because it's not known. Many mechanics, machinists and other tradesmen are great at what they do but lose their ass because of mistakes. I enjoy liquidation auctions (great way to equip your shop!) but that's from the customer side.

DIABOLUS
08-23-2017, 11:59 AM
I'd use a full fridge. Same footprint as baby fridge and you can buy bulk.

100A will do for lathe, mill, welder etc since you won't be running them at the same time.

Lathe and mill can and should be three phase, since you can run them off VFDs to use single phase power and get variable speed control which is a nice bonus. They don't need much juice.

Max load would be the welder and that should be about 80A rated input for your Dynasty. See your manual of course. (The Miller welding forums are the best manufacturer forums are always a good read.)

I made long heavy duty extension cords like a jobsite to power my welders and machine tools since I rearrange things often. You can order the wire and connectors from a local electrical supply. Twist lock connectors are $$$ (collect all ya can get free/cheap in your travels) so I've not switched to them yet. Conventional welder plugs on mill, lathe and welders make swapping easy. A spider box is a wonderful thing but I've not made or bought one yet since I'm not doing production.

A tear gas alarm setup might be useful. I forget who makes those but they exist.

Thanks. I like to think that I'm a pretty smart guy, but I am absolutely dense when it comes to electricity. Will definitely look into all of these suggestions when it comes time. I do like the idea of standardized plugs and having the freedom to rearrange things as needed.


I cant speak for Nevada, but my opinion is thats its fun to visit but you couldnt pay me enough to live there. I know some who do, and Vegas and Reno are their own little altered universe. I would be very careful about locking yourself into anything more than a 6 month lease. One other logistical issue is its pretty miserable in Nevada weather wise. Damn hot at times, and surprisingly cold at night all in the same day.

In the military we had a guy we called "Biff Malibu" and he was from Michigan or someplace and his dream was to live in SoCal and adopt the beach bum and surfer lifestyle. He had never been there of course, but he was certain it was gonna be awesome. After he got out, he packed up his birkenstocks, raybans, board shorts and all his other stuff and moved to SoCal. I saw him briefly before I deployed overseas on his way back to Michigan or where ever he was from. Massively disappointed. For a variety of reasons it did not pan out for him. The lesson here is, do a trial run or short term gig and see if its something you can live with long term before you lock yourself in.

I have done property mgmt of one sort or another for 18 years. Lets just say your lease agreements anticipate guys like you and most landlords been there-done that. I have a few friends who still manage properties and we enjoy telling war stories about weird ass shit in that business.

I CAN tell you that you would be in violation of any of those leases right off the bat. Legally you would be F**ked and not a leg to stand on. I can also tell you that legally in MY area I could evict you on a 24hr notice and keep all your money you paid down as well as have you on the hook for the full term of your lease. There are numerous credit collection agencies who will happily buy the contract and they will chase you down, any place you use your social security number I can track you, also garnish your wages, bank accts, or tax returns in some states. I still attend classes about once a year to stay current and lets just say there is a LOT of resources for landlords and not very many for tenants. I know the laws locally and I know how to win, each and every time.

I have numerous FEDs cases and never lost. (Forced Eviction Decrees) and if you have a FED on your credit you are totally hosed for at least 7 years. I often rent to people with bad credit.Divorces and even a few convicts,,(They often are the BEST renters!) but I NEVER rent to anyone with a FED or Landlord collections history.

My advice is figure out a way NOT to try and beat the system. Do it legal, Nothing worse than having your entire world upended or worrying about losing your home. There IS creative solutions to your problem, and people figure out a way to make things work, but walking into the above scenario is a losing proposition. Perhaps find a farmer or industrial site where you can have a win-win. Or lock down a lease in a existing business. The landlord is worried about code violations as well as insurance liability. He will have insurance but you HAVE to as well. How the hell can you pull renters insurance on the above scenario?? A welder?? Seriously???

I used to lease a commercial farm, 20 acres as well as another 40 acres nearby. I had a home, 3 car garage and a 3 bay shop as well as barn and out buildings. I paid 1100 a month of 10 years and subleased rooms out. I lived there for $275 per month plus utilities. I had 4 revenue streams coming in and did such a good job I started working for 2 different prop mgmt businesses as well. But insurance was a BIOTCH!!!!! Some insurers wanted full credit and rental histories on my renters and my rates went thru the roof. Did not matter. Some insurers had a problem with my cows and pigs but did not care about my 2 Dobermans. Other insurers had a problem with the Dobies but did not care about the cows and pigs. Some freaked out because I had metal fab equipment and welding equipment. (I never disclosed the paint booth, that was a deal breaker for every insurer) It was a sweet setup but the legal logistics were killing me and did me in. I got sued twice but got off on technicalities. The stress was huge.

Locally, for years MANY people DID rent industrial sites and commercial workspaces like what you are discussing., But now with Pot being legal here in my state, good luck finding ANY industrial or warehouse spaces. ALL the hipsters who moved here are all sniveling and whining that they cant afford to live here anymore. But I have several friends who did do the gig you are talking about, but 99% of the time they got around the housing issue by living on site in a RV or converted bus. Thats getting harder as well. Some worked around the crackdown by moving onto boats on the local rivers and lakes. For a while they were in a legal loophole and as long as the boat moved every 2 weeks or month they were in the clear. At one point there was flotillas of people living in boat communities on the local waterways.
As to be expected, laws were passed, ordinances enacted and they are cracking down.

So, not trying to pee on your dreams, but I am trying to offer you advice (You asked for) to save you a lot of grief. I hope you can make it work.

Thanks for the detailed write-up. It's disappointing to hear but very appreciated. Apartments are cheap enough in Vegas that it shouldn't be too much more for me to live in one and use the warehouse strictly as a shop. If there's that much legal/financial risk involved it sounds like I'm better off avoiding it.


DTIA is wise.

I got tired of TDYs to Nellis and have no use for Las Vegas. No one else did either until the Air Force then later the Mafia figured out what to do with desert.

Bartenders can work anywhere so I suggest a long reconnaissance visit unless you've done that already before committing. If Vegas looks cheap then my condolences on your current location.

If I bartended and wanted a shop I'd look to buy property reasonably somewhere instead of renting. A shop is a considerable investment and if you have to move because landlord sells it etc then you didn't get shit for your rent money and you have to figure out equipment movement and storage logistics.

Don't expect to turn a profit for a while, and do check out the competition because the market may be saturated. After working at an independent shop I decided customers are idiots who make me want to twist the heads off kittens. I bought property and equipped myself nicely to do whatever I want, but I don't take outside work. The money it saved me doing non-bike stuff for myself paid for most of it.

Bars make more money much faster than bike shops unless the owner is an absentee trusting idiot or a drunk. Consider starting a bar somewhere unless you are tired of bars.

Ask any shop owner in this forum how long it took to get profitable enough to self-sustain and have some cash cushion. I bet you'll get some interesting stories! Then ask them how much riding time they got before and after the shop.

No matter what you do, keep strict accounting from the start because what's not measured is not controlled because it's not known. Many mechanics, machinists and other tradesmen are great at what they do but lose their ass because of mistakes. I enjoy liquidation auctions (great way to equip your shop!) but that's from the customer side.

I'm looking at Vegas bartending for the sheer amount of money that can be made there at the right hotspots. Based on people who I've talked to currently working there, I can make anywhere between $250-$400 in a 6-hour shift which would buy me a lot of nice tools in short order.

As far as the bike business goes, I'm still at the tool-gathering stage, so I know it's going to be slow going for now. Probably start off selling just t-shirts and stickers. Get a tube bender and start making handlebars. Make some jigs and start selling exhaust systems. Gradually buy more and more tools until I can start producing more complicated parts (triple trees, risers, foot controls, frames, etc.). I know the bike industry has been in a slump for the last ten, fifteen years but I'm not really worried about it. Markets always come and go, and by the time it comes around again I might be in a prime position to benefit from it. And I love bikes too much that I would want to work on bikes no matter how bad it is. The bartending pays the bills and anything I make from working with bikes is a bonus. :)

Dougtheinternetannoyance123
08-23-2017, 2:06 PM
Farmall is extremely wise and I find we are on the same page 98% of the time

Now we got the Bromance stuff out of the way, I do gotta laugh about the Nellis TDYs,, Been there, done that. My first duty station after tech school was Mt Home AFB, 366th Equipment Maint. squadron. Biff Malibu was in the component repair squadron there. We did a lot of TDYs to Nellis as well as world wide depoloyments. REDFLAGs mostly. The drill was we got a nice per diem check for those, no room on base so we stacked up 10 guys in a single motel room at the cheapest rate. 5 guys got the day shift, 5 took nights and no banging chicks in the room while people are sleeping. Save every penny and eat PB&J, back then you could also hit the buffets cheap at the strip (Not so much anymore). Many of my friends (All gearheads) would troll the fringes of Vegas for old bikes and hotrods.
Vegas has the shiny tourist strip but not far off that it gets ghetto really quick, as in NASTY Ghetto but back in the day there was sleazy car lots on the edge and many friends bought really cool 1/2 finished hot rods out there and drove them back to our base.
One night the wipers went out in a downpour on the way to Idaho and we took turns with aviation stainless safety wire wrapped around them and manually operating them by hand. So, enough about the old days......

I think Farmalls advise about talking to shop owners is a great idea. I 100% agree about never taking in work from the public again, I often will give advice but f**K working on others stuff for the most part. I have a ton of war stories about crazy and stupid customers,,, I wont say they were all bad because they were not. I have friends still today who I met thru my shop and had some really good times.
Its the 10-15% of problem children who make my blood boil and stomach churn.

You will find that virtually ALL shop owners whether its performance cars or resto, or the bike side of things we all got into it because we are passionate about this stuff and love it. We all are virtually 100% weird and crazy in different ways as well. Nobody with any sense or sanity would do this stuff. Sure as hell dont make any money. I have a friend up in Washington who his business card is,
"Unconventional machine, we can make anything but a profit!"

Wanna know how to make a small fortune in the bike business? Start with a large one.

Bud Ekins (Famous Triumph dealership and close friend of McQueen) said,, "Bikes dont pay shit, real estate does" He scrapped by for decades in SoCal doing the bike dealership and service work, but it was the buildings he bought that paid the bills and left him with a comfortable income.

Your ideas on what to start with for a business model is,.,, sad to say, not a great idea. It is virtually what every aspiring bike guy does. You need to find a niche business or service that is under represented, or under performing. Either A) Do something way better than anyone else (Rockstar of the industry but odds are against you) or B) Find a service or product that is needed but nobody does or knows how to do or people did not realize before they couldnt live without it.

I got good at wrenching, body work and paint on hot rods, sports cars and grocery getters because i was poor and couldnt afford to pay somebody else. I went and learned from some amazing people who helped me along the way (Still do). I started doing it for others because people saw I was good at it, and same deal, they couldnt afford to pay full bore at a regular shop. I got into vintage bikes while in the Air Force When I got out, I supplemented my income by doing side jobs for people but there was fewer and fewer guys working on vintage British bikes so I got deeper and deeper into that. I did the Harley thing for a while but you couldnt swing a dead cat without hitting some sort of Harley guy running some sort of shop.

Let me point this out, One of my favorite shops and people I consider my good friends are reducing their hours of operation, Rabers Parts mart in San Jose Calif. They are a British bike shop and one of the best in the country. Bob Raber says they cant find qualified staff who can afford to live in the bay area so sadly,, they have to reign it in to 3 days a week.

As to tools and equipment,,, All those years living out of a suitcase and gear bags in the Air Force I DREAMED of owning all kinds of shop equipment. At one base I bought a van and a station wagon to stash tools and parts in.(Had to move them around all the time to avoid being towed) At another I rented a storage locker off base and the owner was cool about me wrenching on stuff inside it. As an acft tech, if you cant carry your tool box on the line then you have too many tools. (I did have a little dolly with wheels but I spent a lot of time lifting it in & out of line trucks).
So first thing I did when I got out was con my new girlfriend into letting me buy a big craftsman roller tool box on her sears credit card.
(She was a great girl,,) And over the years I bought a ton of stuff for gear. Welders, drill presses (Multiple) band saws, jig saws, Multiple big ass air compressors. (Sandblasting takes a LOT of air) Air tools, lifts, jacks, and chemicals,, lots and lots of chemicals, oils, grease, paint, etc. Last time we moved, it was a PIA and took 2 weeks and a lot of friends helping. Having all that stuff is a blessing and a curse. We own our little farm, and I got a regular shop as well as building a new one on the property,, but now i am old and dont have the energy like I did when I was in my 20s, So I spent a lot of time to get to where I am now.

My advice is, narrow the learning curve and dont waste time, I spent decades thinking about "Someday" Ill get to that. Now I am here and saying FUCK! I spent a lot of time getting advice and learning from others. I picked out the good stuff because nobody is right 100% of the time and most people I know are weird and crazy so they may be a genius but not all their opinions are valid. I also learned that some life lessons dont seem important at the time and easy to miss. Many years later you do a face plant and think DAMN! I should have been paying better attention!


78389

farmall
08-23-2017, 6:53 PM
That kind of cash per shift would make for a nice nest egg enhancer, and while renting you could do a recon for a place to buy, perhaps some distance from the shit zone. Unimproved property can be improved, but research thoroughly before buying! Vegas will keep expanding so you might let it come to you over the years.

If you are into machining and find one magic part you can make in bulk easily (perhaps sub out any CNC, you don't have to personally do all the work to sell the result) for good profit that could be your winning move. I remember how shitty petcocks were before Pingel came out. They got it right and sell a fuckton of fuel valves.

Some good leisure reading re: business management:

http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/shop-management-and-owner-issues/

hillcat
08-25-2017, 8:00 AM
Go for it. You're only young once.
Just try not to lose your tools so you can start over if it goes bad (knock on wood).
Location, location, location.

53Bash
08-25-2017, 8:19 PM
I'd say no go unless you are on very good terms with the landlord and can do it openly, or they need you more than you need them. You are talking about setting up your living quarters and many thousands of dollars worth of equipment in space where you almost certainly would be violating lease conditions by living there and having any sort of operable vehicle engine being worked on. Maybe you have the money, equipment, and spirit to pick up and move on short notice when evicted, but I went through that multiple times and it was just brutally draining. Eventually like 80% of my tools (by value) got stolen during one of the moves, because my landlord gave workmen access to the space before my eviction date was actually up and I was not there (the utilities had been turned off).