Our Experience As a Landlord
Experience with Renters
First of all, many people think that having rentals, is not as demanding as many people say. I would like to warn you that being a landlord with rental property's is not an easy job. People who are looking to rent can be very very nice, dress nice, speak nicely and tell you all you want to hear, but in the end, don't be surprised to hear things, and see things done to the property that really change your mind fast about your first opinion of them, once they have been in the house for six months or so, actually it doesn't even take that long with some of them.
I have been a landlord since 1975 and I have not had one renter, that I can say, that stood out amongst the others that did a wonderful job paying all the rent on time, and taking care of the property well! They either owed us rent money or money from the destruction of the property, or both. Renters always had a good story to tell us, why we should rent to them! They always said they were excited about the house, and couldn't wait to move in. That they would do a real good job and take care of it. That we wouldn't have to worry about anything at all! They always pay their rent on time. They have a good income and can afford to pay that kind of rent. These are some of the things they would tell us!
For one thing, I have learned that it is not good to have rentals out of state, because it is not a good idea to live where you cannot always drive by it to keep an eye on it, or to go in it. Even when I had a property manager. When I fired him, you might say, I asked him in the years that I had him, if he ever went by the house or went in it! He said no! There was no need for it, as long as they were paying the rent on time. Well, that just isn't so! I told him that was part of his job, he didn't like that. After all I was paying him $130 a month and it seems to me that would be part of the job. When the people went to move out, the house was in such a horrible condition that it was not even half way rentable. The house was a nice tri-level in Nevada, valued at $325,000 at the time. The family had three children when I first met them and they were teens when I went over to the house to see what condition it was in when they gave notice to move out. I was literally dumb founded. The father was there. He came downstairs to speak to me. The hole in the wall behind the front door knob still hadn't been fixed and it was that way for four years, and the last time I checked on the houses condition. I asked him about it, then I asked why the house was so filthy and why they were not keeping it cleaner. His story to me was "What you see is what you get, from me". I felt like slugging him right in the snout! The place looked like a pack of dogs lived in it all that time, and never once ran a vacumn. I asked the teenage girl why she didn't do it and she said that their vacumn cleaner was broken for a long time. The only thing in the family room was an old tv and game cables hooked up to it and an old couch about 4 feet in front of it. The living room looked like there never was any furniture in it. The man of the house would come home and go straight to the bedroom and sit there on the computer all evening, He would have his dinner served there everynight by his wife. He sat there so much that he wore a hole in the carpet from the friction of his shoes in the same place everynight for six years. The plumbing in the master bathroom had leaked out on the floor all those years and the subfloor and tile had to be torn out and replaced, and the plumbing in the wall had to be replaced. No one even reported it to me so it could get fixed right away and it ruined the ceiling below in the family room. The windows looked like they had never been cleaned. He finally told the property manager right before he gave his notice to move out. Then they left without cleaning any of the house up. Of course there was no forwarding address! The neighbors told me that they paid for a new lock for the front door as the renters had been living there with no lock on the front door. It seems that it broke and instead of contacting the property manager to get it fixed, they did not want to bother.
Before they moved in they had made an agreement with us that they would plant a lawn in the backyard if we did not charge them a deposit, so we agreed with that. When they moved out, the back yard had no lawn, it was still all dirt where the kids had dug holes as if they were gophers digging holes all over it to live underground. The back sliding glass door could no longer be opened and shut it was rusted and so was the track that the door sat on. All the wheels on the door were gone so it would not slide. There were many holes in the walls that had to be fixed, and broken door jams and knobs. The whole house had to have new carpet installed. All of the blinds on the windows were destroyed. All the upstairs bedrooms were painted horrible dark colors. The damages to this house came to a good $20,000+ out of our pocket, just to get it ready for a new renter again. The new renters lived in it a year and destroyed the carpet again and it was over $10,000 that year to get it in renting condtion.
Ouch, see how renting can really get expensive. There is absolutely no reason why renters should treat other peoples property that way and get away with it, but they do. This was just one renter that we had, there are many more that I could mention. One of our renters left about 30 rats in the basement dead and rotting, plus the feces, I am talkiing about this house you are now looking at. That just horrified me. That house took a dumster to clean out the garbage that was left behind in the house and yard. They never had garbage pickup like they were told to do by the property manager!
Advice from an Ex- Landlord
- Make sure you have at least $40,000 in the bank, extra money just set aside for rental up keep.
- Don't make any agreements without having it in the contract.
- Make them prove that they are trust worthy of your property first before you do them any favors.
- Take pictures of the property and house before you rent it to them. They cannot argue that.
- Charge higher fees if they are late with rent money.
- Always charge up front for the last monhs rent, as they will or can get out of paying it just by not doing so, and give you some lame excuse why they couldn't pay you and will send it to you in the mail. Which is another lie, because they usually never do.
- Always charge a cleaning deposit that includes the price of a professional carpet cleaner, some will try to use a rental cleaner, and that does not clean like a professional cleaner and you will have to do it over again.
- If you do not want pets in the house include that in the contract, and stand by it. Whether it is cats or dogs.
- Make sure the renters are caught up with the utilities or you will be left with paying for it. We are stuck with the last renters utility bill of $1,800 and a collection agency has been calling us to collect.
- One other situation we got into, make it plain and clear that there is to be no business ran out of the home like babysitting kids, or holding church in the house. One of our renters was doing that also and clogged up the street so the neighbors could not get in or out of their dirveways on Sunday mornings. The church people also plugged up the plumbing in the house.
One couple rented one of our houses and we let them put a hot tub in the back yard and when they moved out they took it with them and they damaged the pipe connection and we had to hire a plumber to have it fixed. This was the couple who did not pay the rent for 3 months and we had to pay the Sheriff to come to the house and evict them. They took revenge on us and put two roles of paper towels down the sewer pipe before leaving just to plug it up. Then we had to pay a plumber to come and fix it.
Many people have pets and will try to convince you that they are house trained or litter box trained. We believed a renter when they told us that their 2 cats were litter box trained. When they moved out and we rented it again, the new renters called us and told us that when they turned the furnace on the smell of cat urine was so strong that they could not turn the heat on anymore. We did not have the money to replace the carpet so I sent a professional cleaner over there to take care of cleaning it. Even after that they still complained, so they decided to cut a 4x6 piece of carpet out of the livingroom carpet. Then they just put their couch over the hole to hide it. When they moved out we went to inspect it and found the carpet that way. We had to have a carpet guy come over and seal the floor so the smell would be sealed, and then take the carpet out of the walkin closet and put it in that spot. You see how it can be a constant drain on your bank account. If you are going to do the work yourself, and you hold down another full time job, it will take you at least a month or more to get it ready for the next renters, depending on what has to be done to make it rentable again. Many state laws also require that a house always has to be painted before renting it again to a new renter. So it will take you time to do that or either you have to pay a prefessional painter to come to the house and do it. We usually did the work ourself, thinking it would save us money, and on the house in Nevada, I did the work and it took me 3 months to do it, and 2 more months for the Rental company to show the house to prospective renters and then check them out and rent it. That was a loss in rent money alone of $6,500, not to speak of $700 for the Rental Company. Fixing that house after that last rental had wiped us out of our savings. We are now in the process of going after two renters for owing us $10,000+ in rent money and damages and not paying the utilities that they still owe.
Debt Statute of Limitations
One other thing we have learned. There is a Debt Statute of limitations in each state in which there is a time limit that you can go after the renters for money owed you on a contract. Written contracts for Rental Contracts in Pennsylvania is 6 years, for Promisory notes is 4 years, and Open end Contracts (credit card debt) are 6 years.