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Old 03-07-2013, 12:47 PM
2,670 posts, read 4,518,379 times
Reputation: 2117


Speaking as someone who had to rent an unsold house, I would advise:

If you do not currently have a tenant but are seeking one, put clear language in the lease document about the nature of the repairs and maintenance that could come up and how they are to be handled and paid for. Before signing the document with a prospective tenant, ask him or her to review it carefully and to ask you about any clauses they aren't sure about. Make revisions that you agree to, then sign it. Be prepared for tenants later to not follow the lease even after this is done, but at least you will have a basis for insisting on something later.

Check references before leasing it, and ask prior landlords whether the tenant was reasonable about calls.

There is a reason why management companies stay in business and charge 10% of rent. You can do the work, or you can pay them, or you may get lucky after doing careful screening and get a great tenant.

As an aside, I would advise against anyone's buying a property with the idea that they will move up in a few years when their needs change and rent (rather than sell) the old place. In this area (and in many other cities), in most cases (especially with mid-to-higher end housing), market rents do NOT cover the total costs of a single property, let alone your costs AND your time/trouble/risk/hassles. And this is on top of the transaction and moving costs.
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Old 03-07-2013, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by lindy112 View Post
Some landlords now charge a "repair deductible." It's about $50-$200 and the tenant would be responsible for paying this when a repair is requested. It prevents the tenant from calling for a burnt-out lightbulb. My reaction was no one would ever rent a place that has one of these but, when I was doing real estate in NOVA, it didn't seem to affect the rentability at all.
This is what we did. We rent out our townhouse with a $100 maintenance deductible. Anything less than $100 to fix, the tenant handles it. She called me a few months back because the glass in the front storm door had been broken (she came home to find it cracked, not sure exactly what had happened). I went online, found out a replacement piece of glass could be bought from Lowe's or Home Depot for about $55, and directed her to that. Didn't cost me anything since the total was less than $100, and I never had to make a trip there (townhouse is almost an hour away). So far, that's the only maintenance call we've had since October (knock on wood!).
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:55 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,615,182 times
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I'm not quite sure what you're asking, but I was a tenant in an older condo in Bethesda. The landlord was overseas and he had a friend or someone who I could contact if issues came up. I lived there for a couple of years. If something went wrong, I just found out the price to fix it, called the tenant's friend and got it verbally approved that I would fix it and deduct it from the rent. It wasn't a big deal. At one point the dishwasher broke, and my boyfriend bought one at the store and put it in for a total of under $200! Not that many things should go wrong in a given year.

On the other end, I am now a landlord (landlady?) of a 50+ year old home. We screened the tenants, and really liked the ones who rented the place. I got references from their previous landlady who said they were super easy tenants, never bothered with things, etc. My husband took them around the house and showed them what needed to be done - like keeping the drains clear of leaves, how to change the furnace air filters, etc. They have called us 1 time since May, and that was because there was a horrible smell in one of the bedrooms, and they figured that a dead animal had gotten into the vent. They called a company, ran it by me; I approved it, and he paid for it and deducted it from the rent. That's it. It hasn't been an issue at all.

I think if you find good tenants (that is key!) and a bonus if they are handy!, then you don't have to worry about all the small things. You can get a good feel for people based on what they ask when you show them the condo. We had someone who wanted to paint the kids' rooms because we had girls and they had boys! Then he commented that the stove looked old (Yes the house is a 1950's house, and the stove IS old. It is what it is. But it works great. Did he want us to replace it for him?) I could already tell that he was going to be a PITA tenant.

Bottom line is, I think you are overthinking things. If you are not comfortable making repairs or calling people to make them for you, then hire a maintenance company. For me, I figured I could call Handyman Bob to go over and fix the tenant's broken shower just as easily as a real estate company could call Handyman John to fix the broken shower. And I could do it without paying the 8% maintenance fee. So far, so good.
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:10 AM
2,670 posts, read 4,518,379 times
Reputation: 2117
I would add that you could consider dropping the home warranty coverage. Although there are rare instances where they pay off, for the most part they are $500+ per year down the drain. They require you to get their approval to call repairpeople who are often the cheapest people in the area and consequently, inept or inexperienced or worse. I had one experience where 7 different appointments (2 or 3 of which resulted in no-shows, the rest in the problem's NOT being fixed) were required for the same appliance. And, they charge high deductibles. I finally told the warranty company they needed to send someone competent immediately but it wasn't until I explained it to them that no one would renew a warranty after the first year if they had to deal with this, that the warranty company rep. began to "get" why this customer non-service wasn't working for them (they didn't care that it wasn't working for me).
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Old 03-08-2013, 11:54 AM
1,326 posts, read 2,686,225 times
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It sort of seems like you want to have your cake and eat it too. You want the money that a rental property will get you, based on your other posts, but you don't want the expense of dealing with a rental property.

In the current market there are tons of landlords that don't want to be landlords, they just can't sell the houses for what they paid. In this particular area with a high turnover, you can be a demanding and/or non responsive landlord, but you will see your tenants moving out each time their lease is up.

I am currently both a landlord (house in FL) and tenant. As a landlord, I use a property manager. As a tenant here I have been in two rentals dealing directly with the landlord. I call the workman, but deduct it out of my rent. As others have stated, I am not spending any of my money on fixing the house, but repairing things as needed. I wouldn't expect anyone to spend their money on my house.

That being said, I have left both rentals in better condition that I got them (painted on my own, have a gardener) but you won't find that in alot of tenants, and shouldn't expect it.

Sems like this condo is a money pit and just has issues.
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