Owning a rental property is a great way to build up long-term, regular cash flow. We own a number of properties, and it’s important to us that we rent out clean, well-maintained homes that are low maintenance and decorated with sturdy surfaces and other durable choices. You don’t make the same choices for appliances, walls, floors, or fixtures in a rental house that you do in a house you want to sell for top dollar. Sturdy and practical are the types of choices to focus on in rental houses. For example, tile floors, basic but functional appliances, attractive but easily replaced light fixtures, durable faucets, etc. You’d use a bit of nice tile to accept easy-to-clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces. You get the idea.
It’s also important, though, to make sure the people who rent your properties respect your clean, well-maintained home. It can really eat into your profits if you have to do a lot of repairs after each tenant moves out. You expect to have to clean, re-paint, and even replace carpeting. You’d evaluate whether appliances need to be changed out, too. That’s normal wear and tear, and you budget for that.
However, today we looked at a house where the whole rental situation took a bad turn. You could easily see how a candidate for rehab comes into being. An absentee landlord combined with absentee property management meant that the folks living in the house could disrespect the property they lived in and make the house almost uninhabitable. It appeared that no regular maintenance had occurred. The walls had never been cleaned. The tile floor was in good shape, but filthy. There were NO functioning doors in the house. Some had been bashed in. One was off its hinges. Others had holes in them or had created holes in the walls. I’m not sure if a shower in the bathrooms would have actually cleaned anyone. And the carpeted floors were amazing. I could just see kids going up and down the stairs and into their rooms carrying all sorts of food and drink–at least the parts that didn’t drip on the stairs. And what made it into the bedrooms later got kicked over, so that there was a sort of festive collection of colored splotches on the carpet. Guess what that liquid can do to a sub-floor. Hmmm. An easy guess. Someone’s gonna have to remove a lot of mold. And older windows were allowed to leak inside the house and affect the walls and floors. They had even managed to bend up the great room chandelier into odd shapes. Great work, tenants. You took a sturdy house in a reasonable neighborhood and created a mini-slum.
Sure, those renters didn’t own the house, so they had no pride of ownership. Maybe they’d never lived anywhere decent before. Luckily, there are plenty of people out there who are good renters. For sure, if I’d been renting that house out, I’d have gotten references and run a background check on the potential renters. My property is too valuable to chance someone trashing it. Thank goodness that strategy has worked so far and our tenants have been good folks who respect our property. Sure, it means you get a lot of maintenance calls when something goes wrong in the house, but that means your house doesn’t go downhill and gets properly maintained! And a nice deposit should help encourage tenants to take care of the house.
And we check on the homes we rent out. Our property management is local. It’s highly recommended. Rental properties only make you money when they can be rented for good money and don’t cost you too much to maintain. Be sure you screen those renters and look in on your property frequently if you’re interested in owning rental property.