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Adventures in Landlording – So Far, So Good

It’s been a while since I talked about our rental income.  I’ve written about how we currently rent out a spare bedroom in our own home to a couple of our friends.  And I mentioned that we spent about $750 on fixing up our first house to get it ready to be moved into for November.  Here are our most recent updates on our adventures in landlording.  :-)

Rental House

The $750 we spent on getting our last house move-in ready seems to have paid off.  Our tenant moved in November 9 and only has had a few issues to fix.  The first one was that the side gate to the backyard wouldn’t open without manhandling it.  I had forgotten about that, but our neighbor over there offered to check in on little stuff like that, so I gave him a call.  He fixed it within a couple of days and wouldn’t accept anything but gratitude.

When it became apparent that there was also a little leak under the kitchen sink, he also popped in for 5 minutes and tightened a loose connection.  I dropped off a 24 bottle pack of his favorite beer as a thank you for both little jobs.  He seemed super happy and I am too, so yay for great neighbors!

The only other thing that popped up was that the garage door opener’s battery started dying and beeping, so I replaced it ($25) last week.  All future batteries and light bulbs will actually be our tenant’s responsibility.  But, in my opinion, it is only fair to at least have them all working when she first moves in…

That said, we received $880 for November 9-30 and she paid her $1200 for December a week early.  So far, so good!

Covering Our Responsibilities

We’ve started an ING side fund to cover any big breaks like the air conditioner that is 8 years old, but overall, that house is very low maintenance.  It doesn’t have a gas line, so everything is electric, located in the garage or at the attic’s opening, and is all pretty easy to get fixed or replaced.  Costly, but easy.  Our biggest responsibilities are to make sure the air conditioner, heater, water heater, and house itself stay in good repair.

She is taking care of all of the interior and exterior maintenance except for having the lawn mowed for a year.  I agreed to cover the lawn guy biweekly from April-October 2013 and she could take it from there.  That will run us about $280 total at $20 a pop, so I didn’t mind the concession to have her move in as early as she did.

Our tenant seems to be great about letting us know about issues without acting like it’s the end of the world.  I’ve been able to handle them all within a few days.  Plus, she has paid her first full month’s rent early and sent me a few text messages on how awesome she thinks her house is.  So if that keeps up, we both should stay super happy.  :-D

Spare Bedroom Rental

A couple of our boardgamer friends have lived with us since May 2012 (well, he board games and she likes the Sims).  They are a very sweet couple – two college kids earning their degrees.  She is in her mid-20′s now and is becoming a teacher for special needs children since she already had nanny experience in that area, and he is in his early 20′s and is becoming an EMT.

In our old house, all 3 bedrooms were upstairs and they rented the spare bedroom and full bath that was at the end of the hall.  In our current house, they had a choice between the bedroom and full bath downstairs or upstairs.  The main difference was that the one downstairs had a long closet good for hanging clothes but they would have to keep the bathroom super clean for guests.  The one upstairs had an average walk-in closet better for shoes/storage and the bathroom would not have been shared with visitors.  They chose the downstairs option since taking the stairs all of the time didn’t sound like fun and they do have a lot of clothes.

Overall, living with another couple is pretty easy.  And they always pay their $600 at the beginning of the month.

But there have been some downsides recently that were not as annoying in our old house:

  • This is a brand new house that I am trying to keep super clean.  That means I do nag more.  Especially about the bathroom and kitchen.  I feel like I am training kids that were never taught properly the first time.  But they listen and learn eventually, so at least the training is working…
  • The young man never had stainless steel appliances before and didn’t know that he couldn’t use the dark green, scrubby side of the sponge on our stove top.  Now my stove top has permanent surface scratches.  I was pissed and had to be talked down the afternoon I noticed.  It isn’t super noticeable, some scratch-be-gone may work, and they’ve offered to pay for the scratch remover or even a new stove top down the road.  But it has been the most memorable bad thing thus far.
  • His old truck leaks fluids.  Not a lot, but it does leak.  So our driveway has some spots in two areas and now there is a container kept under his truck to catch the crap.  When they move out, I will be having the driveway power washed and maybe resurfaced depending on my mood.  I’ve thought about having it painted since that cuts down on weeds in the cracks too.  (Money Beagle, I know this one is going to hurt you the most since you have a thing for nice driveways…I almost didn’t want to write about it because it may bring up bad memories for you, lol).
  • I’ve been parked in a couple of times.  They left, forgot about his truck in the driveway, and I was forced to use hubby’s car or stay in.  I sort of lost my mind the most recent time since I was already running late.  They understand if it happens again, they will be in search of a new place to stay.
  • When they move out, we will probably replace the carpet in their bedroom since it is already very lived on.  We’ll probably also repaint their room.

Still Worth It

But despite some annoyances and a couple of really bad moments (the stovetop and being parked in), the $600 a month is still worth it.  Overall, we live well together.  They stay in their room the majority of the time that they are home unless they are cooking or using the living room while we are out.  Sometimes, we hang out talking at home or walk out to the duck lake/pond with a bottle or two of Arbor Mist.  They are both extremely nice people who really want to make everyone happy and they are always super apologetic when something annoying pops up.  More importantly, they have been fixing the issues so they don’t happen again.

For example, there is a drip pan under his truck right now even though it’s parked in the street.  When he moves the truck in at night, he replaces the drip pan underneath the problem area.  It’s been about a week so far, but it feels long-term.  I’m even happier they will be getting rid of the truck next year.  He’s also learned the hard way that only paper towels, microfiber, and soft sponges are used in the kitchen.  And they have been way better about cleaning up after themselves, especially in the bathroom and kitchen.  I rarely even know when they’ve cooked.

So, in the realm of roommates, I think all four of us are pretty lucky.  Is sharing a house for everybody?  Nope.  But it is working well for us and I sincerely like hanging out with them on the evenings we just want to chat.  Right now, this makes sense for us.  And they plan on finding a place of their own in a year or two anyway.  They are just aiming to graduate and save a bit in the meantime.

So there you have it, so far the adventures is landlording have been more positive than negative.  I’ll update you again if that changes.  ;-)

Have you ever rented out a spare room?  Or do you have (or have had) a rent house?  Any adventures you’d like to share?  :-)

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30 comments to Adventures in Landlording – So Far, So Good

  • Sounds like things are going well. We rent out one of our spare rooms to my siste,r and we always joke that she will live with us forever :)

  • We don’t rent out spare rooms because our house is pretty small as it is. That and if someone paid us $600 a month it would cover all of our mortgage insurance and taxes!

  • So far so good. Though after reading about your experiences, I am more convinced than ever that renting out a room in my house wouldn’t be for me. As a solution for the parking in problem, why not ask them to either give you a spare to the truck or else leave the keys in an easily accessible place when the truck is not being driven. That way, if you need to move it you can.

    I just closed on my duplex last week. So far I have met the one tenant and he seems very nice (he has an older daughter who spends quite a bit of time with him). I have been unable to get a hold of the other tenant but my friend whom I bought the duplex from assures me he is very nice, too (he has two younger kids that are sometimes with him on weekends).

  • As a landlord I feel your pain. Although, your description of being ‘talked down’ following the stainless incident is hilarious.

    Thankfully we live 1,000 miles from our rented house, so their two dogs don’t bother me so much. When their lease experies in three years or when they decide to move out, we have decided to pay for new carpets anyway.

    My main gripe is paying for services when you’re not on the ground to negotiate and see the quality of work. One garage door opener failed. I would have tried to fix it if I was there, but the service company said it had to be replaced – point blank, and there’s no discounts for absentee landlords.

    Overall it’s all going well, especially since the rent is deposited in full, on time, every month :)

  • I rented out two bedrooms in my house for about two years. Since I had just re-modeled the kitchen and had brand new appliances, I can relate to your problem with the stovetop. The one roommate/tenant I had was a pain in the kitchen and the other one was pretty good. The problem guy made a big mess in the kitchen: he cooked with a lot of oil/grease and it splattered all over the range and the countertops. He didn’t clean that up very well and since he always used too high heat, too, it baked on to my range and really messed up some of my pans. (They were both allowed to use the pans, utensils, storage containers, etc.) He also damaged some of my Tupperware storage containers by putting then in the microwave (they weren’t microwave safe) and melting the lids. I was very glad to terminate his rental agreement early. (I did so not for any of the above reasons but because he tried to sneak in a puppy…twice!)

    But I wouldn’t say that renting out the rooms was a total loss. The income was much needed and it was good having others present in the house. I also became friends with the other guy and was sad to see him go. Now my boyfriend is my “roommate” and tenant. It makes the conversations around cleaning much easier, that’s for sure!

  • It’s great to hear that both rentals are doing well. I still couldn’t imagine living with somebody else in my new house, but it’s still exciting to see the sacrifices you’re willing to make.

    In regards to the leaking car: my wife and I simply used a 3/4″ piece of plywood and laid them down on the driveway (or garage). It’s been really easy and it soaks up the liquid exceptionally well. After one side gets too nasty, then you can flip it over or go buy another one.

  • I don’t know if I could handle renting out a spare bedroom, but I did rent out one of my condo’s for four years. I never had any issues with the tenant. I sold it in 2010 and would totally do that again.

  • Really, it sounds like things are working out pretty well with your friends. I think that for many people, it would be hard to find others – both as tenant and landlord – that could get along that way while actually living together. In a situation where they keep to themselves, and you have no kids to worry about, the $600 per month can only help you in the long run. Every little bit counts toward true financial freedom!

  • Did you have a lawyer draw up the rental agreement? Did you get landlord insurance on your rental? Did your city require any sort of permits or inspections prior to you renting it out?

  • My mom was the first one to own a home on her side. So whenever a relative needed a place to say…they lived with us. Often for years at a time.Now that I’m an adult, one of my goals is to never have someone live with me for an extended period of time. Should my mom ever relocate from MN to IL to be closer to me, I’ll let her stay with us TEMPORARILY. But I’ll be actively helping her finding her own place so she can get out asap.

    Based on my time in middle and high school living with my relatives and my mom’s friends, I don’t think I could share a home with someone other than my husband and our future kids. But good on those who can make it work! It must be nice to have a bit of extra money coming in!

  • @Michelle, one of my younger sisters is graduating from college in a week and has a job lined up in Houston, so we’ll see if we are in a similar boat, lol. :-)

    @Lance, yeah, their $600 covers the $505 mortgage on the other house and about a half of its property taxes too. That house’s $1200 covers our $990 mortgage and about a third of our property taxes. In the end, we cover about $700 a month for the rest of the property taxes, HOA dues, and home insurances. Nice to have low housing costs.

    @Denise, I do have a spare key to his truck now (apparently, hell hath no fury and all of that…). It’s just an old, old truck that has buttons that have to be pushed in certain orders to start up, so it’s much easier to have him just move it.

    @Hunter, that would drive me bonkers. I live to haggle it seems. But it is what it is…

    @Linda, I completely feel your pain. Yay on just having one guy to deal with in the house now. And it is easier when you love them, lol. :-)

    @Jason, thanks for the idea!

    @Call Me, glad it worked out!

    @Tie the Money Knot, it really does help. I don’t think we can keep this up forever, but it is definitely good for us right now.

    @Squeezer, no, we used a basic Texas lease. Yes, we have landlord insurance. No, our city and county did not require any permits or inspections, but would if a tenant ever complained officially.

  • @Madison, I think it’s different when the roommates aren’t close friends or family. More business-like and the money is really nice and usually makes any little annoyances, like crumbs on a counter, seem insignificant. But I totally see how you may have been worn out. :-)

  • Hey Crystal,

    You’re totally on the right track. Just continue to be firm with the tenants and they’re be more respectful with the little things. At least that’s worked for me as a landlord over the years. I’m usually very formal upfront, and lighten up over the months. It’s impossible to go the other way around.

  • That’s awesome! I definitely have plans to have to rent out a place in the future. Great post!

  • Sounds like you arent doing bad at all with the landlording Crystal. I cant wait to get a home or 2,3 to be a land lord of. Heck I would welcome getting a home built for 260k in florida that wont get you much were I am. If the money is good i don’t mind dealing with a little problems here and there from a tenant.

  • Goodness! This makes me happy to live alone (though I’m the clean roommate that gets annoyed by other people’s messes) — do you think when your current roommates move out, you’ll get new ones?

  • @Lucas, very true.

    @Mo’ Money, thanks and good luck!

    @Thomas, I don’t know if we’ll ever get another rental property, but I do like it so far. :-) And yeah, we know the prices here are really nice. Our old house is a 3 bedroom two-story that’s 8 years old and would currently sell for around $120k…

    @Kathleen, maybe. It has depended greatly on the roommate interested. If one of our other friends or a family member ever wants to rent a room, I bet we’d be fine with it. I probably won’t reach out for complete strangers again (did it twice in the past in our old house), but who knows…

  • Sounds like you’ve got a great tenant so far! I’ve always been a fan of pointing out the little things, so that they don’t add up to tonnes of work in the future. Some landlords seem to hate that *sigh*. Example, wanting a landlord to glue the end of the bathroom countertop back on. If they didn’t, it would get full of water and wreck the entire thing. Preventative maintenance people!! Thankfully the repair guy for that company (the one complaining) wasn’t the one calling the shots.

  • I think it is great you guys took the risk! You had a well thought out plan, took action and found your DREAM home! Also what I love about the risk is that you were making the decision from a place of abundance and not a place from lack! And you absolutely are able to swing it. Very motivational.

  • We are too set in our ways to have someone live with us and since our daughter just walks in whenever, it would be hard to have some privacy!

  • JT

    I think it would be tough to share a house, but it sounds like you are making the best of it. Now renting a totally different house is another story. My goal is to simply break even over the years and then cash in when they are all paid off. It will be my retirement money.

  • eemusings

    Overall it doesn’t sound too bad and glad your tenant is so easy!

    Our spare room is really not big enough for a bed and we are not meant to have more than 2 people living here anyway but i’d be open to it for the right people when we buy a house.

  • @Anne, I don’t know if I would prefer a monthly list or being told about every little thing. But it’s working out. Right now, apparently the master bathroom toilet keeps running, so we’ll be taking a look at that next week.

    @Kimberly, thank you!

    @Kim, we thought it would be tougher, but we were set in our ways and thankfully, those ways don’t disturb roommates and our schedule is so weird, we aren’t usually overlapping in the kitchen or anything…

    @JT, we have generally the same plan. Our tenant is 63 and plans to stay here forever. If she stays as clean and easy, she can stay there for as long as she wants. We may look into selling when she moves out though.

    @EEMusings, it could work. And it pays for a lot of your mortgage. :-)

  • Hey Crystal,

    My first venture into being a landlord was with a 4 bedroom apartment that I rented out to three other guys. While it was a terrible experience, I learned so many lessons that helped me out later in my real estate investing career so I don’t regret it!

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