My First Experience as a Landlord

Do you remember the Mulberry House? It’s the mill house we bought and fixed up in 2020. And then I rented it out. Here’s how that went…

While I was fixing it up, I had a neighbor approach me, asking if I was planning to rent it out, and expressing interest in having their son (let’s call him Mr. T.) and his pregnant fiancé (let’s call her Kimberly) move in. The young couple was living just around the corner with other family members at the time and they came with strong references from this family and no complaints from other neighbors. The couple came over a short time later to take a look at the house and were very excited about the potential it had. I liked the idea of having tenants that the neighbors already liked, and I liked the idea of helping a young family get a start in a space of their own.

Fast-forward to the end of the year. I had completed my rehab work and was just waiting on the dishwasher to be delivered, and new windows to be installed. I decided to go ahead and let Kimberly, Mr. T, and their new baby move in so they could celebrate the holidays in their new home. I figured out the minimum amount of rent I would need to charge in order to have a positive cash flow and set the rent at that amount.

In early January, I returned to the house to supervise the window installation, which went off without a hitch. Kimberly reassured me that she would be home to supervise the dishwasher installation. I was a little concerned that the dishwasher might not fit as the space was extremely small, and I was also concerned that the delivery guys might not be able to hook it up, since the previous dishwasher wasn’t correctly connected to the drain line. But Kimberly reported back that the dishwasher installation went off without at hitch. Great!

In February, Mr. T. reached out to me in a panic. The heat didn’t seem to be working. It was a Friday evening and it was freezing out. I managed to get an HVAC guy to the house after hours to check on the HVAC. By the time he arrived, it was clear that it was working perfectly. Thinking back now, I suspect that Mr. T. was just having trouble using the Nest Thermostat.

In March, I got a text letting me know that the washing machine wasn’t working, and dryer seemed to be struggling as well. I got an appliance repair person to come out and they ended up replacing the pump on the washing machine (I think), and determining that the origin of the problem was baby socks stuck in the pump and lines. And also there was actually no problem with the dryer.

At this point I’d learned that as much as I wanted to be a good landlord, I shouldn’t take complaints about appliances too seriously.

When I went to check on the house in April, Kimberly informed me that they hadn’t been using the dishwasher because it didn’t get connected. This was obviously frustrating news to me since I’d paid for it to be fully installed months earlier.

Monthly rent was due on the 1st of every month and while their payments were never on time, they managed to pay by the 4th every month, which meant they avoided the late fee that doesn’t get applied until rent is 5 days late. At the end of May, Kimberly reached out to me to let me know that she had had some unfortunate things happen in her family that had forced her to take some time off work and wouldn’t be able to pay June rent on time. I asked her to make a partial payment if she could and then follow up with the rest when she was able. She agreed to that and said she expected to have the full amount by June 10th. By the 18th, I still hadn’t even gotten a partial payment. I reached out again on June 25th, to which she responded that their account was hacked and she got into a car accident. She made a partial payment and then promised to get me the rest soon as well as paying July rent on time. July rent was not on time, but did come by July 15th.

I visited the home every few months to check on things and it always appeared to be well kept and even cutely decorated. Aside from rent coming in a few days late almost every month starting in June, things seemed to go fairly smoothly. Kimberly always reached out to give me an excuse for rent being late and letting me know when to expect it. I didn’t mind it being a few days late since it always came in addition to the extra late fee.

As early as August, Kimberly started saying they’d like to stay another year and since they seemed to be taking care of the home, and communicating well, and paying rent (even if late), I agreed to renew their lease for another year. They seemed to be trying and I felt good being able to help them. Also, keeping them there seemed easier than filling in all the holes made by their TV collection and then finding new tenants.

The new lease was signed mid November and 10 days later, I got a call from Kimberly, asking me to take Mr. T. off the lease. After several more phone calls with Kimberly, Mr. T., and his mother who co-signed the lease, I learned that Mr. T. had moved out of the house, and that his mother was willing to stay on as co-signer because she wanted to keep her grandchild nearby.

This is when things started to get stupid.

To be continued…


One response to “My First Experience as a Landlord”

  1. Good story telling so far! Can’t wait to hear the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

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