Fall is swiftly approaching, a little prematurely in my neck of the woods, and everyone’s got their windows closed to stave off that first turning on of the furnace. Everyone except for my upstairs tenants, that is. I can hear the forced air furnace going on, but I can see from the outside that their storm windows are wide open. I think I remember them mentioning how high their heating bills were in their last place, maybe it wasn’t entirely the fault of the old furnace…
Every fall I leave my tenants a list of things to keep in mind for the heating season. It’s not a formal newsletter per say, but performs the same function. Here’s what mine consists of:
I’ve owned my duplex for a little more than three years, and have lived relatively peacefully on the first floor, with my tenants above me. While not an ideal lifestyle for everyone, being an owner-occupant has allowed me not only to become a homeowner much earlier than otherwise possible, but it’s gotten my foot into the real estate business at a time when it’s booming.
PROS OF BEING AN OWNER-OCCUPANT….
I recently received a comment on this blog, asking if I had any top tips for buying a duplex. Here’s my best shot:
CHECK OUT THE NEIGHBORS
Buy in the best neighborhood you can afford. If you do this, even if your house isn’t the nicest one on the block, the values of the houses around you prop up your property value — and rental value. It’s tempting to look at the house as an island, but when you’re trying to find renters, they’ll be looking at the duplex, and also the context that it’s in. They’lll be checking out the houses to the left and right of it, the other side of the alley, across the street, and all around the block…
I created a cleaning checklist for my departing tenants to ensure that I didn’t have to do much cleaning during turnover. When I first put it together, I worried that it made me look like a bit like a nazi… however, the departing tenants told me that it was actually very helpful. Moving is a frantic time for everyone, and it helped them to get organized and quickly split up tasks between roommates. Here’s my cleaning checklist:
About ten days before move-out, I give my current tenants a checklist of everything that needs to be taken care of before move-out. It’s a busy time for everyone; it’s easy to forget things like leaving forwarding addresses and taking their names off the electric bill. Here’s what I included in my checklist this year:
The first time I screened prospective tenants, I wasn’t quite sure what to ask their references. I did some research on what others ask, and added some ideas of my own. I also found in Every Landlord’s Legal Guide that there are legal restrictions on what type of information you’re allowed to ask.
Some people I talk to are very talkative, and immediately volunteer shining reviews; in that case I don’t feel its necessary to go through the whole list of questions. Some people will ask me to fax a signed release (their application). And then, there was the guy who couldn’t get it through his head that I was a LANDLORD asking for a reference, not a TENANT… Usually getting references aren’t a problem, though 😉