Just signed a new lease this week

I always freak out when I find out that my tenants are leaving. Turnovers are a lot of work — painting, changing the locks, squeezing in improvements where I can, refunding security deposits, getting the new tenants moved in…. Oh, and the biggest task of all, actually finding and screening suitable new tenants. A couple of years ago, when the rental market was a lot worse (and I was brand new at this whole landlord gig), I think I had 50 showings before I had a signed lease. (Last year, thanks to a very directed ad, and an improving rental market, I found tenants on the first day, after about 5 showings).

I start tenants out on a one-year lease, which converts to a month to month rental agreement (with a 60 day notice). This flexibility sometimes makes it easy for tenants to passively stay on for longer than they may have if they had to commit to an entire year at a time. It makes it easier for me to raise the rent, too (I just need to give them 60 days notice).

However, knowing that I have them on for another full year has some value, too. So, although my current tenants’ lease is set to expire a month from now (which means that they’re month to month now, as they haven’t given me notice), I decided to talk to them about signing on for another year. I told them that I do generally raise the rent a small amount each year, to keep up with property taxes and cost of living increases, but that I would give them an opportunity to lock in their current rate for a year if they signed a new lease. At first they were unsure of giving up their flexibility… but ultimately the dollar won.

I have another year in which (barring any extraordinary circumstances) I can enjoy keeping that “for rent” sign gleefully buried away in the basement…

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