Roaches and Prolific Barkers

Posted on August 1, 2012 by

Roach InfestationLast month, because of a job transfer, one of our long-term tenants moved out.  They’d been in our single-family rental for six years.  The home was returned in great shape, but we decided it was time to paint the property and replace the ten-year-old carpet.  The shave-and-haircut rehab came out great, and the home looked wonderful!

As soon as we put For Rent signs in the yard, the phone began ringing like crazy.  Folks love to rent nice looking, well-maintained homes that are located in solid neighborhoods and rent for below-market rates.

One of the first applications faxed to us was a landlord’s dream!  It was neat and complete.  The applicant had been on their job for seven years, had the security deposit and rental payment in hand, and wanted to move in immediately.  I was so happy…someone get me a bib just in case I start slobbering all over myself!

If you’ve been reading our weekly newspaper column (Bill’s Articles / Kim’s Articles) for any length of time, then you know there’s one more – very important – thing I must do before signing a lease with this “perfect” tenant.  I must first do a surprise inspection – both inside and out – of their current residence.  Remember, wherever they live now looks exactly like how they’ll have your investment property looking one week after they move in.

Thank God I follow this rule!

On paper, the prospective tenant was perfect.  In reality, they lived like P-I-G-S!  The yard was overgrown and full of trash.  They’d easily win the Worst-Yard-of-the-Month Award every month!  After being invited in, I didn’t know which to fear most: The two flesh-eating, ankle-gnawing, yap-yap-yapping, bug-eyed Chihuahua dogs or the hundreds of cockroaches crawling on the walls and raining down on my head!  (Bet your scalp is beginning to itch.)

Here’s the funny thing: These people wanted to move into our property to get away from their roaches.  Want to guess what these folks would have brought with them to our newly rehabbed, bug-free rental if I hadn’t done the in-home inspection prior to lease signing?  How about thousands of creepy-crawly roaches along with two prolific barking devil dogs that had piranha-like appetites!

Here’s one of the most common mistakes made by landlords: A tenant is found who has move-in funds and can fog a mirror.  Without doing any more due diligence, the tenant is allowed to sign a lease and rent the landlord’s property.  As soon as the tenant moves in, the landlord thinks all the hard work is done and now there’s nothing to do but go to the mailbox once a month to pick up the rent check.

Folks, the job of landlording begins the day the tenant moves in.  Usually it takes three or four months to teach tenants to be good tenants.  And for the record, want to guess who taught them to be bad tenants?  Well, bad landlords, of course.

Something to remember: To teach someone to be a good tenant, you must first have solid material with which to work.  If your prospective tenant is a flake, is a chronically late payer or is naturally filthy, there’s no fixing these problems.  It’s best to move on and wait for a better caliber tenant.

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.

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