Landlord Woes

Let's talk about being a landlord, shall we? Last August, we moved out of our green house in the city but did not sell it, instead opting to try renting it out.  We prayed we wouldn't have to go long without a renter since paying two mortgages would definitely hurt our bank account.  Our prayers were answered when the first family to tour our house signed a lease and moved in the first of September.  We didn't have to go a single month with double-mortgages!  Being a landlord was off to a really good start.

In January, our tenants broke their lease and moved out (relocated for a new job).  They paid the penalties of breaking their lease early - two months rent plus forfeiting their security deposit (which equals another month's rent) - so we weren't too panic stricken.  In fact, if we had gotten a new renter as quickly as the first time, we could've had two months of double rental income.  Holla!  We crossed our fingers for that but unfortunately did not get a new renter that quickly.  We were thisclose to offering a rent special (third month half price or something) when our next tenant toured our house.  A lease was signed before we advertised our special.  Score!

We learned that our new tenant is a 20-something single male.  I briefly panicked while picturing our house turning into a bachelor pad and getting trashed.  Thankfully, that is not the case.  He's a responsible adult who pays his rent on time and, after multiple drive-bys by me, doesn't seem to be throwing too many parties.

So the second round of being a landlord wasn't looking so bad either.

Until just a couple weeks ago...

It was a Saturday afternoon when we received a call from the rental company that manages our house.  They'd gotten an urgent call from our tenant the night before and had been out to our house to do some inspections.  At some point in the night, the supply line to the sink in our master bathroom burst and, since the tenant wasn't home, water rushed out for several hours.  Our master bathroom was upstairs, so the space between the two floors filled with water until the ceiling in the downstairs finally collapsed.  That's what the tenant walked into when he got home.

Obviously, we were sick over this.  Doc spent a good portion of the afternoon on the phone with the maintenance man from our management company and our insurance provider.  They were able to send someone out immediately - a blessing in itself - to inspect all the damages.  Thanks to everyone's quick responses, damage mitigation was able to begin immediately.

Needless to say, it's been a stressful couple of weeks.  Doc wasn't sure that he wanted to go to the house to see the damages because it would make him so mad, but last Thursday he had no choice but to go.  It was finally time to meet with our contractor to discuss repairs.

This was the last picture I took of our living room and dining room when we moved out in August.

empty house 2

And this is how those same rooms looked last Thursday.

This was how the master bathroom looked.

I was kinda sad I wasn't getting to go with him to see it myself, but after seeing the pictures maybe I'm glad I wasn't there.  Our poor house!

Since talking to the contractor, we have a pretty good idea of what all we're facing.  Here's a rundown of all the bad news.

  • The whole ceiling in the living/dining room will have to be replaced.
  • Some crown molding will need to be replaced.
  • A few of our wooden blinds were damaged and will need to be replaced.
  • A wall or two will possibly need to come down and then replaced.
  • Most of the hardwood floors will be ripped out and replaced.  They are hoping the floors underneath the kitchen cabinets are fine.
  • The wooden stairs, treads, and possibly both banisters will have to be replaced.
  • We will need a new chandelier in the dining room.
  • It's possible that the speakers from our surround sound will need to be replaced.
  • Baseboards and shoe trim will need to be replaced.
  • The carpet on the stairs will be pulled out and replaced.
  • All carpet upstairs except for the kids' room and playroom will need to be replaced.  (We'll probably pay to go ahead and do those rooms too so it'll all match.)
  • All the tile in the master bath will be jack-hammered out (it's halfway done already) and be replaced.
  • The vanity in the master bath will need to be replaced (they think the counter and sinks can be reused, but maybe we'll replace those too).
  • Time frame for repairs is estimated at six to eight weeks (from now, not from when it originally happened two weeks ago).

As you can see, that's a lot of stuff that needs to be replaced!

I am choosing to focus on the positives:

  • We are not currently living in the home, especially with a small baby.
  • We have insurance that is going to cover most of the damage.  We will have to pay our deductible of approximately $4,200 which is definitely more than pocket change, but doesn't even compare to what the overall bill is going to be.
  • Our insurance will also continue to pay us rent since we are not charging the tenant while repairs are being done. 
  • When it's all said and done, we will essentially have a brand new house.  Surely this will help our resale value.

I have never in my life been so thankful to have insurance!  We have gotten a first estimate of the total bill and it's over $30,000.  We know it's missing quite a few things too so it will be a lot more than that.  Shortly after the management company assessed the situation, they learned that our tenant had violated the terms of the lease by failing to purchase renter's insurance.  Unfortunately for him, that means any damage to his furniture and belongings will not be covered, nor will any expenses for temporary living arrangements be.  (Our insurance is for the structure, not contents.)  I feel certain that he will not make that mistake again!  He is currently not staying at the house while repairs are being made, but will return to it when construction is complete.  We will not go any months without receiving a rent check...woohoo!

That's what we've been dealing with lately.  Not sure how much longer we'll want to stay in this landlord business.  Anybody want to buy a house from us?