Friday, April 28, 2006


Fix it!

If you are a landlord you have probably already had this experience. Your tenants call to complain about a small repair job or upgrade they want, and once you get started it turns into a brand new kitchen. Sometimes things that seem like no big deal have a way of blossoming in to a huge ordeal. One of my tenants was complaining about a clogged drain in the tub. No big deal. I sent over the handyman with the router to clear the drain. Well, three weeks later we have cut two pipes in the basement and now it looks like we are going to have to remove a small part of the wall and replace some of the pipe. Who knows what is in there. I had a tenant years ago that kept complaining about a clogged toilet. Eventually it turned out that someone, no one knows who, dropped a cell phone down the toilet where it got stuck. We had to take up the toilet just to find it. Though I have heard of new toilets being necessary if you can't break free whatever is stuck in there.
Unfortunately it is best that you are just prepared for some unexpected complications. The only advice I can give is to be careful when you start a remodeling project. If a tenant wants a new sink or countertop make sure they have renewed their lease preferably with an increase before you get started. That way you won't feel as bad after you have replaced half the kitchen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Moving Out

The company I work for sends out a move-out letter to all the tenants that are not renewing. The letter states what needs to be cleaned and what the charges are if the unit is not clean. It pays to be specific. Legally you can only charge for damages. You should state in your lease agreement what condition the unit needs to be returned in and what counts as damage. Remember, if a tenant ruins carpet that is ten years old you cannot charge them for new carpet. You have to take into consideration the depreciation on the old carpet and charge them just a portion of the new carpet cost.
I had two college-age tenants that made several holes in almost all of the doors and I think they were wearing cleats in the apartment too. I was able to charge them for both the cost of new doors and the labor to install the doors as well as the fee for re-sanding the floor. I had another tenant who painted all his white laminate kitchen cabinets red. In that situation I was only able to charge the fee to replace the fronts of all the cabinets as the rest of the cabinet was still in good shape. These cabinets were only a few years old.
Don't forget that you have to pay interest on security deposits in the city, and the rate changes ever year. You can call the city or your local alderman to find out what the rate is.

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