A Tale of Two Tenants

It was the best of tenants. It was the worst of tenants. Literally!

I have two rental condos; on opposite sides of the city; with two very different rental experiences. The differences in both have given me a lot to ponder in this first foray into landlordship.

WonderMan (hubby) and I have always secretly held a special place in our hearts for rental property. We visit open houses just to be nosey. My fearless real estate agent, Paco, and I have braved some of Chicago’s most abandoned and dilapidated structures. Is that a hole in the roof or the makings of a fabulous skylight? Because I suffer from delusions-of-grandeur-things-are-always-possible and have been known to bite off bigger chunks than were immediately chewable; we decided to test the rent waters with a couple of condos.

This year has been awash in financial lessons from the school of hard knocks. While I wouldn’t trade them in, I would (and will) do things a little different next time.

 

Credit Scores Do Matter

My Eastside tenant came with sparkling credit; a great employment history; and 12 post-dated checks signed in advance. I’ve never considered this before, but moving forward all new tenants will participate in some type of automatic pay system.

My Westside tenant had a little more challenging credit history. I overlooked it because I am a softy for a nice, young family with cute kiddos and a stable income source. I was also feeling pressured to find a tenant pronto. 12 months later, I’ve heard every excuse in the book. I’ve had to serve pre-eviction notices twice. An established auto-pay system, while not full proof, would help avoid the slow/no pay months.

 

Accidents Do Happen

Both my Eastside and Westside condos have had challenges on the premises. The HVAC unit in a newly constructed building decided to take a break during the hottest period of summer. Argh!!! An unidentified leak in my Westside unit caused the downstairs neighbor’s ceiling to cave in. We had to repair the hole and repaint her entire living room. Thankfully, she’d just moved a priceless and decorative, glass table (or garage sale find) to a new location.

Whether the structure was built in the new millennium or circa WW II, proper insurance and emergency fund access are must haves! When it rains it pours…this includes drywall and plaster.

 

Reach Out & Do Stay in Touch

Through all the fiascos and disruptions, I’ve found that open communication has been helpful. Text, email, and phone calls (not yet FaceBook) go a long way to minimize the frustration with the unexpected. Even if I can’t resolve a situation immediately, I’ve found that both my Eastside and Westside tenants seem to appreciate my attention to their issue.

Now that I am working to get my Westside tenants on an auto-pay system, all may be well with my tale of two tenants.

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