Look Who’s Back | Bower Power
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Look Who’s Back

2012 November 29
by Katie

Before we welcomed Weston into our lives, we actually got reunited with an old friend…

Of course, he doesn’t look like that anymore…considering it’s fall/winter…but the reality is that we are now officially rental property owners. 

Yup.  The lease purchase fell through.  So now we are the proud owners of our first love…not that we weren’t the official owners all along…just in our minds, we always thought that the folks that lived there would be there forever.  I’m a dreamer…what can I say?…I’m such a sucker for a ‘lived happily ever after’…and let’s be honest…that doesn’t happen a whole lot. 

I would love to give you the entire shake down of what happened…I really would…but in the end, it doesn’t really matter and it would take forever.  The folks that were there, the ones that I was emotionally invested in, well, in the words of Will…dey heeert me and give me big booboos!  Money can do that sometimes.  It rips holes in relationships.  It makes people act in ways that is as my mother would put it…unbecoming.  And I learned a hard lesson through the experience.  Yes.  I cried.  Not over money that we lost (because let’s be honest, I believe that God is in charge of every dime on the planet)…but because I felt like I lost a friend and the pain of listening to someone manipulate my words is just plain hurtful.  It might have been my hyper-sensitive pregnancy hormones amping things up….but in general, I learned that I can not be emotionally involved with tenants.  And to be perfectly honest, I can no longer be emotionally tied to a house.  My home is where my boys are…and that’s it.  If you know me…you know that statement is easier for me to say than it is to practice.        

So that brings me back to square one…the house…our new rental property.    We headed over there after the folks moved out and started reassessing the place.  Neither of us have been in there for around a year so we had no idea what to expect.  Jer brought the John Deere and cut the lawn.  Apparently the back yard wasn’t cut for a LONG time…so it took him a while.

I spent the majority of time figuring out what we had to do to get the place back in shape for new renters.  The carpet was filthy…so it definitely needs a shampoo.  And the hardwood throughout the kitchen and hall was gross too.

I used the package of Swiffer wipes on the hardwoods…but after using both sides of each wipe, I ran out.  It’s still dirty so I’m hoping that the carpet cleaners can also steam the hardwoods and then we can put a layer of protectant on it.   

I was surprised to see that the folks had painted an accent wall.  I don’t hate it.  Just surprised.

The grossest thing was definitely the first floor bathroom.  My mom used to tell us that when you clean something, you have to really clean it up…not just move the dirt around.  I felt like maybe they had mopped but it was just moving the dirt to other places.   

So it took me about four hours to scrub it all by hand but I knew that in the end, we needed to seal the grout in there and the cleaning company probably wouldn’t get it as clean as I would like.  Yes, I sound wacky – cleaning up for the cleaning company.  Don’t judge my crazy, mmkay?!

Yes.  I am overdue and scrubbing and wiping up who-knows-what up off the bathroom floor….ga-ross.  But seriously…doesn’t it look so much better?  Oh and did I mention that I did it without running water?  Yep.  I actually collected rainwater to do the rinsing phase…but I was so nervous that I wouldn’t get it done before the baby came that I couldn’t wait on the water to be turned back on…it had to be done. 

Thankfully there was no damage to my favorite part of the house…

 Not that you could damage that wall…but it makes me happy just to see it :)  

So yeah…now that it’s back on the rental market, we have our hands full.  We have to do some fixing of toilets, cleaning and finding of new tenants (I’m personally hoping that it will be either an older couple or a couple of young single gals that have a knack for decorating…hey a girl can wish!)  And honestly I really feel good about having this place back in our lives…although it’s at an arms-length…because I know that one day, this ‘investment property’ will be a huge chapter in our story.  It’s been a rollercoaster, that’s for sure…but what would life be without the thrill?! 

Any other folks out there that have rental properties?  What’s your best tip?  Anyone considering diving into the investment property world?  Or cleaned up someone else’s mess on the bathroom floor?  I hate to say it, but this was not the worst I’ve ever tackled…there was once a pool I managed in highschool that had a explosion-type-mess.  let’s just say it was like a crime scene.  of poop.  you’re welcome for that mental picture. 

For more empty house pictures, click here.  And to see it how the previous renters decorated, click here.  

 

p.s.  a lot of peeps who got a sneak peek of our new old house on Instagram asked about rental info….if you are interested in more details on this property, please shoot me an email at [email protected] and we can send you the link. 



158 Responses leave one →
  1. Tiffany permalink
    November 30, 2012

    Sorry to hear the lease-to-own deal fell through! I just wanted to say that I’m 8.5 mos pregnant, and you really encouraged me to clean my own bathroom. I am a dirty pig. We’ve owned our house for two years and I have yet to clean the grout…so thanks for the inspiration! It should help that I’ve got a lot of extra weight to throw around at all this built up dirt :)

  2. Kandy permalink
    December 1, 2012

    Hi Katie,

    Oh how I wish your house was here in Colorado so I could rent it! I love that house and especially how you decorated it! I loved the way you had your dining room, searched out 4 mirrors to use in my own house like you did there. So sorry that things didn’t work out with your renters. Good luck finding new tenants that will really treasure it and make it their own.
    Kandy

  3. December 1, 2012

    We have had rental properties for years and finally got a rental agent. They do background checks on renters and all the day to day stuff I’m too softhearted to do. Works beautifully and actually saves us money because they know what they’re doing. Best of luck.

  4. December 1, 2012

    What a bummer Katie. And what a trooper you were so pregnant and cleaning!

    I manage my mom’s house (my childhood home)– I renovated it and rented it out. As difficult as it is (and yes, sometimes it can be emotional), it’s important to remember that everything you do/say with a potential tenant is part of a business transaction and a LEGAL one. I always write things down (confirm via email if we’ve spoken on the phone) and assume everything will eventually be used in a court of law later (even though it probably won’t be). That’s not to say that you need to be cold or detached, just be careful and professional in every contact.

    Get a lawyer friend to look over your lease and enforce provisions. Good luck!!

  5. December 2, 2012

    Dear Katie. Would you like to scrub my bathroom? Mmm?

    Seriously though, I feel for you. We’ve considered renting our home to move to the city but I’m not sure I could emotionally deal with someone else living here and possibly doing things to it or not doing [cleaning]. Control issues. Totally normal.

  6. Randa permalink
    December 2, 2012

    Don’t know if your local government has one of these Tenant-Landlord handbooks, but this is one from where I grew up (and am currently renting out a property): http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/DHCA/housing/landlord_T/pdf/lthandbook.pdf

    We emailed the link to our potential tenant and asked (in writing) for her to read it before she signed the lease agreement. There’s also a detailed template for a lease agreement on that County’s website.

    Hope it helps!

  7. Julianne permalink
    December 3, 2012

    We just started renting our TH and boy was it a headache getting the lease right. We wrote it ourselves based off several MD leases making sure it covered us for everything. We put our applicants through the ringer and were super tough on people who didn’t meet the financial requirements we laid out which was hard on me because there were several new moms that I wanted to help. In the end, we got a great renter and we have a very tight lease and a thoroughly documented house – a video of each room and tons of pictures.

    We have the right to come by anytime as long as we give them notice so we’ll be doing things like replacing the furnace filter each month to check up on the house. We let applicants know this in advance and judged their reactions – didn’t want anyone living there who didn’t want us to see the house. We idiot proofed the house before renting too and made a house folder so they had the instructions for the appliances.

    We talked with lawyers and tax advisers (MD) and found that if we left the management to a company we would lose the tax breaks. It’s a little extra work for us but we need those tax breaks with 2 homes. I saw several other people mention an LLC, we did that too. We used legalzoom although we could have probably figured it out on our own but we were busy.

    Our renter requested direct deposit which has been very nice.

    About pets, we did away with the pet deposit (there’s a pet deposit and a pet fee and legally they mean different things) and just said if you have a pet, you will be required to pay for a whole house cleaning, carpet cleaning and a flea and tick spray regardless of how well behaved your animal was. It was a pretty big deterrent but we realized we needed to protect our investment.

    I recommend a lot of research into the legal side of being a landlord and the tax laws. Ugh, taxes. I so wish we could have sold our first house. But, it is what it is.

    Good luck!

  8. Kristin S permalink
    December 3, 2012

    Can I ask how the butcherblock countertop held up in the bathroom?? It’s been on my pinterest wishlist, but I still can’t decide if I should poly the top or leave it be. Thanks!!

    • December 3, 2012

      There was a small mark but I’ve been googling ways to clean it up (I’ve heard that sanding and a sealant does the trick).
      xo – kb

  9. Sarah permalink
    December 3, 2012

    This was not very nice. I would never call someone’s floors gross in real life – not sure why you decided to do so on the internet.

    I’m sure you were disappointed that the lease-to-own fell through, but this would have been a great opportunity to take the high road instead of getting this little jab in about their housekeeping.

    • December 3, 2012

      Well, Sarah I totally see your point. I personally see it differently since they are my floors…but to each his own, right? I definitely was trying just to document this step in the house’s adventure of renting…so people can see how things panned out…not to take jabs at anyone.
      xo – kb

      • Natalie permalink
        December 4, 2012

        I was just surprised you criticized their housekeeping, when I am often shocked by pictures of your current house and how dirty it appears. More than just a bit hypocritical.

        • December 5, 2012

          haha…maybe. On the other hand, it’s one thing to wet fart in your own panties vs wet farting in someone elses. But that’s just my opinion…everyone definitely has their own :)
          xo – kb

          • December 6, 2012

            As someone with a rental, I totally feel you Katie. We’ve had horrible renters who leave our house trashed. If they don’t clean when they move out, they deserve to be criticized.

          • Viviana permalink
            December 28, 2012

            LOL! No really … I LOL’ed when I read the wet fart comment.

        • Jeanna permalink
          January 21, 2013

          Natalie, you must be a renter to make a comment like that. I think Katie showed incredible restraint! Don’t forget that this was HER home, and HER floors, and it was a place that held wonderful memories, not to mention a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears to make it the beautiful place that it was. The floors WERE gross……….. had it been my blog, I would not have been nearly so kind. Just sayin……….

        • January 26, 2013

          I feel like it would make me very upset if someone messed up the house I LOVED, but I’ve been on the other end and been a young renter working ALL.THE.TIME. and not having the cleanest place, either. Life puts us through so many different phases. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

          The real estate market can be a very ugly place nowadays. I remember thinking we’d have a nice relationship with the people we bought our house from, but then I was crying about $9K in plumbing damage they had hid a week after buying the house (and YES, I did have a home inspection). Needless to say, we don’ t talk to them (or their kids, because that’s really who we bought the home from).

    • J & M permalink
      December 6, 2012

      I disagree with your comment that Katie was inappropriate in her post about how dirty the previous renters were. As a former renter for years (before buying my own home) I never left a place without cleaning it first. It’s like borrowing a shirt from a friend and not washing it before giving it back! Totally disgusting!

      Katie, keep up the good work. I love reading your posts :)

  10. Christina permalink
    December 3, 2012

    So sorry to hear that! We recently moved and rented our home, but fortunately it is to my sister which makes it easier. We recently moved into the Bay area…can you say expensive? Anyways, our experience was kinda the opposite. We included it in the contract for the carpets to be shampooed and the house to be deep-cleaned before we moved in. Um, that didn’t happen and I’ve been going crazy cleaning the place, and the previous tenant was the owner!

  11. December 3, 2012

    That sucks (terribly). My parents owned rental properties for years, one that we had lived in before it became a rental (and so it had the emotional attachment). My dad’s advice:

    1. No tenant is better than a bad tenant.
    2. Never buy anything new, because they’ll tear it up. Focus on clean, not new.
    3. And don’t ever – ever – be attached to the house or the tenants.

    He had so many good people go bad. One poor guy lost his job because of an injury, then got addicted to pain medication, and then his son started tearing shingles off the house while his dad was high. Another couple started making meth, so the house had to be gutted.

    The house that was OUR house before it was a rental was pure luck. A single dad rented it for a decade. He wasn’t a very good house-keeper, and there was plenty of wear after the decade, but it wasn’t torn up like we had seen in the other houses.

    My parents ultimately got out of the rental game for one reason: the quality of tenants. With the sudden availability of houses for no-money-down and bad credit, the only people left renting were really terrible. It was supposed to be an investment – not a full-time job. It ended up being a full-time job to renovate the rentals and lease them again.

    Even with all of this, I want to buy a duplex as my first home, so I can rent out one side, then buy a nicer house and rent out both sides. It sounds weird, but I loved renovating the houses (to an extent) – taking something broken and renovating it was really rewarding. And not all tenants suck – just keep an eye on the real estate market!

  12. Kathy Shade permalink
    December 3, 2012

    I feel your pain!! Looong story short- thought not a big deal to rent the house we couldn’t sell so we didn’t miss out on a great foreclosure…….being dumb and desperate, rented to an unmarried couple with 5 kids under 12 and a dog. used the lease their realtor had…neighbors complained about things, but they paid their rent on time. After they were there 4 months, dealing with their complaints and my dear old neighbors’ issues, was called at 10pm one night-”um, Kathy, your house is being raided- they broke down the door, have armor and helmets and BIG guns, brought the guy out in chains” they found heroin, pills, digital scales, baggies and GUNS- and the children were there when it all happened! Because of the raid, they were evicted immediately and out in a month. While they didn’t intentionally trash the house before leaving, it was DISGUSTING- cleaning other people’s sh*t off toilet that looked like it had never been cleaned, “brown-who-knows-what” baby handprints down the wall where the crib was, carpet in baby room smelled so bad of urine I had to replace it. carpets had weird little color spots- carpet cleaner told me it was drugs spilled on floor. It broke my heart- I raised my babies there for 13 years, and it’s a miracle my neighbors would even speak to me after that. I did a background check- guess not a very good company- I ended up hearing from the feds he was wanted, and had served 15 years for robbery with a sawed-off shotgun!!!
    Had no choice but to find new renters, and with better screening and a laywer’s help, we have been blessed with WONDERFUL tenants that fit in beautifully with our old neighbors (unfortunately they aren’t buying because they know they are only staying in the area 3 years). I dread the day they give their notice, and hope we can list and sell rather than rent it out. It is a JOB to be a landlord, not an easy solution when your home won’t sell, and well worth the money to hire professionals to help!!! Best wishes to you if you’re taking that route!!
    And CONGRATULATIONS- both boys are beautiful!

    • December 3, 2012

      Oh gosh. That is terrible. Glad you found the right renters :)
      xo – kb

  13. Kate permalink
    December 4, 2012

    Katie, such a bummer that it fell through! I have been a reader for years and identify with you in many ways, usually even nod along and giggle at the similarities (handsome husbands, one toddler boy and one baby boy (your children are only weeks apart from mine), similar styles, very similar humor…the list goes on) so needless to say, I’m a fan. But I have to say, this post made me sad. I’m sad that your heart hurts, and I’m sad that the family is also hurting…because though hard to see at times, paint splatters when we drop the can and it can take a long time to repair the damage. So while I understand you wanting to document having a rental, I think that you very passively took the opportunity to get in one more jab, because you are in pain. Salt in the wound. And it is your home, and your blog, so I see why. I just don’t agree with it because though it is your mortgage and the place your fairy tale began, it was also home to another family and it played a role in their fairy tale as well. I don’t mean to criticize or be rude – I just hope that you will take time to really consider the consequences of using your blog to lash out at others (even if done almost noticeably). There are ways to document the changes and the mess and the bathroom floor without putting the family on blast. Would you want them to blog about your shortcomings as a landlord? Probably not. We all fail, and that’s okay. But please, let’s not sling mud. It is damaging. I will continue to read your blog, but hope not to read another “that family” post. Congrats on building a beautiful family. What a joy!

  14. Andrew permalink
    December 4, 2012

    Hi Katie.

    I see no problems with your post and I really don’t look at it like you were trying to take one last jab at the tenant. You did the right thing by not giving the entire story about the tenants. People are assuming that they fell on hard times and you’re sour they couldn’t make the purchase happen. For all we know, they might’ve used something you said to get out of the deal because they found something cheaper or better. People always assume the worst.

    I own rental property, too. It was the first house my wife and I ever bought and we worked HARD to make it happen. 4 months after we bought it, my job moved us so we rented it out. Our first tenants broke the lease after living in it for 2 days because they found a farm house they liked better. Now we’re on our second set of tenants. They’ve lived in it for almost a year, pay their rent 5-10 days late, but the check never bounces. I’m told by friends that drive by the place that they keep it clean. Then yesterday I get a phone call that the tenant has forged my signature on a document to help get their friend’s kid enrolled at the school district — the district I used to work at. What do you do about that? It sucks having to carry the house, find new tenants, etc.. but man, talk about voiding all trust.

    That house is still YOUR house. Those floors are still YOUR floors and you did nothing wrong by making a comment that they did not take care of it. Hopefully you kept whatever deposit/down payment they gave you.

  15. Stephanie permalink
    December 4, 2012

    I’m so sorry that things didn’t work out with the rental lease people. I don’t think you were being mean at all. They trashed your house and you didn’t name them so who cares if they read your blog. They should be the ones embarrassed not you. Just my 2 cents.

    Anyhoo when I moved away from GA earlier this year I put the townhouse I lived in for 5 years up for rent. I found a management company to deal with the day to day headaches since I would not be living in the area. The going real estate management rate around town was 10% with them taking up to the full first month’s rent for procuring a tenant and getting the background check etc etc. Luckily I found a company that offered a veteran’s discount and I only have to pay 5%. I put in sign in front of the place when I was still living there and I had ton’s of people call or stop by to look but they would get all weird when they realized they would have to deal with a management company and not me personally. I wouldn’t trust anyone not willing to go through a background and credit check! I placed an ad on craigslist and found my own tenant so I didn’t have to pay the first month’s rent to the management company. Ironically it’s 2 single gals from CA:-)

    I wouldn’t exactly call it an investment property since I don’t make any money on it. After the management fees and HOA fees I’m out of pocket about 50 bucks. I painted the house like new and also put new carpet in the place after we moved. I was no longer there so I also paid a single mom friend of mine $150 to clean it before the tenants’ moved in. I may not be making money but I should be able to deduct the loss on my taxes this year. The alternative was to pay for a mortgage on an empty townhouse and have to pay rent where I live now.

    I feel that I have been blessed thus far as I seem to have great tenants and haven’t had any problems so far. It’s only been 4 months though. The girls will be moving back to CA after their residency at the medical school so hopefully the market will turn around so I’ll be able to sell!!

  16. Rose permalink
    December 4, 2012

    Katie, I’m glad you’re keeping it real. My fiance and I are homeowners in the Bay Area in California and contemplating whether to sell or rent out our property after we buy another one in a few years. There are pros and cons to being a landlord. We’re aware of the advantages but would like to hear about the disadvantages as well. Your blog is always filled with happiness and hilarious comments/jokes, but I don’t mind hearing about the crappy part of being a homeowner. Keep it real, and I hope your next tenants are respectful and clean.

  17. December 5, 2012

    Oh man. I wish I had a landlord like you. Our bathroom floors look just like your “before” picture, but it’s not a “priority” in her mind so they just look gross. And because they aren’t “my” floors I haven’t put much thought into it….but seeing this is SO inspiring!! Is it weird that I now have the urge to spend 4 hours scrubbing the bathroom floor?! Because I’ve never said that before. Thanks for the pics too – I’ll have to try your product mix!

  18. December 6, 2012

    Oh no, I’m so sorry. I think I told you our story, but was hoping yours would turn out differently. Hopefully the nitty gritty wasn’t as bad as mine but I know it’s not easy being a landlord. :( Good luck!

  19. Erika permalink
    December 13, 2012

    My goal is to one day move to a bigger home and renting my first home. If it wasn’t for you posting this, there wouldn’t be dialogue about the do’s and don’t of renting. Never knew about management companies for rental homes or it’s pros and cons. I’ve heard some really bad nightmare stories working in the foreclosure/short sale business including stolen ac units and copper plumbing. I’ve also met some nightmare tenants including my ex-boyfriend’s roommate who owned 13 pitbulls, all of which were tearing up the owner’s backyard. That homeowner had no knowledge of the dogs. Whenever the owner checked on the property, the roommate took all of his dogs to his mom’s house. I also knew of a sailor coming back from overseas to find that the former tenants were squatting in the home without electricity or running water.

  20. Viviana permalink
    December 28, 2012

    Okay I need to know how you cleaned that nasty grout. Was it really just Clorox wipes and Ajax with bleach? And just scrub, scrub?

    We bought a house that has white tile floors on the entire first floor and the grout is nasty.
    We did notice that purchasing a commercial bucket with a wringer and a commercial cotton mop has made a huge difference. But I am afraid I am going to have to get on my hands and knees and scrub like you did or :/ pay someone to do it…

  21. Angela permalink
    March 18, 2013

    I’m a little late to this party but, having only just recently discovered your God send…I mean your blog…I’m working my way through all your posts & this is where I’m at! I’m assuming Sarah & Natalie, above, where somehow connected to the previous tenants to be so defensive. Quite frankly Natalie was far ruder than you (I really don’t think you were rude at all…you were just keeping it real which is what I absolutely LOVE about your blog! Your writing style kills me…I guess we have very similar dirty senses of humor!!LOL).
    Anyway…I just wanted to say that we have been in a lease-purchase for 18 months now & on May 3rd we’ll finally get to close the deal! I’m so excited! I can’t wait to knock down some walls & paint trim & tear out flooring…I have 18 months (20 by then!) of DIYing to catch up on!! Now I don’t know your tenants reasons for not purchasing but I do know that I’m beyond grateful to our landlords for being open to this arrangement & I have taken care of our home, from day one, as if it were already mine. Of course I’d do that even if it was a straightforward rental because I’m a bit OCD about that but w/e! ;)
    One last thing, Will reminds me so much of my baby (he’s 9 now)…I have a pic of Landon at 2 wearing his safety goggles, helping his daddy “build”, with the squished nose going on…& dimples! Those dimples…they’ll get away with murder! :)

    • March 18, 2013

      Aww congrats girl! You warm up that paint brush and hammer…it’s DIY time! Best of luck in your ‘new’ home :)
      xo – kb

      • Angela permalink
        March 19, 2013

        Thank you Katie! I can’t wait!! :) Right now I have to settle for mesh-taping & filling some holes (& if that’s not a “thatswhathesaid” opp I don’t know what is! My teens tip their hat…ok…nod their head ever-so-slightly in acknowledgement to you & your humor! I think they’re happy to know their mom isn’t the only one “like that”!!)

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