One of my mentors in medical school told me to always have my primary residence in rent-ready shape. By that he meant that everything should be in functioning order, presentable, livable, and ready for a tenant.
We never know how things unfold in life and having more options available will often soften the blows of less desirable changes.
Why Be Rent Ready?
If you have multiple rooms in the house then you are in the amazing position of being able to rent out a spare bedroom or at least a sofa in the living room.
One of my very good friends has rented out spare bedrooms in her house ever since she bought it. She makes plenty of money from her biotech job but didn’t want her money going towards “paying for empty rooms”. Clever woman.
Whether you have a house with multiple bedrooms or a tiny studio, it can become a profit generating asset if you can have it be in a ready to rent state.
Sudden Change Of Plans
Imagine you get a job offer that’s too good to pass up or you decide to suddenly move to another country. It would save you so much time and money to have your place in rent ready shape.
If you need to run around last-minute to paint the place, find a good plumber, change that appliance and fix the door jamb then you’ll likely pay a premium to get that work done quickly.
Instead, it’s much better to do everything slowly, ideally yourself but maybe with the help of a good handyman.
Capitalize On A Booming Market
Seems that the more you look the more likely you are to come across a great opportunity. Imagine there is a small condo or house for sale at a great price. If your primary residence is rent ready then you can confidently put an offer on that steal of a deal and capitalize on 2 great financial opportunities.
And I know such situations may sound too idealistic, but I have had them happen to me and I have friends who have taken advantage of such deals.
Applying For A Loan
Whether it’s for a personal loan or a business loan, if you are looking to jump on a great deal but your debt to income ratio isn’t quite right, then having the ability to put a tenant in your unit could tilt the odds in your favor.
Even better, if the rental property is cash flow positive then you will suddenly have an asset to show a bank on your books rather than a liability.
Tenant Proofing Your Residence
I think it’s more important to first address the things that could potentially cost you a ton of money or possibly expose you to legal liability. Think of a situation where your tenant might flood the apartment such as by driving a nail or screw into the wall and subsequently into a pipe.
They may try to fix something and not do a good job and cause an electrical fire, a water leak, or a structural problem to the unit.
Nails, Holes, Screws, Pipes
If you have an older condo then you might not have nail plates which protect pipes or electrical wires from getting pierced by nails or screws driven into the wall. Older buildings may have plumbing running in the most awkward of locations.
So if there is a shelf that’s needed somewhere or a wall-hung storage, be sure to add that in yourself so you know it’s done right. Also, let your tenant know the risk of driving anything into the wall and that if they need something urgent enough that you are willing to pay for your handyman to take care of it. We’ll address having a good handyman in just a few paragraphs.
Water is by far the most costly of tenant-induced damages. Rarely intentional, their previous habits at a previous rental may simply not mesh well with yours.
Some older homes don’t have tub overflow valves. The tenant goes to fill the tub, forgets they left the water on and suddenly there is a knock on the door from the neighbor below. Expensive.
Sometimes a tenant goes to screw in a new type of shower head and they over-torque the head into the pipe fitting and create a crack behind the plaster. This may not be found out until a couple of days later after that slow leak has caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
If you have a main water shut off then be sure to let the tenant know where it is and how to access it. Do the same for any circuit breakers.
Failure of an appliance is the most common reason that a tenant will contact their landlord. This could be a washer/dryer or stove. But other smaller fixtures, such as the garbage disposal or toilet, can also break down.
If you have a fixture or appliance that you know is on its last leg then it might make sense to sell it and replace it with a newer model. Your tenant will not be happy if the stove or fridge stops working suddenly. Orchestrating a remote appliance repair or replacement won’t be easy for you and at the very least disruptive.
Collect A Few Contacts
Even if you aren’t considering ever selling or renting out your place, be aware that shit happens and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
It would be wise to ask neighbors for recommended contractors or handymen. Having a plumber and electrician contact would be worthwhile as well.
If you have an HOA then contact them, they usually will know who to recommend for your apartment complex. I found out about a really competent handyman through my previous HOA.
My Condo Needed A Little Bathroom Love
The main issue with my condo was weathered paint and a bathroom that had some drywall damage and needed a full paint job. I mistakenly put that off for way too long.
Then I suddenly decided 2 weeks ago that I wanted to go live abroad for a while. I kept thinking that I’ll just do the prep and paint work myself and be done with it right before the trip. One thing led to another and I never got around to it.
$40 turned into $340
Now I’m left with having to pay someone else to have the holes patched, drywall repaired, and the entire bathroom repainted. I could have done this work myself for less than $40. Of course, I am paying for convenience here but it goes to remind me that it can get costly when I put things off.
And since I already left for my trip, I won’t be able to coordinate the repairs. But thankfully I stay in touch with helpful people I meet along the way – a competent handyman being one of them.
I emailed him some pics, had a friend with the keys to my place open it for him to inspect the bathroom and give me a quote ($340). Hopefully it will all go well once I arrange for him to get paid and make sure the work gets done according to our agreed standard.
It’s Ready To Be Rented
I left it furnished since it would be too much of a headache for me to try to sell all my stuff and I am against having a storage unit.
I packed my essentials for my move and left a few personal items in my suitcase under the bed.
I will keep the electricity and internet in my name which will make the rental process easier.
Rent Ready = Ready For Sale
The downside to being in a seller’s market is that even if you sell your primary residence at a solid profit, it’s hard finding a good deal since all homes have appreciated.
A couple I know who are in their early 50’s shared with me that they are ready to retire soon but not quite yet. Their primary residence has appreciated quite a bit in value but it would need another $50k in renovations to get it on the market.
Their local market is so hot right now that finding affordable contractors is impossible. The second problems is that if they sold right now then they would have to pay a premium to find an alternative residence. However, their mission is to get cracking on their property with some renovations as soon as the market cools down a bit.