Make sure you know what your rental lease actually says.
Most leases aren’t that long and the legal jargon isn’t too hard to decipher. So sit down, promise yourself a glass of wine when you’ve made it through, call your mom or your Uncle Bob who used to be a lawyer with any questions, but JUST READ IT.
We Used to be Renters
Nick and I used to rent. We know what it’s like to have a terrible landlord and/or super.
Our first apartment together was a fabulous split level 1 bedroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
We felt bougie!
But when we were viewing the apartment we noticed a huge mountain running the width of the wood plank floor.
Probably from previous water damage.
Whatever. We didn’t care. As long as it was fixed before we moved in.
Seemed like a sensible request, right?
Well, move in day we had the truck and 3 reluctant friends who were only there because they were promised bud light and pizza at the end of the day.
Hey, when you’re 20-something and a “starving artist” you work for food and booze.
Anyway, we unlocked the front door. Showed off the first floor and then bragged that we had STAIRS!
As we led our friends downstairs we noticed….
Mt. St. Floor Plank was still running the width of the room.
It sucked. We had to move in. All our friends were there. Our stuff was packed perfectly in the back of a U-Haul (gah, I STILL love packing!).
Did the landlord care?
It was the worst 7 months of our marriage…fighting with landlords…moving to an even smaller apartment three stories up because they wouldn’t let us out of our lease.
We should have put the floor fix in the lease. We should have protected ourselves.
Now, We’re Landlords
So, this is our third gig as landlords. We started out by having awesome friends help us pay our mortgage by staying in our spare rooms.
Then we opened up our Air BnB.
Now, we have a 4plex.
You all know the people we purchased the 4plex from were less than stellar landlords. You’ll have to read that post if you missed it. So. much. drama.
The building hasn’t been cared for in years. Becuase the previous owners didn’t actually love being landlords. They buy property, let the appreciation go up, and then sell at the right time.
Fine. We own it now. We love homes. We’re going to fix it up. But we have to renovate every apartment.
There are leaks everywhere.
Carpets with mold.
Drywall that’s severely damaged.
We planned for this. It’s called “holding costs”. The cost of not being able to rent out space due to renovations.
But you can’t renovate a space if it’s being lived in. These spaces are small plus that’s just too much liability.
So, What Will You Do?!
We’re honoring all leases.
We’re introducing ourselves, being transparent about our plans and future goals in the building, and sharing with each resident that their space will be renovated.
Here’s the tough part: Two of our residents have been on month-to-month leases for years.
This building is their home and has been for some time. However, their apartments are in desperate need of care.
Technically, we’re able to give 30 days notice and not renew their month-to-month.
Our Question to You
What would you do, or how would you feel, today, if your landlord knocked on your door and told you she wasn’t renewing your month-to-month lease?
Here’s the deal. When I was younger and a renter I would have LOVED a month-to-month lease.
If I booked a job (I was an actor) – whoo hoo! No lease tying me down!
Would you be ready to move?
I don’t know. I just think it’s tough. We will have to make a lot of hard decisions moving forward, but knowing what it’s like to be a renter, and vowing to provide amazing customer service to our residents, it’s tough having to make these decisions.
We are taking care of the residents whose month-to-month leases aren’t being renewed. We’re remaining open, honest, and law abiding.
We’re even giving more than 30-days notice – just a little more – but more none-the-less.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not tough.
So, What Am I Supposed to Do as a Renter
Well, to start, if you know your building is being sold or is up for sale, have a conversation with your current landlord or management team.
Revisit your current lease. Does it serve your needs today?
I just want to make sure we’re continuing to share what we learn and the issues we face with you in case it can help anyone.
Renting serves a lot of purposes.
That leaky faucet?
Not yo problem.
Not yo problem.
Dishwasher just bit the dust?
You get the idea.
Renting lets you focus on whatever is important to you.
Just make sure it serves your needs as much as it serves your landlords needs.
Renting should be win-win.
At least we think so.