It’s moving season and you are looking for that “perfect” home. You know the one: the one that meets EVERY single one of your requirements.
So you are scouring the listings, and you find it. That PERFECT home, the one that meets EVERY SINGLE one of your needs AND is under market price! You scramble to call the agent and secure the house.
Here’s the thing. MOST landlords know the market price of their home. So beware of a “too good of a deal.” You know the old house in the high-end neighborhood, great schools, etc $200 + below all other listings. Those are the ones that, before you know it, “other” costs are adding up quickly.
As a landlord who is active on social media, I can’t tell you how many times I see a tenant complaining MISERABLY about their experience. Then I hear the price and condition of the home, and go “no duh.”
Here’s the thing. There are many landlords who are truly what the title of this website describes– they are “reluctant landlords.” They don’t want to be a landlord or deal with the home. They would rather market the house as a cheaper rental than put time or money into the home.
A Cheaper Rental is not Always Better!
First – Windows
Old windows are drafty, cold and add a huge cost to the utility bill. So a lot of landlords don’t want to pay the cost of replacing them. Since the majority of the tenants don’t notice your bill could be hundreds more. If the landlord lowered the rent because of the cost to replace then they are not going to change the rent mid-tenancy. So now you have cheap rent but high utility costs.
Second – Insulation
A lot of these older homes don’t have great insulation. Even worse- a lot of older homes have insulation that is wearing out or if its a newer home it was never blown. Since this is a silent cost, you could have a perfectly updated home and still experience high utility costs. While having great insulation reduces your utility costs you can’t assume that just because a home is “newer” that the insulation works well.
Third – Appliances
While landlords are required to repair old appliances many of them “eek” them out to their last leg. This can increase your utility bill and often times not work as great as new ones.
Fourth – Pest Control
Although I don’t offer pest control for personal reasons you can bet that if your rent is way below market it is definitely not being covered.
Fifth – Flooring
This is probably one of the top things I see people complain about. Older homes have older flooring. This is the reason why you got that big discount was due to the “cheap” flooring costs.
Sixth – Yard
Fertilizing the yard, mulching/cleaning out the flower beds, cutting down overgrowth, homes lacktrimming trees, etc.- these are all costs that may not be covered in your “below market” rent. You will probably be required to maintain the yard so you are still out of pocket that money.
Seventh – Paint
A friend of mine moved into a cheap house and the paint was so bad that they painted the entire thing. Again they asked the landlord to help with the cost and he wasn’t interested.
Eighth – No Pets
Many “no pets” rentals are cheaper because they don’t want pets. So the likelihood of them allowing you to have a pet once you are in the rental is a lot less likely if you change your mind.
Ninth – Ridiculously High Utilities
Because many homes lack the upgrades discussed above the utilities are often so much higher that the discount of cheaper rent no longer even applies. That is not even taking in account the discomfort that drafty windows can present 😉
Lastly and Usually the WORST- Uninterested Landlord
This type of landlord doesn’t want to be a landlord. They want to move you in and forget about it. Remember it’s a business and work. They are not making as much money as they should to cover the needed upgrades and by giving you a discount they may be showing you that they don’t care. That “attitude” is often present through their entire managing. I see a TON of frustration over this part. A lot of people are frustrated that landlords don’t respond quickly and then don’t care that the carpet is old, the appliances need repair or replacing, etc.
I cannot tell you how many times I see the tenant move in and then start their list of complaints. You know the one: “The house needs to be painted, it needs new windows, the stove is a hundred years old. I need it all changed”.
Here’s the thing! The price for that cheaper rental is potentially one or all of those issues. They probably weren’t disclosed to you, and you probably didn’t realize. It probably never occurred that this “discount” house killed you with the small things. That to upgrade or make it livable would be at your expense.
Houses generally come “as is” once you sign the lease and unless it’s a repair the landlord is usually done. Usually, with a cheap rental the landlord doesn’t want to put the money into the home. They would rather just let the tenants either fix it themselves or deal with it. Good or bad; that’s the deal. So, yes, the landlord isn’t going to respond or participate as much. If the house was “perfectly” renovated you would be paying MUCH more.
So do yourself a favor. LOOK at that house closely if it is a good deal. While you could have been lucky and just scored that “cheap” house as these all are generalization and stereotypes there is a chance that the house isn’t as great as you thought. There’s an even a greater chance that there is a good “reason” as to why this house is cheap. Evaluate the reason and look for those reasons and see if your able to handle it. Because there is a 95% chance that once you sign a lease that the landlord isn’t going to negotiate further with you.
Now, with all of that being said, you could be paying top dollar and still being having these issues. That case is also true.
What surprises have you run into with a cheap landlord? Have you ever purchased a home as a cheaper rental?0