Our First Year Being Landlords

In the midst of a chaotic year, our tenant decided to move out after a year (and a month). So we found ourselves with stress on stress on stress in October. We learned a few valuable lessons in that first year that I’d love to share!

  1. Get sewer line insurance. This is not just for rental properties. If your sewer line is old, just get insurance. We paid $6,000 to replace it and a neighbor of ours had the insurance and paid $50. Gulp. So check with your insurance company and add the rider! So important.
  2. We didn’t do a great job checking references. What would have been a few more detailed calls could have saved us the stress of lots of chasing late payments when our mortgage was due! Even if someone seems great, do some detailed reference calls.
  3. Have a lawyer draw up your lease. There are lots of great online resources to create a lease but get a living, breathing person to create your lease! We did this and it saved us when it got a little tense in the last month of the lease. We were so thankful we didn’t have a generic lease.
  4. If the way the lawn looks matters to you, hire a lawn care company. We had in our lease that the lawn was the tenants responsibility but that really is not very inforcable. The relationships we have with the neighbors of the rental property are important to us, we care what the lawn looks like, so we will likely pay from here on out for lawn care. It’s a tax deduction so it really is totally worth the peace of mind. Snow is still their responsibility!
  5. Get a good tax accountant. Find someone who can brainstorm with you over all of your potential deductions. Things like cell phone bills and internet can be deducted but we’d never have known that if someone didn’t tell us! This will end up saving lots of money in the long run.

Good luck! We’re happy we decided to keep the property as a rental and hope we can keep it for years to come!

Do you have anything to add? Any questions for a newbie landlord?

Renovation, Rental, Uncategorized

The BIG sigh of relief

I’m breathing deeply again. House officially rented and Dee is done repairs, our new home is starting to come together, we’ve begun hosting things at our home again which although is hard work is definitely life giving for our family.

Nap time today had all kinds of feelings. One of the “major players” in my life had a major surgery yesterday. The big C word is no small thing but today is all about gratitude. Witnessing the waking up from surgery marked the end of a lot of questions, fears, wondering, and expectation. A whole lot of “ifs” were all laid out concerning God. He and I shared lots of bare naked moments the last six or so weeks and not once did He leave me. I went to the If:gathering a few weeks ago and Jen Hatmaker mentioned meeting God after the shock of a loved ones C diagnosis and proclaiming “He is still good”. Later in the conference another speaker mentioned her own battle with C and how her prayer changed from one of healing to begging for the absence of fear no matter the outcome. This was so timely for me.

I came home last night snuggled up to the hubs which was a bit miraculous in itself with the way I’ve been so stinking stressed(cold) lately. We took a sigh of relief, fell asleep and slept like we didn’t have kids. Until of course 4am when Jay was crying for milk 😁.

Raining or not, it’s a beautiful day today full of crazy promise and expectation.

Let me leave you with my favorite story:

Daniel 3

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this”

May we all walk around like not a hair on our heads has been singed in the midst of fire.

Renovation, Rental

It is finished (kind of).

So we have been in the new house for 11 days! feels like way longer, probably looks like way less! Shout out to my hubs…Dee has spent every waking, non career hour at the rental getting it ready for our guy to move in. Seriously, hes been getting home after midnight each night from working so hard over there. As of Saturday, its paid off! Lease signed, security deposit in hand, keys in his hands, done, fineto. Exceeeept..our tenant is going out of town for a few days so Dee will go over there probably tomorrow to touch up one tiny bit of paint and make the dryer turn off when you open the door. Then we’ll really be done.

From my perspective–totally worth the chaos to now be getting rental income. Ask Dee in a few days when hes had some sleep if he thinks it was worth it thus far. Of course I cant really say its worth it since we don’t know if he will be a good tenant but all arrows are pointing to yes!

In my short stay at the new house I have learned a few things. Its funny the things you don’t realize make your life SO much easier until they are gone and vise versa.

  1. I miss my mail slot. Its so nice having mail delivered to your living room. Dee and I REALLY miss it. He may put one in.
  2. I miss having a door that automatically locks behind me. It really saves a ton of time when you have two littles.
  3. I miss overhead lighting–self explanatory.
  4. Most importantly I miss a garbage disposal. I can deal with a lot of “yuck” with two babes in diapers but having to dispose of scraps of food that are water logged and stuck in the drain for a few days is just foul. I just gagged typing that sentence. I’m really having trouble. I may be using some of my “funny money” to buy one because I CANNOT. Dee is having a field day watching my daily interactions with the kitchen sink. Bleh.
  5. I LOVE having a finished attic with a light switch. It is so nice.
  6. I Love having a shed. Its unreal.
  7. I love the extra square footage. Our house feels like double the size.
  8. I am terrified to clean it. We are still finding homes for everything so there are still boxes and random crap I want to get rid of littering the house. Once that is all sorted through the realization will certainly hit that I do not want to be scrubbing this house but its all part of what I signed up for. The good news is, Elle loves to vacuum so I’m hoping to put her to work.

Ive been lacking in the “Raising” portion of our “rentals, renovations, and raising…”. Lets just say that Jay is in a FUNK. He is my sweet baby. He smiles and sleeps and coos and hes awesome until about five days ago when something has gone horribly wrong in his personality and he is just angry. He can’t be soothed, wants to cry, barely wants to eat (I’m serious, he’s essentially wasting away in his nine month clothes at a mere four months of age!). If you pray, please pray! He is so sad and pitiful and it is no fun for anyone involved. Elle has been a total dream, though. She hasn’t watched a tv show since we moved (except for when I was at a conference and forgot to tell Dee how she hadn’t watched any) and I think it really was making her an irritable toddler. Anyway, I think the kids are overall adjusting well to the new house. Elle is obsessed with her “sunny room” and I couldn’t be happier about it.

On to the conference. I went to a simulcast of the If:Gathering last weekend. Holy Canoli it was just SO good. I have a small obsession with Jen Hatmaker and she was one of the speakers. She did not disappoint! The whole conference walked through answering the question “what would our lives look like if we really believed God”. Not just believed in God, but believed Him and what he says especially as it pertains to us. It was so good. It had a huge personal takeaway:

‘What are my kids seeing me passionate about? Do they see me light about about things and if not, why?’ At this point I’d say not a whole lot but a friend was there and named a few things she saw in me that helped a bit. (Thanks, M!)

Anyway, it was an awesome conference and I highly recommend it.

I think that’s all for now. I’m scheming for inexpensive kitchen updates and just bought dirt cheap end tables and a coffee table. I may be trying my hand (for the second and hopefully more successful time) with chalk paint. Posts coming soon…

Renovation, Rental

They Still Need Baths?!

Feeling behind? Check this out.

So the surroundings are a bit different! We settled, we packed, I cried, we packed, then about 15 friends came over to move us!

First of all, settlement was a breeze. The whole process was actually a breeze because apparently in the last five years everything real estate related has moved to the interwebs and its glorious. The Dailey Group handled the purchase and it was really very painless! Our home buying process was probably a little bit different because we weren’t looking. The house showed up in my email, we called The Dailey Grouo, they showed it to us and then we put an offer in. This was not months of browsing, thankfully!

Anywho, like I said…15 saints showed up at our door early Saturday morning and they moved us in the rain. We were blown away. My sister parked herself in my kitchen and unpacked everything because everyone needs an organizer in their life. Especially with two littles–I cannot imagine searching through boxes for bottles and formula and THE Elmo spoon.

The last several days, Dee has been sleeping pretty much zero hours to get the rental ready. He’ll be finishing up the stinking smoke detectors tonight for our rental inspection tomorrow. A very persuasive friend of mine worked her magic on Dee so we are paying someone to clean the rental top to bottom on Wednesday. (Thank goodness! It ain’t pretty after 15 people trudge through a house in the rain).

We are signing the lease in the next 24 hours for the rental. A miracle of a tenant showed up in my email and we can’t wait for him to love our house! God has been so faithful during this whole process, it’s unreal.

So hopefully on Friday we will all take a deep sigh of relief, have a glass of wine, and sleep til noon (a girl can dream!).

in case you’re wondering–babies still need baths. The mundane doesn’t change in the midst of packing, moving, renting, unpacking. It seems like ‘good grief you have to eat again? You ate four hours ago!’ But they do. They all want to eat and be clean and they want me to stop unpacking to play. So there’s that. In a couple months every box will be away and small renovations will have begun but my babies will be older so I’m really glad they ask me to stop and play. And feed and bathe…

Come on Friday!

Renovation, Rental

The Night Before Settlement and All through the House…

Need to catch up? Start here!

So tomorrow we settle. It’s been a weepy week. I’ve noticed some pride (who me??) issues creeping in this week. Thoughts like ‘I don’t want to move from a beautiful house to a less beautiful house’ have been following me around. An extra wipe down of the pretty granite, looking at Jays cute room, patting myself on the back for a bathroom with pretty finishes. It’s ugly in my heart sometimes.

Its just a little hard to leave. I brought my babies home to this house, Dee and I had some of our best fights over the renovations of his house, we learned how to be married, how to be parents, how to be a team (on our best days) all in this tiny home. We’ve laughed and cried and loved well here and this house is full of sweet memories. I can only pray that it will be a wonderful place for our tenants. That they will encounter love in incredible ways and that while they’re enjoying it, they’ll know that our blood, sweat, and tears went into this house and it was all worth a lot to us.

Enough tears. As a friend told me last weekend, we’re moving into our new home and this house is now a business. I like blunt, I do well with blunt. So onward and upward (in square footage, not necessarily style hehe…there’s that pride again!) so I’m excited to settle and move all our stuff. We’ve got a house to rent out!

This week I fielded 3.4 million calls and emails, several showings, and we’re down to a few potential tenants. Dee prepared our house for our lead inspection that also happens tomorrow. He had to sand down any chipped paint and paint over it. It was quite a job. Several windows, two doors, and the corner of our living room ceiling. The good thing is that everything looks crisp. I hope we pass tomorrow!

Dee also started the wiring for the smoke detectors, win! He’s on a roll. It’s Labor Day weekend so the extra day off work couldn’t have come at a better time.

Today was our final walk through of the renovation house. The seller did a great job making the sun room look lovely after removing two huge skylights. It really looks flawless! It’s so fun to see Elle running and enjoying so much more space. This is why we’re moving!

On the docket for this week:

Dee- finish wiring the smoke detectors, paint the railing, odds and ends

Me-schedule the rental inspection, finalize our lease, finish packing.

Luckily we have great friends willing to help so we are renting a Uhaul and moving in five short days!

Renovation, Rental

8 Days Until Closing

I have had the most bizarre week. We officially listed the rental last week and I could not have been prepared for the response we’ve gotten. First just let me say, we started by simply putting a rent sign in the front yard with my phone number on it. I frequently have my wood door open with our storm door locked so Elle can see outside and the great people of Baltimore took this as a personal invitation to knock on my door and ask for a tour.


My immediate thoughts:

‘I have two children, you may not come into my home on a random Thursday at 11am. Why are you not working? How will you afford rent?’

It was bizarre. I’m someone who goes through life counting things (OCD, I know) and seven people have done this in three days. Totally ignored the sign with the phone number and decided they’d just knock instead.

I’ve also realized that all of the people that I’d want to rent to at first glance (you know, have jobs, called instead of barged in, are polite, basically are breathing and seem to be functioning members of society) well they all have pets.

We do not want pets. All of the fur and the smells AND THE PEE is just a bit too much for our baby of a home. I am not a pet person (gasp) in life so I’m definitely not a pet person when it comes to renting out our home.

Today we officially listed the house on the interwebs. Here’s to hoping we find a petless, smokeless, socially aware human.

 In other news, Dee put up the railing in the rental and started the wiring for the smoke detectors. We have an appointment set for the lead test and packing is “going”. It’s really not going. I try my hardest to practice minimalism so we use almost everything we have, I see myself packing the day before we move. With that being said we have about twenty boxes packed and sitting in the basement. They’ve been sitting down there for a few weeks and I’ve missed exactly two things:ziplock bags and razors(oops). I’m begging Dee to not move those boxes and have a yard sale in the basement once we move but I’m not holding my breath.

As far as the new house goes, our appraisal came in right around the price we are buying the house for. In my opinion the appraisal system is flawed-they should not be able to see what we’re paying! Don’t get me started on the who home buying process, that’s a rant for another day.

Ok. I think that’s it. We have three showings tonight. Wish us luck!

Renovation, Rental

Oh dear, a week went by!

Is this your first time stopping by? Check here for the scoop.

So apparently a week has gone by. We have done nothing. That’s not true…I’ve been packing a few boxes a day and Dee made an appointment to have our home photographed next week. We also threw a few posts on Facebook about a rental coming soon.

So TOMORROW I’m calling to make a lead inspection appointment. I’m taking the babes to a birthday party and a ballet performance at the mall this weekend (good luck, Miss Anna as you try to get Elle on stage in front of an audience). Dee will be touching up the deck, installing the railing between our first and second floors and hopefully grouting the kitchen floor. Hey–a girl can dream!

We’re also finalizing our lease. Leases are hard.

Lastly, the seller has agreed to fix every single thing we asked him to. He’s a dream!

He is:

-replacing the roof on the addition

-putting a clean out in the basement

-re crowning (and other weird words) with the chimney and fireplace.

-taking out the sky lights

-confirmed that the addition is on footers instead of on a concrete slab. Apparently it’s important that it is sitting on something below the frost line so it doesn’t settle away from the house.

-something else I can’t remember

Wish us luck!

None of the Above, Renovation, Rental

Three items down, a billion to go

Is this your first glimpse of Rentals and Beans? Start here.

This week has been chaotic. We have several “major players” in our lives that are struggling with health issues. So it’s been a bit emotionally exhausting and we obviously changed focus. However, we (Dee) did check off a few items. He sanded and painted a small area of the kitchen, power washed and stained the deck, and bought grout to touch up our kitchen floor tile.

Some lessons learned:

  • don’t let the power washer hose touch the motor. ($56)
  • staining a deck does take 12 hours so don’t offer to watch your niece and nephew at 5:30 pm, lest you (ashley) be in charge of FOUR KIDS UNDER 3.5.

So hopefully in five years Dee will have forgotten how terrible it was to refinish it and he won’t still want to hire someone. Luckily the new house has a stone patio.

I also got a lead registry number. In Maryland your property needs to be inspected for lead before you can rent it out. Before you do that you must receive a lead registry number. A friend went through this process about a month before us and had quite the story of getting his number and there was weeks of stalking involved. For whatever reason I sent the email and left a voicemail (because it’s impossible to have an actual human conversation!) and received the number in my email the next day! Hallelujah!

This coming week I’d like to set up our lead inspection and rental inspection as well as get pictures taken of the rental to list it. Dwe would like to install the smoke detectors (which must be hard wired and “talk to each other”) and/or install a railing that spans the entire flight of steps from our first to second floor.

We are still negotiating some things  that we would like to be fixed before we purchase the new home. Hopefully that will get finished up this week as well.

As I am typing this one of our sweet neighbors is cutting my lawn. He’s not even a neighbor. He bought the house next-door to ours at an auction and is fixing it up and selling it. He’s the sweetest man ever. They started work  on the house a week before Jay was born and they finished it about a month ago. I think they felt so bad to be renovating a house next-door to a new born that they started cutting our grass. Now every couple weeks they completely cut our lawn and it is outrageous. Side note, he is friends with the seller of our new house. Small world!

Renovation, Rental

Hello world!

Well I already typed this page out once and I somehow lost it. I’m not off to a great start. Now, both of my babies are awake and so it will not be anywhere near as fun or clever.

The gist was, I’m typing this before I can even push “publish “. We haven’t told our neighbors that we are moving yet. I loathe goodbyes!* If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here for our story.  We have the best neighbors. This was number one on our con list of the move/rental/renovation. We don’t want to leave our neighbors. Granted we are just moving about a mile down the road but it won’t be the same. Elle plays outside with her little buddies every evening before dinner and it’s the best. She’s having that picture of childhood that I experienced as a child and always wanted for my kids…playing with neighborhood friends.  So we have to tell them first.

At this point in the game we are under contract with the renovation house and starting to prepare for our rental inspection on the rental. To keep this somewhat organized, I have a page for the rental to do list and one for the renovation. Ill link each corresponding blog post to that page so it all makes sense. Lord help me with the links!

Ok-I’m excited to get started!

* I was reading something by Jen Hatmaker the other day and I cannot for the life of me find it. Basically she was explaining that a symptom of introversion is hating goodbyes. I’m pretty much a textbook introvert but I had no idea this was a symptom and it’s totally me!   Whether it’s saying goodbye to neighbors or saying goodbye as I’m leaving something fun like family dinner or a party… I hate it!  Even weirder is Elle is starting to be the same way. I haven’t seen much else in her when it comes to introversion so her hating goodbyes could be more tied to leaving something fun. I’ll try to find a link.