Gotta Love It

FullSizeRender 2

You don’t have to have a lot of money to keep your home looking nice. Here’s proof of that. This little house is on a street in downtown Indianapolis, near one of my rental properties. It’s definitely a lower-income demographic.

Regardless of the season, the family that lives here manages to “dress it up” outside — I see the mom outside in the nice weather, trimming and weeding, sprucing up here, there and everywhere. The potted plants, yard art, wind chimes, et. make me smile.

With the holiday season just around the corner, I’m excited to see what’s in store for this happy little place … More pictures to come!  :-)


Worst Landlord Mistakes

I’ve made my share of mistakes as a landlord of 20+ years. And I’ve heard others lament their own “dumbass attacks” as well. But that’s often how we learn. The sad thing I often see is people doing the same stupid stuff, again and again, and then complaining about the results they’re getting.

“Insanity is doing the same (dumb) thing over and over, and expecting different results.” Can’t remember who said it, but it’s so true!

Here are some of the biggest mistakes made by landlords:

  • Not having a comprehensive lease that covers all the crazy stuff that can happen at the rental. You have to protect yourself, so that you can evict people who mistreat you, their neighbors or the home.
  • Not following the lease. Even if you have a good lease, if you let people slide, if you let them violate the terms … then why have a lease? Make sure the rules/boundaries of your lease are clear, and stick to them!
  • Being a friend instead of maintaining a respectful business relationship. You have to draw the line between business and friendship. Of course you want to develop trust and a friendly relationship. But if you become emotionally involved, it’s hard to tow the line when things go wrong.
  • Being too quick to fill a vacancy. Yes, this business is about earning income. But filling that vacancy with a less-than-qualified tenant will come back to bite you. Save yourself the headache and wait on a good one.
  • Letting maintenance issues slide at the rental. I’ve seen this happen way too often. Exteriors fade, become a little run down, interiors as well. How can you attract good tenants when the place is looking tired and neglected? It’s not gonna happen!
  • Allowing people to stay too long, not paying. I’ve been guilty of this one, more than I’d like to admit. I’ve gotten better about it over the years. But I know people who have tenants that haven’t paid for 6-8 months. Whaaat? This is an income-producing business … this bullet goes hand in hand with the one on “not following the lease” but deserved a separate mention because it’s so common. Evictions aren’t difficult to file and complete. They’re an unfortunate part of what we do, but sometimes they’re necessary.

The main reason people leave this career is because of tenant management issues. It’s not an easy job. Landlords get burned out and just quit. But if they’d avoid the pitfalls above, maybe they’d find a bit more peace and sanity in their world!

Another Facelift

This is a duplex I bought in the late 90s … it was aluminum siding — still is — but was looking a little tired, to say the least. I recently sold it on a land contract to a wonderful family, who started making improvements immediately. FSCN0518IMG_2874

Take a look at this exterior before and after! They’re not quite done, but they’ve replaced some windows, made it into a single family home by opening up the downstairs living area, replaced the front door, and repaired and painted the siding and brick front porch. They also tore out the old shrubbery and put in new plants. They put a big vegetable garden in back.

This home is over 100 years old, but is built better than many of our newer homes today.

These people wouldn’t have been able to purchase a home the traditional way, as they have no credit and the banks have tightened the purse strings so much.

They gave me a large down payment and I didn’t charge them much for the home … they’ll own it within the next couple of years. They’re enjoying the pride of home ownership, and I’m so happy to have helped them achieve this dream … we’ll definitely maintain a relationship going forward. :-)

Deck Renew!

FullSizeRender 2        I do lots of work on my own rental properties in Indianapolis and somehow manage to neglect some items at my own house! It had been years … and I do mean YEARS … since I’d treated or even power washed my deck. It was grey and tired-looking. My friend Jerry brought his power washer over, even though I had one I thought would do the trick. He had bought it a few months ago at Costco for around $300. and it was so much more powerful and effective than mine!

I’d bought some Krud Kutter deck wash solution, but we didn’t even use it. (Check out this video.) His machine is a Subaru gas-powered unit with an electric start. Fabulous! Anyway, I was really impressed with the results and how quickly the job got done using the Subaru.

I’ll let the deck dry out for about 36 hours and spray coat it with Rain Guard, which came well recommended and got excellent reviews. My deck is only about 400 square feet of total surface, and a gallon ($10) covers about 80-100 square feet, so this is a cheap face lift for a very tired-looking deck! Woohoo!


Stopping Water Leaks


It’s official … July goes down as the wettest on record here in Indianapolis. Farmers, golf course and other business owners, and homeowners everywhere are trying to stay afloat. It’s been tough.

As a landlord here in Indianapolis, this summer’s been a challenge for sure. Incredible amounts of rain have fallen throughout the city, and homes and basements have flooded everywhere. The ground has become so saturated, the water has nowhere to go and it comes right through cement block basements.

Years ago, I came across a couple products that helped seal cement block basement walls. They’re UGL Fast Plug, and UGL latex-base Dry Lok. The Fast Plug is a powder cement product that you mix with cold water and apply to the wall — quickly! This stuff sets up fast. You press it into the holes, and it even stops active leaks. But again, you have to work quickly. So, it’s best to mix small amounts at a time. I use a throw-away container to mix it. Your putty knife will clean up with water. Also, I wear thin latex gloves to apply the product.

When that dries, you can paint the entire wall with the latex Dry Lok paint product. It’s really thick, and it is also a sealer. I use a thick-nap, inexpensive roller sleeve — 1/2″ is good — and I just throw it out when I’m done.

These products are a good alternative to having someone come and dig down on the exterior to seal the block from the outside, which is hugely expensive. And I know, from experience, that it often works.

It takes a little time, but why not save some money and try the DIY route if you can? (And pray for a drier summer next year!)

Best Grass Trimmer Ever …

FullSizeRender 3

I detest yard work. I’m always looking for the most efficient ways to get it done quickly and painlessly.

For years, I used gas-powered grass trimmers. They drove me crazy, with their undependable starts, refilling the gas chamber, refilling the string, etc. (I swear, the directions on those things are written by people who have English as their second or third language. Between the photographs and the instructions, I usually end up wanting to throw the machine in the creek out back!)

Anyway, I came across this Black & Decker battery-powered, super lightweight trimmer a couple years ago and have been thrilled with it. (Well, as thrilled as I can be with any type of work revolving around a yard, that is.) It’s the 18v GrassHog, and it came with an extra battery.

I get enough charge to do two rounds of trimming, then I just switch it out for the other battery — very simple — which I keep on the charger.

I haven’t had to replace the string yet, but I’m betting it will be as easy as the operation of the GrassHog itself. Fabulous!


Saw this contraption on the way to one of my Indianapolis rental properties. Whaaat?


I imagine it’s some type of heat source, being vented right through that window and up the side of the house. Wow …

I’m surprised the Board of Health hasn’t tagged this owner and sent a threatening letter. Crazy! If this is the scene outside, I can only guess what’s going on inside!