O Cedar!

I’ve owned rental properties in Indianapolis for over 24 years now. For years, I carpeted my units throughout, except for the kitchens and baths. But a few years ago, I started switching my flooring from carpet to laminates.

There’ve been so many improvements over time, many of these laminates are waterproof and can be put into kitchens and baths as well.

So, that’s great, right? Well, one solution presented another problem. For cleaning these floors upon move-outs, I used many options, including an old fashioned string mop, a couple different  Swiffers, etc. Everything took way too long, and most of them left streaks on my floors. Not good!

Then I came across this O Cedar microfiber “easywring” product … OMG … it’s been a life saver! It’s such an easy process; I just put a bit of Dawn or other cleansing soap in the bucket side with water, and I’m good to go. The mop is effortless, and because of its triangular design, it gets into the corners quite well. That was a pleasant surprise. Just be careful when you go to Walmart or Target, etc. to purchase one, because there are a few knock-offs out there now.

The other beautiful component of this system is the spin feature. You don’t even need to rinse out the mop head. You can give it a couple extra spins to dry out the head before your last swipe of an area.

This has been one of my favorite recent “tips and tricks” and I just had to share it. Cleaning floors has never been one of may favorite chores, and this O Cedar mop/bucket is fabulous!

Happy mopping!

Enforcing the Lease

When I mentor new investors, I encourage them to create an airtight lease. This is of prime importance, for landlords everywhere. The lease doesn’t have to be 10 pages long, contrary to popular belief. Many of those lengthy contracts contain what I call “legal schmegal” language, and the tenant’s eyes gloss over half way through the first page. It’s ridiculous.

I combined and condensed a couple leases and changed the language into laymen’s terms, and I’m really happy with the results. Of course, I had my real estate attorney take a look, to make sure I’d covered all the necessary bases. He was impressed with the brevity of it, and gave me a thumbs up.  🙂

So, great, right? Well, yeah, but what good is it if I don’t enforce it? When I started out in rental properties two decades ago, I wanted to think the best in everyone. I allowed people to slide on their rent, thinking they’d get it caught up as promised. My trusting attitude and naivete came back to bite me … big time. I was losing money faster than I was collecting it. Terrible!

A lease is a meaningless piece of paper if you don’t follow it. I had an excellent lease but it wasn’t helping me! I had to have a serious talk with myself and get on a better track, or I was going to go under. Now, if a tenant falls behind, we make a plan (in writing) to get caught up quickly. If it doesn’t happen, the tenant is moving or evicted.

And, this isn’t just about late rent. It has to do with every single clause in your lease. Noise violations, police visits, not keeping the apartment/yard clean, etc. Plan your lease carefully, and make sure you’re willing to follow every item in that document. It’s the basis of your rental life — your “burnout prevention plan” is built around that lease and your willingness to be the enforcer!

“Thanks” Goes a Long Way

As we move through the holiday season each year, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of schedules, gift buying, rushing to get through items on our lists, etc. It can be overwhelming and frustrating — not at all representative of the season!

I try to be mindful, especially throughout December and into January, of the blessings that exist in my life, and thank those who make my work easier:

  • Tenants who pay their rent in a timely manner and keep their places clean
  • Contractors who are reliable, show up on time and don’t charge me outrageous prices for their services
  • Business associates who respect me enough to refer others to me
  • My friends and family who lend a listening ear after a particularly difficult day, and who love me “no matter what”

Life is tough. But in a sense, struggles and loss help us appreciate and savor the things that really matter. So take a minute and think about the people who matter in your work/personal life. And thank them.  🙂

Onward and upward!

And a happy, prosperous 2016 to you all.

Before You Buy …

When new investors consult with me about getting started in the rental business, the first question they usually ask is, “How do I know where to buy?”  After I ensure they have the finances for the purchase figured out, my answer is pretty straightforward:

1)  Make the property within a 30-minute drive from your home.  Gas is expensive, and if you buy a fixer-upper, you’re going to be spending enough money on the rehab without driving all over town to get there!

2)  Check the schools and amenities in the area.  Good schools and access to conveniences and the bus line attract renters and enable you to charge higher rent.

3)  Stop in at the local police station and get a crime run covering the past year.  Petty stuff like theft or disturbing the peace isn’t a huge deal, but if you see armed robbery, stabbings, drug crimes and worse, run!

4)  Drive your chosen neighborhood at various times of day … morning, noon, evening, weekends.  Notice who’s walking the street and “out and about.”  What do the residents’ vehicles look like?  How about the residents themselves?

5)  And lastly, TALK to people.  It’s incredible what you can learn this way.  Talk to neighbors, tell them you’re considering buying a home there (don’t tell them it’s going to be a rental … some may suspect you’re a slumlord).  Stop in at a local restaurant/bar and speak with a server or bartender who’s been there a while.  They’ll be a wealth of information … they may tell you more than you want to know.  LOL.  But that’s okay, you’re on a fact-finding mission.

If you do your “due diligence” prior to the purchase, you won’t suffer buyer’s remorse when the deal is closed.  It’s worth the time spent, trust me.

And, happy hunting!  🙂

Baby, It’s COLD Outside!

As a landlord, I dread seeing this on my TV:

BrrrI try to keep abreast of the weather and contact my tenants with good advice on preventing their water pipes from freezing.  I include these tips in my monthly tenant letter, but reminders are valuable for all of us.  Here are some great tips I’ve gathered through the years:

1)  Run a thin stream of hot AND cold water from each faucet in the house.

2)  Open cabinet doors under all sinks.

3)  If possible, open access covers to expose pipes to bath tubs/showers, etc.  Sometimes these are just panels that are screwed on.  It helps to take the panel off and allow the warm air from the room to circulate around those pipes.  I even had one plumber tell me to put a small fan on low speed and direct it toward the opening.

By the way, in the event the pipes do burst, you must turn the water off immediately, of course.  I always make sure my tenants know where the shut-off is in the basement of the house, just in case the worst happens.  If not, the water co. has to be summoned to shut the water off at the pit outside.

When I saw this recent weather report, I sent a mass text to all of my tenants, reminding them to take care of their pipes.  I’ve been lucky so far this winter, but the end is not in sight!  Ugh …

Fingers and toes crossed …