We’ve rented the house and are preparing to be homeless!

Well, we have succeeded in renting our house.

I was not sure we would be able to find a renter. We advertised at Kenyon, MVNU, Ariel, and Rolls Royce with no takers. After giving those organizations a week to respond, we put in an ad for two weeks in the Mount Vernon News. In response, we had about five groups of visitors come to tour the house. All of the five seemed promising, but of the five groups only two filled out an application form. I wonder if that is the normal return rate or whether we violated some local norm in requesting an application form. I downloaded it free from the web and it was quite detailed.

I called former landlords. I went online to www.1-background-checks.com and paid for a credit check and criminal records check. It turns out that one of applicants (with a relatively common name) had the same name as two registered sex offenders. The report gives a physical description of the offenders and the description did not even come close to matching the applicant, so we ignored that. One applicant had an excellent credit rating and the other had a bad credit rating. We liked both applicants and would probably have taken a chance with the one who had a bad credit rating given the positive things said about them by previous landlords, but taken together with all the other factors, we went with the applicant with the excellent credit rating.

Then came several hours of research on leases. I did not want to just download something free from the web for this, though there are reasonable looking leases out there. I went to Staples and purchased a CD called Every Landlord’s Legal Guide by a company called Adams. Basically, it contained a PDF file of legal information about being a landlord and a collection of forms in MS Word format to copy, modify as appropriate, and print out for various situations. I learned, for example, that federal law requires that I give the tenant a statement regarding lead paint in the house and a EPA pamphlet that educates the tenant about avoiding exposure to lead paint. Who knew?

I liked the tone of the advice in the PDF file. For example, many standard leases contain provisions that have long been known to be legally unenforceable. I remember how much I hated signing a document with these kinds of clauses when I was a renter myself. The Legal Guide takes the sensible approach of recommending not to include these provisions and also creating an easy to read lease, not cluttered with archaic language.

The guide also saved me from making what might have been a big mistake. The applicant is going to live here with their two children, but the children are over 18. We had originally intended to just have the parent as the tenant, but the Legal Guide made it clear that if we allowed anyone over 18 to live here, they became de facto tenants and if they were not co-signers on the lease, they were tenants not covered by the terms of the lease. So, to avoid unlikely but potentially sticky situations, all three are co-tenants on the lease. Spending $30 buying this Guide was a good investment, I think.

So the tenants have signed the lease and put down the security deposit. That means we will be homeless on August 1! This locks us in to spending August and September traveling before we arrive in Sri Lanka around October 1. Our current thoughts are to spend August in the US and September in Asia. More on that later.

Tim

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