In all my life, I never thought I would become a landlord. Not once! You don’t need any kind of credentials to become a landlord. Once you buy a house and rent it out, you automatically gain the title. Maybe I should have checked at our library to see if there is a book titled, “The Pros and Cons of Being a Landlord.” I am not writing a book, but will write this article about our recent experiences in the field of “Landlordship.” We call our rental the Farm House and have rented it to two different families since we bought it.
Our first tenants’ occupancy didn’t work out. We became well aware of what was happening when the rent wasn’t paid for 3 months, and we had to start the painful process of an eviction. The moving out process was long, drawn out, and frustrating as to when it would actually happen. We had not been inside the house for a very long time and did not know what we would find. When we did get inside, we found every bit of it had to be cleaned. To begin with, we filled at least 30 large garbage bags with trash.
This was followed by some necessary painting, both inside and out. The biggest job was when we found water in the basement. A broken line had caused the crawl space to be filled with water. That meant digging down about 3 feet outside the basement wall to find where the problem was coming from. And luckily, we found it. Every day we worked, we kept the windows open in order to have fresh air going through the house. After we had the carpet professionally cleaned, we felt it was ready for new renters.
Good renters to not fall out of the sky. Thanks to a mutual friend, we were contacted by some good renters in a very short time. Upon moving in, they converted our Farm House into their lovely home. First, the enclosed front porch was made into a “Florida” room. By opening the common door and hanging the right kind of curtains, Voila! a Florida room appeared. Next they turned the large kitchen into a combination kitchen and dining room. That was followed by the living room becoming a combination living room and office. This was all a welcome change.
One of the differences for them was how much less everything costs here in Ohio than on the east coast where they had moved from. (Utilities, groceries, hair salon appointments, speeding tickets, licenses, and eating out in nice restaurants, to name a few.) Also, they like the quiet. They had been used to freeways, horns honking and sirens all the time. Also, they like it that the house is so close to our farm.
They like watching our horses out in the fields eating grass, while they themselves are having their own meals in their kitchen. They have learned a lot about our different lifestyle and have gotten to know the neighbors.
And they know the enjoyment starts when the people come to ride in the indoor arena. They have also learned that chore time comes twice a day, seven days a week, every week of the year.
Anyone who owns a house knows there are always things to be fixed. On one of the first Saturdays they were there, the bathroom sink drain sprung a leak. So, we had to go to
the hardware store for the correct pieces of piping to fix it. Then, the very next week, the drain in the tub also sprung a leak and back we went to get those pieces of piping, as well.
It wasn’t long until cold weather set in and the windows had to be weather-proofed. We had to replace 9 storm windows that were either cracked or broken, as well as one that looked like it had a bullet hole in it. (If you know what a bullet hole looks like.) The previous tenant had the gas to the furnace turned off to save the monthly minimum payment.
Then we had to pay the gas company to come and turn it back on. That was the same time as the sump pump quit working, so back to the hardware store to get a new one of those. It seemed like the majority of these trips to the hardware store were on Saturdays, right during Ohio State’s football games. It’s hard to believe, but soon the back steps disintegrated into a pile of stones. So, after using a jack-hammer, and hauling away the mess, George built new wooden steps.
He used treated wood, 8 feet in length and had to build an additional banister as well. That was such a big job that we had a ribbon-cutting ceremony when we finished.
We also had to cut and haul away more than 8 truckloads of brush, which included pulling out an enormous rose bush that covered the entire south wall of the garage. Behind all that bush, we found a window frame had rotten away and had to be replaced. And the whole garage ended up needing a coat of paint.
The new renters planted a lot of flowers all around the perimeter of the house. They asked about having rocks as a border, so George set out to find some. Luckily, a friend who has a farm in the neighboring county has lots and lots of rocks. It seems in that county, rocks work their way up out of the ground and have to be removed before the farmer can do his planting each spring. So, we took our truck out and got about 100 medium sized rocks. (You just never know what you may find if you ask the right person.)
If someone ever does write a book on the pros and cons of being a landlord, ours is just one example of what you might get into. My parents rented quite a few different houses during my growing up years. As one of the seven kids in our family, I feel good about the fact that each landlord would take a chance on renting their house for all of us to move into. At one of the last houses we rented, our Mom made curtains for every window in that large 2 story house. I’m sure they were a welcoming sight for the next renters.
Because of all the work our parents did on these rentals, they were usually in better shape when we moved out than when we had moved in. My wish for all the landlords and their tenants is that their experiences will always be a win-win situation.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.