Handing over the keys to my Townhouse

Apologies for my extended absence. I certainly didn’t intend to be away. Life just happened, it seems.

In the last month, the tenant in my rental property has moved out, I’ve sought out, and found a new tenant. Today, I’ll head up to the property to put a bit of a spit-polish on the place and hand over the keys to the new folks.

The good news is, the townhouse is rented. I’ve received first and last.

I’m actually not sure which stage of being a landlord makes me more nervous. It’s a toss up between the time that I know the property will be empty and I start seeking out a new tenant, and this stage, as I hand over the keys to a new person.

Yes, I’ve done my homework on them. Homework in this case usually means a credit check, verification of previous addresses and employment, verification of any outstanding accounts due or overdue accounts, and some references. Then there’s the all important “gut check”. Do I get a good vibe from the person?

Seems ironic to me that I have a rather good track record of renting the townhouse to single parents. This time my tenant is a Dad. He’s in his early 40s, professional, and seems to have a high octane career he’s held for some time. I’ve met his young daughter, and she’s delightful. Seeing him with his daughter helps tell me who he is, as a person. Even if I’m only observing them together for a short period of time.

The anxiety comes when I think ahead to May. Will I get the rent cheque on May 1? Will it clear? Usually until this happens, I do a little bit of finger crossing.

On the other hand, I’m going to enjoy today. I get a bit of pride when I have townhouse cleaning day. It really is a nice property. It’s been well cared for by me and (most) of my previous tenants. The reason my new tenant rented it is because it shows so well. He said “I’m surprised at how nice it is, I don’t have to do anything or worry about anything!” It’s true, it’s quite nice. If it were in Toronto I could live in it myself.

My townhouse is priced pretty much at the top of what the market will allow in this particular community. It means I get fewer calls than I would if it were less money, but I usually get more qualified tenants that way. I said usually, not always!

I’m also a bit shocked at the reason most of my tenants, qualified or not, are seeking out a place. Most of the calls come from people who are newly or recently separated. Often, they’re desperate to find a place fast, and they haven’t rented something in a long time. How the person shares their story with me gives me some insight to where they’re at, and let’s me know whether or not I want to do business with them.

One of my early calls came from a fellow who was just parting with his wife. He liked my townhouse because it was in his children’s school district. He was ticked off that he had to call me, ticked off that his lawyer was costing him a bundle, ticked off at his ex-wife…you get the idea. I didn’t want to be the next person on a long list of people that were born to make his life miserable.

My new tenant, however, has been separated for long enough that his head is in a good space, he’s found the sweet spot to relate to his ex-wife, and he’s doting on his children. He communicates clearly via email and on the phone, without ranting about how unfair life is.

Despite my task today as domestic engineer, I’ll enjoy it. Wish me luck with the new fella!

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by DTN on March 30, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Glad to see you back 🙂
    I hope the new tenant works out well.

    What did you end up doing about a desk?

    Reply

  2. It must be a rollercoaster of feelings being a landlord. I’m glad you found someone who appears to be reliable and a stable tenant. Hope all goes well when May 1 comes around.

    Reply

    • Hey Jolie,
      They actually move in tomorrow! Since I already have first month’s rent in order to sign our rental agreement, it’s May 1 that’s their first time to actually make sure I get the rent on time. In Ontario, it’s against the law for a landlord to ask a tenant for post-dated cheques. However, it’s not against the law to accept them, should the tenant offer. Thankfully, my tenant said “can I just send you a bunch of post-dated cheques?” Yep! You sure can!

      After yesterday, and meeting more of my new tenant’s support system (his Mom, in particular) I’m feeling a lot less anxious about it all. He’s surrounded by good people.

      Reply

  3. Busy busy busy! No wonder you were MIA. I’m glad you’re back!
    Good luck with the new tenant. Don’t work too hard today!

    Reply

    • Hi Tay, well yesterday I decided the next time the property is vacant, I think I’ll hire a cleaning company to come in and do the job. It’s too much for me to work half a day, then drive up north and work another day 🙂 I didn’t do my usual job on the cleaning, but it’s still pretty darned good.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Jane on March 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Hi

    I have been a big fan of your website and have been reading it diligently… I am very impressed by how you manage your finances, your job, children etc. yet keeping that balance that we all strive for… I know some days it is not easy… but reading your blog shows that it is possible !! I am interested in getting into the real estate market and looking to buy a rental property but am very worried as I have never done that before. I was wondering if there was a way of communicating with you personally and chat about this… Would love to hear from you.. Jane

    Reply

    • Jane, that’s very kind of you to say. I was just starting to think lately that I really didn’t have anything significant to say about personal finance. I’m just kind of walking the walk (with some side-street trips, fiscally speaking), and although I still have some struggles from time to time, I hope my story remains pretty stable. I guess there’s still a lot of story to play out, and who knows, each day can bring a new challenge.

      Last year I wrote a series of blogs about my experience as a landlord, Here’s part 1, part 2, http://wp.me/pOngX-4i, and finally http://wp.me/pOngX-4m. I suspect it may answer a few of your questions. Otherwise, you can email me at middleclassmomintoronto@gmail.com! Thanks for your kind words!

      Reply

  5. I couldn’t be a landlord, just not my cup of tea – a bit too risky for my blood so congrats of finding what sounds like an ideal tenant!

    Reply

    • Thanks Jane. As I was leaving last night, the neighbour to my rental property (an attached townhouse) said “another tenant moving in?” and I said “yep, tomorrow” and gave him the fellow’s name and a bit of information. Then the neighbour said “Tracy, when you first bought this property I worried about living next door to a rental property, I have to tell you though, you’ve found top notch tenants every time it’s been vacant. Thank you.” It was nice of him to say, because I do give a darn about him and his wife, and their comfort in their home too. I’ve also always made sure the neighbours know exactly who I am and how to get in touch with me, in the event they want to. I’ve never, ever had a call from a neighbour in 6 years.

      Reply

  6. Well, I think sometimes “having nothing significant to say” is a good thing. 🙂 You’d have to hit the snooze bar if you read what I really think about or do when it comes to money most days. Hmm. Stocks went up $10k – which one gained? Should I sell? Hmmm went down $7k – should I buy? Check the spending online – oops, going over so pull back or yay! There’s going to be room to buy the mint mop this month (which I did – at 1/2 price – and her name is Mini-me). 😛

    Rinse and repeat, over and over again, like Groundhog Day. But it’s that very consistency and persistence that makes or breaks you.

    I suppose it’s not much different than your tenants – you get your ducks in a row and you have no problems and no drama. Meg over at The World of Wealth seems to have nothing but problems with her renters.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Jane on March 31, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Hi Tracy:
    Thank you for pointing me in the right direction… Of course, you have something significant to say everyday and that is why I read your blog with interest as it is about “everyday” stuff that we all experience and it is really important to see how another individual handles the issues that one is faced with everyday… Thank you for your email address… hopefully the blog will answer all my questions.. Good luck with the new tenant..

    Reply

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