Monday, January 2, 2012

To Rent or Not to Rent

Before Bob took off for his job in Caz today he read me an article in the morning paper ( about a company in St. Cloud that manages property.  They were having so much trouble with dogs pooping and owners not scooping, that they began requiring DNA samples of all their tenants' dogs!  In this way they could prove which dog and owner had left a deposit.  Of course their resolve was tested - they have so far sent out 20 samples to the labs - but once caught the pets and owners have not re-offended.

I imagined the management company workers sitting around a hot cup of coffee (Minnesota) and dreaming this up.  How can we get creative with this problem, they must have thought.  They could have prohibited dogs from their complexes, but instead they came up with this solution.  Bravo!

So what does the lowly home-owner do, Bob asked.  He then regaled me with the vision of one of my owners directing me to scoop the poop and get it tested.  Above and beyond the call of duty as a Realtor, I would think.

The issue this brings up is not the dog problem, but the renting aspect of real estate.  Over the past few years as homes haven't sold, owners have decided to rent them out to pay at least some of the mortgage and/or taxes.  My investors inform me they are doing a great business with their multi-families - houses are bought cheaply and rents are high, due to demand.  They can pick and choose.  This is not true for homeowners who have buildings in need of repair or in need of rents to cover higher mortgages or taxes.  People who are willing to pay these amounts are generally moving on from one home to another with a bit of a breather in-between.  Their expectations are high - as are the owners's expectations of their tenants.  Complicating everything is the fact that both are primarily homeowners, not landlords and tenants.

I think the only reasonable answer to the Hamlet-esque question for both sides is to be certain of your goals and know that the road can be bumpy.  Very bumpy at times.  I rented a summer cottage (think no insulation) for seven school years in Saratoga.  I called in my landlord when the pipes froze and one winter when we had so much snow the plow couldn't plow it.  I was grateful to have 13 acres, a pool and a pond, privacy and great neighbors plus rent-free summers when we'd go home to the lake.  They were thrilled to have us - we always paid our rent on time and left them alone.  My goal was to raise Alex in a lovely safe setting; their goal was to rent the cottage on their estate over the winter months until the summer season.  It worked well and we both remember those years fondly.

I wish all rentals could be that way!