Before making the decision to generate some money or support the mortgage payment by renting your home, there are several particulars to bear in mind. If you do rent your home, perform a thorough reference check on prospective tenants. Renting out your home is risky business and from experience, my husband and I learned the hard way, the importance of checking solid references. If you end up renting to the wrong people, it really is not worth the money or the headaches in the end.
Dreadful Tenants and No Reference Check
When we made the decision to rent one of our homes, it was because my fiancé (who is now my husband) owned a house, I owned one as well, and we could not live in both. It made perfect sense to us to rent his home in the city because of its prime location on a dead end street and huge yard, which would accommodate children safely.
We ran an ad in the paper, stating we would need references from previous landlords. However, my husband was the one who showed the house and talked to potential renters and upon making his final choice of tenants, he committed one of the biggest mistakes of his life; he did not check references because, he liked and trusted the couple he decided on first impression only, would make good tenants.
At the time, the home had only one bedroom, but it was the entire second floor of the house. We have since done extensive renovations and additions and the upstairs now has three bedrooms. The couple had two young boys and gave them the upstairs, while they took a room downstairs for their bedroom. Strangely, though, they put their bedroom in the huge, cathedral-ceilinged living room and used the small dinning area for the family room.
The couple, who were very pleasant, paid their rent on time for the first four months, which was a good sign. The only thing my husband noticed was they never asked him in, but that was OK because it was their space now and we respected that; until the day my husband thought he heard a dog bark in the house while he was talking to the tenant on the front porch.
One stipulation to renting our home was the “no dogs” rule. We had just refinished all the hardwood floors in the house and installed plush new carpet throughout the upstairs to keep the home in nice condition. The couple said that was fine with them. We would learn later that not only did they have a dog they hid from us…it was a full-grown German Sheppard who did his duty all over the house, including the upstairs.
Eviction and a Totally Trashed House
When the rent was due on the first day of the fifth month, the couple, who asked my husband to pick up rent at the house, each month, did not answer the door. The vehicles were in the driveway, but no one acknowledged the knocking. My husband went back the next evening after work, but no one was home.
He then phoned and left a message; no one returned the call. A week went by and it became obvious the couple was avoiding us. We instantly regretted the renting concept, especially when we wrote a check to pay the mortgage on our home that someone else was living in free of charge. Although the husband of the couple did finally call to say he was trying to get the rent he owed; we would not collect another dime from the tenants from that day forward.
After waiting longer than we legally had to because we felt bad about the children, we let the tenants know they had to move out. They of course knew that already. They did not really put up a fuss, but had the nerve to ask for the deposit back despite the fact they owed my husband three months rent. The woman claimed she should get the deposit back regardless of what they owed because she said she had to spend the first week there cleaning because it was a mess.
Her statement mortified me because in anticipation of renting, I spent two weeks scrubbing that house after we moved all the furniture out. As I stated earlier, we refinished the hard wood floors ourselves and had new carpet installed.
The house was like new and in prime condition by the time, we were ready to rent. I was extremely angry over her statement that she had to clean our house. Not as angry, however, as I was when I saw what these nonpaying tenants left behind and what they did to our lovely home.
When these people finally moved out, my furious husband had to break it to me gently about the destruction they left behind. I was appalled when I went to see the house firsthand. Anything this couple did not want, they left in piles in every room of the house. It was not just a few things either – it was stuff from one end of each room to the other. There was trash everywhere, and empty food containers and used paper plates, littered the upstairs.
The house smelled unbelievably bad from the dog, which was not choosy about where he went to the bathroom, including all over the new carpet upstairs. I actually felt bad for the dog because apparently they were too lazy to take him out – not to mention that they were really hiding the dog so we would not know. The boys obviously used the freshly painted walls as a backboard for their muddy basketball or soccer ball.
It took us weeks to bring our home back to the point it was before we decided to rent. We had to fix holes in the walls, paint again, clean the new carpet and even put light fixtures back into the ceiling. We made trip after trip to Salvation Army and the local landfill with all the junk the tenants left behind. We rent to family now and they treat our home as if it was their house. If you decide to rent your home out, check those references; it will save you many problems in the end.