Real Estate

First House I bought and rented in 2007

How It All Started

I have been investing in Real Estate mostly in the Dublin Ohio area Since 2007. When I had been first getting established in my career I had determined very early on that the stock market was not a great investment for my goals at the time. The house I was living in was appreciating well and was by far the best investment I had going for myself. With nothing to lose I went ahead and listed that house for rent on Craigslist mostly as an experiment. Much to my surprise within a couple of weeks I had a signed lease agreement.

My Renting Process

I tend to lean toward leases that have 2 year minimum agreements. A significant amount of time, money, and skilled trades are required to go through a vacant property and identify the things that need attention and have them addressed. Asking a potential tenant to agree to a 2 year lease also indicates they have some stability in income, career, and are good with a long term outlook on the property.

Another thing I’ve learned is to never show the property while any kind of work is underway. Many people can’t envision the final product and leave with the impression that the property needs some work. They are looking for a finished product that is ready for their furnishings.

My process for filling vacant properties is pretty simple. I list them on Zillow which syndicates the listing to Trulia and Hotpads. I also list on More recently I’ve been listing on Facebook, however, I don’t feel this is the best place to get qualified leads.

Once people respond to the listing the first thing I do is then lookup the contact info with the municipal court site and ensure there are no previous evictions or criminal history. This is completely free to do and can save a lot time. Once that checks out I send a templated email asking a few questions to get an idea if they are a fit.

These are those questions:

  1. Contact Info
  2. Number of Desired Tenants
  3. Desired Move-In Date
  4. Ok with a 2 year agreement
  5. Any pets over 50lbs
  6. Can mow the lawn if a mower is provided
  7. Can provide a reference for positive rental history

Only about half the people who I send an email with these questions will respond back to me. Hence, I know the people who do are the ones I’d like to work with. Good communication at the onset of the rental process is essential! If everything checks out I schedule a showing of the rental. Provided they like the property and are willing to move forward I have an application process which consists of me verifying previous rental history.

Once the showing happens and if everything is agreeable from both sides I draw up a lease agreement.

Here are some of the broad strokes of my lease.

  1. I always try to end my lease around May – June, as that’s when the most qualified tenants are on the market and looking for a property.
  2. My deposit and monthly rate are always the same. If you charge more then you are required to pay interest on the amount
  3. When the lease expires, I make the holdover period (month-to-month) include an increase of about 5-10% in rent. I try to avoid month-to-month leases and never let that arraignment happen for more than 4-5 months. I typically would extend an existing lease for another 2 years with no increase in rent. I do also offer 1 year leases for a small rent increase.
  4. I unconditionally do not accept rent more than 7 days late. On the 7th day I post a “3 day notice” to leave the property and start an eviction process.

I typically try to meet the tenant at the property to collect the rent and sign 2 copies of the lease so we both have signed originals. At this time I also fill out a billing agreement for the water bill, this is required for the city of Columbus.

On the topic of collecting the rent due and the security deposit. In the past years I’ve alway accepted a personal check, however, on multiple occasions I’ve turned over possession only for the tenants check to bounce . This is a terrible way to start any kind of rental relationship with a tenant. Because of this I now only accept Venmo, Zelle, Cash, or Cashier Check when turning over possession.