Renters, need advice from you......

cuddlepooMay 4, 2007

I found a little tiny (1 bed, 1 bath) house that I can buy and rent out for investment. If the current owner takes her appliances I may just do a remodel on the tiny kitchen since I would have to buy appliances anyway and the cabinets for this little kitchen won't cost much. It's a very old cottage and doesn't have a dishwasher. The owner has a full sized range and a fridge that looks a little big for it's space. Would you prefer to keep a full sized range (30"), or would you prefer a smaller range (there's 20" and 26") with a small dishwasher (18")?

Also, we probably will have to tear out the tub area since I see some dampness. There's currently the standard tub with a glass door of decent quality. Since there won't be kids in this house I was thinking that I would prefer a shower if I lived there, which would be a nice size in the tub footprint. In our master bath at home I wish I would have put in just a nice shower instead of a shower/tub combo.

We are just assuming that we will lose money the first year so please tell me what you would want to see in your rental. We are very experienced remodelers and can do a very cute job without big bucks, especially on such a little home. Would you treat a rental better if the owners took good care of it? Can I attract better renters?

Thanks all!

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If you want better renters, charge higher rent. You want a renter who is willing to pay a premium for it. Yes, have it in very good condition and take care of it. If you can, even put in a maintenance clause where you go in to look at it every year to see what needs fixing up. My dh and I are homeowners now, but we used to rent in an older neighborhood. It always bothered me that there were some things I couldn't fix because I didn't own the home and wasn't able to maintain or replace things or even do basic painting. It is in your best interest not to have the home look like a rental because that tends to lower the value of the entire neighborhood. You want the house to be as low maintence to the renter as possible.

I'm not sure a dishwasher is of great importance to a single person. It took me over a week to fill mine when I was single. I only used it because washing dishes is my most hated chore. I think you should go with the bigger range because you do want the house to be user friendly. It's really irritating if you cook only one time a year and you can't even use your oven because the turkey doesn't fit in. I think you could probably get away with the fridge that actually fits the space.

Since this is a one person house, I think the shower would be just fine.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 5:38PM
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check to be sure your municipality doesn't require a tub for an occupancy permit; some do. (may date from the days pre-shower when slum lords refused to put bathtubs in)

Also, tubs are nice when you hurt yourself, have the cramps, or want a luxurious soak. So, I'd say stay w/ a tub, since that is the ONLY bathroom. (a shower in a master is great, if you can soak in the tub in the other bathroom)

Don't forget the dish drawers for small-dishwasher options (though I'm assuming you might not be able to fit one widthwise? they're 24")

And, use a 27" sink base and a 25" single sink. Or a little smaller (but the smaller you go, the deeper you should go.

And I do think people take better care of better stuff, and that people who have a little more money, expect to get a nicer looking place--nicer quality (not granite, but an up-to-date laminate), much better repair.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 6:04PM
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I dont agree with the first poster. If you dont put in a dishwasher,no one in their right mind would pay alot to rent a house with no dishwasher. Also,being that the house is so "tiny" as you put it,you may have a harder time renting it out with high prices when you can get pretty big sized apartments for the same price.
I would be reasonable with the rent.Fair market prices,and maybe just charge a bit more for security deposit.

But,absolutely get that dishwasher! I lived in a cheap apartment once that didnt have one and it was he11.Moved out as soon as I could. It's 2007,gotta have one.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 1:22AM
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One thing struck me - you said you think there's dampness near the tub, but have you not had the place properly inspected? There could be other issues, and if any have a remote chance to impact your tenants in a serious way, you could be sued or something. Even if you're good at the fixing part, you should have it properly checked out to see what is needed. I would go with slightly smaller appliances. If the time comes when you find out your wonderful tenant that you'd like to keep foirever wants to cook a lot more, you could always change them at that time, but considering MOST single people should survive having to wash their 1-2 dishes plus pot MOST of the time (what have we come to if we can't manage that!) I wouldn't necessarily bother with it unless you do have the space. You should check into Google with 'Small appliances' though, because you can get all kinds of interesting stuff today, such as undercounter fridges and freezers, etc., which may look awfully good if they're put in right and are becoming popular.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 5:50AM
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It depends on you really... I don't give a second thought to washing dishes manually but there are others who wouldn't think of it.. do what works best for you.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 9:01AM
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Great advice! On the tub we assume we'd be tearing out the whole tub and assuming we'd be fixing some plumbing so that would be taken care of. But I have more info on this property now and I'm really suspicious of this seller because I found out she recently remodeled the bathroom. And it's already showing dampness! We were told the house has cable, but she was too cheap to subscribe. So a gal that was too cheap to get cable remodeled a bathroom within the 1 year that she's owned the place. I would think a cheapskate would live happily with a dated bathroom unless something had been wrong. Having seen many bad repairs where a homeowner did a quick fix and didn't bother to fix the real problem (and lied about it) I'm really getting scared off from this property. In addition, I don't see any sign of roof leakage, but it's a REALLY old looking cedar shake roof. When was the last time someone put a shake roof on a cheaper little house? DH guesses at least 3 decades, and to look at the roof I couldn't say he's wrong. So there's another large chunk of money.
But luckily there's another little house in the same tow that I will be seeing tomorrow. 2 bedroom/1 bath plus finished attic for storage, office or possible 3rd. The asking price is only $15k more than the first place, but has a dishwasher and a much larger, newer kitchen. It has also been on the market since October so may be negotiable. It has a tiny yard, but for some posts I've read in the apartment forum that my be a benefit. Sound better?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 11:26AM
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I'm sorry,but where in the post does it say it WILL be rented to a single person? It may be small,but how you do know a couple or a small family will not want to rent it? In which case,there should be a dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand is so much less sanitary,and really a pain when cooking a big meal.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 7:49PM
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You know coolmama, I was just thinking today that a young couple with a toddler in a crib would be fine with me, so that's funny that you post that. A couple is fine too, and a single that wants a tiny dog is also cool with deposit, but if seller can't make a better deal considering the repairs it just won't happen.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 12:35AM
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Well,the renters could always buy one of those really small dishwashers that you just plug in. (not sure what they're called,but I have seen them) So long as the electrical system will handle it. (some old homes/apartments dont have real good electrical work and cant handle high voltage appliances)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 5:55AM
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THe second house sounds better to me. It fits more people looking to rent. The small lot means less upkeep which could be an advantage.

It sounds like you may have decided against the first house. I posted about a single person living there because it was a one bedroom. If you chose this house, I'd be hesitant to allow more than two people to live there. More people means more wear and tear. THe house doesn't sound like it's designed for that. I think you might be able to find a longer term renter if you rented to someone who fits with the design of the house. I've only seen a couple of one bedroom houses. They seem to be more for someone who wants a little privacy with a little room to putter around outside, but without a lot of upkeep. THat may not be the house that you're actually thinking of buying.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 2:27PM
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My 18 year old son and I live in a very small 2 bedroom place. Kitchen wise it's great, with lots of storage and counter space, but the small dishwasher and small fridge are not so wonderful. Some of our dishes don't fit properly in the dishwasher. We do a lot of small loads rather than one large load less often. The small, under-counter, fridge just doesn't fit enough stuff. Cooking wise, though, I'm very pleased. We have a two-burner gas cook top, with room enough between the burners to have two good-sized pots/pans going at the same time. We have a terrific DeLonghi counter top oven (glorified toaster oven, with convection feature) that we can cook anything in. It's big on capacity but not too huge on counter space. I do not miss a conventional oven at all. And we have a microwave.
We live quite happily without a bathtub. Our shower is great.
Each to his or her own ... just some food for thought.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 3:40AM
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Ok, I'm not a renter anymore, but I have a house with a small kitchen. When I moved in, it had a 20" range and no dishwasher. I just finished a remodel where I put in a 24" range and a single dishdrawer, which might be too pricey for a rental, but I love it. I found the 20" range a bit small, especially the oven, but the 24" is a good size. Keep in mind, if the house itself is tiny, your renters probably will not be hosting a family of 30 for Thanksgiving day dinner (or whatever), so they don't need the same cooking capacity as a family or even a single person in a more guest-friendly home. My vote (obviously, since I chose it for myself) is a small dishwasher and the 24" stove.

Oh, yeah, before the remodel, I did have one of those countertop portable dishwashers, which was ok, but not the same as a built-in. Couldn't do pots and pans, and you had to be home and awake to run it in case of flooding.

Here is a link that might be useful: dishdrawer

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 1:34PM
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Aargh, I found out the 2nd house was in a flood plain. Even though it's survived 107 years and is still solid, it falls under the high risk flood insurance category $$$$.
So we found a 1300 sf 3 bed/1 large bath that is also very old and super solid. There's a huge covered porch and sits on a lovely maple lined street. It has a garage with shop and in a fantastic neighborhood (old mansions on all the corners with the lesser houses in-between). As of yesterday we had an offer in at $5k less than where the buyer wanted to be, but he's considering it.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 9:15AM
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I live alone and love a dishwasher. When I feel lazy, I just give things a quick rinse and throw them in the washer. I turn it on about once a week. Even though it's full sized, I normally can't get many pot and pans in because it filled with dishes:-)
I've rented out 100's of apts for 40 years. It has never been an issue with guys, but about a third of the women won't rent without a tub. This doesn't seem to apply to the younger ones...just the ones over 30. They claim that after a hard day they like to relax and "treat" themselves. Maybe the women on here can explain it to us guys:-)
The frig should be a minimun of 12 cf for this size dwelling and even better a 14 cf.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 9:22AM
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We are renting in a high end luxury apt complex and in the 3 bedroom apts, the kitchens are quite small, but, the appliances are full size so that makes up for all the smallness. I love the full size dishwasher, full size fridge and stove. It made moving from our house so easy because the appliances are all deluxe just like in our home.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 12:03PM
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Ugh, finally we've found an acceptable house (not on flood plain) and the offer has been accepted! It's a cute house. This one does have a tub and the bathroom is a pretty good size for an old house. It has acres of kitchen cabinets of the 70's look, but I'm sure someone will appreciate all the storage. But no dishwasher. We may put one in someday, but for the moment we are going to leave that alone. I can put a gas range in, but gas freaks me out. Any opinions on that? Have a looky at my link!

Here is a link that might be useful: little house

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 7:16PM
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Looks like a cute house! I prefer gas, as do all serious cooks. Gas is a lot more user-friendly than electric as when it's on, it's on; when it's off, it's off. You have instant control and don't have the "waiting for the element to heat up/cool down" issues you do with electric stoves.
When we were renting I would always look for a gas stove and even went halves with the landlord on installing a gas stove to replace the really crummy electric one that was already there.
When we bought our current home, one of the first things to go was the electric stove. The other advantage of gas is that it's still working even when the electricity is off.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 10:01PM
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I am just in love with it! I love the kitchen cabinets, that storage would be invaluable. Some pretty hardware on them would update them miles! I would rent it from you in a minute!!!!!

best wishes

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 11:32AM
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Thanks you guys! I want someone to love the house and take care of it. This is a place that I would seriously think about using as my retirement home. I wish I had the big porch on my own residence. I do have to buy the appliances, and hubby wants all new because he worries about used ones. But when I look at some of the nice used appliances on craigslist I have my reservations. Some people tear out really nice kitchens to make their dream kitchens, and the appliances are only a year or two old.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 1:08PM
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If you were close, we would be on our way to do a final look and sign the lease! That is an incredible amount of storage in a kitchen. In our home we just sold that had a HUGE kitchen, there weren't that many cabinets!

That is the kind of dream home to really check out your renters from top to bottom..............make a huge security deposit to really weed out the ones that move in and destroy. Oh, do let us know how it unfolds.........doggone it, I really would rent it in a minute, stay long term and then move out when you need it for retirement! haha :-)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 11:18AM
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can put a gas range in, but gas freaks me out. Any opinions on that?

You could wait until just before you sign w/ a tenant, and get that they want,if you like them.

My sis had a landlord who, when her stove started to fade, sent her to look at stoves. He gave her a very rough ballpark in terms of money, and said, "go see what you like." She came back w/ a list of 3 she liked in different spots in the price range; he bought the most expensive one and paid for it to be installed by the store.

His reasoning: she was a good tenant, and she'd STAY a good tenant if she felt well-taken-care-of. And he was right--they make extra sure to take care of the property. (the *clothes* may have been all over the floor most of the time, but the carpet got vacuumed twice a week, the bathroom deep-cleaned weekly, etc.)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 3:32PM
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I just wanted to add that I also love the house.It is really very cute.I hope you do find someone who appreciates it!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 4:20PM
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We used gas for years when in NYC. All the rentals I've even been ther have it.

It's really not a big deal. Obviously, you don't want a leak, but that doesn't happen often. And if you do smell something and call the gas company, they're there right away. And they never complain if it happens to be a false alarm. A coupel times I had them out, and it turned out my pilot light had blown out because of a stiff breeze.

Nowadays, most stoves have the spark lighting instead, so that's no problem.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 12:20PM
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what a great porch!! that house is adorable!!!!

i agree with everyone saying yes to dishwashers and full-size appliances. those things can be deal breakers. might i also point out air conditioning!!!!

man, i looked at sooo many adorable places in Tosa with no air!! ohh gad!! the humidity here is enough to kill a person. anyone with allergies, etc. would automatically rule out a place without air.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 6:52PM
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insaneintosa, very few places here have air (western Washington) so there won't be an expectation for air. But I used to use the little ones that you put in the window before we got a heat pump and I would the renters use those if they like.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 7:19PM
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