Author Topic: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?  (Read 907 times)

jeromedawg

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Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« on: July 01, 2020, 04:02:10 PM »
Hey all,

Found a place that we are interested in renting in the area we have been planning to move to that is $3000 for a 12mo lease. We put in an offer for a lower price at 15mos and the agent/owner came back offering $2950 for 15mo. We are considering another counteroffer of $2925 if we extend the stay through 2021. This rental is really just to hold us over in the new area while we sell our current place and look to buy a new place.

Should we just stick with the $2950 for 15mo lease that was offered as the counteroffer given our goals?

We'd want to take our time looking for a new place to buy that we really like, so I would think time would be our friend in that sense. Also, our realtor pointed out that though inventory levels might be lower towards the end of the year, you might be able to find a pretty good deal then. I just don't want to get into a situation where we are forced to find a place to live in case we haven't found a new place to buy or get into a bad situation where the month-to-month lease price shoots up by a lot. At the same time, I also don't want to over-commit to a longer than necessary lease.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 04:21:38 PM by jeromedawg »

mlipps

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2020, 05:23:56 PM »
I personally would never commit to a longer lease than absolutely necessary in a place you've never lived before. You might hate the neighbors, you might hate the landlord, you might find a weird smell, whatever. Renting gives you flexibility, don't look yourself in more than 15 months. People go from rentals to owning every day, when the time is right you'll make it work, but it's not worth having a longer lease to somehow make that easier for yourself.

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2020, 05:37:03 PM »
I personally would never commit to a longer lease than absolutely necessary in a place you've never lived before. You might hate the neighbors, you might hate the landlord, you might find a weird smell, whatever. Renting gives you flexibility, don't look yourself in more than 15 months. People go from rentals to owning every day, when the time is right you'll make it work, but it's not worth having a longer lease to somehow make that easier for yourself.

Well, the agent got back to us and they sound a bit desperate - they offered 12 months at $2925 lol. I think we may just take it. I'm planning to drive down there to hopefully talk to the neighbor and also plan to drive back later at night just to scope the general community out looking out for any sort of shadiness or weird stuff going on.

It's in a nice area but the specific community is a lot of rented condos, so naturally you get a mixed bag and less of the pride of ownership types. While a year lease doesn't seem that long in the big picture, stuff like that can make it feel long I'd think haha.

anni

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 05:37:34 PM »
Do you think the rent will go up a lot if you decide you need to stay after the end of the lease? If I thought I might be leaving, I wouldn't lock myself into another 6-9 months just to save ~$200 total. If you haven't found a new home by the end of it you might be able to negotiate staying on month-to-month?

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 05:52:06 PM »
Do you think the rent will go up a lot if you decide you need to stay after the end of the lease? If I thought I might be leaving, I wouldn't lock myself into another 6-9 months just to save ~$200 total. If you haven't found a new home by the end of it you might be able to negotiate staying on month-to-month?

Yea I think there might be a good chance of going month-to-month there. My realtor feels pretty good that we'll be able to find a new home by or before the lease ends too, so I think 12 months at the price point their offering should be pretty good.

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2020, 08:11:38 PM »
So we're actually here in the community and spoke with the former tenant of the unit we want to rent lol. She lives right next door.  And it sounds like she moved out ultimately because the landlords were being stingy and not very accommodating.

It's concerning because she basically told us the landlords were pennypinchers and made it hard on her. She was having issues with the washing machine and they wouldn't fix it and she had to pay put of pocket for service fees on things (not sure if this is standard). She told us she got docked during the final walk-through on landscaping fees for stuff that was left out in the yard from a prior tenant before her. And also was docked for some leakage that was found either from the water heater or around the garage door that may have either been from rain or something else.

She was very kind to speak with us and seemed to really like the community and the area (why else would she still be here but in another unit right?) But that the landlords she had a tough time with.

Not sure if that's a red enough flag to be a showstopper here. The landlords do seem desperate to get someone into the unit as it has been vacant for two months now and we will only be here for a year, but I just don't want any headaches because of a stingy landlord.

mlipps

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2020, 07:53:25 AM »
That's a tough one. My landlord is pretty useless too, but he's never charged me for anything. He's just generally unresponsive until I throw a fit. I do think good landlords are pretty rare. If it's a state with good tenant protections I would probably just take the place & be prepared to fight him if he doesn't do what he's supposed to do. Kind of one of those "devil you know" situations. If you like the place and it's a good price...not sure that would be enough to stop me personally.

CupcakeGuru

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2020, 09:12:42 AM »
Not sure if that's a red enough flag to be a showstopper here. The landlords do seem desperate to get someone into the unit as it has been vacant for two months now and we will only be here for a year, but I just don't want any headaches because of a stingy landlord.

This sounds like a bad plan. 12 months of dealing with a landlord like this would drive me insane.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2020, 09:19:39 AM »
It's a renter's market right now. There are a lot of landlords that are going to be hurting soon (or are starting to hurt already) and would love to get a tenant who will just pay their rent. You're in the position of strength and they've got a mortgage to pay with no tenant.


jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2020, 09:39:02 AM »
It's a renter's market right now. There are a lot of landlords that are going to be hurting soon (or are starting to hurt already) and would love to get a tenant who will just pay their rent. You're in the position of strength and they've got a mortgage to pay with no tenant.



That's a tough one. My landlord is pretty useless too, but he's never charged me for anything. He's just generally unresponsive until I throw a fit. I do think good landlords are pretty rare. If it's a state with good tenant protections I would probably just take the place & be prepared to fight him if he doesn't do what he's supposed to do. Kind of one of those "devil you know" situations. If you like the place and it's a good price...not sure that would be enough to stop me personally.


Agreed, it might be OK if we can get everything in writing. I have a bad feeling though - my realtor said their agent was drafting up a lease agreement/contract yesterday and that they wanted a response by this AM. Well, I never got the lease agreement and my realtor/agent never reached out to us otherwise. I'm wondering if they received an application from another applicant with a strong background and just accepted whatever offer they gave (which likely would have been more than what we negotiated). Anyway, I might be going down a rabbit hole of assumptions here but I would tend to think that if they were really serious about extending the offer we would have had the agreement to sign by now. *shrug* - I guess we'll find out soon. If it didn't work out, it's probably safe to assume that I dodged a bullet I suppose.

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2020, 08:11:07 PM »
Just heard back from my realtor - they FINALLY reached back out to him to ask if we could meet with them. He first asked them for a contract for us to review beforehand. I think they were shopping other potential tenants today looking for who would offer more $$$ and with a stronger background/application than us and likely didn't find that unicorn.

That said, if we get everything in writing and I have an attorney review the contract (I can do this through the legal plan I pay for through work I believe), think it's reasonable? I know it's a renter's market but we really want to get down to the area and the rental market seems relatively slow in general too. There are only two other listings in this area and they aren't as desirable. This one is the most desirable (though I wouldn't say 100% optimal for us)

Fuzz

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2020, 10:54:27 AM »
I am just chiming in to say that you're calling the landlord a penny pincher, yet negotiated from $2950/month to $2925/month, a discount of .008%/month.

Good on ya for trying to save a buck, I guess. As a counterpoint, I have seen landlords let tenants break terms of the lease, where they liked the tenant. I have also seen landlords dislike a legalistic tenant and refuse to renew a lease or accommodate a reasonable request, even where it costs them money. From the landlord's POV, you have identified yourself as a difficult tenant early in the game.

Why not just ask the landlord to go month-to-month and pay $3K/month, or more? If you're trying to buy, the option to break your lease is worth a lot. I doubt that you'll get a lawyer through a prepaid legal plan to review your lease inside of the next 10 days, and I would be surprised if the landlord wants to accommodate that kind of delay.

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2020, 11:14:46 AM »
I am just chiming in to say that you're calling the landlord a penny pincher, yet negotiated from $2950/month to $2925/month, a discount of .008%/month.

Good on ya for trying to save a buck, I guess. As a counterpoint, I have seen landlords let tenants break terms of the lease, where they liked the tenant. I have also seen landlords dislike a legalistic tenant and refuse to renew a lease or accommodate a reasonable request, even where it costs them money. From the landlord's POV, you have identified yourself as a difficult tenant early in the game.

Why not just ask the landlord to go month-to-month and pay $3K/month, or more? If you're trying to buy, the option to break your lease is worth a lot. I doubt that you'll get a lawyer through a prepaid legal plan to review your lease inside of the next 10 days, and I would be surprised if the landlord wants to accommodate that kind of delay.

Though I used the term "penny pinchers" I was relaying this as the notion I got from the prior tenant who lives a couple door down whose door we happened to knock on. She basically told us they were difficult to deal with and were stingy about a lot of things (which more or less is "penny pinching"). Prior tenant said they made her pay for service calls on the home warranty even for normal wear and tear - reading around, in general, it sounds like that's sort of not a good idea for landlords to impose on the tenants unless it's clearly the tenant who caused damage. The same tenant also told us how they took money out of her security deposit for landscaping fees because they claimed she left a mess of broken pottery (which was left by the tenants before her). Landlords' agent communicated to my realtor that this tenant was difficult and basically they want good tenants in with a good track record and who sound like they won't be problematic. I don't think they'd be continuing the conversation with us if they thought we were going to be difficult like the last tenant, since they just indicated that that's not what they want. All I'm inquiring is that the landlord to be reasonable and fair in light of what the prior tenant has shared with us - is that too much to ask for? The neighbor across the way indicated to us that these are also new landlords, so maybe that has something to do with all of this?

That said, if I negotiated the rent down at all, isn't that a good thing regardless of how much? Was I supposed to have negotiated it for even less than what I did? Comparable units go for $2900-3000 in this neighborhood all day. These landlords originally wanted $3200 for months before bringing the listing price down to $3000. Prior tenant was paying $3000 per month as well. Another unit with identical floor plan in nicer condition than this one was put on the market at $2950 and taken off with a presumed rental agreement accepted within 24 hours.

The landlord wants to meet with us later today and has already sent us the lease agreement. Going month-to-month seems risky - can't the landlord decide to bump the rents up month over month if they really wanted to? We are in no rush to find a new place to buy - we want to take our time with that and try to find something that works for us rather than feeling rushed to buy the first thing. According to my realtor, breaking these lease will just cost us our security deposit which equates to a month of rent. The other thing is that we need to be in the area by or before Feb so we can submit the application for my son's schooling, so a 1 year lease made sense in this case. We basically have until next summer to find a new home we really like.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 11:31:31 AM by jeromedawg »

BNgarden

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2020, 11:24:14 AM »
Read the lease terms about breaking same, plus applicable local laws.  It only costs so little IF they landlord can replace the tenant readily (right away). Otherwise (in my jurisdiction) the renter's on the hook for remaining months until it's rented (worst case). 

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2020, 05:39:32 PM »
Read the lease terms about breaking same, plus applicable local laws.  It only costs so little IF they landlord can replace the tenant readily (right away). Otherwise (in my jurisdiction) the renter's on the hook for remaining months until it's rented (worst case).

This is what it says: "BREACH OF CONTRACT; EARLY TERMINATION: In addition to any obligations established by paragraph 25, in the event oftermination by Tenant prior to completion of the original term of the Agreement, Tenant shall also be responsible for lost Rent, rental commissions, advertising expenses and painting costs necessary to ready Premises for re-rental. Landlord may withhold any such amounts from Tenant's security deposit."

However, I found a couple resources:
https://ipropertymanagement.com/laws/breaking-a-lease-in-california
"Landlord’s Responsibility to Rerent in California
California state law does require landlords to take reasonable steps to rerent their unit when a tenant breaks their lease. This is referred to as the landlord’s duty to “mitigate damages”. This means that if you leave your lease early and your landlord rerents the unit before your lease ends, then the rent received from the new tenant will apply to your debt.

According to California state law (Cal. Civ. Code § 1951.2), landlords have to make a reasonable attempt to rerent the dwelling and, if they are successful in rerenting, credit rent received from the new tenant to your debt.

Keep in mind, not all landlords are aware of their duty to mitigate. If your landlord demands payment for the remaining balance of your lease, you may want to notify them of your state’s law.

TIP
California tenants who break their lease early without proper justification should still plan on losing at least one month’s rent, even though the landlord has a responsible to rerent. In California and other states where the law requires the landlord to make a reasonable effort to rerent, judges in civil courts commonly award landlords with at least one month’s rent, no matter how quickly the unit is rented."

and
https://caltenantlaw.com/breaking-your-lease/
"No Legal Reason
   If after going through the above legal reasons, you have no legal reason, you need to “break” your lease.  It’s not a legal term, but it distinguishes this situation where you have no legal right to do so from the above situations, where you lawfully terminate your lease. In this case, your primary goal is to minimize your losses. Civil Code 1951.2 says that if you leave, you owe the rent for the rest of the lease term MINUS what YOU can prove the landlord COULD HAVE AVOIDED LOSING. The landlord also has a common law duty to minimize his losses [“mitigate damages”].  Therefore, you minimize YOUR losses partly by trying to minimize the LANDLORD’S losses, and partly protecting your interest in the Security Deposit which the landlord intend to apply.  If you do this right, the landlord could end up owing YOU money.

The usual situation is that you leave, but others prospective tenants have expressed an interest in renting your place, because you placed an ad in Craigs List, or whatever, and have their applications, which you forward to the landlord. The landlord thinks that he’s going to have your guaranteed payment, so he’s NOT going to try to minimize his losses and accept one of your proposed replacements. Instead, he’s going to “test the market,” meaning raising the advertised rent to see if people will pay more for his units. He may say that your proposed tenants didn’t have high credit scores, or wanted to pay less than you, and turn them down. However, under Section 1951.2, his plan backfires, because you’re off the hook to the extent that any of your prospective replacements were willing to pay anything. A replacement with terrible credit and bad rental history who is only willing to pay $100 less than you were would be rejected by your landlord, but since the landlord could have avoided losing all but $100 per month by picking that tenant, you only owe that $100 difference per month for the remaining months of your lease.

Your landlord may attempt to describe your replacements as subtenants or assignees, and say he doesn’t approve of them. However, these are NOT subtenants of yours, nor assignees. They would have a completely different rental agreement with the landlord, and yours would be over. You don’t need his permission. You only need to present them, and enjoy the deduction from your liability to the extent that these people WOULD have paid something.  Some tenants in this situation also have a friend contact the landlord posing as a prospective replacement, and the friend can then testify as your lawsuit against the landlord how he handled the situation.  This strategy is also advisable to use even if you do have a valid termination, just in case the judge doesn’t agree with your termination, and you have a fall back point to protect you."

Obviously these would be worst case scenario situations....

BNgarden

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2020, 06:56:44 PM »
Good you looked into it and understand it.  I am no lawyer, just know that my SD had to pay out her lease with little recourse when she left early.  Of course, jurisdiction matters a lot, as does how much you'd want to 'fight' for your monies.

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2020, 10:10:51 PM »
Of course I'd feel weird entering into a year lease knowing that there's a potential I would have to break it. Seems the landlords have high expectations on that matter. We met them and they were...interesting. immediately the first thing the husband did was defend himself with documentation on the prior water heater leak and why it was justified that the previous tenant was supposed to pay for the $75 service call for home warranty and how he had to pay out of pocket for the replacement.

We are trying to establish the responsibility of the landlord to pay that service fee when it's repair/replacement based on normal wear and tear versus us paying for it due to damage we caused. I'll feel more comfortable once they confirm and agree to that.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 11:12:00 PM by jeromedawg »

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2020, 07:27:17 PM »
Quick update:

We actually visited the unit again last night as we were suspicious of a couple of appliances and in general the condition of things. I'm glad we did. The dryer is not working at all (I think the motor is out) and there's a faint smell of gas when you open the door (the lint screen is also missing which isn't a big deal compared to the other issues). Several filters (fridge water filter, microwave vent fan filter, and likely the furnace filter) are old and in need of change. The bath faucet redirect doesn't redirect enough water to the shower head (low water pressure with a bunch of water still spilling out from the faucet) and the shower heads are heavily calcified to the point where you can't swivel them to change the direction. A few light bulbs left unchanged. Basically a lot of minor deferred maintenance that should be easily addressable and that the landlords have had *months* to fix. I should mention that another issue that came up in the lease was that the landlord added verbiage that states the tenant is to pay for ALL home warranty service call co-pays ($75 per call) regardless of whether it's standard wear and tear or damage caused by the tenant.
I also had an attorney review the lease and she pointed out that the landlord marked the tenant as being fully responsible and liable for landscaping and maintenance - she said that is definitely not standard for a condo situation and to push to change that to the landlord's responsibility.

So we drafted up an addendum to remove their added language on the tenant being responsible for copay unless it was tenant caused damage and also, per the lawyer's suggestion, suggested that the landlord maintain landscaping. Also gave them the list of items we 'inspected' to inquire what they would fix prior to signing the lease.

They didn't budge on any of it, and are basically suggesting that we deal with and pay for all of that stuff through home warranty (who I actually tried calling today just to ask some general questions but was on hold for over half an hour before hanging up) on our own time. I realize they came down on their monthly asking price, after already lowering it from the initial insane asking price they previously wanted ($3200 in a market where units of this size average for $2900) months after having no interest/commitals, but the response back from them just seems pretty telltale of how unreasonable they'll be in the future... now I completely understand why the prior tenant wasn't happy with them. So at this point, hard pass and we're just going to have to figure something else out to get down there.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 07:43:04 PM by jeromedawg »

lhamo

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2020, 11:47:25 AM »
Good call.

You have until February, right?  Just take your time and vet places/landlords slowly. 

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2020, 11:51:46 AM »
Good call.

You have until February, right?  Just take your time and vet places/landlords slowly.

I feel bad for wasting our agent's time and also wonder if it was worth jumping in for the sake of the "ticket" into the school/area as a temporary means. But ultimately, for myself and my family, I want to avoid any sort of potential landlord drama and stress... I guess for some it's easy to say just call it a sunk cost and expected loss (as far as the home warranty service call copays, likely getting charged landscaping fees, and the landlords likely not wanting to give part or all of the security deposit back) and also to be OK with living in a place that is subpar for what we're paying but I think there's more to it than the cost part - it's dealing with a landlord who frankly doesn't seem to care that bothers me more. I think that would just add another dimension/layer of unnecessary stress and not sure it's worth the "cost of admission" on top of the monetary costs.

But yea, we do have until Feb (I'd say Jan to be safe). The dilemma/deliberation though is that multiple realtors have suggested that now is a really good time to list our current place up on the market. We have no idea what the next year will look like in terms of housing, and there's a wave right now where people are stir-crazy buying houses in our area (and often above asking, assuming you price it right of course). So we're sort of considering capitalizing on that. Of course, that's going to complicate things in terms of trying to find a place to rent ASAP - there just aren't that many places available right now that would fit our needs.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 12:00:00 PM by jeromedawg »

Dicey

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2020, 02:30:31 PM »
I was going to suggest you ask the LL about the previous tenant, before mentioning that's you'd actually met her. I see you've already made a decision, and I agree with it. You may well have dodged a bullet. You will also probably have a better idea what to watch/check for as you continue the search.

We have new tenants in a property. They moved out of a house with the identical floorplan in the same community, and into ours, willingly paying more rent. Why? Because their LL wouldn't maintain or repair anything. They are extremely appreciative of our responsiveness and the condition of the house. In return, the house is immaculate. Win for everyone.

It's possible that there might be a sweet spot for you in the near future. People are vacating their rentals and moving in with friends/relatives, relocating to lower COLs, or just ghosting. Landlords are going to be looking to fill those vacancies asap. Homeowners are going to be in trouble soon, but the process will take longer. You probably have a chance to get well situated before the soon-to-be-former homeowners start looking for rental properties. If the last recession is any indication, when that happens, it could actually drive rental prices up.

jeromedawg

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Re: Signing a 12mo vs 15mo vs longer lease?
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2020, 03:29:50 PM »
I was going to suggest you ask the LL about the previous tenant, before mentioning that's you'd actually met her. I see you've already made a decision, and I agree with it. You may well have dodged a bullet. You will also probably have a better idea what to watch/check for as you continue the search.

We have new tenants in a property. They moved out of a house with the identical floorplan in the same community, and into ours, willingly paying more rent. Why? Because their LL wouldn't maintain or repair anything. They are extremely appreciative of our responsiveness and the condition of the house. In return, the house is immaculate. Win for everyone.

It's possible that there might be a sweet spot for you in the near future. People are vacating their rentals and moving in with friends/relatives, relocating to lower COLs, or just ghosting. Landlords are going to be looking to fill those vacancies asap. Homeowners are going to be in trouble soon, but the process will take longer. You probably have a chance to get well situated before the soon-to-be-former homeowners start looking for rental properties. If the last recession is any indication, when that happens, it could actually drive rental prices up.

The landlord, when asked of the previous tenant and raising some of the concerns that she mentioned, got super defensive and then implied that she was a bad tenant. The tenant, on the other hand, tried her hardest not to speak ill of the landlord and tried to give him benefit of the doubt but still said they were difficult to work with. She also was talking to my wife and implied that she may pursue legal action to collect part of her security deposit back that they took out for landscaping. I agree though - price may not matter as much if the landlords are really good. What's crazy is that these landlords were pushing for a rental price beyond the ceiling of comparable units AND with the appliances/fixtures the way they currently are! I'm not sure what they're expecting... an identical unit in the same community, seemingly in immaculate condition, was listed and taken off the market within a 24 hour period and it was listed probably slightly below fair market price based in the condition AND with the assumption that all appliances and fixtures are in perfect working condition. That's our benchmark. This landlord offered $25 less with a bunch of non-working items, but considering they were unwilling to remediate any of it prior to our agreed upon move-in date (if we were to sign), that was a huge red flag. I honestly think they were hoping and expecting that we would just call the home warranty on our own, pay the copay(s), and get everything fixed for them - what could be easier for passive land-lording, right? Whoever rents this place is going to be in for a nice surprise on that front....

We are hoping more rentals will become available soon - we just want to get into the area in a place that can hold us over but I think one requirement is having reasonable landlords who aren't stingy about every single thing. This would cause more stress than necessary on us. If I were single or with roommates I probably wouldn't care as much but it's quite different with my family
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 03:39:53 PM by jeromedawg »