It’s been an eventful month! Well, at home, anyway. It’s been totally uneventful at the fourplex, which is great news! Here’s my self-managed rental property report for August 2016.
Self-Managed Rental Property Report:
This could not have gone better. This was the first month that the tenants deposited their rents into my account using deposit-only ATM cards. Apartment B (the one with the super nice guy who pulled all the weeds at the property) actually paid their rent two days before the first. The others all deposited their rents on the first with no issues.
Well, almost no issues. On the morning of the first, one of the tenants texted me and asked if he was supposed to write anything on the back of his check before depositing it into the ATM. It’s kind of a funny issue, if you think about it. He would essentially be endorsing his own check to me. Anyway, I told him he didn’t have to write anything on it, but if he felt compelled to write something, he could just write “for deposit only” on the back.
About 15 seconds later, he said “Oh no! It’s asking for a PIN!” I laughed. The PIN is 1111. I set it the same on all the cards, since there is literally zero risk of someone stealing the PIN and using it to get funds out of my account. They’re deposit-only cards. When I told him the PIN, he felt silly for forgetting, but hey, I might’ve forgotten it, too.
After that, I texted the other tenants who hadn’t paid yet to remind them about the PIN. The others deposited on the first with no problems.
Other Tenant Issues
One tenant has been having some trouble with people in the neighborhood parking in her assigned parking space. She normally uses her garage space, leaving her assigned parking space outside open for most of the week. On occasion, though, her friends or parents visit, and she wants them to be able to use her parking space. I had to look into getting “No Parking” signs and figure out what the rules are about towing someone’s car from the space if they’re parked there without permission.
The rules were a little confusing to me at first. If you have a single family home and someone is parked in your driveway, you can have them towed without posting any special signage. But if you have a multi-family property with private parking, you have to to have a sign posted at the entrance of the parking lot warning people that they are not allowed to park there, and that they may be towed. There are other restrictions, too. For example, the sign has to be a specific size, the text on it must cite the appropriate vehicle code, and you have to provide the name and phone number of the towing company. You also have to use a towing company that is located within 10 miles of your property.
Fortunately, the local towing companies know the details of all of those rules. Not all of them do private property towing, but the ones that do have their own signs already printed up and they will come out and install them at the property for you. I’ve called one local company and I’m expecting them to install the sign and start towing out of that space very soon.
Cockroaches – Noooooooooooooooo!
The same tenant with the parking issues also reported that she had seen a couple of cockroaches and she asking about getting a pest control company to come out.
Two of my former bad tenants had roach problems. They were basically operating cockroach sanctuaries, since their units were so filthy. These tenants are really clean, though. (Last month I was in a couple of the units to do minor maintenance.)
The other interesting thing about this building is that the former cockroach/mouse problems didn’t spread from unit to unit. This is basically unheard of, but maybe there are attic partitions or something that make it possible. The bad tenants before were in Apartments A and C. Apartments B and D had no roaches or mice. So even if the roaches were coming from one of the current tenants’ units, they would be unlikely to spread.
I asked her where she had seen the cockroaches. She said both times she was outside. Cockroaches live outdoors. They only come indoors and thrive if the openings to your home aren’t secure (like if you have a big gap under the front door) and if you leave food out.
I understand the tenant’s fear, because once you get a cockroach infestation inside, it’s really, really hard to combat it. But until you see one inside, there’s no reason to panic. I explained that to the tenant, and told her that if the roaches weren’t inside, we should probably hold off on spraying harsh poisons. I’m not anti-chemicals, but if you can avoid spraying toxins all around your kitchen and the areas where kids play, it seems like that’s a good idea. I did offer to spray her patio outside with Ortho Home Defense and to leave the bottle behind in case she wanted to spray again later. She said that would work, and we would just keep an eye on the situation.
Trips to the Building
Total trips to the building: 2. I collected laundry income twice, and on one visit, I dropped off the bug spray. I went on August 9th and again on the 31st. If I had pushed the August 31 visit into September, it would have only been one visit. I’m okay with two visits, though.
Going to the building to collect laundry income too often is self-defeating. The building is about 30 miles from my house, so it’s 60 miles round-trip. My car gets about 20 mpg, so it’s 3 gallons of gas. At $2.66 per gallon, it costs about $8 in gas to drive round trip. But if you use the IRS mileage rate of 54 cents per mile, which takes into account maintenance and insurance costs, it costs $32.40 per round trip. Either way, if I’m collecting about $120 per month of laundry income, taking out $8 or $32 is a big hit. If I take two trips, it’s twice that.
So for my August trips, I tried to combine it with something else. On August 9, I had a court appearance in L.A. I calculated that altering my route to swing by the fourplex on the way back to the office was only 11 miles out of my way. Done. On August 31, the boyfriend and I were headed back from his parents’ house in San Luis Obispo. Traffic was horrible from L.A. to Orange County, so Waze actually diverted us farther east to avoid sitting in all that traffic. Coincidentally, that took us right past the exit for the building, so it was only about 8 miles out of our way (the building is about 4 miles from the freeway). Total driving for the month: 19 miles, which is about 1/3 of a normal round-trip. Not bad!
Conclusion: It Was Worth it to Manage Myself this Month
This month of self-management required very little work. I’m happy to have saved about 10% of my monthly gross rents ($637.50) to have managed it myself.