Rental Repair Risks; or, Becoming an (Unpaid) Property Manager
In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car.
Until recently, my answer to whether prospective renters should hire (and pay for) a professional inspector would have been “no.”
That’s because if something non-trivial breaks, most leases specify that the owner — not the renter — is responsible.
It’s also the case that if the home is listed for sale, at least in Minnesota, the Seller is obliged to provide a detailed disclosure — which the prospective renter should ask to see and then review carefully.
So, there already is a record of the home’s condition.
Combine that with a visual inspection/home tour, and any conscientious renter would usually have a pretty good sense of the home’s condition before signing a lease and moving in.
Renter Due Diligence
Usually, but not always.
After moving into a rental home this Fall, a (selling) client of mine has been dealing with a cascade of problems, both big and small, that were nowhere to be found on the Seller’s Minnesota disclosure.
Some of the problems, like a non-functioning Bedroom radiator, were new; others were more in the realm of fallout from previous “do-it yourself” electrical and plumbing repairs, plus issues with the home’s construction quality generally.
And even though the owner picked up the repairs bills, the inconvenience was borne by the renters
Oxymoron: “Out-of-State Property Management”
In that spirit, my new advice to prospective renters is to consider paying for a $300- $400 home inspection if one or more of the following apply to your situation:
–You are contemplating a multi-year rental.
–The cost of an inspection is small relative to the rent you’ll be paying (say, more than $2,000 a month).
–The rental home is older and bigger (more than 3,000 square feet, and built before 1960).
–The owner is out-of-state, and doing the property management themselves.
As my clients have discovered, there is no such thing as “out-of-state property management.”
Rather, they are doing the property management — getting quotes, meeting contractors, etc. — and the owner is simply writing the checks.