The Down and Dirty of Buying a Rental Home (for your home)

Throughout the renovation journey of our home, we have discovered some VERY interesting things in our home.

Let me give you a little history about our home.  Our house was built in 1994 by a man and his father.  The man worked in construction and decided to use a lot of leftover construction materials to build the house for his mother and father.  Thus, our home came into existence, wallpaper, pink paint and all.   I can only imagine that, based on the variety of wallpaper, consistency of pale pink and mint green paint (even the garage is painted mint green) and lack of general attention to detail, that the house went up fairly quickly and very inexpensively.

At some point, the father passed away, as did the son.   The mother was left with the house and decided that she wanted to move out.  I do not know if she ever attempted to sell the home, or made the immediate decision to rent the home out, but either way, renters proceeded to occupy the home until we purchased it.

Having rented for the majority of my life, I understand that as a landlord, you want to make money, not spend it. However, to do that, you need to have a product that someone is willing to pay you for, and you must be willing to maintain that product.  All too often I have dealt with landlords that question basic repairs and maintenance, and in many instances, that has turned what could have been a small cost into a major repair.  In one home, we noticed the shingles on the storage shed starting to go, and after requesting repairs for months, eventually rot and mold overtook the roof and the roof of the shed collapsed…on top of  DH’s Harley Davidson.  That collapsed shed stayed that way until the day we moved out, and that house had no other exterior storage.  We did not leave very happy.

That being said, in the same home under the same landlord, we were able to convince him to replace the windows, and our power bill went down by over half.  That is a great selling point.

The only reason I mention this is because apparently whoever the mother put in charge of our home as the landlord did not understand that cheap fixes (or no fixes) are NOT always better, or that in the long run, updates would increase the profit.  Nor did they understand that if they wanted to sell that home someday, they should probably maintain it with more effort.

The landlord for our home LOVED to take short cuts.

Here are some of the “you have got to be kidding me” things we have found so far:

1.) In the kitchen, only 1 drawer is on tracks.  Another drawer is not a drawer but a drawer front nailed to the cabinet, but there are tracks in the cabinet for a drawer.  So you are telling me you took the time to build a drawer front (the cabinets and drawers are definitely hand made and not in a good way) and you took the time to nail it to the cabinet, but adding a functioning drawer when half the mechanical parts are already existing was too difficult?  Really?

2.) The Renters smoked in the house.  It took us a while before we noticed this because I do have to give the seller credit, they did a VERY thorough job of cleaning that house.  However, they missed all the crown molding on the first floor which I discovered when prepping to paint the trim.  A little TSP and I suddenly had an orange rag in my hand.  Piece of advice (and this is coming from an ex smoker)….DON’T let ANYONE smoke IN your house, rental or owned, because no matter how hard you try, that evidence will be discovered, and it is not a pleasant discovery.

3.) Painted Windows.  At some point, someone living in that house decided that instead of replacing all the windows, they would replace the windows one at a time with whatever was the cheapest window they could find.  It didn’t matter that these sporadic replacement windows were different colors on the inside and out as the rest of the windows.  That’s what paint is for!  We have 19 windows in our house, and as of today, a year after we moved in, we have only been able to pry 8 of the 19 windows open because every window had been painted shut.  Some windows weren’t even fully closed and secured before they were painted, so we have windows that are actually painted and open.  Duct tape and strapping tape was used in abundance this past winter.

4.) The dryer was not vented outside.  Yep, you read that correctly.  Our washer and dryer are in the garage on a platform.  One day the dryer was running and when I walked into the garage, the garage was full of steam.  I looked under the platform where they sat and saw steam pouring out of the wall.  They had run the vent pipe to the wall and crushed it, then taken a piece of plywood and drilled it over the crushed pipe to secured it.  Keep in mind, the hole to vent outside was 8 inches above where the crushed pipe had been secured, but apparently hooking up the hose to the pipe was far too complicated.  Instead they caused a fire hazard.  This was the biggest WTF because DH and I went to Lowes, purchased the correct pieces and had the issue fixed in 20 minutes for under $20.  Why couldn’t a landlord do that?  $20 could have eliminated a fire hazard.  That is pure laziness.

5.) The exhaust fan in the kitchen was not vented outside.  When whatever is on the stovetop decides to send smoke signals and sing us the song of its people, the vent fan would be awesome to use….if it vented outside.  Instead, it sucks the smoke into the fan and blows it into the face of the cook….and back into the house.  Which wouldn’t be too bad, if the windows opened.

6.) No exterior maintenance on our badass wrap around porch.  Please see previous post about rotten porch posts and what could have possibly happened as a result of no maintenance.


The whole point of all of this is two fold.

The first, if you are buying a home that was previously a rental property, be prepared for some “Are you serious?” moments.

And if you are a landlord, don’t be lazy with repairs.  You need to look at it this way: Would you live there?  Is it safe? Do you want to sell the property some day?   Because when you don’t take care of your properties, things like this happen:



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