The Best Tenant

I had a vacancy in an upper unit 3-bedroom in one of my properties. I put new windows in the bedrooms and did some updates to it. It took me 2 months to get it in rentable condition. I was extremely happy when I finally finished.

I hired a less than enthusiastic real estate agent to rent it out for me. He was searching for a good tenant to fill the vacancy, and he knew I’m very picky about who I rent to. He finally found a factory worker that moved to Detroit and was planning on staying for 10 years until she retires and then plans on moving back down south. He was very adamant that she sign a multi-year lease. He got her to sign a 5-year with a 5-year extension option. I couldn’t believe it she actually wanted to stay for 10 years! The lease started at $750 a month and every year, increased $25 a month.

She moves in and she was very nice, middle aged, black woman.  By the second year she realized she really liked the place and the neighborhood.

She started to update the house and pay for it. I couldn’t believe it; she bought new cupboards for the kitchen and decided to pay to have a granite countertop installed with a sunken sink. This was great, not only was the house improving but the value was too. A few months later she had the entire place painted too.

She even sent me before and after pictures. I went there after it was all completed and it looked amazing. At that time I was just starting out and there was no way I would have been able to afford all of this improvement. She kept doing little things throughout the years too. On the front porch she put flowerpots out in the summer with beautiful flowers in them. I have no idea what kind they are but they look very nice.

The porch is always shoveled in the winter and furnace filter changed every 6 months. She truly treats the house like her own.  Because of her being a great tenant, I don’t increase the rent anymore. Its locked at $1000 and she keeps renewing. I think it’s actually been over 10 years and going on 12.  I could probably get 1300 a month for this.

She keeps renewing the lease though, with options for an extension.  It turns out that there’s a 3 year maximum for a residential leases in Michigan.

A few years ago I had to go in her unit for some reason when she wasn’t home. She said sure, no problem.  I walked in and I saw an ashtray on her desk. I thought oh shit she’s smoking in the unit. I can’t have that.  I look closer and I don’t see any butts but just tiny ashes.  I think oh she’s smoking joints here.  I know the smell doesn’t permeate the house like cigarettes do, and remind myself she’s an awesome tenant. So I just think oh what the hell, let her smoke!

I talked to her a few days after and said be careful smoking in the house. She said what? I don’t smoke.  I said in a sarcastic but joking way, You don’t smoke weed!?  We both started laughing and told her it’s fine just make sure to be careful. She laughed and agreed she’ll be careful with it.

I was very fortunate with this tenant but at the same time there were a few things I did to attract a tenant like this.

The house is in a nice area that is still close to downtown. The houses are well kept and people are highly educated and care about their community.

When purchased I immediately fixed and updated everything that was needed to attract a new tenant. Including all new carpet, and new windows in the bedrooms.

She actually installed the rest of the windows in the living and dining rooms.

At that time it was hard to find a real estate agent that was motivated to rent out a house. When I found him, I hammered him and made sure to stay on him by reminding him I needed a good tenant and that I was serious about renting it out. I kind of think he was happy to get this rented for me so he wouldn’t have to hear from me anymore.

When something goes wrong for this tenant I immediately fix it and continue to improve this unit. I also installed central air a few years ago.

Recently I turned the property over to a management company and rarely talk to her any more. But continue to receive the rent check every month without a problem.

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