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Screening Tenants in the Spring Is Like Online Dating


Screening Tenants in the Spring Is Like Online DatingWe finally got a new tenant for our rental condo. This time it’s for real! The tenant has already moved in and the rent is in the bank. A few weeks ago, another potential tenant signed the lease and backed out at the last minute. I was very disappointed because she seemed like a great fit. After she backed out, I put our condo back on the market and got a lot of interest. I screened 20+ potential tenants in about a week and it was crazy. I imagine this is what online dating must be like.

Anyway, we had more interest because the weather was warming up and more people were looking to move. Winter is the worst time to have a vacancy. Spring and summer is much better for finding new tenants. Today, we’ll go over what I did to improve my listing and then share my notes on the potential tenants. You’ll see that being a landlord isn’t just about collecting the rent.

Improving the listing

Our rental condo had been vacant since November. Nobody wanted to move around the holidays so it was tough to find the right tenant. I had some interest, but most of them weren’t a good fit because they worked at home or irregular hours. There is a building under construction next door so many tenants were unsure of the construction noise. This isn’t a big problem if you work regular hours because they’re only supposed to work 7:30 am to 5 pm on the weekdays. I finally found a good prospect, but she backed out after signing the lease. It was mid-February by then so I wanted to get the unit filled ASAP and embarked on a plan to get more interest.

Split out parking

The first thing I did was to split out the parking spot. Previously, I listed the condo for $1,350. This included a parking spot in the basement garage. I changed the price of the condo to $1,190 and charged an extra $160 for the parking. There are many carless residents in our area. Splitting the parking out made the condo seem much cheaper on the apartment listing sites. Most apartments in downtown do this too. A newer 1 bedroom apartment typically lists for $1,400 without parking.

With the change, our condo became the cheapest listing in the whole neighborhood and it was flagged as the best deal on Apartments.com. Yes! More eyeballs. The listing sites don’t consider parking part as of the rent. Prospective tenants have to figure that out on their own.

Nicer photos

Next, I uploaded better photos. Previously, I took the pictures myself. This time, I got better pictures from the pro. (The condo was listed for sale as well. I took it off the market once it was rented.) The professional images look much brighter than the photos I took. I think this helped a lot too, although, the glossy pictures probably set higher expectations than reality.

rental condo

Listed in more places

Lastly, I listed the condo in more places. I put a listing on Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia, and Apartments.com. All these were good and brought in some leads. Craigslist was the most spammy and unreliable source. The leads from Apartments.com and Zillow were much better quality.

Overwhelming response

The lower price, better pictures, and nicer weather made a big difference and led to an overwhelming response. I got 20+ leads in about a week. I imagine this is what online dating is like. You put up a nice looking profile, go through listings, send out a bunch of inquiries, and screen through all the responses. However, I don’t know anything about online dating. We got married in 1999 before online dating was a thing. Or was it already a thing by 1999? Anyway, we’ve been together since 1994 and I know for sure that was before online dating.

Basic Criteria

Here are my screening criteria. There are many posts online about this. Here is a good one on tenant screening at Bigger Pockets. Check it out if you need help. You need to tell the tenant about your criteria so they know what to expect.

My basic screening criteria

  • Income: Rent is under 35% of income.
  • Credit score: 670+
  • Background check: No felony (You can’t say no crime.)
  • Rental history: No eviction. Pay rent on time.
  • No pet and no smoking (HOA rule)

Potential tenants

Now, I’m going to violate the landlord-potential tenant confidentiality agreement and share my notes with you. All names have been changed to protect the innocent except the first one. That guy is a scammer. The rest will be short blurbs. Hopefully, I don’t offend anyone with my inner opinions.

1. The Craigslist scammer. What do you know? The first response came from Craigslist. You have to read this if you’re a landlord or thinking about becoming one. Here is the email.

Hi Joe,

Good day, I am interested in your rental,I read through the details on Craigslist and i like it, the location works fine for me as well.My name is Sridhar Vignesh Pandey, I am 35 years old. I work with the UNDP (United Nation Development Program, Admin., Cardiff CF14 1AH, UK). I just got a transfer bringing me down to the States USA. I am married with a daughter but i will be arriving and staying alone. I don’t smoke and i do not keep pets so i am sure you would not have a problem with me.

I was in NYC at the Head Office 2 months ago for a seminar. I applied at the DHS, did the medical check-up which i cleared and my SSN is been processed. I arrive the States in 2 weeks. I would present to you all relevant documents (letter of employment and letter of transfer etc) with time, and show them to you on my arrival.

I will really appreciate it if you can take the ad off and hold the place for me till I get there. I would like to place a good faith deposit for this purpose.
Please let me know if this arrangement works out for you. I sincerely look forward to hearing from you and subsequently meeting you.



At first glance, this guy sounded okay. He worked for the UNDP and he might be a good tenant. However, something made me suspicious and I Googled “Sridhar Vignesh Pandey.” It turned out this is a variation of the old Nigerian Prince scam. The scammer would send a fake cashier check for 2x the deposit and rent, and then ask for the difference to be wired back to his account.

I ignored any further communication from this scammer. Finally, cyber stalking paid off. I always Google a potential tenant to find out as much as I can about them. Is that too creepy? It’s pretty amazing what you can find on social media.

2. Nate – a young student. He’s very detail oriented. He asked many questions and said he wanted the place. Being a student, he doesn’t have a job and his credit score probably isn’t great. He also asked for a 6 month lease. I suspected that he’s graduating soon and won’t be staying long.

3. Vajra – a young, attractive, high maintenance, female. I cyberstalked her and I think she worked at Intel. She called at 9 pm on a Tuesday and asked to see the place because she happened to be in the area. I had just put my kid to bed and was already in my PJs. I changed and rushed over to show her the condo. She seemed to like the place. She asked if she could park her expensive bike in the bike parking area. I told her it’s not a good idea because this is downtown and there are homeless people around. Besides, we recently had some issues with theft in the common area. She became concerned about security and said, “I’ll call you.” I know a brush off when I hear it.

4. Sam – this guy was a dreamboat tenant. He was handsome, married, made over $10,000 per month, had great credit, and planned to stay for about 2 years. Sam told me he had to run it by his wife and I never heard from him again. 🙁

5. Eric and Jen – new grad young couple. They were moving to Portland with no job and no income. Eric said he wanted to put in an application and just needed to go to the ATM to get $30. They left and never came back. I assume they found a cheaper place.

6. JJ – local architect with good income. I had a good initial conversation with him on the phone, but he was unresponsive to my text and email after that.

7. Chloe – made an appointment to come see the condo. She was a no show. I texted and she responded that her flight was delayed.

8. Leo – moving up from LA. He was serious about finding a place and we had several exchanges via email. He made an appointment to see the place when he came to town.

9. Brittany – wanted to know if it’s okay to bring her mom’s dog once in a while. I stated no pets in the listing.

10. Shang – a foreign student at PSU. He wanted me to hold the unit for him until June. Yeah…Four months out won’t work for me.

11. Couple with a dog. The listing clearly stated no pets so I don’t know why they contacted me. I may have to rethink the no pet policy. Many Portlanders are attached to their pets.

12. Erin – nice young lady with good credit and a job. She has a service dog. Landlords can’t turn down a tenant because of service animal so I showed her the unit. Service animals are not considered pets.

13. Steve – an exchange student with a wife and 4 year old twins. Those kids were very active. They were running around pulling on everything they could get their little hands on. The twins also left dirty footprints on the carpet. They just landed and were staying in a hotel. They wanted the unit and told me they’ll move in the next day. I informed them that it would take 4-5 days to screen and they said that will be too late. Thank goodness because I didn’t want these crazy kids in the unit. It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to someone with children. Of course, he has no credit history and no job because he’s a foreign student.

14. Theo – sounded like a nice guy via email exchanges. He couldn’t make the showing due to a sick kid.

15. Seth & Maddie – nice young couple with good income, okay credit, but unstable jobs. They had 2 cars and needed 2 parking spots. They told me to send them an application. I did and never heard back from them. I assume they found a better fit further out. It’s much easier to find apartments with 2 parking spots outside of downtown.

16. Marcia – sounded like an older lady, probably retired. She made an appointment, but called to cancel once she arrived in the neighborhood. The view was very important to her and the new construction next door would block a lot of the view once it’s done.

17. Tami – a well-dressed, professional female. She liked the unit, but she was looking at more apartments. She told me she’d let me know in a week.

18. Fabia – wanted a friend to come check the place out because she was out of town. I canceled the showing after the lease was signed.

5 more online prospects that I turned down after the lease was signed.

Too many prospects

Whew! I was exhausted by the time we signed the lease. There were too many prospects over just a week. I’ve screened tenants before, but it was never this fast and furious. Luckily, I live in the next building so it was easy to drop by and meet the potential tenants.

I think the lower price and better pictures made a huge difference. The better weather probably helped as well. Oh, I rented the condo without parking. Our new tenant does not have a car. A few days ago, I found someone who needed a parking spot so it worked out very well. The going rate is about $180 for a spot in the building. I gave it to him for $175, what he’s paying now. He’s losing his spot because the parking spot owner is getting a new car.

Alright, I hope you enjoyed this update. If things go well, I won’t have to write another update for at least 12 months. Actually, I hope our new tenant stays for about 2 years. By then, the new building will be finished and it should be much easier to sell the condo. This might be the last time I have to screen tenants because I’m getting tired of being a landlord in Portland. There are more rules and regulations every year. Now a landlord has to provide relocation assistance to the tenants if you want or need them to leave (no cause eviction.) That fee is $3,300 for a one bed room unit.

Also, the Portland real estate market is getting overpriced and the property tax keeps increasing. At this point, I prefer to invest in heartland real estate through RealtyShares. It’s much more passive than being a hands-on landlord.

If you have a rental property, have you screened this many potential tenants in a week? Is this what online dating is like?

You can sign up with RealtyShares to browse the various projects and see if real estate crowdfunding is a good match for you.

Disclosure: We may receive a referral fee if you sign up with a service through a link on this page.

Image by www.rawpixel.com

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 85 comments… add one }
  • Michael @ Financially Alert March 8, 2018, 2:20 am

    Congrats on the new tenant! It’s fantastic that you had so many prospects, but it must have taken a lot of time. It’s funny that you compare it to online dating!

    Since I have property managers for all my properties, I don’t ever talk with the prospects. I typically get an email or call from the PM telling me about the best prospects, including their credit scores, work history, and prior rental history. I usually just go with their recommendation.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 6:37 am

      It was a stressful week and I’m so glad that it’s over with. We had property managers before, but they never did a very good job. That’s the way to go, though. It’s a lot more passive with a property manager. But, I won’t get to meet all these interesting people. 😉

  • Accidental FIRE March 8, 2018, 2:33 am

    This is such a great story, I’m picturing you “swiping left” over and over again and just shaking your head. “Man this dating stuff is HARD!!”

    Congrats on the new tenant and sounds like a fun journey through Nigerian princes and interesting folks!

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 6:39 am

      Yeap, I can’t imagine online dating. It sounds like a huge headache.
      The potential tenants were interesting, but I need to prescreen better next time.

  • Divnomics March 8, 2018, 3:16 am

    We just went through something similar 2 months ago. We are renting out to students and February is a midterm starting point for many students (in NL). We used Facebook as a listing place as well. But found that those leads were often times no shows.

    And congrats on the new tenants, luckily you discovered on time that the prince turned out to be fraud.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 7:26 am

      We tried Facebook too and it generated a good lead. Nextdoor might be good as well, but it didn’t generate any lead for us. I’m glad I checked up on the Nigerian Prince. I can’t believe people still fall for that. I wouldn’t send money, but it’d still take time and energy to follow up.

  • Caroline March 8, 2018, 3:33 am

    Great move on splitting the rent and parking!
    And no I never had that many applicants in one week! Good problem to have I guess.
    Congrats on getting a new tenant.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 7:27 am

      Thanks! I should have done that before. It’s just easier to rent to just one person. Now I have 2 people to deal with. It’s just another thing to deal with. I’m glad it’s rented out, for sure.

  • Chris @ Duke of Dollars March 8, 2018, 4:15 am

    Nice way to take advantage of the new person not having a car, that is fantastic lol!

    Thanks for the update!

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:35 am

      There are quite a few retirees here too. Many of them don’t drive anymore. You don’t really need a car in our neighborhood.

  • Chris Urbaniak @ deliberatechange.ca March 8, 2018, 4:23 am

    Glad to hear you can breath easy now, Joe!

    When we had our rental unit, we also focused on great pictures and a lower price. In our case, we priced just a tad below market value and it generated a ton of interest and choices. I understand some of the craziness you’ve experienced here. (BTW, I kept very detailed records on competitive listings, so I had a solid idea of what true market value was for my type of property in my neighbourhood. Data is your friend!)

    In Canada, Craigslist doesn’t seem to be very popular at all. Instead, Kijiji is the go-to site. Of course I’ve heard that there are scammers there, too, although we personally haven’t had issues with them.

    “Now a landlord has to provide relocation assistance to the tenants if you want or need them to leave (no cause eviction.)” Ouch. Ontario JUST enacted similar legislation to that affect, except the fee is one month’s rent, which I suspect in most cases is far less than $3300!

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:37 am

      Thanks for your input. There are so many units for rent in downtown so the listing data can change quickly.
      I haven’t tried Kijiji. I’ll check them out.

  • Tom @ Dividends Diversify March 8, 2018, 4:29 am

    I don’t have a rental, but I understand the benefits of professional pics. When we sold our house last year, the agent did his own DIY photography. The photos were very average, so I made him get a pro. It doesn’t cost much and they look so much better. Tom

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:38 am

      We never had any problem renting this unit out before so I thought my photographs were good enough. It’s really tough to find a tenant in the winter, though. Good pictures helped a lot.

  • Cubert March 8, 2018, 4:31 am

    Dude. Congrats! I know how much a pain in the arse this process is, with four LTRs to keep occupied. I only use Craigslist, and I think because our market is so crazy hot, I haven’t had to deal with too much spam.

    You did well with the photos. That is super important. My trick there is to fetch the original listing photos from the real estate agent when I close on a property. Most often, it’s a well-staged setting with furniture already there. I’ve also learned via the Airbnb Experiment to take photos from a crouching level (about 3′ off the floor) to look professional – and only relying on daylight.

    Smooth move on the parking “add-on”. You know what you’re doing, Joe.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:39 am

      Thanks for the tips. I’ll try taking photo from 3′ level. That sounds good.

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance March 8, 2018, 5:00 am

    I’m so glad you found a tenant for real this time. Great news!

    Looks like.you had lots of potential “dates” to screen. My ex roommate went on a bunch of dates through match.com and such and told me she was so tired of it in the end. It was fun in the beginning though.

    The photos look pretty!

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:39 am

      Thanks! Online dating sounds exhausting. I guess you have do a lot of pre screening to get quality dates. 🙂

  • Pennypincher March 8, 2018, 5:31 am

    LOL on the online dating! So glad it worked out, Joe!
    If I had known the place looked that good…where do I apply?
    People or couples w/dogs, makes me wonder if they leave them alone in the apt. all day-sad.
    My realtor told me it’s very difficult to evict. Some of the prospects sounded “iffy”.
    Sort of like dating. : )

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:41 am

      Thanks! It looks better in the pictures than real life. The lobby is a lot darker than in the picture.
      It’s unfair to dogs. Most of them are stuck inside all day.

  • Lily | The Frugal Gene March 8, 2018, 6:16 am

    That was honestly so stressful to read I’m not even joking. That’s a lot of requests to filter through and it is like online dating!!! (I’ve been on some.)

    I get requests like Shang a lot via Airbnb. They want the moon and back for their circumstance but nothing to barter with. I require all my guests to have star ratings prior and they just joined the site, have no idea what’s going on, and requests a 1 month stay even though I specifically stated we are an overnight Airbnb in the first introduction paragraph before all else. Ughhhh! I don’t want to be a landlord is what I learned.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:42 am

      I was getting really worn out at the end. There were too many prospects to screen through. I guess that’s the problem with making it look cheap and attractive.

      Why don’t you like 1 month stay? That sounds like a good deal if they pay in advance. 🙂
      Being a landlord is okay for now, but I wouldn’t want to do it when I’m old. If we still have rentals, we’ll get a good property manager.

      • mary w March 8, 2018, 1:05 pm

        In some (all?) jurisdictions once you stay a month you are a “tenant”. If they stay and don’t pay you’d have to go through eviction procedures.

  • Adam and Jane March 8, 2018, 6:25 am

    Arg! Meeting so many people for an appartment would drive me insane. For my mom’s 5 rentals, my brother uses an RE agency to screen all renters first. Renters have to pay the agency 1 month rent if they want the appartment. It is expensive for a renter but it weeds out the non serious renters. My mom keeps the rents low and we are lucky that the renters stay for decades.

    So glad to hear you got it rented. Since my parents always have tenants, I see that it takes work and sometimes it is a PITA to deal with people and maintenance issues. I learned early on to NEVER buy a rental since I hate dealing with people and problems. I want to keep my life simple and stress free when possible.

    I am glad to hear that you will get out of the rental market in the future. I can’t see your wife and kid manage the rentals if sometime happens to you.


    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:44 am

      Normally, it isn’t this busy. Previously, I get a few quality prospects per week. That works much better. This time was crazy.
      Someday, we’ll have a simple and stress free life. 🙂

  • fin$avvy panda @ finsavvypanda.com March 8, 2018, 6:50 am

    Haha nice story, Joe!

    Some of them sounded like our potential candidates when we were screening our second family two years ago.

    There was a family with a kid and we decided not to rent to them because we were afraid of the chaos they would cause. And yes, we aren’t allowed to not rent to them just because of kids, but we found a better fit anyway lol! There was also someone who just wanted to shorten the lease to six months but that’s wayyy too short!

    Like you. we also “stalk” ppl who email us because we want to know more about them. I see that a lot of hiring managers do that nowadays too when they’re looking for someone to fill a role.

    Btw, that scam sounds exactly like the scams I get when I put up an ad to sell my furniture. I google the people as well and google their email addresses and sometimes I see that it’s reported as a scam.

    It’s smart of you to check this sort of information!

    Thanks for sharing your tenant screening experience. I hope we don’t need to look for new tenants anytime soon….. ?

    • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 8:40 am

      And now you have opened yourself to a Fair Housing lawsuit…

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:46 am

      Kids are okay, but these guys were so active. This is just a one bedroom apartment. I don’t want to cram 4 people in the bedroom. That’s not going to work out.
      Scammers are scum. Why don’t they just hustle and make money legitimately?

  • Steve @ familyonfire.org March 8, 2018, 6:53 am

    Glad it was all sorted out. Sounds very stressful, I’m not sure I could deal with it without a property manager

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:47 am

      It was getting stressful at the end. A property manage would have been very helpful. They usually charge half a month rent to fill a unit. Next time…

  • DL March 8, 2018, 7:15 am

    Congrats on the tenant!

    Fun fact though…. if you are an individual owner, have a single unit (no multi-family), not a real estate professional and are renting and managing the place yourself, Fair Housing restrictions don’t apply to you. You actually can not rent to someone with children, or an unmarried couple for example. There is an exception in the law for the individual, non-professional owner (and other exceptions as well, such as you live in a 4-plex and are renting the other units, religious organization, etc.)

    Race is absolutely protected, but that is because race discrimination is covered by another, older law. Other aspects though, yes, you can actually but some restrictions on if you wish.

    • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 8:43 am

      You are mixing up the Oregon exception and Fair Housing exceptions, and your info is wrong, DL.

      There is no exception under federal law for owners of a single unit. There IS an exception for owner-occupied buildings of four units or less.

      There used to be an Oregon exception to Oregon specific fair housing laws, but I’m not sure if that still exists. The Oregon statutes were stricter than the Federal (they cannot be laxer).

      Can you please cite the sources for your misinformation?

      • DL March 8, 2018, 12:57 pm

        >There is no exception under federal law for owners of a single unit.

        “(b)Nothing in section 804 of this title (other than subsection (c)) shall apply to–

        (1) any single-family house sold or rented by an owner: ”


        How about you snowcanyon? Please share an actual source before calling someone out.

        • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 3:59 pm

          You are correct! But this is not a house…it’s a condo.

          • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 5:11 pm

            I believe a condo is still treated as a single family home. I’ll need to check up on this.

          • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 5:20 pm

            I looked and looked and couldn’t find the answer. Everything states SFH. Really, really interested in what you find.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:49 am

      Thanks for the info. I will check it out. I didn’t know individual owner are exempt from FHA. We have 3 units so this probably won’t help us. The relocation assistance rule also exempt someone with just one unit. They’re changing it this year to include every landlord, though.

      • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 10:58 am

        They aren’t exempt. DL is wrong. There is a Mrs. Murphy exemption for owner occupied buildings with four or less units. Don’t mix up Oregon and federal law- the Oregon law did exempt single unit owners until this year; the FHA only has the owner-occupied exemption and never had a single-unit exemption.

        Misconceptions like these are why my state has a required landlord class on discrimination.

        Be careful what you post online- it can be used in a Fair Housing lawsuit easily.

  • GYM March 8, 2018, 7:32 am

    Congrats Joe on the new tenant!!

    I had a similar scam before when I posted my basement suite on Craigslist.

    Haha wow that list is exhausting! I had a list of the people I met when I went online dating too and for one of them I don’t even remember their name.

    I support your cyberstalking ventures as I am queen cyberstalking and love googling people- especially a prospective tenant! 🙂

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:50 am

      I made good notes this time because I thought it’d be an interesting blog post. But, I changed all the name.
      Thanks for the support with cyberstalking. Mrs. RB40 didn’t want me to put it in the post. 🙂

  • Mr. Tako March 8, 2018, 7:59 am

    Good job on the new tenant Joe! I hope all that screening is worth the return!

    It’s stories like this one that make me really want to avoid being a landlord. It sounds so stressful and people are so flakey. I don’t mind owning real estate as part of a REIT (or RealityShares), but it doesn’t sound like you make enough from this property for it to be worth all the time and hassle.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 8:52 am

      I hope so too. It was a stressful week. People are so flaky.
      Next time I will pre-screen better. Yeap, I’m about ready to sell this property.

  • Dividend Growth Investor March 8, 2018, 8:00 am

    Landlording sounds exhausting! I am glad your unit is rented out, and hopefully it will stay that way for a long time. I don’t have the patience you have, so I guess I will stick to publicly traded investments.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 9:01 am

      I plan to transition to more passive investment soon. Being a landlord is a lot of work when there is a turn over.

  • Helen March 8, 2018, 8:00 am

    It’s great to hear, your unit is finally rented out. It sounds very time consuming. The rules and regulations are giving more protections to the tenants. It could be a hard hit to landlords. It’s a tough business. Hope your tenants stay longer.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 9:02 am

      Housing is becoming a big problem here in Portland. The city is trying to protect the renters better, but the rules are tough on individual landlords. I hope our tenant stays a while too.

      • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 11:01 am

        I think Portland is hanging itself like NY or SF. It becomes too onerous for Mom and Pops, and then all you have are the corporate landlords who really don’t care, can jack rents up easily, and have deep enough pockets to fight each and every lawsuit. When a city becomes both too expensive for the renter and too onerous for individual landlords, it sets the stage for even worse landlording problems.

  • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 8:28 am

    Wow. You are really setting yourself up for an discrimination/fair housing lawsuit with your flagrant ethnic stereotyping in the above posts. You think these won’t come into play in court? Think again. How do you know the woman was of xxx descent? You asked her? How is it relevant to renting an apartment? Discrimination. You didn’t ask her? Discrimination. “Those kids were xxx” = discrimination for family status, as you note.

    I realize you are trying hard not to discriminate, but the way you wrote these profiles opens you wide to lawsuits, and I’m sure Oregon is very tenant-friendly.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 9:04 am

      Right right. I’ll update the post. Thanks…
      I’m happy to rent to Indians. My last 2 tenants were from South Asia. I don’t discriminate against ethnic.
      About the kids. They didn’t wait for me to do the screening which they wouldn’t pass anyway because they did not have credit history. If they pass, I’d have to rent to them because of FHA.

    • VA March 20, 2018, 8:05 am

      I was also disappointed in the stereotyping! “High maintenance female” ??? And multiple comments on the attractiveness of both the men and women. I know we’re all human, but it just goes to show how easy it is to discriminate when it comes to housing.

  • ThinkingAhead March 8, 2018, 8:35 am

    I read the post hoping to get an idea of the actual tenant and what qualities let you to pick them, but looks like that wasn’t part of the post.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 9:09 am

      I added a small section about my criteria. There are much better posts about this at Bigger Pockets which I linked to. Check it out.

  • DocG March 8, 2018, 8:38 am

    I’m am running this afternoon to show my unit to a prospective tenant. Of all my four units, this is the first vacancy in years. I’ve always been able to transition renters without downtime. Came Available 3/1. Wish me luck!

    Usually I have 2-3 interested parties to screen. Rarely that many!

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 9:10 am

      Good luck! It sounds like your rental is in a high demand area. That’s nice.

  • Mrs Smelling Freedom March 8, 2018, 10:45 am

    Goodness that was pretty intense 🙂 gave me a good sense of what to expect – fingers crossed I’ll have the same level of interest. I’ll invest in some good photos. That was a good tip.

  • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 11:07 am

    Another comment on crazy Portland rental market- I think it’s pretty easy to come up with reasons for a cause eviction, although of course it poisons the landlord-tenant relationship. Everyone does something annoying- unannounced pet, friends coming over and smoking, smoking weed, noise etc.

    Aside from attracting corporate landlords and dissuading Mom and Pops, I think the new Portland laws will lead to annual 9.9% rental increases with their weird 10% cap.

    It never works to overregulate a housing market. You either build more housing, or people get priced out.

  • Dividend FIREman March 8, 2018, 12:55 pm

    Hi Joe. I own a few rental properties and I am using property managers. So far so good, although it is not been that long.

    In the past, I have run this gauntlet of potential tenants, and I too found it exhausting. Hence the property managers.

    Good luck with these tenants, and thanks for the very informative post.

  • Mr. ATM March 8, 2018, 1:25 pm

    Just came in today’s news:
    Portland makes landlord moving cost rule permanent

  • Jack March 8, 2018, 1:43 pm

    I’m certain that you can deny the family of four due to being able to legally limit a one bedroom unit to two or three people.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 5:09 pm

      The rules seems unclear on this. You can limit the number of occupants to 2 per bedroom, but children below certain age don’t count. I couldn’t find what that age is. I assume 4-5 years old.

  • Joe March 8, 2018, 3:43 pm

    Hi Joe, how many of those 20 did you actually show the unit to? I have units in the SF Bay Area, and have been hit with 200 inquiries for one unit in less than a week. I can’t even answer the calls fast enough to clear my voicemail so it just overflows.

    So I have to phone screen before even showing them the unit. And then I schedule all the parties who pass screening to show all of them the open house in the same 2 hour window. When they see the interest, the serious parties will immediately fill out an application. This technique makes this part of the process go fairly easy. But the phone screening sucks.

    • Joe March 8, 2018, 3:47 pm

      By the way I also have an SF rental property that I use a property manager for. They are very good at attracting and screening tenants, but not good on maintenance or repairs. They also take away a huge cut of the rental income, about a month’s rent for leasing, and another $300 a month for management fees.

    • retirebyforty March 8, 2018, 5:10 pm

      I think about 8 or 9. Wow, 200 inquiries. That’s crazy.
      Thanks for the tip. If we ever get that many, I’ll schedule an open house.

      • Joe March 9, 2018, 10:44 am

        Ya, but most of them aren’t qualified. Plus there are a lot of people that don’t read the requirements on the listing.

  • snowcanyon March 8, 2018, 3:55 pm

    I feel like buying a rental in Portland just for the sport of raising the rent 9.9% a year (something I had never done with my previous rental) and /or issuing fixed term leases with an express intent to sell (I hope RBF did this) or moving my immediate family members in constantly. Nothing more fun than thumbing your nose at a ridiculous law.

  • David Michael March 8, 2018, 4:02 pm

    Wow! Great work, perseverance, and patience Joe. Congratulations.

    I may have mentioned it previously but all of my faculty colleagues who bought one extra house or condo in the Bay area (Palo Alto to San Jose) in the 1960-70’s and kept them as rentals all retired as multimillionaires. I chose to travel every spare chance we had, hated the thought of being a landlord, and lived in a small but cozy house a mile from the college where I worked. Paid $36,000. Today it’s worth 3.2 million.

    Most of my buddies bought two, three, four properties and rented them out. We sold our house at $300,000, moved to Oregon in mid-career, went through a mid-life crisis, got a divorce, and started life all over again with a wonderful woman.

    Moral of story, I had a lot more fun in my 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. My colleagues and property owners who stayed the course (full career) are having more fun now in their 60-80’s. However… now at 82, most of my friends are dead! So…who the hell knows? It’s all good. Breathing and being vertical are underestimated. Live in the moment and enjoy!

  • TJ March 8, 2018, 5:14 pm

    Congratulations on renting your place. Great job. I hope they stay as long as you would like them to.

  • Laura March 8, 2018, 7:30 pm

    Glad it’s over! When I read the news yesterday (or 2 days ago?) was wondering if you would increase the rent to cover potential relocation fees. Guessing most landlords will do that which will make rents even less affordable.

    • retirebyforty March 9, 2018, 9:41 am

      I’m not planning to increase the rent to cover the potential relocation fees. I want to keep my good tenants.
      The rent is mostly set by market value. The only time I’d need my tenant to move out is if we need to move into the place. However, we don’t plan to do that anytime soon so it’s not a problem yet.

      • jim March 9, 2018, 10:22 am

        Right, The market sets the rents.

        In fact that rule has been in place temporarily in Portland for a year already and rents did not go up much in the past 12 months (relative to Portland rent increases at least.)

  • Laura March 9, 2018, 10:15 am

    We got all of our apartments on a Aug 1 start date and 1 year lease because we found that was the best time for prospective tenants in our area. Feb especially is a dead month. I’m surprised you had a vacancy in Nov. When I was a renter for many years in Chicago it was usually a May 1 or Aug 1 start day with 1 yr lease required.

    • jim March 9, 2018, 10:18 am

      I think people are a lot less likely to move in a Chicago winter than a Portland winter. For the most part it just rains in Portland so moving is less fun but still doable.

  • jim March 9, 2018, 10:17 am

    Glad to hear you finally rented it. Good ideas you had to change the price by removing the parking and those pictures look great.

    Yes I’ve screened that many tenants (and many more) in a week. I think one time I hit close to 100 people interested within 1-2 weeks. (affordable place with cheap rent, low vacancies, peak moving season) I use email screening and prescreening questions. I don’t show it until after people answer my screening questions. It cuts down a lot on the people who don’t fit your basic criteria, like those without jobs or with pets in your case.
    I do allow pets myself. Most people have pets and almost everyone I show to has pets. If I did not allow pets I’d expect that I’d have a lot less interest when I have vacancies.

    That new rental law is a bit silly. I’ll have to pay renters $4200 to move out of my 2 bed house. But only if I raise rent 10% causing them to move or otherwise do a nocause eviction. SO I won’t do that…

    • retirebyforty March 9, 2018, 4:03 pm

      Wow, 100 in such a short time. That’s pretty busy. Your price is probably too low.
      Next time, I will prescreen better. Usually, I allow cats, but not dogs.

      • jim March 12, 2018, 11:23 am

        “Your price is probably too low”

        It is cheap. But thats intentional. Theres pros / cons to keeping the right lower or higher.

        With lower rent :
        I get my pick of many tenants.
        Good tenants will stay around longer.
        Vacancies are virtually zero
        Tenanats might be appreciative and less demanding.
        But I get lower rent.

        With higher rent you get the opposites:
        Fewer tenants to pick from
        More tenant turnover.
        Tenants are more likely to be demanding.
        You get more rent.

        Personally I think that the pros of lower rent outweight getting ~10% more a month.
        Especially if you add in the risk of extended vacancies like you’ve just seen, then I’m coming out ahead net cash wise too.

        • retirebyforty March 12, 2018, 1:33 pm

          Thanks for the input. I think our price is just about right. It would have rented out much easier if there wasn’t a building under construction next door. Hopefully, that building will be on schedule so we can get back to normal.

  • Mrs. Moe March 9, 2018, 2:18 pm

    Congrats on the new tenant. Wow! This sounds like a lot of work. We currently have a management company to manage this affair for us. Sometimes I grouse about the expense of having a management company. This gives me a whole new appreciation of what we’re paying for. 😀

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life March 9, 2018, 4:06 pm

    Congrats on getting it AND the parking lot rented out after all that work! My property manager only shows me the final applications of potential tenants so I miss out on all the … uh, fun 😀

  • Marco Demaio March 10, 2018, 11:29 am

    Can’t you ask for a safety deposit in Oregon?
    Here in Italy you can ask for a safety deposit up to 12 months of rent. In this way poor potential tenants stay away because they don’t have enough savings to deposit 12 months up front.
    It takes a bit longer to rent the flat when asking for a 6 to 12 months deposit, but at least you can rent with peace of mind.
    I also screen to see if they own houses in the country territory, in this way they have something to lose if they stop paying the rent because the lawyer can ask to put a lien on their houses until they pay what they owe to the landlord plus legal expenses.
    Unfortunately I can not also screen how fat is their bank account. 🙂

    Anyway I have always used a real estate agent, he is the one who advertises the flat and does the first screening of the potential tenants. They usually get 1 month of rent as a payment.

    Eviction in Italy can take up to 15 months because of the inefficency of the justice system and because of many judges being socialist minded (aka pro tenant mentality).
    How long does it take to evict someone in Oregon?

    • retirebyforty March 10, 2018, 12:36 pm

      Most landlord here usually ask for one month deposit.
      12 months deposit sounds crazy. I don’t think renter has that kind of money here.
      Eviction sounds like a nightmare in Italy. It’s bad here too, but it shouldn’t take 15 months. I think 1-3 months is normal in the US. I haven’t had to evict anyone yet.

  • timeinthemarket March 11, 2018, 6:18 am

    I enjoyed reading the updates. Which of the people ended up getting the place?

    Landlording sounds like it’s a lot more work than I’m willing to do which is why I just invest in REITs even in owning physical property is a much better deal most times. I’m not willing to put in the leg work!

  • FromUSA March 15, 2018, 6:22 am

    “There are more rules and regulations every year. Now a landlord has to provide relocation assistance to the tenants if you want or need them to leave (no cause eviction.) That fee is $3,300 for a one bed room unit.”

    Very surprise to hear that!! $3300? Really??

    Dang, that’s a lot of work in finding a good tenant! Congrats on finding one!

    How much for the pro pictures? How much for the background checks? Is there an online site where you can get background checks for anybody?

    • retirebyforty March 15, 2018, 9:30 am

      I use erenter.com to do the background and credit check. I’m not sure how much the pro pictures cost. They were part of the package when I signed up with a realtor.

  • Diva Q March 20, 2018, 11:45 am

    Hi Joe,
    I was “away” from reading your blog for awhile. It seems that you’ve made really good progress with your blog income and it’s great that you finally rented out the condo. I also own 3 properties myself, 2 for rental and 1 for my dad to live in, and my husband and I live in his condo. I used a RE agents to rent my 2 condos and the tenants paid 1-2 months of commissions to the RE agents. I only looked at the final best that the agents recommended.
    Do you ask for their bank statements too? I do ask for them and I in fact rejected 1 couple with a daughter, the balance in their bank account was about $1,000. They claimed that most of their income is from cash transactions and that their previous landlord can vouch for their timely rent payments. But still, I don’t want to deal with tenants with undocumented income.
    You’ve mentioned that RE is overpriced in Portland. Not really sure if the RE situations are the same in NYC but it’s never too overpriced in NYC. There will always be more buyers than inventory these past few years here, people would offer 10-20% higher than asking. To me, owning RE is not just for rental income, but the real gain here is the value appreciations. Similar to my approach to the stock markets, I don’t focus too much on dividend stocks solely.
    It’s nice to be back and read your blogs.

    • retirebyforty March 21, 2018, 8:57 am

      Welcome back! 🙂
      I haven’t found a good property management company yet. They seems to take on too many clients. One of the parent at the school bus stop told me that he’s been trying to rent an apartment. He called and email for a week already and never got through.

      The RE price in Portland is not like NY or SF. The underlying economy can’t support the price. People here don’t make that much money. From what I heard, the real estate market is slowing a bit. It was on fire for a few years, but slowing down now.

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