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DIY Landlord

DIY Landlord, is that really the best way?

When I bought my first rental over 15 years ago, I was excited to do everything myself, I wanted delivering the best experience for my tenants. I was not prepared for my tenants to run me ragged for the next 2 years. I bought a 30-year old duplex that had a new roof, paint and carpet. The kitchen and baths had not been updated, the heating system was original and the windows were very old.


I put together a list of items that need to be address ASAP and items that I could defer for a few years. Right away I hired someone to install new windows. This took a few days from start to finish and I was on site the entire time. I wanted my tenants to be comfortable and feel secure. As a real estate investor I was lucky enough to be available to over see the first major project. The first year we replaced all the windows, and the second year we replaced both HVAC systems and added tile to one of the units during a vacancy. I’m pretty handy and was able to assist with the HVAC work and did the tile and turnover work myself.


Looking back I should have hired a painter and a professional tile installer. It took me almost a week to paint the property, plus another 2 weeks to do all of the tile work. I had the time, or so I thought and I didn’t want to spend the money since I had already spent too much on the windows and HVAC systems.

Once I finished the turn over I quickly got the unit rented. I lost about 1 months rent by not hiring the professionals to do the work. I probably broke even in the end, but lost a lot of my time doing the work.

The same tenant has lived in one of these units since the time I bought the property. She is great person, but man can she be demanding. She used to call me at every hour of the day to fix her plumbing, electrical, HVAC system. I would take care of most items myself or hire someone to handle the large items.


I remember one day that stand out. I was about 28 years old and she called me complaining that the pipes under her sink had a hole in them. Less that 6 moths before we had replaced all of these pipes with brand new pipes. Long story short, she clogged the sink and then tried to un-clogged the sink with some sort of a sharp stick and punctured a hole in the p-trap. That was it, I was done with this tenant. She was demanding that I come and fix it right then. I was not able to make it over there for 5-6 hours. She called early in the morning and I had a full day of things I needed to get done. Well she wasn’t happy with that and decided she should call my mom. I have a uncommon last name, so it was easy to open the old phone book and figure out who to call.

With in about a week I hired a property manager and have not looked back.

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