As many of you will recall, a rental property that I own is coming up for renewal. Right now, I am renting that two bedroom, 1900 square foot house for $1700 a month. That price includes a washer/dryer, pest control, and lawn maintenance. Two years ago, when we began renting to this couple, that rent level put us near the upper end of the area rental market. We didn’t raise the rent last year when they renewed.
A month and a half ago, we looked and decided that rent was probably going to be increased by $100 to $1800 a month when the time came. That was a month and a half ago. The time has come, and things are a bit more complicated than they were in October.
Zillow has a useful tool that landlords can use to compare their rental property to other rental properties in the area. Looking at the recent rental listings, there are only a handful of rentals available in the area. Houses are renting as quickly as they are being listed, and that is driving up prices. The ones that have recently been listed indicate that our home should be renting for somewhere between $2,200 and $2,700 a month. This means that, in the last 5 months or so, rents have increased by about 25% in my area!
If this keeps up, by the time of lease renewal on Feb 1, my house will have a rental value of $2400 to $2900 a month. In a year, who knows?
My wife says that she doesn’t want “to screw them” by renting the place for market, and wants to stick with no more than $1850 a month. She also says that too large of a rent increase will cause them to move out, and then the home will require cleaning, painting, etc. on top of being empty for a month or two. I must admit that it would make be feel guilty to raise rent by $400 or more dollars month. On the other hand, if rents keep increasing like this, every dollar that we don’t increase the rent now is two dollars of an increase that we will have to make next year.
Not matter what, inflation is hitting the rental markets in a big way. Rents are increasing at an astonishing 40 percent per year, at least in this area. Real estate is skyrocketing. We bought this rental two years ago, with the idea that we wanted a passive income stream. We put $150,000 down on the purchase price of $250,000. Every dime that we have collected in rent over and above expenses has gone to paying down the mortgage. We now owe $45,000 on that house. We were just contacted by a real estate agent and were offered $350,000 on that house. A $155,000 profit in 24 months corresponds to more than a 50% annual ROI. That house is increasing in value by $4400 a month. We are increasing equity at double the amount we are collecting in rent. That is going to be reflected in our property tax bill next year, and needs to be factored into the rent.
The only reason we don’t boot the tenants out and sell is that we don’t want to covert income producing real estate into dollars that are decreasing in value every day, thanks to President Biden and his insane economic policies.
Setting rent is tricky. If you rent at too low of a price point, not only are you leaving money on the table, but you are running the risk of getting tenants who will trash the place. (Sorry, but people without money don’t value your rental as much. They are more likely to destroy the place.) Too high, and the place sits empty for an extra month or two, and that costs you more than simply renting for a bit less.
The kitchen countertops need to be replaced in that unit, and that will cost around $3000. The renewal letter goes out this week, so we need to make the call. I think that we are going to offer the renewal at $1850, unless they want the countertops replaced. If that happens, I will have to raise rent to $2000. If they don’t want to renew and instead move out, then I will relist the place for rent at $2300. I am sure that I will get it.