I’m a Landlord! The Townhouse Is Now Rented!

Finally, three months after moving out, our townhouse is rented! It has taken quite taken a lot of work, research and time to get to this point! We’ve had a lot going on beside the townhouse in our lives so it is nice that the stress will let up a little bit now. We don’t have to worry about getting it rented or spending our weekends performing various tasks to upgrade or clean up the townhouse. We can finally get back to the normal weekend routine.

So, what did it take to get to this point and would we do it again? I’m glad you’re wondering, because I’m about to share! Hopefully I can give you some insight into the work required to turn a home into a rental property.

Moving Out and Moving On

We moved out of our townhouse a little over three months ago, which was the first step to turn our townhouse into a rental property. We made a big mistake by letting a lot of things go before we moved out, saying it’d be easier to get them done with an empty house. It may have been true, but it took us a lot longer to get down to the townhouse and get things done than we had anticipated. This is a problem, because a vacant house doesn’t provide any income!

Renovating the Townhouse

When we finally unpacked our new house, it was time to head back to the townhouse and renovate it. Tori, my fiance, wrote on her blog (Adventuring Dollars) about some of the things we’ve learned while renovating the townhouse

Our renovations included finishing our closet door replacement, painting both bathrooms, replacing bathroom hardware, putting in all new carpet, buying a new refrigerator and getting rid of the old one, cleaning up the yard and re-mulching the flower beds. We had a few other small tasks we had to take care of, but I won’t bore you with the details.

Once we had finished all of the major tasks up it was time for…

Cleaning and Last Minute Touches

Ugh… I had no clue how dirty our townhouse had become while we were renovating it. We were at least smart enough to wait until we were done making a mess to clean it up! It took a couple days of work, but we cleaned all of the floors, cabinets, bathrooms, closets and the kitchen just as we would want them if we were going to move in. It took a while, but was well worth it!

Once the townhouse was clean we took lots of pictures and got ready for the next steps in our adventure of becoming landlords!

Advertising The Townhouse and Finding a Tenant

Once we had the pictures ready we listed our townhouse on craigslist! We made sure to give a very through description with all of the updates and features of the house. We made sure to list the awesome location (just a couple blocks from the beach) as well as the fact that this townhouse had access to the backyard from the side of the house since we had an end unit. We put up the maximum number of pictures and had more we could send prospective tenants if they wanted to see more.

We decided to list the townhouse a little higher than we thought we’d eventually end up accepting because we figured we could always lower our price but we wouldn’t be able to raise it. We weeded through the phone calls by pre-screening tenants to make sure we didn’t waste our time showing the townhouse to tenants that wouldn’t qualify.

We showed the townhouse, took applications and got a potential tenant pretty quickly! We made sure to check out everything on their application and everything checked out. Their credit and background checks passed our criteria and we now had to figure out what type of lease to use so we could get our new tenants moved in.

We ended up getting the higher price, which worked out awesome! Glad we listed it higher than we thought!

Researching a Lease

Being a first time landlord, we didn’t have a lease template that we were using yet. After much internet searching and researching our old leases we had signed, we finally came up with a lease we wanted to use. The lease wasn’t perfect though, so we had to add a few addenda that would make everything just the way we wanted. This took a lot of time because we wanted to make sure we were using sound legal documents.

On top of the lease, we had to find a unit inspection form, a tenant handbook and maintenance request forms. Luckily they were all pretty easy to find and edit to our particular situation.

Signing the Lease and Taking Checks to the Bank!

This was the last step of pre-occupancy. We met the tenants to sign all of the paperwork, give them the keys and show them the ins and outs of the townhouse. They handed over their security deposit and first month’s rent and I headed to the bank! Yippee! Finally getting some rental income. Then I took the check… well, money order, to the bank!

Note I said this was the last step of pre-occupancy. I’m not naive enough to think that it ends now. I’m sure we’ll have maintenance calls and other things pop up and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as I learn more!

So, what do you think about our first time experience as a landlord? What would you have done differently? Are you a landlord? What tips do you have for us going forward?

P.S. Are you interested in the financial details? Let me know and I’ll see if I can convince Tori to let me show you the financials behind our townhouse rental!

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I did the same thing when I rented out my house: I priced the rent above the market. I figured I could always come down. For me though, I didn’t have to. I was stunned they took it for the rental price, but am not complaining.

  2. Wow, that looks like a lot of hard work from those pictures!

    Good luck making it work and generating additional income!!

  3. Congrats on getting it rented. Hopefully you’ve found some good tenants. The best ones are the ones that stay in touch and communicate regularly. =).

  4. Congrats on getting a tenant! If I was ever a landlord, I think the one thing I’d do is ask for deposit equal to one month’s rent and then the first and last months rent all up front, but I’m a bit paranoid. Also, depending on the state you live in, the local laws can skew towards supporting the tenant or the landlord in rental disputes. I live in NY where they heavily favor the tenant… it can take 6 months to kick out a non-paying tenant. But back when I lived in Texas, it was not a difficult process in the courts to kick out a non-paying tenant. Your place looks gorgeous and if I was a tenant in a place walking distance to the beach, I would be THRILLED and would do all I could to stay living there! Good luck with being a landlord!

  5. This is awesome; congrats!!!

  6. Congrats! I would love to hear more about how you decided to charge for rent. I haven’t found a lot of information on how to figure out what a room/house is worth in rent vs how much extra income I want/need to make it worth it. Hope it goes smoothly for you!

    • I basically looked on craigslist and saw what was for rent and compared it to my townhouse. I also had my real estate agent send me listings of current places for rent and places that actually got rented out and priced it a bit above the averages.

  7. Congrats on becoming a landlord! Despite all of the horror stories, we have had mostly a positive experience so far. I hope that you have a good run at it as well!

  8. I am a former landlord. I owned apartment buildings and a shopping center. For me, time was money. I readied my Mother’s condo for sale in less than a week and it needed a complete cleanup, new carpeting and painting. My wife and I cleaned out the place and donated a lot of furniture. The front end work of screening the tenant is important and you should never shortcut it. The move in dollars should always be cash or cashier’s check. Once they move i, it is very difficult to get them out.

  9. Yay! So excited for yall that you got it rented. I bet that feels so great! All that cleaning sounds pretty lame though. Glad you got the reward after all your hard work!

  10. Congrats on becoming a landlord for the first time! It must have felt amazing when you exchanged the keys for a check. Let the tenant shenanigan’s begin (let’s not)!

  11. Alex @ Searching for Happy says:

    Thanks for the detailed descriptions! I’ve always thought about getting into property, but that’s a bit further down the road for me.

    I’m glad you got the higher rental price!

  12. Congrats on finding a tenant! That must be a big weight off your shoulders. I’m glad it was such a success for you for your first time, too. You did your research!

  13. congrats on getting your first tenant. As a fellow accountant I am always interested in the financial details!

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