As exciting as our upcoming grand travel adventure is, there is a whirlwind of planning and research associated that is at least as extensive and time consuming as the deepest throes of renovation. But I kind of love it, so that’s cool! One of the big to do’s on our list: Renting the VIB – so we can take care of paying the mortgage and hopefully put away some money to take care of emergencies should those arise (knock on wood). And then there’s prospect of making a bit of extra cash for travel which is also great.
After a bit of looking into it, the house leasing process turned out to be less intimidating that I thought.
Hiring a House Manager
First of all, we knew that we absolutely cannot do manage the lease on our own, without a point of contact on the ground. For us it was a no-brainer, since we won’t be in the country and also will not be reachable via phone or internet for weeks at a time. Plus there is a whole time difference thing, and who wants to be dealing with maintenance / emergency issues across the ocean at 2 am? Not us, that’s who.
We researched a few management agencies, interviewed one and liked what we heard. But, it was a tad expensive at 10% of the total collected rent every month. Plus, as nice as management company sounds, they wouldn’t take care of worst case scenario of tenants stopping to pay rent – well they would move to evict them, but chances are we would pretty much have to come back to deal with the situation as rent money wouldn’t magically appear even if eviction went smoothly.
Because we have an awesome friend who is already a super at his house–and who also lives in our neighborhood–we felt very comfortable with the decision to hire him as our house manager and point of contact. Our decision was made a lot easier by the fact that we have a crew of contractors that know the ins and outs of our house, and whom we trust completely, and who agreed to be the go-to on call maintenance and emergency repairs contact (see, managing a renovation does have some long term hidden benefits).
Renting the House
Since we elected not to hire a management company we had to rent the house ourselves. We posted the ad on Craigslist in mid June, about 6 weeks before the move-in date. Lucky us we already had all the awesome looking pictures that we could reuse from the blog. We also made the decision that for Otto the best possible outcome in this situation was
to come with us on the road in a special carrier to stay on at the VIB as a cat overlord. So we offered a small discount on the rent in exchange for letting Otto stick around.
We got overwhelming response, and many many people were interested in sharing the house with Otto. sweet. I think that’s one of the perks of renting out a property in DC right now, there is so much demand and market pricing is – well let’s just say – its very good for the owners! Sifting through responses was almost wearisome, but I made a point to reply to everyone. Once we narrowed down a few good candidates, we got ready (mentally) to do a tenant screen. We followed these steps below for peace of mind — luckily all tenants could check the right boxes, which meant that we only had to do the process once.
Next step was putting together a rental contract, which we had some help on from a lawyer friend. However, if we hadn’t had that, we would have used the standard DC rental form and it would have been just fine. We actually had a bit of a back and forth with our tenants on a few points of the contract, but were able to work everything out. I also put together a maintenance policy listing contact numbers for both the house manager and contractors.
So as of right now we are in the homestretch. Since Sergey has his own business we already have an accountant – he will be doing our taxes (which should actually work out quite well) next year when we are on the road.
Last things to do before we leave is to hire a professional house cleaning service to lend us a hand with making VIB looking turnkey, turn off utilities, and put together some house specific notes (like that the sink cannot be cleaned with acidic chemicals). That’s it. 2 weeks from now on we will no longer be able to call VIB home for at least 12 months.
* this post is cross-posted on our travel blog, housetolaos.com