Archive | June, 2013

3 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate

17 Jun

My personal red line for late rent is the 10th of the month, which is when I post a 3-day notice to pay or vacate on the inside of the front door. Typically my hope is that this serves as a sufficient scare tactic for them to pay rent, but if needed it will also allow me to begin the eviction process. Below is an a example of this letter that you are welcome to modify for your own purposes.





Via Hand Delivery

[Tenant Name(s)]
[Rental Address]
[City], [ST] [Zip Code]

Dear [Tenant Name(s)]:

This is notice that you have failed to pay rent of $x for the month of [Month Year].  Currently you owe rent of $x and late fees of $x.  You must tender this entire sum of money by [Date].  If you have failed to pay rent by this date, this is your NOTICE TO VACATE the property by 11:59 p.m. on [Date].


[Landlord Name(s)]

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Using “Open Now” on Yelp to Find After Hours Repair Help

12 Jun

(photo by gr33n3gg)

Recently I received the dreaded late night tenant call telling me the air conditioner had broken. They would be fine that night, but it would get pretty warm the next day. Texas summers are taken seriously here; having been the recipient of broken self-combusting a/c units in the past, I am sympathetic to the headaches they cause with sleeping, pet, kids, etc.

The next morning I embarked on my quest to find a repair man who would come out on a Sunday. There were two companies I had an existing relationship with, and both were closed. I will never understand why most a/c operations pretend that air conditioners only break Monday – Saturday, especially in Texas. As a firm believer in capitalism, I knew there had to be a market for Sunday a/c repair. to the rescue! They have a feature that allows you to narrow your search to companies that are currently open at the moment you are searching, saving you a great deal of time and rejection. I wanted to share this method for those dire situations where you need an after-hours plumber, appliance repair, etc.

First, run a basic search for the service you need and your location.


After you receive your initial results, check the “Open Now” check box to filter further.

Yelp Open Now

I’m also pleased to report that I found my favorite a/c repair company yet, a self-owned operation with glowing reviews. James will be my first call for future a/c needs.  🙂

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Rental Landscape Watering; Hiring the Tenants

4 Jun

Being in Central Texas, our summers are brutal on landscaping, and this year I have 4 young trees at 2 different properties to keep alive, including the tree we incorporated into our wedding. I’m thrilled that the youngest two survived their first summer, but I’d still like for them to be more established before I leave them to the elements.

Watering can
(photo by anneh632)

Armed with a healthy distrust of tenant watering habits, last summer I had a weekly routine to drive to our duplex with jugs of water (cat litter containers work well for this as long as they don’t tip over) and water the trees. There was only 1 duplex then, but I knew good and well that this method wasn’t scalable. I also experimented with DriWater, with mixed results, but I would probably incorporate it again if the weekly waterings weren’t cutting it, or if I thought the plants might be established enough to thrive with only a 3-month supply of DriWater.

Looking closer at the estimated cost of last year’s process: the duplex is 11 miles away, so 4 roundtrip visits a month comes out to 88 miles. Using the IRS standard mileage rate as a guide, 88 miles * $.555/mile = $48.84 a month. That doesn’t include my time filling and lugging jugs of water to the car or driving to/from the property.

This year we have second property that is farther away, so this method becomes even less viable.

My ideal scenario would be a landscaping service that waters once a week (only the front yard trees, I’m not worried about the lawn), but I don’t think that’s a typical business model. A more realistic option might be a vacation watering service, swapping houseplants for trees. For example, I found an individual who would water houseplants for $16 per half hour, so $64/month per property assuming 4 visits a month.

The plan: I’m going to attempt to strike a deal with a trusted tenant at each property to water the front yard trees on both sides once a week. Both tenants I have in mind are good communicators, so I think they will be ideal candidates for this experiment. In exchange for a deep watering of both trees, I will pay them $30 a month for their trouble. I’ll also send them a friendly reminder email once a week since I know weekends get busy and even the best tenant is bound to forget sometimes.

My intention is for this to be a win-win offer – my watering needs are being accomplished at a lower cost and with less personal effort, while the tenants are happy to earn extra spending money for a relatively simple task. The agreement will run 3 months – June-August, for a total of $90/property for the summer. This method probably only works with the right tenants, but I like my odds for this summer.

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