09 April, 2008

Tenants for the Top Floor

Our new tenants came over tonight to sign the lease for the top floor unit--and they brought cupcakes with them! This is such a good sign. (Seriously, how cute is that Snoopy cupcake?)

We've spent much of the last several weeks showing the apartment, checking out backgrounds, and tinkering with the lease we used to rent our condo in Chicago in order to make it work for our two-flat. (Thanks so much to Jocelyn at Chicago 2-Flat for letting me pick her brain about the pitfalls of renting out a unit in an owner-occupied two flat building.)

For the most part, I do have to say that the bulk of the people who came through were pretty nice. However, we did have some of what I thought were bizarre requests and questions:

"Will you be updating the bathroom prior to us moving in?"
(Um, no. Have you seen our bathroom downstairs? That gets updated first.)

"Can we store a boat in the garage?"
(Um, have you seen how big our cars are and how tiny our garage already is? No.)

"Will you be updating the kitchen?"
(What's wrong with the kitchen?)

"Can you add water hookups for a dishwasher?"
(Heck, I've learned to do without a dishwasher for now and hardly miss it--although I admit Mom and Ted pull more dish duty than I do.)

"If I pay a little more, will you put new tile in the bathroom?"
(Honestly, the bathroom is not a disaster, people; you're starting to make me feel self-conscious.)

We had people who absolutely loved the place and drooled over the vintage details and original woodwork and people who looked down their nose at us as they said things like, "You know, a lot of people take out these old ironing boards and convert them to spice racks. Will you be doing that?" or "You have a lot of work ahead of you on this place, don't you?" or "You didn't use oil-based finish when you refinished the floors, did you? (Why yes, yes we did.) Hmm, I could tell" or "This old icebox is kind of big and useless now, isn't it?" (My favorite variation of that: "That's not what we're supposed to be using for a refrigerator, is it?" Um, duh. The refrigerator is behind you.)

We had a few inquiries as to whether or not we'd consider Section 8 vouchers. If you don't know, this is a government program that expands the available housing options for low-income families by paying a portion of the rent. It's a program we don't want to get involved in, nor as landlords are we obligated to do so. There are a lot of downsides to the program, such as rigorous government inspections and the withholding of their portion of the rent if they find something about your building they don't like. There's also a real concern that Section 8 tenant will not be able to pay their portion of the rent, in which case the government will not help with an eviction. For so many reasons, we're not signing up with the program.

A few people who toured the unit looked nervous when we mentioned the requisite credit check and employment verification. One even told us that we should just "pick the person with the best personality."

Of the applications we got back, some came with pages-long essays regarding what we'd find on the credit report, making excuses for themselves or asking for understanding, or saying that they're praying that we'll select them and, if it's God's wish, we will. I would find myself feeling sympathetic and almost willing to give someone another chance, but Ted would reel me in by saying "What happens if they don't pay?" It's a hassle to evict someone, and expensive.

But the lengthy search process seems to have payed off. We found a newly married professional couple in their late twenties who seem to like vintage buildings with character and collect antiques. We had a general conversation about our respective lifestyles, and they were the only prospective tenants to ask us how sound travels through the building and what they could do to minimize their impact on our lives. I think it will work out pretty well, touch wood.

I'm so glad the search is over.

But for now, you'll have to forget they exist. Pretend there is nobody upstairs from us. Pretend we don't even have a second floor. To respect their privacy, I won't be blogging about them at all--okay, well, maybe only in the most abstract way possible, such as, "Yep, we have tenants."


Jen said...

Aw..They brought cupcakes! Even one with a dog! :) Sounds like a good fit and it all will work out fine.

Anonymous said...

Cupcakes? That's awesome! It also screams "I think of others - not just myself" and that's a great sign.

Marilyn said...

Sounds like you found the right tenants! Bringing sweets is always a good sign. Did they make them?

And what's with people and all their ridiculous questions?

Sandy said...

I hope they are excellent tenants!

Joanne said...

I didn't realize that one of the cupcakes was actually a carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting. (You'd think the big carrot on it would have given it away!) So I called dibs on one with a big blue flower, and Ted snatched this one up. After promising he'd share a bite later, he waited until I fell asleep and ate the whole thing!

Marilyn--the cupcakes came from Bennison's on Davis. Yum-my.

Anonymous said...

In my defense, although it wasn't a premeditated act...you snooze you lose! Who knew that carrot cake and whiskey go so well together?

Jocelyn said...

I would say the cupcakes are a good sign. :o)

I pretty much don't post about our tenants-only if it is something that directly affects our unit.

Congrats again!

Joanne said...

Yeah...I'd hate having a landlord blog about me. :-)

Marilyn said...

Joanne - oh my god! I knew those cupcakes were from Bennison's, I knew that look immediately. I didn't post it because I was pretty sure I'd look nuts. I mean more nuts.

Sigh...Bennison's. Near my old vet's office, Tom Thumb crafts and Gigio's Pizza - is it still there?

Joanne said...

Marilyn--Tom Thumb crafts is fabulous! I went there a week or so ago and was hit with such a wave of nostalgia for the craft store I went to when I was a kid. I swear, the layout and everything is exactly the same. Love it! When I was in the model aisle, I saw an airplane that looked just like one I had built way back when. I flipped the box over, and what do you know! Copyright 1982. This is my childhood craft store!

Gigio's is still there, too, but I haven't tried it yet.

Karen Anne said...

It's useful to get a copy of your own credit report once and a while.

I did with mine, and discovered something that looked awful. I would have written a letter of explanation about it if I were applying for credit or something, now I'm not sure if that would make it look worse :-)

I charged my moving expenses cross country, to get the points on my credit card, and since my neighbor at the destination was receiving the furniture for me while I was still in the original state. Then I paid it off right away. But it shows up on the credit report as a Max amount owed in last x years, which looks horrible, like I was really running up bills and not keeping up the payments.