Grad student, thinking of becoming Rental Agent for LL, or Buyer
May 17, 2014 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Greetings! My LLs are about 85 and seem to be over being LLs. There are 11 units in my building, 3 of which were rented for the year, we had a 4th tenant but she moved out the 4th month. I secured all of these tenants. My LLs obviously could have made a lot more money if they rented all the units. I can easily get tenants and have no problem doing so, the only obstacle is the LLs, they do not get back to emails and lose many of the renters I get (I show them the unit and it takes the LL 2 weeks to email back).

I am happy to help because they are sweet folks. I have the opportunity to be an RA and have free rent, but I will also have to babysit undergrads ( I'm a 3rd year PhD student). Previously, the LLs would give me $100 for each referral. However, since they are doing such a sloppy job, I am proposing that for each unit I rent I get $100 off my rent of $800, to go no lower than $200. I will show the units, collect applications, and be the contact person for issues, and deposit and collect rent checks. My dad thinks I am selling myself short. What do you think would be fair?

Since I will be in the area at least another 3 years, I have also thought of buying the building, but I am not sure the ins and outs of a land contract. Thanks
posted by TRUELOTUS to Work & Money (12 answers total)
This sounds like a lot more work than is worth that little in rent. You're a property manager. $600/month for that seems too little.
Let your LLs or their kids decide if they want to make more money.
posted by k8t at 7:05 PM on May 17, 2014

You are selling yourself short! That's a hugely valuable service you're willing to provide for next to nothing. Maybe talk to them about it first and see if that "position" is something they're even interested in and negotiate from there.
posted by katypickle at 7:29 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

The role of coordinating new tenants (which it sounds like you have already been partially doing) might be adequately compensated by the reduction in rent you propose, but I am stuck on the part where you are the contact person for "issues". Do you mean issues like repairs, etc? Even just negotiating conditions of tenancy is going to be a lot of work. If your landlords are as responsive to "issues" as they have been to responding to prospective tenants that you've found for them, you are not going to earn enough for the amount of phone calls (and repeat phone calls) that you'll get.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:43 PM on May 17, 2014

Contact person for issues means you are on-call 24/7. Maybe you have not troubled your LL with minor issues, but all you need is one tenant who has continual problems and you are basically tied up almost every day, regardless of whether you have anything else, like deadlines, going on that day. If there is an extreme weather event, you may be working, boots on the ground, for 24+ hours straight.
posted by saucysault at 7:46 PM on May 17, 2014

Buy the building. Figure out a system to deal with tenants keeping to the Law and your Morals, you'll be fine.

Don't live there and offer this service unless you desperately need the money.

Um, these landlords have a strategy or something's "up." You don't know their story, even if you think you do.

Proceed with caution.
posted by jbenben at 10:35 PM on May 17, 2014

If you could afford the building and would have the time to do all the extra hustle and bustle, that would be great.

Where I live, property managers get 10% of the monthly intake for the units they manage, plus many get a bonus (several hundred dollars) for each tenant that they place. So if you filled six units you'd get somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000, plus if all the units were filled you'd get paid $1100/month. Not exactly what you're proposing, but not 100% off the mark either.

But also potentially a crapton of work. Are you really up for it?
posted by sockanalia at 12:46 AM on May 18, 2014

So you'd basically be the building manager/super? That's usually free rent and a salary.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:59 AM on May 18, 2014

You need to stop emailing the 85 year old people. Call them when you need a response.

Where are you located? I think that will make difference.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 AM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I sublet rooms and apartments in a house when I was doing my undergrad. It is not as simple as it seems. Reasonable seeming people can turn out to be nightmares. Like people in an attic apartment getting a husky puppy and abandoning it all day every day. Like people not paying rent for 5 months and then disappearing. Like a drunken bartender coming home at 4 in the morning and blaring Pink Floyd.

Appliances fail, electricity gets abuses, pipes goes on and on.

There is a lot more work in property management than you think and you should be sure if you do take it on your responsibilities and liabilities are very clearly delimited.

Also, do not be an RA to your tenants. Be an adult dealing with adults or else you are in for a real mess.
posted by srboisvert at 6:43 AM on May 18, 2014

Also 85 year old people tend to die. Make sure your deal covers that situation.
posted by srboisvert at 6:44 AM on May 18, 2014

I am in Boston. Being an RA is a different opportunity. I rather not be an RA. I rather be a rental agent. BTW, I have experience in tenants rights so I know how difficult tenants can be.
posted by TRUELOTUS at 9:55 AM on May 18, 2014

Regardless, this seems like a bad idea for the following reasons:
- You'll be doing much more work than you'll be compensated for.
- There will be a lot of small bullshit to deal with that will be really annoying.
- You'll be doing much more work than you'll be compensated for.
- You'll be doing much more work than you'll be compensated for.

- You're a PhD student. I've been there. There are times (comprehensive exams, deadlines for writing a conference paper, heavy TA grading load) when you really can't be a very available property manager. Imagine a situation where you have to submit a conference paper by midnight and pipes explode. Even if you're totally proactive about your deadlines (I am/was - I have a small child who could get sick at any second), the chance of bad timing occurring is high.

- You're a PhD student. You're probably going to be leaving Boston in a few years anyway. If you can buy it, know that you can make substantial money from it, and then hire someone to do what you're doing after you leave (and factor in paying out-of-state taxes after you leave), maybe this is a possibility. But I wouldn't recommend it.

If I were you or you were my close friend I'd say "why are you even finding renters for these people? $100 for all that bullshit isn't worth it?"
posted by k8t at 10:41 AM on May 18, 2014

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