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Turtle Soup in the Kitchen Sink — Or, Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Rental Inspections

Turtle Soup in the Kitchen Sink — Or, Why You Shouldn’t Skip Yearly Rental Inspections

3 min read
Matt Faircloth

Matt Faircloth, co-founder and president of the DeRosa Group, is a seasoned real estate investor. The DeRosa Group, b...

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If you are an active landlord and you mention it at a dinner party, I bet you get lots of questions like “What’s it like?” or “Tell me a crazy landlord story.” And if you’ve been a landlord for a long time, you’ve got plenty of funny, inspiring, crazy and educational stories to tell.

Matt Faircloth and Chad Gallagher are working on a project called The Landlord Chronicles. It’s a fun and immersive collection of stories told by landlords across the country, and each story will include a real-life lesson that any landlord will find useful. The lesson could be “Here’s what I do now” or “Here’s the key thing to never forget that really saved me in this instance.”

Real stories… real landlords… real issues… and a real lesson!

Take a look at this sneak peek and let us know what you think. 

Finding turtle soup in the kitchen sink

Each year, we take an in-person tour of all our properties where we go through each unit and take notes on what we find, paying particular attention to things like deferred maintenance where some time and money are required to keep issues from getting worse. We also look for opportunities for additional revenue that we forgot to capture….

And sometimes we find strange stuff that looks like it might become a looming problem.

On our annual tour of one unit, we look over to the kitchen sink to find that it has been plugged at the bottom and is completely full on the left side. The sink water is an ominous dark grey, so you can’t see more than a few inches deep into the water. In the corner of the sink, we see a little head sticking out.

A turtle head is sticking out of the murky grey sink water.

We look over to the tenant, who is standing in the kitchen, as well. Before words can cross our lips, we just point to the sink in shock. We are expecting the tenant to have an excuse or claim it is not his turtle. Or maybe he’ll just apologize and promise it’ll be gone shortly. Maybe it’s some odd type of science experiment? Well, it’s actually simpler than that.

The tenant looks at us and says, “Well, your lease very clearly said no aquariums in the apartment. What did you want me to do?”

Landlord lesson: Don’t skip your yearly inspection

The key lesson here is actually not tied at all to pet policies or the accompanying lease (though both are important). The takeaway from this story is the importance of the yearly inspection. We highly recommend the practice of touring and inspecting units once a year, in person. Whether you own one or 201 units, each landlord should see every unit in person once a year. You just never know what you will find!

Plan out your trip ahead of time and be sure to notify the tenants in advance. Access the rent roll before you go in, so you know how much rent the tenant owes or how their payment history looks. Refresh your memory on the last time you put in new capital expenditures like a roof or furnace. Finally, take a tablet to take notes and pictures as you go so you don’t forget anything you see.

One of the best parts about the yearly inspection is tenants realize that you care about their unit and how well it’s taken care of. If tenants know that you care, they will typically also take better care of your property. And you might even find something strange living in the sink!

Welcome to The Landlord Chronicles

Did you like what you read? Want to read more?

Do YOU have a crazy, inspiring educational landlord story?

Well, we want to hear from you! Matt Faircloth and Chad Gallagher are compiling landlord stories and the lessons learned from them. If you would be interested in hearing more or are interested in being a contributor to this project, please click here!