As I prepare my Maine rentals for winter - hiring a plow guy who will actually show up, finding the best deal for oil, making sure my tenants shut their storm windows, etc., I have to wonder if there's a better option. My rentals have been good to me financially, but I wonder what you folks in the southern states have to deal with? For example, around here it's typical for the landlord to pay for heat and there is a central boiler. Tenants are afraid to rent if they have to pay for heat, yet they often have no concept of conservation. However, we don't provide air conditioning and tenants often use window units and pay for their own electricity.
Here are my biggest sources of stress as a landlord in Maine:
-The plow or sand guy doesn't show up and tenants can't get to work in the morning.
-The boiler breaks down and the building could freeze, costing me thousands (I've stayed up almost all night with a newer boiler that broke down with no parts available) .
-The plow guy does a bad job and there's no room left for tenants to park.
-It's hard to find tenants who will hold a job and be respectful of their neighbors.
-Most of the buildings that are for sale are 100+ years old, with old wiring and plumbing headaches.
What do landlords in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee worry about? Do you need regular pest treatment? Do you pay for heat and AC? Do you have roaming gangs and have to pay a security guard, or is it easy to find good tenants in the Bible Belt?
I'm thinking of checking out some of these states for future investment. Of course, I would find a good property management company first and then find a small complex in their area. I've found that good management is more important than the property itself.
Hi Amy. I am in the Hilton Head area of SC. We deal with HVAC, bugs and flood insurance. The structures here are much newer than you are dealing with. We have mostly single family, not to many multi.
Hope that helps
Air conditioning is a must, but I do not pay for it, the tenants do (this is in single family houses). It's ridiculously humid, even in October. We've got plenty of bugs to deal with, hurricanes, flooding, and the occasional tornado. It's been years since we saw snow of any significance - a couple inches shuts the whole area down, lol.
I haven't had trouble finding good tenants so far, I tend to get a lot of military applicants and I've had good luck with them. No roaming gangs, at least not around my houses, lol.
There are tons of 60's/70's ranches here in desperate need of updating, and that's the kind of house I tend to go after. I usually have to upgrade the panel to 200 amp, but nothing major like rewiring the whole house. Mostly minor plumbing fixes...so far. I manage mine myself so I can't recommend a property management company.
@Amy A. Yes, it’s all roaming gangs and rabid dogs meander the streets. But, seriously, you do need to pay for quarterly pest control. Where I invest there isn’t much snow and it never has to be plowed. There is hail in some places (likely where you are as well) so that impacts roof longevity. And in many markets you kinda, sorta, have to accept small dogs to be viable/competitive. But maybe all of this is normal too where you are, I have no idea.
@Amy A. sounds like there’s some special considerations I’ll have to keep in mind if I begin investing in the colder Maine climates! How much would you say a typical heating bill runs in the winter months per unit?
Amy, I'm not sure if you're looking for a new plow guy, but I've been very pleased with Knight Property Services out of Westbrook. They service all of my units in Portland. Last winter one of my tenants wrote me a thank you note because when she left for work at 3am (she's a baker) she was fully expecting to have to dig out, but the driveway was already plowed and the sidewalks were already shoveled. They're also either cheaper or comparable to other plow companies I've looked at.
As for expenses that we don't have to deal with up here in the great white north (he says as it's 70+ degrees in mid October still), when I lived in the D.C. area termite control was a must.
Mold. Mold sucks. Dry climates rock with the exception of the fact that in areas where you don't see mold (like Denver), the prices are through the roof.
Have I mentioned mold in a basement where folks have broken in and stolen the copper pipes sucks?
@Louis Aller Heating prices in Maine can vary quite a bit. One 3-unit building costs me 2200-2000 a year and is oil heated. Complete remodel with new windows and doors made a big difference, was over 5k before but oil was also a lot more.
Another 4-unit gas heated building costs between 1600-1800 a year but this also heats the hot water for all 4 units. again good windows and doors and a well insulated attic.
A 3-unit cost me 3600 last year in gas, bad windows and doors otherwise well insulated. also heats hot water and gas dryer in basement. still pretty high compared to other properties. Doing new windows and doors starting next year as we remodel each apartment. hoping that helps.
Heating is definitely a major expense up here in Maine lol.