I received closed on a single family in Indiana IN. Received first month’s rent yesterday and before I could feel happy about the potential cash flow, I received a service request today for potential raccoon activity in the attic.
Property management company tells me that this is a common problem in this area (Indiana). Is this true?
They quoted $380 for inspection and setting traps and $80 per catch. Is this reasonable? How should I approach this?
As this is my first time ever and receiving such a serious request in the first month itself is a little demotivating and scary for the future expenses.
@Kunal Lakhwani Googling these questions tells me it is a common problem in certain parts of Indianapolis and also tells me the prices seem reasonable unless you personally know a inspector or your property management provides vendor services at a discount.
Did you do an inspection on the house before purchasing? if so they were probably not the best, because these guys know when they see potential activity like this in attics.
If I were you, I would :
1. First eliminate the problem at hand (traps etc)
2. Find and plug the source of the problem (could be a gap in the exterior of the home through which raccoons find their way in)
On a side note: if your property was vacant for sometime (assuming during the late winter months) it could have encouraged raccoon activity, so I don't think this will be a recurring expense. Also, its important to account for what we call a "break-in" (or move-in) expense once a tenant moves in, since they will notify you a bunch of things they need fixed within the first 2-3 weeks of staying at the house.
Actually had one in our own house a couple months ago. Bought a live trap for $30 at our local farm store. Stuck some marshmallows in there. I guess they like sweets. Caught it a day or two later. Took it out in the middle of nowhere and let it go. Poor guy took off out of the cage faster you can say marshmallows.
Make sure you cover whatever hole they are getting in afterwards.
Hi @Kunal Lakhwani ,
Based off your location, are you an out of state investor? If not, I recommend visiting your SFH to find where the racoons are entering. That said, priority one is to remove the racoon. It sounds like you're not happy with the quote given from the Property Manager, so I'd recommend asking your real estate agent for any recommendations he/she has for pest control companies. Additionally, try to get an additional quote by calling a highly rated company in the area. If you find a better quote, tell your property manager so that they can facilitate property entry the day pest control arrives.
I always try to get at least three quotes before moving forward with any service for my properties.
Finally, I'm sure receiving a service request the next day after receiving the first rent check is demotivating, but taking care of this problem quickly and effectively will let your tenants know that you are great landlord, and hopefully make them long term tenants!
I agree with what others have said. Get additional quotes from licensed pest control providers. A licensed provider who handles animal trapping is fine, doesn’t have to be a big name company. Get the entry points sealed, exclusion is your best defense against any type of pest, including raccoons and squirrels. Don’t be discouraged. Deal with this problem quickly and keep it moving. Since you do have a property management company and cannot be on site yourself, be sure to set the expectation with them regarding getting a few quotes, especially if you find that the pricing varies widely. You also have to manage the property managers. You’ll find like anything else, It’s a process but overall rewarding. Good luck!
@Adam Azam sardines work well too, they love them.
Repairs are part of the game. Congrats on the rent collection. Expect repairs and service calls. Hopefully that was built into your price you paid and the cashflow accounts for it.
@Kunal Lakhwani Don't be worried about maintenance requests. This is the normal course of owning real estate. As others have said this is an easy problem to fix. This should get you motivated though to vette some vendors local to the area that can deal with common maintenance issues such as this. You can then provide these vendors to the PM and ask them to contact your preferred providers first. This will save you time and money in the long run. As a side note, I had a similar issue with my first rental. Shortly after the first rent check came through we had a damaging storm that blew a large number of shingles off the roof. I recall being so worried at the time, when I look back at it now I see it is just part fo the business. Point is don't be discouraged, you are on a great path. Look at the bright side, you were able to collect the first rent payment :)
@Kunal Lakhwani time for a critter gitter!
You don’t have a choice. This isn’t really a service request, there’s raccoons in the house.. get it done, find where they are gettin in and be done with it.
@Kunal Lakhwani unfortunately what the deal calculators don't tell you is that "5%" repairs is an average over time. Odds are good this year you will be well over 5%, which is common when you first acquire a property and stabilize. The key here is fix the problem (plug entry points), don't just remediate. Find a company that guarantees their work, meaning after the coons are gone, they will warranty against them coming back. Let your property management company do their job. They are far more experienced than you.
Get it done ASAP! Before the raccoons cause damage and leave feces everywhere and you're looking at it being more expensive to fix. A neighbor at one of my rentals had this exact problem (Southern IL) and her renters let it go until it was a nightmare to clean up.
I hate to tell you this the first month of owning your rental property, but you'll want to have that attic thoroughly inspected. I'm talking every nook and cranny. You'll want to look for raccoon urine and feces. If there is any signs of urine or feces, I'd recommend tearing out the insulation, applying anti-microbial, and replacing the insulation. I'd double check your insurance policy to see if raccoon damage is covered. If not, you'll have to pay out of pocket. But I would not risk your tenants living in a home potentially with raccoon urine and feces growing diseases in the attic whatsoever. When you're looking over your insurance policy, I'd double check your liability limits as well. If your tenants become ill, that could lead to a costly lawsuit.
I buy animal control services in north central PA and I would be very happy with those rates. Trust your PM, make sure that the work will make sure no more get in. I know with squirrels you can't use just any material to keep them out once they got in. You need steel plates, woods and wire mesh won't cut it they will go through it once they smell that other squirrel have gotten in there. If you have a constant problem you might consider using some predator urine treatments to prevent it. Predatorpee.com I am not joking, I use urine all the time to keep the animals out of attics and stuff.
Thank you all for amazing advice and encouragement! Really appreciate it all.
At one point I had raccoons In my attic, squirrels in my chimney, and a possum in my basement. The raccoons and the squirrels at least were in part due to the fruit trees I had close to the roof line. If you've got fruit trees in the area I would trim them way back
Sorry about the tough first month. I'll tell you my story, incase it makes you feel better: With my first property 3 years ago I ended up losing $20k in the first year - I needed a new roof and windows. I made all sorts of rookie mistakes with the purchase, I probably should've done more research but in the end I learned a lot and I would absolutely do it again. Now I'm up to 8 units. Good luck with the racoon - make some calls, put in some work and figure it out, you're going to be just fine.
@Kunal Lakhwani This is not uncommon and is not a serious request. It can be unsettling to get a service request the first month you closed but it's not necessarily indicative of what your ongoing maintenance will be. If the property is in good shape, it's possible you might not have any more services calls for the year, but in any case, you have to expect to have some maintenance expenses and you have to reserve for them. Racoons in the attack are not a big problem. Broken sewer lines or sinking foundations are big problems. Find the source of entry and block it off. It's pretty simple.
Sorry to rain on the parade but get used to spending more on repairs for out of state properties unless they are in A neighborhoods.
Telling this from experience. I expanded quickly to 8 out of state homes over last 5 years and exited 2 with a profit last year (only because I got in early in cycle around 2013 when prices were low).
if you are willing to spend time then try thumtack but try to let the PM deal with it as the expense you were quoted is reasonable. I had a persistent racoons problem in one of my rentals, had to get trees cut around roof and fix all access points for it to go away. Your chance of making real cashflow in out of state homes only materializes when tenant stays 2+ years, so get these preventive issues fixed and hope that you have good tenants.
I agree with others. The entry needs plugged and inspected.
Being an outdoorsman myself, trapped my fair share of raccoons, and had a pet raccoon. If it was me I’d get a box trap for $30 and some wire mesh for $30 and have it fixed in an hour. Being a long distance issue, I’d just call around and find a animal control person or a local handy man to handle it.
Pretty typical to get maintenance issues brought to your attention at the beginning of any lease, especially if this is the first time the house has been lived in since a renovation or if it’s the first time the house has ever been rented. Always some oddities that you can’t foresee unless you’ve lived in or spent a few nights in the place. Don’t worry about it, you’ll likely get a nice blissful period of no contact once they settle in. It’s also an early chance to show that they have a landlord who cares, which may dictate how they treat the place for the duration of their lease. It’s the long game!
Regarding the price, all I will say is that every time I try to find a better deal on something like this I always regret it. Overcomplicating things or being excessively involved in the situation from afar (when that is what you’ve hired the property manager to do) always makes me wish I had just paid the quoted price on the front end.