When it comes to owning and managing a rental property, I don’t care to spend money for things that are not needed. So a few years ago, when a tenant of mine asked if I would pay to have a fence installed for the back yard, I asked, “Why?”
The tenant wanted to get a puppy and hoped that I would pay for it. I thought they were joking at first but, they were serious and wanted me to enclose the back yard. I mulled it over in my head for a few seconds and came to this conclusion…
Are they nuts? They want me to pay $750 to $1,000 for a new fence… So they can get a dog? No way!
Putting in a fence would have been a losing prospect for me. The neighbors would hate me when the tenant put the dog in the yard, only to have it bark all night long. I would not pay for a fence so they could keep a dog in the yard.
Several months later, I met an investor who had over 100 rental properties. I mentioned the request that my tenant had made and that I didn’t pay for a new fence. The investor suddenly became very interested and told me that it would have been the best money I ever spent.
I asked him how it would have been a good move to have granted the request.
He went on to tell me how he had faced a law suit early in his investing career. He had a rent house that did not have a fenced in yard. His tenants did not have a dog or any other animals but, they did have two kids.
One day one of his renters’ kids was in the back yard, where several neighborhood kids had gathered to play. Right about that time, a stray Pit Bull had wandered into the yard and attacked one of the young kids. Thankfully, the attack didn’t last long and the boy ended up only needing a few stitches.
Test Question: Who got sued?
It was not his tenants’ kid who was attacked and the dog did not belong to his tenant.
You guessed it… HE was sued! It was his property where the dog attacked a neighborhood kid and the parents sued him for $75,000. He told me that it was settled out of court for $20,000.
I asked what his insurance covered and he told me that they paid for all the legal fees and the $20,000 settlement. I remember saying to him, “Well that’s not all bad. At least you didn’t have to come out of your own pocket.” He shook his head and said, “The hell I didn’t!”
He said that his insurance rates went up about $2,000 for each of the next seven years. In the end, he figured he ended up paying over $14,000 because a stray Pit Bull had bitten someone on his property. His tenants broke their lease two months later and he had to pay the holding costs for the five months it took to replace them. That was the first and only time I had ever met a fellow investor that had actually been sued because of an animal attack and was able to tell me how expensive it was.
The next day I called the tenant that had asked me to install a fence. I told them to expect a fence to be installed within a week.
I determined that I was looking at the situation all wrong.
I had reasoned that I wouldn’t pay $750 to $1,000 to keep my tenants’ dog IN the yard.
Instead, I ended up spending about $800 to keep everyone else’s dog OUT!
The investor was right… It was the best money I have ever spent.