Apartments for Cheap

Questions and Answers

Your Questions About Duplexes For Rent

March 20, 2012

Joseph asks…

Are tenants responsible for shoveling the driveway?

I rent a duplex to some people and they keep calling me to shovel the snow. It the state of wisconsin statue 704.07 in says that tenants are responsible for minor repairs and maintenance UNLESS otherwise stated in the lease agreement. Does this include shoveling snow? It is insane to think I must be on stand by to shovel the snow all winter long. Are they responsible? There are no side walks so it does not violate city code if the driveway is not shoveled.

Administrator answers:

As a good landlord, you do your tenants a favor by shoveling the driveway, sidewalk, steps, etc. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

My friend owns the apartment building that I live in. Last winter, my first winter in my friend’s building, I asked him if he had any intention in shoveling the driveway, clearing the steps, and wiping the snow from the one tenant’s front porch. He said no. So, I did it. No big deal.

If its not in the lease agreement, you have no obligations as far as snow removal.

William asks…

How to invest 5-10k to get on my own two feet? 21, Almost a licensed real estate agent.. no real “home”?

Mom’s house foreclosed on, she has nothing, anxiety/depression/bipolar and three other children still in school… Dad lives with a 45 year old male roommate and his girlfriend, I’m not welcome there.
I’ve been staying at my boyfriend’s (where I’m not allowed by his dad.. but his dad rarely comes home from his girlfriend’s house,) friends, and occasionally my dad’s.

I’ve been working and saved up 13k, lent 3k to my dad which I don’t know if I will see again. I’ve decided to leave my job as I’m going back to the university in August (took a year off to work,) and I want to get my foot in the door with real estate. I completed all classes necessary and my application was approved to take the exam, which I’m going to take in early August.

I have been avoiding renting so I can save up money and hopefully invest, but I would really like somewhere to call home. And, I want to get started investing now to hopefully build my money up to something substantial.

Are there any investments I can make with 5-10k that will have a quick turn around, which I can then use to invest again in something else to continue building my money quickly? I’d like to invest in real estate that I could live in (maybe a duplex.. rent out one, and rent out the other room(s) within my own.) I have an aunt who said she might be able to contribute up to 100,000 to flip a house from an auction (she’s an re agent.) But I’ve been waiting unsure on that for awhile, and she’s not doing well financially. I’m itching to do something now. It will be hard to get qualified for a loan now that I’m going to be jobless… I was thinking about talking to brokerages to see if any big shot realtors needed an assistant, and I could have a regular paycheck for awhile. The hours would have to fit around my school though. I’m willing to work hard; I just need someone to help point out steps I can take.

Any advice?

Administrator answers:

There are no quick turn around investments, at least none that have a reasonable chance of playing out as hoped. Investment is about risk adjusted returns and one of the primary advantages of investing in the stock market is being able to diversify risk across more than one business. Real estate is a far more concentrated risk which is why there are so many stories about making millions in real estate but the truth is that although excessive risks increases the probability that someone in the population will strike it big, it virtually guarantees individual failure. You can expect it to take at least three years to build up a real estate business and some realtors are never truly profitable. A regular paycheck however modest is worth a lot of money. For example the net present value of $5 a day each and every weekday (basically buying a morning Starbuck’s coffee) is $43,977.63 at today’s risk free rate.

Learning how to invest can maximize your returns but investing is no panacea for your problems and indeed you should focus on resolving your current problems before investing least they affect your investment decisions.

Focus on finding income and on finding government assistance. One possible source of income that is flexible enough for a school schedule would be to buy a professional glass chip repair kit and take appointments over the web in the parking lots at the school. It typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes to repair a chip with a professional kit and the billing is to the insurance company so such services are often advertised as being free. You can easily keep the kit in a locker or the trunk of your car and take appointments between classes.

Steven asks…

Simple Rent Question?

I signed a 1-year lease with my landlord to rent a duplex.

This lease started 11/20/08 and is ending 11/20/09

I payed for my first month up front + deposit and continued paying every month so tomorrows payment should be my last if i decide to move out?

Administrator answers:

Yes, but along with your payment tomorrow you should give written notice of your intention to move out as of November 20th. That covers you and lets the landlord know that you are indeed leaving.

Mary asks…

real estate: how are people able to buy property and rent it out to others?

My uncle makes money by charging people rent for living in his duplex
how would one go about doing that? what about in another state or country?
please give me a lot of ideas or website links for more
like if I wanted to buy property and make money renting it out to people in Miami
what should I know about this or real estate in general? I just turned 18

Administrator answers:

This is the technically known as Buy and Hold Strategy.
I understand better with examples, so I will go with this strategy.
Say you purchased a house with $350,000 at an interest rate of 5%. Your weekly repayment is $336.53. If you could rent it out at say $300 dollars, you are just having this property for only $36.53 pwk.
The greater benefit is:
i)Short term – you can claim tax back on your loss
ii)Long term – You get the capital gain ride. Visit to see the fun in capital gain.
One word of caution:
You will have to be ready for facts like rental management, home repair and some bolt from blue and tenants from hell. That’s why I recommend Buy at least 10 properties so that the money really works for you.

Laura asks…

Rental Property That Is Not In The Best Of Areas?

I have two psychiatrists that are father & the daughter just got out of school. They want to rent my duplex that is not in the best of areas and want to have their clients there and make this their office. They want a two year contract for $850 and not $875 that I have it listed for. Why would a psychiatrist want in an area that is not really where I would even live and can you even run a business out of a duplex like that when it is rental property?

Administrator answers:

What is the zoning of your duplex? If it is zoned residential it is likely having a doctor’s office would be a zoning violation. Check with your local “Building and Safety” or Zoning office in your city.

Helen asks…

How does transfer of property from parent to child affect us- taxes, credit, etc?

My mom’s considering transferring her property to me. I’m 23, married 1.5 years, with sub-prime credit (nothing bad on my report, I just haven’t had credit very long). My husband has non-existent credit.

There are two fully paid off properties, total value of about $800k-1m. My parents live in one, and rent the duplex to my two sisters.

Are there different ways to do this? Sale vs gift, etc? What taxes would have to be paid?

Would it affect our credit scores?

I’m sure it’ll affect financial assistance for us, but work pays my husband’s college tuition anyway.

I would imagine that it’ll prevent future first-time buyer incentives for us. Is that a big deal? What are other affects on our potential future home purchase?

I don’t want to discourage my parents from doing it, because they haven’t written a will (I’m trying to get them to) and this will prevent some in-fighting if my husband and I split the assets when they’re gone. I just want to get the facts first and do it right.

Administrator answers:

You have to pay a gift tax on any thing over $10k annually not $1M. They can put the house in your name for $1.00 so you would not have to pay anything. I would recommend them putting it into a revocable Living Trust instead. That is nice that they want to put it into your name but what if there is a fire? What if they are not able to the taxes? You would be responsible. If the house is left to you in a trust you will have to pay inheritance tax if you are over $1M (it might be less now) BUT you would not have to put it into probate and that will save you a lot of money. Plus the house goes just to you not your spouse as long as you keep it separate. Plus you control the house. You could sell it or mortgage it and that would not be good for them. Not that you would but your husband could.

John asks…

Rent People Without S.S.#?

I had this couple that wanted to rent my duplex. They were a very well dressed spanish couple in their early 20′s. They had been here from Mexico for 10 years & worked here, but did not have a Social Security number. They didn’t have anyone that could guarantee the contract because they were not a resident of the U.S. I didn’t have any choice but to have my real agent give them their deposit back they put down.
Would you have rented to them?

Administrator answers:


Sandra asks…

What is the best color for walls to be painted in an apartment?

I am getting my duplex ready to rent out . Right now the walls are a mix of Toupe and red with white trim.
Should I paint the whole apartment same color? Is toupe a good color for whole apartment.Or should it be an off white color?
I really could use some advice from you apartment owners and some of the apartment renters.
Thanks Much!!

Administrator answers:

Most of the apts around here have plain white or off white walls. They don’t stand out at all. They’re boring.
Adding color to the walls, makes the unit pop and feel more like a condo/home, which people like.
If i painted my walls white or off white, my units would not have rented as quickly or for as much.
Toupe is a good neutral color. Red might be a little too much. Not a lot of people are red people or have furniture that matches red walls. It just doesn’t have mass appeal and thats want you want in an apt color.
I painted the bathrooms/kitchens in my units a different color, yellow/taupe color while the rest is a light greenish cashew color. Using different colors breaks up the rooms.
I’d suggest you use a flat toupe color for the walls and a white semi gloss for the trim. Then use a semi gloss of another color for the bath and kitchen. Chose a color that compliments your tile or flooring.

If you want some more ideas, visit apt’s and condos in your area (pretend your interested in renting or buying them), or check the MLS for pics.

Sharon asks…

Is there such a thing as non-permanent paint?

I rent a duplex and would love to paint a lot of things in it. One thing in particular is the light fixture in the dining room. It’s a gaudy brass fixture and I’m wondering if I could paint over it with maybe latex paint so I could peel it off whenever we move out.

Can anyone help with ideas? The color scheme for our place is black and white, and I’d like to paint the fixture black. Would my latex idea work?

Administrator answers:

Once latex drys it is very hard to take off. The hard ware store sometimes carries a spray on plastic coating that comes in black, red, or blue. Spray it on then later peel it off. Its not too expensive.

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