Fighting for rental space
This year has been very strange as far as rentals go. First off, rent rates have skyrocketed. In 2018, we have seen two-bedroom, one-bath houses rent for as much as 3/2 floorplans were renting for just two years ago. With the spike in rent prices, odd things have started happening. For instance, we’ve had con artists trying rent people our houses.
In previous years, we’ve heard of scams like this online. Scammers would email a lease agreement to their victims in exchange for first month’s rent and deposit. They would promise to send the keys once everything was signed. Obviously, the keys never came.
This year, however, we had someone show up in person at one of our houses and try to run the same scam. He showed people the exterior of our house while our tenants still lived in the property. To make a long story short, we called the police, and his attempts were thwarted.
This year, we had someone shred up his application, drive by our office and throw it at our door. He did this because we denied his application since he didn’t completely fill it out.
By the way, incomplete applications have become a common theme. Right now, we have over 200 applications for one particular property. How crazy is a 200-to-one ratio?
Of those 200 applications, close to 80 percent were discarded for not being completely filled out. Of the 20 percent that were, most applicants hadn’t been on the job for an entire year as required. And if they had, they either didn’t make a monthly income of three times the rent rate or didn’t show on the application that they had sufficient funds to cover what was needed to move in. In other words, they couldn’t afford the house.
And if that wasn’t the case, they wanted to fit something like eight people into a three-bedroom house. That numbers exceeds HUD occupancy levels. All of that means we’re getting a ton of applications, but none of them have brought potentially good tenants.
With so many people looking and the lack of availability of rentals, these are strange times.
Take what happened to my assistant, Marybeth, last week while I was out of town.
She went by a rental we have in Adairsville early Monday morning to make sure we had applications on the counter. Marybeth is an early riser, and she got there at daybreak. She walked up, retrieved the key from the lock box and opened the door. As she stepped in, she noticed some tissues on the floor. What happened next was terrifying.
She must have said, “huh,” out loud because almost immediately after, a figure bolted for the back door. Keenly aware someone was going out the back, poor Marybeth made a speedy retreat out the front door, almost falling off the porch.
From her car, she made the first call to the police on our behalf that day.
We figure the squatter was one of the 200-plus people who had viewed the property and had somehow familiarized themselves with our lock box code. Marybeth got the code reset and moved on to answering and returning phone calls about the property.
About 3 p.m. that day, a call came in from someone viewing that same house. They said there weren’t enough applications on sight, and a literal fist fight had broken out in the front yard over the last one. Marybeth, once again, called 911 and a patrol car was sent to escort her to check on the property.
Can you say crazy?
Let me emphasis something: this house is not in a war zone. It’s a nice house in a great neighborhood. And we’ve never had anything like this happen before. But folks are getting desperate due to the lack of rental inventory. And they’re literally fighting for rental space or squatting in vacant houses. Either way, be aware that these are strange times.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.