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The Roller Coaster Ride of Rental Properties
changing the locks

The Roller Coaster Ride of Rental Properties

We love home renovation projects and improving the functionality of living spaces.  So we were excited today to be getting one of our properties back.  We communicated with our renter since March that we no longer wished to continue renting the property.  There are several reasons we no longer have an interest in renting our property.  Our main motivation is to simplify our affairs and work towards moving out of the city.  When we move from the area, we do not want to have obligations here.

Our renter had lived in the home for six years, and we have maintained a friendly landlord/tenant relationship.  To be empathetic to our long-term tenant, we first informed them of our intentions and asked if they would like the opportunity to qualify for financing the home.  When she was declined for a possible mortgage, we served an official notice on May 1 that we would like her to move by June 30. This would give us a month or so for some repairs and renovations with plenty of time to catch the summer real estate buying season. Little did we know just how difficult it can be to remove someone from your property.  Especially, if the renter is subsidized through Section 8.  If you are considering the rental of your property through section 8.  There are things to seriously consider. You may be taken for a ride if you are not well informed.

The Highs

First, the beauty of section 8 rental contract was a steady consistent payment each month.  Our money arrived on the first day of each month without any excuses or delays. There were a few times when the government would shut down for a week or two, then rent may be delayed, however by in large the rent check was guaranteed and reliable.  In the 13 years Stephen rented this property, he has had a pleasant experience in being paid for rent from both his traditional rental agreement as well as his section 8 agreement.

Stephen had a traditional rental agreement for seven years. He was called to the home for repairs only twice.  His renters were good to communicate when something was damaged.  If there was a wish or need, they requested what they would like to improve or install and if the request fell to a landlord Stephen would discount the rent and they would take care of the request. The property was returned in comparable condition as when it was first rented.

In contrast, the section eight agreement would be inspected by an inspector with both landlord and tenant assigned a “honey do” list; and there was always a list!  You would think, an inspection every six months would be in the best interest of the landlord after all the landlord would be able to visually see the property to assess how it is being cared for. In our experience, the opposite was true. We could see the property depreciating and falling into disrepair without the ability to do anything about it.   Often the repairs we needed to make each time were items requiring repair due to tenant lack of properly caring for the home.  Common list for tenants was to replace ripped out screens or general cleaning and lawn maintenance.  Landlord repairs were anything from replacing broken faucets, doors or handrails that had been removed from proper placement. Repairs every six months and seeing a property declining feels like a futile activity, and over time became a dreaded chore.  Section 8 is aimed at assisting low-income families with housing needs.  Do not expect support from a case-worker if you have a concern or complaint as an owner.


Feel free to watch our amateur video showing how ugly it can be, and I am sure ours was not the worst experience. Click Here  Section 8 has no interest in how your property is returned to you.  As a landlord, no one is looking out for your interests. You are on your own.  When we arrived at the property the day before the video was taken, water had been left running in an upstairs bathroom.  Water had pooled in our main level kitchen and dining area and many clothes were soaked in our basement as well.  Actually, I think the video does not share the entire story.  The home and especially basement was filled with discarded possessions.   Let me share some photos.

Clothes Drying Wet Floor Of Property
clothes used to dry the floor

Entering the kitchen.  You can see the home has quality construction and cabinetry.  Stephen at one time lived in this home personally and used his carpentry skills to update and improve it.  When we arrived and discovered pooling water, we used discarded clothing to do what we could to soak it up.

Pooling Water Damage Above

Kitchen Ceiling Water Damage
Water damage on kitchen ceiling

These photos highlight the water damage on the kitchen ceiling.  Upon discovery, water was pooled in the drywall with a  steady stream to the ground.  Stephen needed to place puncture holes in the ceiling to drain excess water and begin to dry out the drywall. Water was also pooled onto the wood floor of the adjoining dining area and had made its way to the basement level as well.

Stephen discarded the rotting food in the refrigerator.  Ever wonder what food looks and smells like after a week or so of no electricity?

Removing Rotten Food
After removal of rotten food.

Dirty Stove Top

We have not yet tackled cleaning of the stove or oven, but the first glance tells me we have some elbow grease ahead of us. There is a scent of rancid grease in the air.

Damaged Blinds

Many of the blinds throughout the house were damaged or missing.  Several windows were broken or cracked.  There were also several rooms with holes in the walls and at least three doors are damaged to the point they will need to be replaced.

Mess Of Basement

All rooms and closets contained trash and discarded food containers.  The basement was the worst.  Unfortunately, our work in the basement and garage is not completed with trash removal but we are getting there.

Clean Up Aftermath Garbage BagsThe picture does not do the days work justice. There are about three solid rows piled 2 to 3 high of 50-gallon construction sized bags filled to the point we could hardly lift them.  We also had a full day fire barrel in the backyard and burned things that were appropriate to lessen the amount we had to sit on the curb.

Changing Door Locks
changing the locks

Excitement For Reclaimed InvestmentDespite our home being in disrepair Stephen and I have a sense of excitement to be able to reclaim our investment and restoring this sturdy home to the welcoming place it truly can be.  We have some ideas of what we may do with this investment, and we look forward to sharing them with you.

I also want to state that the contrasting experiences we had between traditional rental and section 8 where merely our experiences and in no way meant to be a blanket statement that one is better than another.  I am sure there are many renters utilizing section 8 who take meticulous care of the property and several traditional renters who trash it.  The key is understanding your rights and restrictions with any agreement you choose to enter.

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