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Odd Jobs Update: DIY Landlord

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If you haven’t heard, I said goodbye to SAHD FIRE and moved on to Barista FIRE. Basically, I want to raise $30,000 to build a beach cabin in Thailand. I’ll try various ways to make money and write an update occasionally. Last week, I started doing food delivery with DoorDash and had a disastrous first day. That day, I worked 2 hours, made $20.75, got a flat tire, and gave $20 to a guy for putting the spare tire on. He lives with his dog in a trailer at the gas station. I’m pretty sure he needs the $ more than I do. It can only go up from here, right? I’ll keep trying and see if I can get it up to $20 per hour. I’m not too optimistic, but I’ll stick with it for a while. I need more time on the job to write about food delivery. Anyway, I’ll write about the odd jobs I already know a lot about. Today, I’ll give you an update about being a DIY landlord.  

DIY Landlord

I’ve been a landlord since 2008. We rented our old house out when we moved. Since then, we acquired several properties and got rid of the problematic ones. Currently, we have a rental condo and a small duplex. We live in one of the units at the duplex and rent the other one out. I do all the maintenance and repairs at both places. For some reason, it’s been much busier than normal recently.

Backyard repair

Last October, a huge 50-year-old willow fell down in our backyard. It took 4 months to remove the debris due to red tape, availability, and various other things. We hired a tree company to deal with this. I wanted to keep the trunk and transform the backyard into a natural playground, but I was outvoted by the neighbors. The backyard is shared between 4 properties. The good thing is the cost was split 4 ways. Also, I didn’t want to DIY this because I don’t have any experience with a chainsaw. These days, I avoid anything that can cause serious injury. Life is already too short.

The process of removing the debris destroyed all the landscaping in the backyard. Over the last few weeks, Mrs. RB40 and I have been working back there whenever the weather was good.

  • I repaired the chain-link fence. The tree company had to remove a section to access the backyard.
  • I put down grass seeds and covered them with peat moss. The grassy area got stomped into mud when the workers removed the trunk.
  • We relocated my mushroom logs. My mushrooms finally bloomed after 3 years! I was about to give up and chop these logs up for firewood, but I’m going to keep them now. The oyster mushrooms were delicious.
  • We got a new fig tree, herbs, and some shrubs. We’ll plant these as soon as the weather improves.

Replace garbage disposal

Last week, our tenant at the condo told me the garbage disposal was leaking. I dropped by and saw that water was leaking from the bottom of the unit. It was over 15 years old so the internal seals probably fell apart. I went to Home Depot and picked up an identical unit and dropped by to install it. I took RB40Jr with me to help out because he’s been playing video games all weekend. We even shot a video clip. Check it out!

This job went pretty smoothly. We were done in under an hour and I didn’t have to make another trip to the hardware store. If we called a handyman or a plumber, it would have cost a lot more. A property management company probably charges around $200 to deal with this, not including parts.

Bathroom heater maintenance

Yesterday, our duplex tenant came by and told me the bathroom heater isn’t working. This is one of those little wall heaters. I took the cover off, turned off the circuit breaker, cleaned the unit, and hit the reset button. Success! It’s working again. The unit was full of lint. Hopefully, it’ll keep working or else I’ll have to replace it. This one is probably 20 years old. A handyman would charge around $60 for this kind of work.

DIY landlord

Normally, being a DIY landlord isn’t that busy. Our tenant at the rental condo is low maintenance. He rarely calls. Most appliances are working pretty well, but they are getting old. I probably need to replace a few more things over the next few years. The dishwasher probably will join the garbage disposal soon. The knobs are getting iffy.

Our duplex tenant is also low maintenance. But there is plenty of maintenance to do around this 130-year-old building. We live here so I’m always doing something or another. That’s part of being a homeowner, though.

Overall, being a DIY landlord is pretty good. I save a lot of money by doing most of the repairs and maintenance myself. I also save a lot of money by not using a property manager. We used several property managers previously and weren’t impressed. They charged a lot and didn’t really pay attention to our properties.  

Oddjob’s rating

Alright, I guess there should be some kind of rating system for these odd jobs. Here is my first stab at it. Let me know if you have any feedback. Is there anything else I should add to this table?

Flexibility – Being a DIY landlord is pretty flexible. Most problems can wait a bit. I usually try to fix things ASAP. However, the garbage disposal and the bathroom heater could have waited a lot longer. Only a few things needed to be repaired right away. Actually, anything water-related should be fixed right away. A little leak can become a huge problem.

Money – These days, it’s expensive to hire someone for home maintenance. Being a DIY landlord saves a lot of money. The rental income is great. Also, property prices should appreciate over the years.  

Potential – Plenty of potential here for anyone. The US still needs more housing. This is repeatable. If you have a good income, you can get a mortgage and buy a house or condo. After a while, buy another house, move, and rent your old home out. It’s a great way to try being a DIY landlord.

Time – This one depends on your tenants and the property. If you have good tenants, then they shouldn’t take up a lot of your time. Normally, I only spend a few hours per month being a DIY landlord.

X factor – Being a DIY landlord is good for now. I have time and I can do most of the minor repairs and maintenance myself. However, we plan to travel a lot more after Mrs. RB40 retires. Being a DIY landlord wouldn’t be a good hustle then. When it gets closer, I’ll sell these properties and invest in real estate crowdfunding instead. That way, we still have income and I won’t have to be in town to deal with the maintenance.

Overall – I like being a DIY landlord. It’s great because it doesn’t take a lot of time and we have nice tenants. We get a nice rental income and save money on maintenance. I’ve been very lucky with tenants lately. They are great people and rarely bother me. In return, I try to fix any problem as soon as I can. The key here is the tenants. I’ve had high-maintenance tenants before and they caused a lot of stress.

Alright, that’s it for this update. Let me know if you have any questions. And yes, I replaced all the toilets already.  

Passive income is the key to early retirement. These days, I’m investing in commercial properties with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the United States. Go check them out!

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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