At that point, we informed them that we would start eviction proceedings if they continued to smoke in the unit. They stopped smoking indoors, but the stench lingered on.
Our former renters paid the rent late in July, later still in August, and now they are gone. For being the type of people who skip town without cleaning, they've actually been great renters. For 18 months they paid the rent on time and in full. Aside from the smoke and routine wear and tear, they didn't damage the unit. Plus, they had the courtesy to inform me that I could dispose of their crap.
These are a few lessons that I've learned from my rookie landlord experience.
Check with former landlords
First, last and security deposit
We will use about 80% of the security deposit to clean up the smoke, the carpets, and a few odds and ends. This means that we're out a month's rent.
We obviously won't pursue the tenent for nonpayment (other than a letter), but we could have been virtually whole.
Trust your gut
I should have listened to the heart logic on that, even if it wasn't perfectly accurate. Our goal is to attract a lot of qualified tenents, so we can "listen to our gut" on this one.
Charge lower rent
In a lower quality neighborhood, with a unit that is only modestly more upgraded than average, we have little extra to offer a tenent, so we need to consider cutting our price.
I'm stilll researching this, since the unit isn't exactly in the dregs of society. It's a lower middle class neighborhood, and we may find those high quality tenents without dropping the price too much. Once I complete my research, I will report back to you.
Your worst case numbers are realistic
It's still a profitable venture, because this is a paid off house, but it's not such a slam dunk.
Worst case numbers happen in the stock market, and they happen in real estate. I guessed that we would have a lot of middle of the road years, but so far we've had one amazing year, and one pretty bumpy year.
We shall see what the next year holds for us.