As a long-time Truckee local, it’s time to share some truth and enlightenment on the housing battle that grows hotter as rent prices increase and inventory becomes scarcer. I’m bravely writing from the perspective of the evil landlord.
Recently, I listed our 3-bedroom home for rent. I put it on the Truckee Tahoe Housing Facebook page, which has 10,000 members, but this was a last resort since homeowners who offer a property for rent get viciously pummeled by a handful of hiding-behind-their-keyboard members. Insults are spewed, we’re cussed at, we’re called scum even if we’re asking reasonable rent, and end up with a comment section full of hatred. This is the scenario I just faced and I never even publicized the rent price.
I’d tried to find a tenant via friends and the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors newsletter, but neither produced a good candidate. We didn’t want to go the Placemate route as they charge a substantial fee and had brought us difficult tenants in the past. So, I took a hefty dose of skin-thickening serum, some deep cleansing breaths, and posted our home for rent. We received 18 messages from interested parties and three messages from kindhearted people saying how sorry they were for the spiteful remarks. We also received a text from a friend who divulged that she, too, had a rental but that she’d witnessed how horribly homeowners were treated on Truckee Tahoe Housing, so she chose not to post to this group.
I also find it ironic that we homeowners who are doing the right thing and offering an unoccupied home to locals are getting daggers when hundreds of homeowners who Airbnb their properties aren’t demonized whatsoever. These are folks, most of them living to the west, who can find money for their mortgage, taxes, HOA dues, and insurance in their couch cushions, yet they’re going after a few more bucks by short-term renting rather than caring about the community. In the 18 years we’ve had a rental, we’ve always rented to locals and never once considered Airbnb-ing, despite it being a more lucrative, less problematic option.
Recently we’ve considered selling our home. Not because we need or want to, but because we’re fatigued by inconsiderate tenants and the anxieties we face each time we seek a new tenant. But landlord haters, guess who’d snatch up our Tahoe Donner home the second it hits the market? Yup, our friends to the west. And what will they do with it? Likely add it to the glut of Airbnbs in our sweet town.
The homeowner haters have never joined us when a lease ended and we’ve been left with $16,000 worth of damage that the $1,500 deposit didn’t cover. Nor have they joined us for the successive months of rent we lost as we removed foul carpeting, replaced destroyed cabinetry and decking. They weren’t there when our house reeked so badly of pot that any prospective tenants walked out of the house as quickly as they walked in, which left us bleaching the walls and, when that didn’t kill the stench, repainting the entire interior.
They weren’t there when we had bacon-obsessed tenants who refused to turn on the hood fan and we found ourselves cleaning every crevice of a new stove in order to remove the dank, rotting McDonald’s smell that permeated the house. They weren’t there when a tenant shattered a bathroom sink and then threated to sue us when we kept money from the deposit for the fix. They weren’t there when our garage was filled with broken furniture, decaying mattresses, putrid diapers, weeks of household garbage — a parting gift from tenants we’d treated like gold for four years, never raising their $1,900 monthly rent out of sheer kindness.
The homeowner haters haven’t choked on our $7,500 per year California FAIR Plan fire insurance bill. Our rental costs us $2,592/month in insurance, mortgage, HOA dues, and property taxes. All said, we enjoy about $200/month gravy from our rental, but 100% of that sits in savings to cover unavoidable fixes on the 43-year-old home and the avoidable fixes some tenants leave us as a f-you departure gift.
Though we’re fatigued by the exorbitant costs of home ownership, when our rental is occupied by respectful people, we’re glad someone has a nice place to call home and grateful to earn a few dollars. Plus, we know that selling it likely means one more Bay Arean will realize their dream of owning a cabin in Tahoe. There will also be one fewer property available in our already scant rental market.
Has anyone realized that if our homeowning friends to the west did the right thing and rented their place full-time to a local, or seasonally to the influx of people serving the ski resorts, versus Airbnb-ing, it would go a long way toward helping to solve the housing crisis? Rental prices would also come down with adequate inventory.
Stop hating those of us who are offering their homes for rent. Yes, a few gouge tenants with their pricing, but most of us are fair, responsible, kind locals caring for locals.
~ Nicole Reitter has lived in Truckee for 24 years, part-time for 43, and in Florence, Italy from 2019 to 2021 with her husband and son. She has a journalism degree and a passion for writing, traveling, and all things Italian, and currently owns/operates Reitter Marketing and Copywriting.