Interest in Landlording

Landlords are required to follow rules while handling the money of their tenants. One of them relates to the security deposits that they collect when someone first moves in. Tenants are supposed to earn interest on their deposits at a rate defined by the state.

Not for Sale - But a Nice Looking Multi-FamilyFor many years (since 2002) the state held the required security deposit interest rate at 1.5%. This page on the CT Department of Banking site shows the historical interest rates for a wide variety of deposits held in the state of Connecticut. As most everyone knows, it’s been really tough to find a 1.5% interest rate for deposits over the past few years. So landlords have been out of pocket each year to make up the difference. It’s not like it’s a huge amount, the entire 1.5% on a $3,000 security deposit would be $45, but still.

The state reduced the rate dramatically in 2012 to 0.16%. This is more in line with the current interest rate environment, so in that sense it’s long overdue. That same $3,000 security deposit will now only earn $4.80 per year.

But the bigger question is whether or not your landlord is actually paying interest. We would hope that the larger, professional organizations know about the law and comply with it. But the mom-and-pop landlords may not actually know what they’re supposed to be doing. We’re frequently surprised at how fast and loose some landlords seem to run their businesses.

Keeping up with the various rules regarding landlording was one of the main reasons we exited the business after only two years. It really is a commitment to do it right, and for us to be renting a single unit just didn’t make sense. We could see how it would be different if we made that our full-time job, or hired out the management to professionals, but neither of those options were right for us.

It’s actually a good time to be a multi-family property buyer right now. Prices are down overall, and in the more urban towns there are plenty of opportunities for distressed buildings. Many need a cash investment to bring them up to rentable condition, but that’s part of the reason they’re so cheap. People with cash to invest (and who want to earn more than the 0.1% the banks offer) may want to consider real estate. But keep in mind that it’s a tough business that will require time and attention.

1368 Asylum Avenue, Hartford's West End

We recently listed this spacious condo in Hartford’s West End for rent. It is located in the gated community, the Allyn Estate. The home offers 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths over 2,632 square feet and also includes additional finished basement space.

1368 Asylum Avenue, Hartford

The first floor has a welcoming foyer, kitchen with eat-in space, combination living room/dining room with wood burning fireplace and a family room. You can access a private patio from the living room area. Upstairs you’ll find two bedrooms and full bath, in addition to the master bedroom with fireplace, walk-in closet and full bath with shower and whirlpool tub. Laundry is also located on the upper level. The basement is fully finished with plenty of built-in storage shelving and an office with built-in desk and bookshelves. The unit has a two car garage and central air. Snow removal and lawn maintenance are covered by the condo association, perfect for easy living.

1368 Asylum Avenue is offered at $3,000 per month. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call us at 860-655-2125 to schedule a visit.

97 Girard Avenue, Hartford's West End

We recently listed this warm and lovingly preserved Victorian home in Hartford’s West End for rent. The home offers 5 bedrooms and 2.5 baths over 3,060 sqft.

97 Girard Avenue, Hartford's West End

The first floor greets your guests with a large foyer and original molding throughout the level. Large living and dining rooms are perfect for entertaining, plus don’t miss the den with the rounded wall. The kitchen, large butler’s pantry, half bath, mudroom, and laundry area complete the first level. The second floor includes four large bedrooms and an updated bath. Upstairs, the third floor has been finished into a large open space with a vaulted ceiling, skylight, and full bath. The home is set on a 0.37 acre lot, with a stone patio and newly paved driveway.

97 Girard Avenue is offered at $2,000 per month. If you’d like to see this home, please have your agent arrange a showing or call us at 860-655-2125 to schedule a visit. More information and photos are available.

487 Main Street, Hartford – Downtown Residential

Last evening Westside Property Management hosted a party to showcase their four new residential units at 487 Main Street in Downtown Hartford. The open house benefited the Hartford Preservation Alliance, was catered by Emily’s Catering Group, and featured staging by the interior designers of Chapter I.

487 Main Street, Hartford - Municipal Building Apartments

Common Area or 487 Main Street in Hartford487 Main is a mixed use building on the corner of Elm Street, across the street from the Downtown Branch of the Hartford Public Library. At street level, it has big-name retail tenants in Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and Main Street Seafood and Lounge. The upper level had been office space before the conversion to residential.

Access to the three units on the second floor is via the lobby and stairs on Main Street. Many original features have been preserved, including marble wainscoting, an intricate floor tile pattern, and oversized doors.

Each of the ranch-style units feature 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a den. The large windows and wide doors between the main living areas make the space feel large and open. And at over 1,600 sqft each, the units are larger than most of the current Downtown options.

View of Travelers Tower from 487 Main Street in HartfordThe fourth unit is a 2,000 sqft townhouse with a private entrance on Elm Street. The main level has a large open living and dining room at the front, with the kitchen, a full bath, and a large utility room in the back. Upstairs are two very large bedrooms and another full bath.

Kitchens and baths are all brand new, with stone counters, though the appliances had not yet been installed. All of the units have laundry hookups, reasonable closet space, and air conditioning. There is no parking with the building, but there is underutilized on-street parking on Elm Street and parking lots nearby.

These apartments are larger than most everything else that is available in Downtown Hartford. They are bright, cheerful spaces, and well located. Rent for the four units range between $1,650 and $2,000 based on the size and layout. At those prices they are also a terrific value considering that the other large options rent for considerably more.

For more information about 487 Main Street, call Valerie Zullo, the property manager, at 860-522-8000. And just for fun, tell her you learned about the building on the Greater Hartford Real Estate Blog – thanks!

Hollander Foundation Center Progressing

The next downtown residential project to begin renting is going to be the Hollander Foundation Center at 410 Asylum Street. The drywall is up inside and work crews are making steady progress towards their August 2009 completion goal. Common Ground, the project developer, is currently looking for retail tenants for six ground floor retail suites. Rental applications for the apartments will be available later in the spring.

Hollander Foundation Center

Plans for 410 Asylum have changed dramatically over the years. Vacant since 1995, previous owners considered a number of possibilities before beginning proposing demolition. In response, the Connecticut Historical Commission obtained an injunction against the demolition. They successfully defended the resulting lawsuit, brought by the owners, as the federal court upheld the property’s inclusion in the High Street Historic District on the National Registry of Historic Places. Eventually the structure was donated to Common Ground for redevelopment.

Even after Common Ground took over, there was still some debate within the City about its appropriate use. All parties agreed that ground floor retail with residential above was ideal, however the City and other local developers expressed concern about bringing “supportive housing” to such a prime location. The building is located on the north end of Bushnell Park with unobstructed views of the Connecticut State Capital Building, which could theoretically make it quite valuable.

But all that is in the past. Construction has been going on for over a year – check out the field report photos – and is nearing completion. Jennifer Hawkins, a very helpful representative of Common Ground, notes that “The building will be a mix of historic restoration with modern “green” features.” It will be LEEDs certified (the first in Hartford) and will be a smoke free building.

Hollander Foundation Center

When complete, there will be 70 apartment units. Of the total, 56 will be income restricted units in a mix of studios (~494 sqft), one bedrooms (~564 sqft) and two bedrooms (~926 sqft). They will only be available to applicants with income at 60% of area median income. Depending on the number of family members, this translates to tenants earning between $34,000 and $43,000. The rent for those units will be set at approximately 30% of income, and include all utilities, access to basement laundry facilities and outside parking.

The other 14 units will rent at market rate and are all two bedroom units (~969 sqft) with in-unit laundry and indoor parking (utilities not included). Rent has not yet been finalized, but initial indications are that it will be about $1,600 per month. The basic floor plan for the apartments can be seen on the 8th page of this marketing document. You can also see the plans for the six retail spaces on the ground floor. Note that some of the information in the PDF may have changed – the figures I have quoted in the text have all come from a recent series of exchanges with Ms. Hawkins.

Common Ground is planning to have a model apartment available for viewing in May, and to begin accepting rental applications in the June/July timeframe. For now, they are collecting names of interested perspective tenants. For more information, or to be added to the list, call 888-399-8848.

The completion of the Hollander Foundation Center will be an exciting event for Hartford. Not only will it formally announce the arrival of Common Ground, but it will also allow our downtown population to continue to grow. Perhaps most importantly, the project has rehabilitated a vacant historic building and integrated it back into the community. It represents one more step in our slow march to revitalize Hartford’s downtown.

Update: Rents for the affordable units are fixed monthly rates, rather than based on individual tenant income as originally stated.

Update 2: The phone number for the property manager, WinnResidential is 860-548-1167