Friday, October 16, 2009

Trouble with Bad Tenants? Use a month-to-month contract

One of the best ways that I have found to protect yourself from bad tenants, and we all know that a few will always slip though our "infallible" screening process, is to use the month-to-month contract.

If you have a tenant that you need to get rid of, for whatever reason (and I can think of a lot of them, such as painting a picture of a human face on the side of an outside wall, but that's a story for another whole post), take the easy road.

If they have signed a month-to-month contract, you just need to send them a form saying that you are canceling the contract and they must be out by end of the next month. You have to give them a full 30 days to move, maybe more if they pay on the first and you are in mid-month when you notify them. In that case you would give them 45 days to move, at the end of the following month.

But, no matter how you slice it, it sure beats going through an eviction process, particularly if they are inclined to fight it. And, why wouldn't they fight it since they at this point they have probably developed aggravating us into a science.

So, if there is any doubt in you mind about whether your tenant will go to the tenant dark side at some point, play it safe and have them sign the month-to-month lease.

New Product Announcement

I am in the process of developing a CD Course entitled "How to Start Your Own House Fix Up and Repair Business in Your Spare Time."

The course will include 4 CDs and a Workbook.

I will be providing extensive information to guide you through the process of starting your own business. I will show you the quickest way to reach your goals, and protect you from the pitfalls.

Want to claim a sense of security when the walls of financial security seem to be crumbling all around?

Then this CD course may be for you!


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Monday, August 31, 2009

Letter on Selecting Tenants

Below is an email that I received from someone who recently signed up for my 7-week informational course. I removed the name to protect her privacy.

It was great hearing you on Mark Maxon’s program this am. My son is again trying to do what you did. The first one didn't go well. Can U tell me how U selected your tenants? Also I am in an interest only mortgage & want to get out of it. I applied for a Loan Modification & it's been dragging on.

Any ideas? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for offering your course to help folks like us.

Sincerely, xxxxx


My response:

Hi xxxxx,

Thank you for the note.

I think the hardest part of the rental business is finding good tenants. In many ways, the only way to get good at it is to just do it. You make a few mistakes along the way, but you get better with each passing year.

But, there are also some key things you can do to help get good tenants.

1. Have the tenants fill out an information sheet, requiring them to list previous places they lived, list bank account info, job info, etc. Call all of their references, their bosses, and their old landlords. Verify their salary. You may be able to check county court cases on-line like we can here in Tucson. If so, run a check on their name.

2. Read through the entire contract with them before they sign it. Emphasize the penalties they face if they pay late.

3. Enforce the contract. If they pay late, call them immediately, and require that they pay the penalty (I charge 1% of the total rent per day that they pay late).

4. Get a book that describes landlord rights in your state. These books usually include legal forms that you can mail to bad tenants, to make them comply with your contract, or to evict them.

Sorry, I don't have any knowledge about getting out of an interest only mortgage, or the loan modification process. There was recently a mortgage broker on Mark Maxon's show. It might help to contact someone like him.

Best of luck to you and to your son.

Terry Sprouse


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Interview with Mark Maxon Wednesday

In his book, , author and radio host Mark Maxon states that a foreign-born individual relocating in the United States is four times more likely to acquire a net worth of one million dollars in his working lifetime than a natural born citizen. He identifies the reason for that as conditioning. Growing up in the US, we are taught "Money doesn't grow on trees; "We can't afford that, we're broke;" and "The streets aren't paved with gold." While in other countries, people say, "The streets are paved with gold," and "In America anything is possible." I find that pretty interesting.

Wednesday, I will have the pleasure of being interviewed by Mark Maxon about my book. I invite you to join us. You can listen to us live at, and selecting "click to listen live".

Details for upcoming radio interviews:

August 12, Mark Maxon, KTALK AM 630, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10:00 am Mountain Time

August 14, Gillian Sutton, KRSN AM 1490, Los Alamos, NM, 7:30 am Mountain Time


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Friday, July 24, 2009

Upcoming interviews in Iowa and Minnesota


I am back from vacation in Mexico and from attending the National Speakers Association Conference in Phoenix.

It was amazing to see the Aztec Teotihuacan Ruins in central Mexico. My wife and boys climbed the Pyramid of the Sun (pictured above) and the Pyramid of the Moon. My 11-year old climbed the Pyramid of the Moon twice! We cut back his consumption of pixie sticks shortly after that. All that sugar was giving him way too much energy! I had to sit out the climbing because I had a sore leg from playing soccer the previous day.

was a keynote speaker at the NSA conference. He was in a plane crash in the snowy Chilean Andes in 1972, along with members of his rugby team, and survived for 73 days. Eventually, he walked across the mountains and saved his friends by bringing help. His incredible story was told in the movie "Alive".

Upcoming radio interviews:

July 30, Steve Hexom/Brian Nichols, KBUR AM 1490, Burlington, IA, 8:05 am

July 31, Rich Peterson, KROC AM 1340, Rochester, MN, 9:10 am


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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Zen of Investing in Rental Properties

The Zen of Investing in Rental Properties:
Inner and Outer Wealth

As I promote my book “Fix em Up, Rent em Out: How to start your own house fix up and rental business in your spare time,” something curious happens. When I appear on radio shows, one of the most frequent questions that I receive from the show host and from call-in listeners was, “can you explain what you mean by The Zen of Repairing Properties?”. That was the title of a chapter in my book. I was surprised by the response and attention that that chapter attracted. I thought, what’s going on here?

On the radio shows, I explain how I felt a sense of exhilaration and deep satisfaction, as I was making repairs on my fixer-upper house. It was like a religious connection to the spirit, or to my true nature. I could tell that I was on the right path, and in complete harmony with my deepest connections by the feeling of joy and fulfillment that I felt.

In fact, that chapter on The Zen of Repairing Properties was one that I most enjoyed writing because it was so close to my heart. The more radio shows that I appeared on, and the more calls I received, the more I considered expanding my thoughts on that chapter.

Many books discuss the business side of making money in business, but few address the spiritual dimension. Money provides happiness on one level, but we have all known or heard about people who are wealthy yet their lives are in complete disarray. Spiritually, their tank is running on empty.

Although the same principles apply to many types of businesses, I think real estate investing and the rental house business are uniquely suited to tie the spiritual and the profit sides of business together.

Lao Tzu, in The Book of Life, said:

Man at his best, like water,
Serves as he goes along:
Like water he seeks his own level,
The common level of life,
Loves living close to the earth,
Living clear down in his heart.

Herman Hess, in Siddhartha, said

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.

As the Bible says,

What does it profit a man to gain the world, and lose his own soul?

Is it possible to serve like water, find that sanctuary within, gain the world and not lose our souls? I think the odds are pretty good.

To be continued . . .

Here are my upcoming radio guest spots:

June 23, Greg O'Conner, WKHM, Jackson, MI, 9:30 am
June 26, Jason Mansmith, WRPN, Ripon, WI, 9:15 am
June 26, Peter Stewart, WABJ, Adrian, MI, 10:00 am
July 1, Jeff Anderson, KSPR, Waterton, SD, 7:00 am


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Monday, June 1, 2009

MP3 of Interveiw with Sam Bushman on All Things Real Estate

Here is my interview with Sam Bushman, on his great show Real Estate in Focus (KHQN 540 AM, Delta, UT), May 23, 2009.

Here is the promotional blurb from Sam's site:

Real Estate In Focus 95
Saturday, May 23, 2009 10:46 AM
5/23/09 - Interview: Terry Sprouse Terry Sprouse buys fix-up houses, repairs them and rents them out in his spare time. He is author of the book "Fix 'em Up, Rent 'em Out: How to Start Your Own House Fix-Up and Rental Business in Your Spare Time." This blog discusses aspects of buying, repairing and renting out fix-up houses. Practical advice from someone who does it every day. His web site is a how to blog. You can even ask him questions for free.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Review Of "Fix em Up, Rent em Out" at Your Online Handyman !!

has posted a review of my book "Fix em Up, Rent em Out."

Here is an an excerpt from the review:

The author Tery Sprouse wrote this book for the person with a limited amount of disposable income who wants to invest in real estate, but want to keep their 9-5 job. He takes you through his experiences in real estate and really takes years off the learning curve. Naturally since I am so into home repair I found those aspects of the book fascinating, getting to hear exactly how he approached each job even when he often had limited experience. Of course the chapters of the book that talked about real estate as an investment were also very informative.

But this book is more than that, “Fix Em Up Rent Em Out” is about growing as a person while learning how to fix up properties which happens to be the exact same theme of this site. The book is about life as much as it is home repair. It’s about doing what you want in life and doing what you enjoy. While the entire book was very well written and methodically went from chapter to chapter I especially could relate to chapter six, The Zen of Repairing Properties which talks about developing as a person by doing what you enjoy and living life on your own terms.

Terry really has a great philosophy on life! In chapter 1 he talks about living life to the fullest and accomplishing in life the things that you really want to do. He explains to you how to take your life in a direction that you want to go in even if what you want to do is not possible right now. You really could get the feeling that he loves what he is doing and wants to share it with the world.


I encourage you to check out other posts at that are packed with great information about how to paint ceilings (and enjoy it), how to keep group lines clean, how to keep thos pesky dust mites out of the house, and much more.

Here are my upcoming radio guest spots:

May 29, Gary West, WBVP-WMBA, Beaver Falls, PA
June 2, Phil Rivera, WLTN, Littleton, NH
June 5, Mark Wayne, WICH, Norwich, CT
June 9, Ron Ross, WJBC, Bloomington, IL


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Full article at this link