Answers to questions you’re going to ask

I talk to a lot of prospects. If I answered the “What’s the neighborhood like?” question to every person that asked me on an individual basis, that’s all I would do all day. So please take some time to read the below info. Chances are, your question is answered here. And if not, just drop me a line.

What’s the area like, and is it safe?

Southwest DC gets a bad rap. It used to be pretty rough, but things have changed tremendously just within the past 5-10 years. But in fairness, “transitional” would still be a good word to describe the area. Some parts of the area are quite upscale and have been completely revitalized. Other parts… not so much. So the ‘is it safe’ question is a tough one to answer because everyone’s idea of ‘safe’ is a bit different. And as the landlord, the last thing I want to do is misrepresent the place. So let me provide some facts so that you can draw your own conclusions. But ultimately, you should visit the place and talk to the other tenants and formulate your own opinion. Simply put, if you ask me of the place is safe or what the area is like, I’m going to point you to this page and dodge your question. I can’t be the one that makes this call for you.

  1. The street has some nice cars on it (BMWs, Jags, Cadillacs).
  2. I have about 15 units on the street. Not a single one has ever been broken into or vandalized.
  3. I have never had a tenant mugged or otherwise assaulted.
  4. About 50% of the street owns their houses.
  5. The landscape is kept reasonably clean. It’s obvious that most homeowners put significant effort into their front yards/gardens, etc.
  6. The street is right off of M Street, which is a main corridor. So you’d always be within sight and ear shot of a main street.
  7. The street is well-lit. And for that matter, the 1.5 block walk from the metro is all along main streets and also well lit.
  8. The area is served both by the DC Metro Police as well as the Capitol Hill Police Department.
  9. This is a ‘transitional neighborhood’ in inner city, DC. It ain’t Rodeo Drive.
  10. As with just about everywhere in DC, there are occasional homeless people and ‘street cats’ around from time to time.
  11. At least speaking for the few neighbors that I’ve met, I can say that they are friendly. I know they’ve had some of my tenants over for dinner, etc.

Neighborhood and Location Comments:

This area is on the up-side of the Southwest revitalization project. Within half a mile, you can find the new Nationals stadium being built, the new Department of Transportation Headquarters (a 13K person office building), and a Marriott, multiple new condo buildings, many federal buildings, and of course, the US Capitol. Parking is a non-issue, as finding a spot right in front of the house or within 2-3 houses either way of it is not a problem. It’s 1.5 blocks from the Navy Yard Metro. 2 blocks from Safeway Supermarket. Half a block form a 7-11. 3 Blocks from I-395 and I-295 ramps. And it’s within 45 minutes of Dulles International, Baltimore-Washington Intl, and Reagan National airports. It’s 9 blocks directly south of the US Capitol Building (practically walking distances for you Congressional Staffers!) There is a marina on the Waterfront about 8 blocks west of the house (where you can find an open air seafood market, a few clubs, and some great eating. There are a few restaurants in the immediate area, plenty of fast food, and it’s probably about a 20 minute walk to the Pennsylvania Avenue pub scene (where all the congressional staffers hang out after work.)

With all the activity in the area, there are some great links that do a much more thorough job than I can describing the place. If you’re not much for reading, here’s the video. There are links below it.

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Will you do short-term leases?

My minimum term is 12 months. I will consider shorter term leases under certain circumstances. For example, if you’ll agree to help me show the room prior to your lease ending, I’ll usually agree to the shorter term. I would market and pre-qualify potential tenants (in the same way that you found me), and then put them in touch with you to make mutually convenient arrangements for them to come by and see the place and speak with you about it. The net effect is that you save me a trip down there in the evening (which is the main reason I don’t do short term leases to begin with. If you take that off my plate, I’m pretty flexible.) However, note that this is not a boarding house. I’m not a place to crash for 3 weeks while you get your life together in DC. I would say that a 3 month term is probably the bare minimum. There are always exceptions though. Doesn’t hurt to ask me.

Can I have pets?

I have nothing against pets. The problem is that in a shared housing situation (which most of my properties are), pets can make the other rooms harder to rent because some people either don’t want or are allergic to pets. So as a rule of thumb, no pets in the shared houses (aquariums are okay). For the houses that aren’t shared, pets are fine (provided that when you leave, there is no trace of your pet left behind.)

What about cars and parking?

First, let me say that you don’t need a car in DC. These places are a block from the metro, and everything is very accessible. There is also something called ‘zip car‘ in DC, which is something of a cross between borrowing and renting a car. Pretty cool. Anyway, if you do have a car, the good news is that street parking is plentiful. You’ll never not be able to park out front ont he street. But you do need a ‘zone 6′ endorsement on your registration sticker. So yes, you need to register your car in DC. I think that costs something like $65/year. The parking endorsement is another $15, I think. For short term parking situations, you can get a free parking pass from the police station that’s good for 15 days. Just show them your lease. Each house also has a guest parking pass that is also good for short term parking (but you have to share it with the rest of the housemates. All in all, parking is a pretty fortunately feature of these houses, as easy parking is not common in DC.

What is the application process?

If you like something you see on this website, email me and I will most likely respond with a canned email (sorry bout that, but I get too many initial inquires to reply to each of them in detail.) In that email will be upcoming times that I am able to show the house. However, these are not ‘open houses.’ You still need to email me to let me know you want to come by, and then (and this is really important:) call me before you head out. It may be that I already rented the place, or my schedule has changed or whatever. If you don’t call, there is a very good chance I won’t be there. Anyway, once you’ve come out to see the place, it’s basically a first come, first serve basis (unless I have some reason I wouldn’t want to rent to you, but that is rare.) There an informal application form but no fee or credit check. I have a standard lease to sign and I require a one month security deposit and the first month’s rent paid at the time you execute the lease.

Sight-Unseen Rentals:

I cater to sight-unseen renters. I’ve been in the position of needing to secure housing without being able to view it first, so I understand the concerns and challenges. That’s why I’ve put so much info on this web page (bet you haven’t seen any other listings with this much info!) I personally live just a few blocks from the rental place, so I know the area and DC in general and can help make arrangements for things like transport, furnishing, moving, storage, or even just to help you get to know the city and what you should know when living here, etc. I’m happy to talk to you about the ins and outs of socializing in DC, where to go for fun, etc. We can even get together over a drink or dinner to chat about how to get you acclimated to the city. I’ll do whatever I can to help take the edge off of apartment shopping from afar. All that said, if you are looking to take the place ‘sight unseen’ you need to understand that you assume some risk in that you are committing to a lease without having inspected things yourself. If you get here and the place wasn’t the Buckingham Palace that you thought it was, you’re still obligated to the full term of the lease. That said, if you really want out, I will work with you to find a replacement, but you will ultimately be responsible for finding a replacement before I can release you from your Lease.

Are the rooms furnished?

Officially, no. That said, f the houses already have tenants, and they have already furnished the common areas (some to a greater extent than others.) The bedrooms are not furnished either, I do keep a couple sets of bedroom furniture available and can offer you a furnished room for an extra $100/mo on top of the rent (depending on availability.) If that doesn’t work for you, and you have no other furnishings, I I recommend picking up a $50 air mattress from Target or Walmart and using that for the time being. They’re quite good and if you make them like a real bed, they feel like a real bed without having to deal with a big bed. (I’m also asked if the bedrooms will fit a queen bed. Yes, they do. But especially in the smaller rooms, a queen bed will take up most of the space. In the larger rooms (which are almost twice the size of the smaller rooms), it’s much less of an issue.) Finally, if you do need furniture, I am willing procure furniture for you. We would discuss what you wanted, I’d go buy it all, bring it back, assemble it, and have it ready for you. You can expect to pay whatever the cost is, plus a markup for my effort to get and assemble everything and foot the up front bill for it. The cost would then be divided over the term of your lease.

How close is this place to the metro?

These places are all within very short (1.5 blocks) walking distances from the Navy Yard (NOT NAVY ARCHIVE!!!) metro (green line) and/or the SW Waterfront Metro (also on the green line, but more like 3 blocks away.) The advantage of the later is that there is a Safeway supermarket at that stop, so it’s a good place to get off the train, pick up your groceries, and walk home.

Who manages the property?

I am the owner and manager of these houses. I own four other houses on the same street. I also only live a few blocks away, so I have a vested interest in the area in general. I work from home, so I’m typically available to run down and take care of whatever issues may arise. I’m very handy and have a million tools, so I can fix most things myself and not have to wait on contractors, etc. That said, I do have a handful of contractors that I use for things that are over my head. I also take a social interest in my tenants (to the extent that they want) by having them up for drinks, hanging out, or whatever. Especially if you are coming in from out of town and don’t know the area, I may be able to help you get acquainted and adjusted in DC.

Are utilities included in rent (and if not, how much are they?)

No. In most of my houses, utilities run about $90/mo per person (assuming there are 4 people in the house.) That includes internet, cable, and all the standard stuff, of course. But it’s up to the tenants to procure and split up utility bills.

What are the other tenants like?

That’s a tough one to answer. Most of my tenants fall into the category of ‘young professionals.’ About half of them work on the Hill (one’s even a congressman.) I would say that they’re all clean cut guys and girls–no crazies. They all pretty much fall in the 20′s/30′s something range. I have both guys and girls, gay and straight, multiple races, etc. I don’t discriminate. Any and all are welcome to apply. Beyond that, it comes down to personality. Upon signing a lease, I ask tenants to take a personal survey (which can be found here) that gives you a better idea of who they are. I don’t have this for every tenant, but for those that I do, I’m happy to share them with you so that you can get a feel for who your roommates would be.

What if things don’t pan out?

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had very few tenants not work out. But even so, it does happen. Either there is a personality conflict, or you decide the neighborhood is not for you, or maybe you just get a job elsewhere and need to move. Regardless of the reason, I’m pretty flexible about letting you out of your lease. I simply ask that you find your replacement. All you have to do is what I did to find you: post some ads on craigslist, then show the place to prospects. I will work with you to update this site, etc. Once you find someone to move in, you’re free to go, without penalty. It can work other ways too. The bottom line is that if you don’t want to be there, I don’t want you there. Unhappy people make bad tenants, so I have no interest in forcing your into a place that doesn’t suit you. If you need to leave, we’ll figure something out that is fair to both of us.

Can my boy/girlfriend move in with me?

Sorry, no. It wouldn’t be fair to the other housemates. One person per bedroom–this keeps the house from getting over crowded, etc. Besides, it’s a fire code issue as well. This isn’t to say that someone can’t spend the night now and then. But they can’t become a permanent fixture.