Hard lease lessons

Six month leases with a Month to Month extension in a college town is for the really rich or really stupid. I started out offering those lease terms and I wasn't really rich. Keep in mind that college usually begins in August and ends in May. I found my units going empty every year in May and staying empty until August. Losing two months rent every year smartened me up quickly. I noticed a smart friend of mine had all his leases begin in August and last for 12 months. At the end of the 12 month lease, he made them sign for another 12 month lease. I started using 12 month leases without a month-to-month extension. They start on August 1st and end on July 31th. Occasionally, I will lose a good tenant that wants to stay until December when they graduate. Although I feel bad for them, they knew I only offered 12 month leases from the very beginning. It is very easy to get a new tenant in August and it is very hard to get one in January. If a unit goes empty in January, it is very likely to stay empty until April or May in Nebraska. When it is cold and nasty, nobody wants to move. Other benefits of having all the leases expire at the same time is that I am only busy about one month during nice weather with showings, painting, repairs, etc and I can run one rental ad for all the units.
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