Dear PoP

Dear PoP,

I was hoping to hit you up for a little advice on a rental. We found one on Upshur street at Georgia AVE. It is a 4 bedroom townhouse that is not in the best shape. The pictures they sent showed a toilet in the backyard. They claim it will be cleaned up. I asked if they could reduce the rent because of the condition and they are willing to go to $1900. Do you think this is too much to pay for a dump in Petworth?

Thank you for any thoughts,

DC Bound

Dear DC Bound,

I think Upshur is a terrific street because you’d be right near a great little restaurant called Domku and you’d only be about a 5-10 minute walk to the metro. Also Upshur St. seems likely to become even more vibrant. An antique shop has just opened up and I believe the city also has some street improvement plans that will beautify Upshur. My one hesitation would be that Georgia Ave is a main thoroughfare and can be very noisy with both car and pedestrian traffic. Oh, I guess my second hesitation would be the toilet in the backyard that they sent in a photo. That’s pretty messed up. Unless there were flowers planted in the toilet… But as for the price $1900 seems very reasonable for a whole house. Obviously it will be very important to check out the condition of the house. But if it is in decent condition I’d say $1900 is market rate. Once again, if possible I’d make sure to visit and see if you feel comfortable living right next to a busy thoroughfare like Georgia Ave.



So what do you guys think – is $1900 reasonable for a 4 bedroom townhouse on Upshur and Georgia?

23 Comment

  • We pay about 14 for a 3 bedroom house right near the metro. It’s not in fantastic shape, and the mgmt company is not attentive, but it’s clean, and we feel the price is great to have the whole house.

    For renters if there’s something wrong, it’s the mgmt company’s responsibility to fix it, so condition of the house isn’t a major issue. How attentive they are with fixing things is really important. I would research the manager and try to get some opinions/comments about them from other renters.

    If it’s Lustine, oh the stories I can tell.

  • $1900 is really not reasonable for anything, but it’s DC, so what can you do?

  • Kevin-

    Where did you find your place? Since, we are not actually there, yet, we really have only been looking at Craigslist.

    I definitely don’t need a fancy place to live but this particular townhouse was pretty bad. It had ugly red carpet, mismatched kitchen cabinets, and the bathrooms left much to be desired. My gut is that for the shape the house was in that it is way too much money. Also, I am not certain but the 4th bedroom may be in the basement, which really makes it a 3 bedroom.

    The hubby is down there today and has four appts. scheduled and then he will swing by the dumpy place to take a look. We are looking at three other 3 bedroom houses that are renovated for around 1900 a month so I am fairly certain it is overpriced.

    Thank you for your advice.

  • Sounds like quite a bit to me. On the other hand if you move in with a couple of roommates, he’d be paying close to nothing.

  • I just moved into a place that isn’t in the best condition, and, believe me, it’s been a handful. It’s a judgment call. Is the place just a little dingy or is it falling apart? Look for cut corners and potential trouble spots. If there’s a decent amount of issues, youll need the time and energy to stay on top of your landlord. Make sure you have all claims from (and preferably all communication with) your landlord in writing (I find it best to document every phone call to be safe). Do yourself a favor and pick up a Tenant Survival Guide, it’s one of the most useful publications in DC. I got mine from the Landlord-Tenant Resource Center at the courthouse, but you can also download it here:

    In case you didn’t guess, I’ve had some legal issues with landlords before.

  • The roommates idea is stellar. I woudl also ask about the heating and cooling costs. They can be bery high in the older houses if you are required to pay them.

  • If you’re unhappy with the place and think it’s a dump, then who cares how much the rent is and whether it’s fair or not? Sounds like you won’t be happy there anyway. So, instead of worrying about the rent and complaining about the conditions, move on. There are plenty of other houses in the DC region at that price… many of which are close to Metro stations. Move on.

  • If they sent you pics showing a toilet in the yard….not really a good sign about the landlord. $1900 is a lot for a dump, and a LOT can go wrong in a house. You really need a landlord who is good about making repairs. I think there are a lot better deals out there…

  • Wow, if that’s the presentation BEFORE he has your agreement to pay him, just think about AFTER. Move on. There’s better out there.

  • DC Bound, don’t be so quick to write off using the basement as a bedroom… If the house doesn’t have AC in it, the basement may end up your best refuge. We don’t have AC and are dying every day now. Our basement is nice and cool all year round and the three of us that live upstairs are jealous of the guy who lives down there. 🙂

  • Thanks for all your comments.

    Trust me I can live with a dump just don’t want to overpay.

    Kalia- Trust me, I already thought of that one. I am sure that we would spend time in the basement. I just meant that some of the other houses also have finished basements and three bedrooms. They weren’t trying to pass the basement off as 4th bedroom to get more money.

    I did the roommate thing in NYC. I managed to snag a great three bedroom there and rented out the rooms. I think I ended up paying like $300/month to live in NYC. It was great.

    Actually, my BIL is moving in with us so that is why we were looking for larger than a 1 bedroom. So there will be three of us in the house and a dog!

  • it sounds like you would rather have a cheap dump than a nice place to live…so go for it.

  • I live on 7th St and Upshur. I moved in Aug 07 from Los Angeles (yeah, I am an LA girl who had to learn to walk everywhere) and have been walking home to/from the Georgia Ave Metro everyday, shop Safeway, eat at Wendy’s, Domku and the Chinese restaurants and I LOVE IT. If the price is within your budget, then go for it. The ‘hood is good.

  • Rooms in Petworth rent for $650 per. So 1900 may not be way off if it is livable. A decked out place would be at least 2300 I would imagine. $400 can make a difference to most people.

  • I agree with anon. Go for it! Send us pics once you’ve moved in!!!

    “it sounds like you would rather have a cheap dump than a nice place to live…so go for it.”

  • We found a place! It is on 5th and Upshur. It is $1800 but doesn’t include the basement (someone else lives there) but it does have 3 bedrooms. Also, electricity and water are included so I figure that is worth about $100 bucks a month. The best part is that it is only a few short blocks to work for him so he gets to walk. I work from home so the extra bedroom will make a nice office.

    It has a washer and dryer, backyard, and is clean so that works for me.

    The dump just didn’t seem worth an extra $200 a month for a basement. Hubby said the refigerator didn’t even fit in the kitchen.

    He also looked at one that was $2200 a month and had a hottub in the basement! It was hard to pass that one up but the $6,000 extra a year could make for a really sweet vacation or investment.

    So glad to not have to worry about that anymore! We are headed to Bonnaroo this weekend and look forward to the move at the end of the month.

    Hopefully, I can meet some of you at the happy hour.

  • Most Petworth rowhouses are a similar layout, and unless they have been renovated/redesigned almost all have 3BR 1BA upstairs. Any 4th BRs in rowhouses are inevitably in the basement, along with second bathrooms. So if you are looking for a good deal, the best bet would be a 3BR 1BA in good condition, especially if you really don’t see yourself using a basement BR.

  • PetworthRes – the houses on my block have the back porch on both floors enclosed (done by the builders). Sometimes people advertise that as a 4th bedroom. I think that’s dumb, because you have to go through other bedrooms to get to it, but…

  • Congrats on your new place! You’re going to save a lot more than $100/month by having the electric and water/sewer/garbage included. Especially for an older house. Even if it had been updated with all the best insulation and energy saving appliances, the structure of a row house just isn’t that efficient in terms of heating and cooling. And I’m guessing that with that price range, it probably doesn’t have brand new everything. So- good work!

  • Hey Kalia, so you don’t have A/C but have a car and are ranting about bikers getting in your way? Would you rather have a car and not A/C?

    El Puma

  • 5th and Upshur!! That’s not too far from us. I guess the house is a typical Petworth (DC) rowhouse that the owners mjay have recently bought, renovated and are renting out, both the house and the basement. I wonder if there are any group houses here in Petworth, where a bunch of roommates share the common areas of the house and have separate bedrooms.

  • I don’t get what you are getting at… clearly I would rather have AC and a Car. (And bikers who I wasn’t constantly afraid I was going to hit because they are so unpredictable.)

    and Toby, yes we do exist in petworth. There are 4 of us sharing a house with our own bedrooms. The landlord/4th roommate uses the basement.

Comments are closed.