Time for ‘How Much Should I Charge for Rent’?


“Dear PoPville,

I’m looking to rent out the house I’ve owned for 6 years, which I’ve been renovating over time. It’s a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house on Florida Ave. just north of U Street (by Blind Dog Cafe and 9:30 Club). Here are the details:

-3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1220 sq feet (bedrooms are big, medium and small)
-Fenced-in patio/parking area (as in patio OR parking — depending on how you choose to use the space) — with a propane grill and pots for planting if you want them
-Newly renovated kitchen, bathrooms
-Wall-mounted flat-screen TV in living room
-Available partially furnished (for a fee) or unfurnished
-Central air
-Ceiling fans in all bedrooms
-High ceilings
-2.5 blocks to U Street metro

I’m also planning on repainting and replacing a couple windows before the renter moves in (hopefully July 1). As negatives go, Florida Ave is pretty busy/noisy.

Any idea of how much I should charge?”


40 Comment

  • probably 4k sounds reasonable. ~$1300 per bedroom.

  • I would say probably $2,700-$3,000/month given the area. You can probably get 1200 for the big room, 950 for the medium and 750 for the small room. It’ll still be less than all of the new apartment buildings are charging. Any more than that, and I think people would look to get into a building with amenities.

  • First of all how much do you need to break even on taxes, mortgage, etc…and then how much profit would you like to make?

    Based on your location and the size of the house(without seeing too many pics) I would say between $3.8k-$4.6k would be reasonable…I live in a row house 3 bedroom 1.5 bathroom 5 blocks from Union Station on the Capitol Hill side of H St. and we pay $3.2..the house also has it’s own backyard patio and a renovated kitchen…the area is really quiet and I feel super safe when I go running there in the mornings.

    • “First of all how much do you need to break even on taxes, mortgage, etc…and then how much profit would you like to make?” Obviously the OP needs to keep this in mind… but it doesn’t affect what the market rate is. (He/she can get away with renting the house for less than the market rate, but will have a hard time renting it for more than the market rate.)

    • you’re pricing is ridiculous and you cant charge people based on how much the property costs you and profit you want to make. you charge based on the market rate in the area.

      • Considering that he lives there now, it sounds like, it’s a fair question to ask himself. Will you make out by moving, or are you better staying.
        What I need to get/what I can get are very important questions to balance against each other.
        Don’t forget to include maintenance and some contingency funds (in case of extended non-payment of rent, vacancy periods, emergency repairs, etc.) in your bottom line calculation.

        • The OP didn’t say he was debating renting the place out vs. staying — he said he wanted to know how much to charge for it. For all we know, he’s moving out of the area.

  • You can probably get $3600-$3800 for this. Anything above $4000 and you’re competing with studio apartments.

  • Obviously, any rent should be easily dividable by 3. That said, I would say a reasonable monthly rate is between $3,600 (unfurnished) and 3,900 (furnished). More than 4k is highway robbery.

  • 3750-4250 range depending, probably on the lower end of that. Some questions I’d have: 1200 sf isn’t that big for a multi-level 3br (about the same size as our 2/2 and our second bedroom is tiny) – is the 3rd bedroom usable as a bedroom or is really just an office/den? How extensive are the renovations beyond the kitchen? Are there hardwood floors throughout? The parking is a huge plus, especially for that area.

    • +1 on that 3rd bedroom. I’d be tough to get a roommate willing to pay 1300+ to live in a den that barely fits a double bed and nightstand. If you were to rent it as a spacious 2 bedroom with an office and parking: 2600-3000?

    • OP here. One bedroom is pretty small — like 8 by 9. But I’ve had a roommate with a full bed in there for 4+ years. (Then we switched it to an office.) Renovations: Kitchen and both bathrooms are new (as is the washer/dryer). The rest of the house we just did cosmetic updates to — it already had hardwoods throughout (though they’re not in spectacular shape).

  • I’d pay 2,400/month for this if you wanted to do a guy a solid.

  • 2BR condos at the new Atlantic Plumbing building are priced as high as $1.9M. You could go $4,000+ and it would look like a great deal in comparison.

    • I don’t think you can really compare the two. People who are in the market for the highest priced condos at Atlantic Plumbing Company are probably not looking to rent a 3 bedroom house on Floriday ave, and vice versa.

    • can’t compare the two

  • At 1200 sq ft, it sounds and looks cramped to me. I think you’d be very luck to get $3200.

  • Keep it just under $4,000, and I doubt you’ll have much trouble renting in the summer months. If you wait until Nov-Feb to rent it you’ll get closer to $3,500.

    The people quoting around $3,000 have no idea what the market is bearing right now.

  • to put another side of it out there….there are a number of folks who own small places in the area looking to move to a 2+ bedroom rental for a bit while they figure their next moves (families). something to consider.

    Other things to consider
    -Pets – people pay more if they can bring their dogs (and cats) with them
    -utilities – if you include utilities, people tend to be willing to pay more
    -have professional-level pictures taken of your space – it’ll maximize light (and if you declutter for them, make it look big). It’ll bring in the higher-end renter vs them just skipping over it
    -I have yet to find a person interested in a “partially furnished” place.
    -Mention how active of a landlord you’ll be (aka “local, friendly landlord” or will it be professionally managed?)

    you aren’t competing with the luxury apartment market – you’re looking for people who want more value, or are past living with neighbors above/below them.

    good luck!

    • Wow, thanks, this is really helpful.

      • As someone who was a renter in the past and an owner now I second everything above. I’d also add that if you want to manage it yourself it’s probably worth it to rent slightly below market and find good tenants who will either (a) put up with waiting for things occasionally, or (b) help out if need be. If you don’t want to deal with much charge more and have someone manage it.
        Nest is a great management company and would probably be able to rent it on the high end of the range (3600-3800).

      • I have actually had mixed experiences with the utilities included ask. I say I will include them if its a make-or-break (and for the right tenant), but then I set the temperature (DC has regulations on that – and everything – look them up). Most people decide they want to set their own temperature and pay their own bill.

        Do not include them AND let them set the temperature. I once had a tenant chirp at me all winter that the heater was “broken” because she couldn’t get it above 80 in her apartment and he electric bills were $200+ in a tiny place. Turns out the thermostat *was* a little off…it was actually 82 in there, and still not warm enough for her. Not even joking.

        • Agreed with JoDa — I don’t really see the point of including utilities when it’s a house that has its own metered utilities.
          It makes sense to include utilities only in a situation where the exact usage can’t be determined (e.g., basement apartment that’s not metered separately), or for a condo/co-op that already includes utilities (or most utilities) as part of the condo fees — say, one where there are boilers/chillers for the whole building.

      • Agree – you can’t compare to luxury, new apts. or even a 2 bedroom share. Once you get 3 people in the mix it is trickier.

        – “partially furnished” = old crap furniture that I have no where else to put.
        – Accept pets – even if you don’t charge more (just take an extra refundable damage deposit) people with pets are just grateful to find a place and are better tenants.
        – personally, I wouldn’t want utilities included in my rent. I want to control my own usage/expense.

        I rent out a 1 bedroom apt. 1 block from Columbia Heights Metro for $1,300/month (modest, no in-unit WD etc. but your own private apt.) So I’d start thinking of $1,200 for the big bedroom, $1,000 for medium and $750.00- maybe $850.00 for small. (8×9 is SMALL!)

        • Be careful whose advice you take. I agree that allowing pets opens up a new market segment. It also opens up a new pathway for damage. If you have all hard floors, its less of a risk. Whatever you decide on that front, DO NOT CHARGE AN EXTRA REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT. Deposits in DC are limited to one month’s rent. You can charge a pet fee (non refundable one-time), pet rent, or make the tenant pay to restore any pet damages, even if they go above the security deposit (yes, that means suing and collecting a judgement, usually), but charging more than one month’s rent as refundable security is illegal in DC. You’re asking to have your goose cooked by a savvy and shady tenant if you slip up.

  • Not in real estate, but my gut reaction is $3,500.

  • Not an expert, but I would say you could get 3500-4000

  • When I lived in Columbia Heights (11th and Otis area) from 2012-2014, my roommates and I paid $3750/mo for 3 beds/1.5 bath. It was “updated” but not substantially. When I moved out in March ’14, and the roommates were up for renewal, they got the landlords to lower the monthly rent to $3500, because of comparables in the neighborhood. Because your place is closer to U St. and is nicely renovated, I would say that you could do anywhere between $3700-$4000, but closer to lower end. Anything above $4000, like other posters have said, would make people consider getting a studio at roughly the same price.

  • I live around the corner from you and the most I have heard a 2bed/2 bath going for on our block is $3100, while some are still renting for under $3K, so I think more than $3500 might be pushing it.

  • With the location and parking at least $ 3,700 – $ 4,000.

    There are small 1 bedroom apt in the area with $ 2,300- $2, 400 price range.

    Only people moaning in this post are the renters.

  • I pay $1250 for a large one bedroom between Logan Circle / Shaw / Mt Vernon. I cannot imagine paying more than $1k to share a house again.

  • Two things – the best advice I received about renting out a space was to go slightly less than what I thought I could get for it so that I had the ability to choose a tenant rather than having to take the one person who said they could/would pay what was being charged. Also, I second what has already been said about allowing pets. Renting from an apartment building that has ridiculous pet fees is super unappealing so making your place pet-friendly will open you up to a whole world of wonderful tenants who don’t want to pay a large building an additional “rent” for their cat…

    • This is pretty much so sage advice. I’m often asked why my apartments are so “cheap,” and my logic is that the rent I ask for covers my expenses and some profit, so I price them competitively so I have 5-10 tenants to choose from when they come up for rent. I’ve even had tenants offer to pay MORE because they really want the place.
      As for pets, as I noted above, it’s a risk/reward calculation. I allow pets in my apartments (all hard floors), and often end up renting to pet owners. They are generally lovely people who take good care of the home and their pets. I have made friends with some of their pets when I came to do needed repairs, and have never had to charge a pet owner a single dime to repair pet damage. OTOH, I have lived in condo buildings with OWNERS who let their pet tear the place to shreds and had to shell out significant $$$ to make repairs to sell because their dog chewed the bedroom door to shreds or cat scratched every surface they could reach. My best advice is meet the pet. I always request a meeting at my home, and close a door (bedroom, bathroom) while we (me and the prospective tenant) chat. If the dog/cat leaves the closed door alone (or even takes interest in it, but just lays down and tries to sniff under the door) or just generally sniffs around or sits/lays down and take interest in watching us, I feel pretty good about it. Those are all things my dog might do, and he doesn’t tear up my home. IF the pet immediately started scratching and marking and digging and barking in a “new” environment, I’d be more cautious. That’s never happened, thankfully, but I would ask a LOT more questions if the pet acted out during a meeting.

  • Just realized that 8 x 9 is the size of the bathroom where I keep new foster kittens, and it feels too small for them! Seriously – is this the actual size of a bedroom that you expect someone to live in? Or at least pay more than $500.00 to live in?

    • Well, there’s a lot of stuff in a bathroom (tub, sink, toilet, maybe some storage) that ends up taking up a lot of floor space. But, in general, I’d say that’s a “first world problem.” I’ve never had a master bedroom larger than 120 ft2 (10×12). Given the right layout, I could EASILY get a queen bed and dresser into an 8×9 room. FWIW, my bathroom is about 8×5 (40 ft2), and I feel like it’s taking up more space than it needs to. If the vanity were across from the toilet instead of next to it (on the same wall as the tub spigot and drain, so the plumbing is there), I could have A LOT more closet space…hmmmm…now I wonder if I can move it and install a large linen closet in the bathroom…

  • I think the easiest and best way to determine your rent would be to post it on Craigslist. I was managing a unit on 16th a few blocks south of U and they were paying $2950 for a 663 sqft one BR (the lease ran out in Feb and the unit is now for sale). It was completely renovated and had an in-unit W/D as well as amenities like a gym in the building (parking was not included).

    I recommended the owner list it for $2400-2600 but she put it up at $3,000 and got 2950. I was astounded and the market in the area has gotten stronger since then (about 15 months ago). I think she got lucky and her tenants were from NYC so it was prob cheap for them but it can’t hurt to ask for the moon and then re-post two weeks later if you don’t get any leads.

    • “[I]t can’t hurt to ask for the moon and then re-post two weeks later if you don’t get any leads.” — Generally agreed, except I’d recommend asking not for the moon — just on the optimistic/ambitious side — and lowering the price at shorter intervals, depending on how soon you need to get the place rented out. You can “renew” a Craigslist ad (i.e., bump it to the top) every 48 hours, so you might want to lower the price by $25 or $50 every 48 hours.

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