The Catch for a Half-Priced Luxury Rental? You Have to Fix the Place Up

  • Share
  • Read Later
Paul Taylor / Getty Images

Banks in Florida are having a hard time selling the many abandoned luxury properties now in their possession due to foreclosure. To get the homes in better shape in order to attract buyers, the properties are being rented out for half the going rate—with the stipulation that the renters must decorate, cut the grass, do minor repairs, and otherwise serve as caretakers.

Renters aren’t generally in the market for fixer-uppers. But if the price is right, almost any living situation can be agreeable.

In the Gulf Coast of Florida, the Tampa Tribune reports, foreclosed luxury fixer-uppers are being offered as cheap rentals to those willing to take on the responsibilities of caretakers.

The scenario works out for banks and real estate agents, who eventually wind up with a home that’s in more sellable shape, while also collecting rent that may be less than market rate, but that’s certainly better than the $0 being earned with an empty home. As for the renters themselves, the situation enables them to live in style—often, spacious waterfront homes with pools and boat docks—while catching a break on the rent. An abandoned waterfront home in St. Petersburg that might normally rent for $3,000 a month, for instance, is being rented for $1,500 by a couple living there as caretakers.

(MORE: From Deadbeats to a Target Market: Why Advertisers Are Going After Strategic Defaulters)

Is that enough of a discount? The answer depends a lot on how much work and upkeep the property requires. With some dilapidated homes, it would be arguable that the banks should be paying people to live there while cleaning and fixing the place up. But each situation is different.

For some people, becoming a caretaker isn’t a good move. Remember the most famous fictional caretaker, Jack Torrance from Stephen King’s The Shining? Things didn’t work out too well for his family when he agreed to be caretaker at a Colorado property. Presumably, though, the weather in sunny Florida wouldn’t drive you quite as crazy.

(MORE: The ‘Free Rent’ Approach: When Homeowners Just Stop Paying Their Mortgages)

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.