For this Las Vegas landlord, following the trend isn’t always the right thing to do.
While rent has skyrocketed over the last few months, Tom Trout, 71, is refusing to raise his. Many people have told him this was “unheard of for a landlord,” but his decision is final—he will not increase rent. In fact, he has been known to lower rent in the past.
Tom, who owns multiple properties in Las Vegas, says they are all paid for, and he doesn’t need or want the extra money he will get from raising the rent.
“I’ve never met a man like this in my life, and I’m getting ready to turn 78,” says Bill Donnelly, one of Tom’s long-time tenants.
Tom charges Bill a mere $900 a month for a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom, and two-car garage house. The disabled Vietnam War veteran has been renting Tom’s property in Henderson for nearly a decade.
“He did 2 tours in Vietnam. He was in a foxhole. We’re just lucky to have him back in America. God bless the vets,” Tom said regarding Bill.
When Bill moved in, he was paying $1,200 a month for the 1,600-square-foot property. The following year, rent went down to $1,100, and a year after that, it dropped to $1,000.
And the year after that? Bill’s rent went down to $900 monthly, and he has stayed there since. With cheap rent and a very generous landlord like Tom, it’s no surprise that Bill has stayed this long.
According to Zillow, properties of a similar size in the same ZIP code are being rented out for $2,000 to $2,400.
Since Tom is not increasing the rent, what could these houses sell for in the market?
“$2000 a month. If I raise the rent a thousand, I’m sure he would move out. Some people might think I have the I.Q. of a grasshopper but I like to keep my tenants,” he explained.
Tom, a geologist, moved to Pahrump to stake out a gold mine. He hasn’t been back to Las Vegas in over a year, and he likes to keep it that way.
“I don’t snoop around. When they rent a house from me it’s their house. I’m not a nitpicky landlord. If my tenants are nice, they get to keep their lease. If they give me a hard time guess what? Out of the door,” he said.
Tom, who has been renting properties for over four decades, would rather keep reliable tenants than go through different sets of renters.
“I’ve been through bubbles, and I’ve been through balloons, and the balloon breaks and the bubble bursts,” he said. “So I’m fully aware of what I’m doing.”
As home prices climbed last summer, Bill feared that Tom might be tempted to sell the place, so he offered to start paying more rent. But Tom assured him the house wasn’t going up for sale; he even threatened to lower the rent to $800 if Bill tried to give him more money.
This was also Tom’s way of giving back for his service.
“He’s a veteran,” he said about Bill. “I admire him. He served our country. And why should a landlord destroy the house that he lives in?”
The only trade-off is that Bill pays for minor handyman repairs. But that’s a small price to pay, considering the savings he’s making with his cheap rent.
According to Zillow, rent prices in Las Vegas have gone up by over 22% since 2015. On the other hand, Apartment List reported an increase of 13.52% just since last year.
And with more people moving in Las Vegas from out of state, rent will likely continue to go up, said Nevada State Apartment Association Executive Director Susy Vasquez in a news release.
Regardless, Tom says he doesn’t plan on increasing the rent anytime soon. He moved to the area in 1978 and started buying homes with money he earned in the stock market. He says he has owned his properties long enough to afford to be generous.
“I’ll do it my way, like Frank Sinatra says,” Tom said, referencing the late singer.
After all, keeping a long-lasting relationship with his tenants allows him to focus on the things he cares about in Pahrump—trading stocks, exploring the geology in the area, and playing drums for a band at a local club when he pleases.
Seems like Tom is living the dream, and he’s helping other people live theirs with his generosity!
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