The Realities of Rental Income

January 25, 2024by melissad0

The notion that rental property income equal millions of dollars is a misconception that often overlooks the complex financial dynamics property owners face. Let’s delve into the breakdown of the rental dollar to understand the intricate web of expenses that property owners navigate.

Breaking Down the Rental Income Dollar:

The National Apartment Association’s insight into the components of a rental dollar provides a clearer perspective:

  1. Property Taxes (14 cents):
    • Property taxes contribute about 14 cents to every rental dollar.
    • These taxes play a vital role in supporting the community, schools, emergency services, and other local needs.
  2. Operating Expenses (16 cents):
    • Approximately 16 cents cover operating expenses, including property and liability insurance, utilities, and ongoing maintenance.
  3. Capital Improvements (12 cents):
    • Property owners allocate 12 cents for capital improvements, such as a new roof, HVAC replacement, or window upgrades that enhance the home’s quality.
  4. Personnel Costs (10 cents):
    • Ten cents go toward compensating the people who maintain the property, including managers, leasing professionals, and accounting staff.
  5. Mortgage (38 cents):
    • The largest chunk, 38 cents, pays the mortgage, a significant financial commitment for property owners.
  6. Owner’s Share (10 cents):
    • Only 10 cents may go to the property owner, often constituting a significant portion of their income.
What’s Not Considered:

This breakdown fails to capture additional costs and challenges decreasing the rental income value:

  • Turnover costs, including painting, flooring cleaning or replacement, cleaning, and rekeying, averaging 3-5 thousand dollars.
  • Emergency services like leaks, with remediation and restoration costs, sometimes only partially covered by insurance.
  • Potential legal costs for advisory services, evictions, and proper notices.

Considering these factors, most homeowners take home less than $200 a month, assuming no maintenance expenses or unforeseen events like a pandemic. Being a housing provider entails significant risks with minimal thanks.


The reality is far from the notion of rentals equaling millions. Instead, being a housing provider involves navigating a complex financial landscape, managing various expenses, and often dealing with unexpected challenges. The next time you think of your landlord, consider them as a regular person—your mom, dad, aunt, grandpa, friend, or neighbor—engaging in a challenging business for the altruistic purpose of providing someone else a home in a city they love. Rentals are not a pathway to millions; they’re a commitment to community and service.

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