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The Catch: Pay Rent Upfront, Fund My Renovation

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What/Where: A small guest cottage in Malibu, near Topanga. It includes a moderately well-equipped music studio and is "on two secluded acres with an amazing ocean view."

Sounds good, right?: The cottage "has an ocean view and you can hear the surf in the distance. It has a full bathroom and large private patio." Additionally, there's a "private" beach at the bottom of the hill. Basic utilities are included, including a fiber optic internet connection.

The Catch: Well, it seems the owner is having a cash flow problem but wants to renovate the music studio. So he's hit upon this brilliant idea: "You would advance some amount between $5k and $12k as a lease for a commensurate period of months or years (the amount depends on the scope of renovation we agree upon). For this, you'd get an exceptionally good deal on the cottage. For example, $5k would get you a lease for a year (equivalent to $416 per month; there's nothing comparable in Malibu for less than $1,000). Advancing more would get you a longer lease. If you wanted to use the studio we could arrange for that." The other issue is that while you may pay your rent upfront for his renovation, you can't move in for three months, so that he has time for the construction. And there's more: "Beyond that, FURTHER RENOVATIONS could be done if you have additional funds, wanted to lease for a longer period, and/or wanted certain work to be done before you moved in. For instance, the roof should be resurfaced, the washing machine needs a new drain-pipe system, some outdoor lighting should be rewired, and a number of other minor things could be fixed or replaced. These projects could add up to $10k or more. Alternatively, we could address some of these projects in later stages through advance payment of several month's rent at a time."
· Private guest cottage with ocean view – unique lease terms [Craigslist]