Have you ever taken a moment to consider what your reputation is as a landlord? How would your tenant’s describe you? We usually assume our tenant have negative things to say about us. We usually think they are going to say we’re mean, not accommodating or that we never do anything right. Have you ever considered that they may say you are “easy” or a “pushover”? A reputation as an easy landlord to manipulate can be more detrimental for your business than the standard negative tenant characterizations.
Allowing a tenant to be consistently late on rent or choosing to look the other way when they bring a pet you don’t permit, can set a precedent. You may not have meant to set the precedent because you believed you were being accommodating or life got busy.
You saw the pet at Halloween but next thing you know it’s Christmas. Or (worse yet) maybe you did strategically avoid the confrontation. These things have a sneaky way of snowballing into a larger problem of lapsed rules at the property. Then next thing you know Emily is also paying her rent a little late and Jason’s bought a dog as well. Suddenly, your tenants are running the property, you’re not.
We think the nightmare stops with just our tenants talking to each other. But it doesn’t. Jason tells a friend who wants to get a dog he should move to your property and get one after move-in because you don’t enforce it after move-in. They tell their friends they know a place they can rent and bend the rules without much consequence. Next thing you know, you may not have a vacancy problem but you have other problems. Constantly late rent, broken rules, meaningless lease clauses, etc. This epidemic is just as debilitating as a reputation as a bad landlord.
So where do we draw the line between accommodating and easy? Be polite but firm. Sure you can give a tenant a small break on rent if you chose once, but it is not advised to make an admissible occurrence. “Mariah, I understand you lost your job and I feel awful about that. I can give you till 10th. But we need a written plan in place with definite steps.”
Enforce the rules as they are written in the lease. If you don’t allow pets, give the tenant notice about the pet. Let them know there are real consequences for breaking the rules. Even if the complaint might not stand up in court, you need to let tenants know you are watching. Then plan to issue a non-renewal when the opportunity arises.
If you hate confrontation and constantly seek to avoid it, that’s a good indication you might be better served by a property manager. That way you can continue to have investments that are effectively run.
For the self-managing landlords: if you aren’t minding your investment, then who is?
Owner Brio Properties & CRC Investments