Money, Rental properties

Why You Shouldn’t Be Too Nice To Your Tenants

You probably read it somewhere before; Don’t be too nice to your tenants!. It is a business so treat it like one, be respectful and professional. You can be nice just don’t be too nice. Well here is one of my latest landlord story on why you shouldn’t be too nice to your tenants!

December 2016

Last December, one of my tenants was having a tough time. Her husband had lost her job and her work was a little slower. She asked me if they could delay paying part of the rent and pay it over the following three months instead, from January to March. They had been renting from me for the last 2 years and I never had an issue so I told her it was fine. She was very upset not to have the full rent for me but also for not being able to buy nice gifts for her kids. I guess you don’t realize how many people live paycheck to paycheck until you come across a family dealing with that type of issues.

Since every Christmas, I run a food bank drive and a toy campaign at work, I decided to embark on a different venture this time and told her I could try to help in getting the kids their Christmas gifts. I let her know about our toy campaign at work and that the staff may be interested in buying for her family instead of giving to the local charity. I didn’t make her any promises since I wasn’t sure how my co-workers would react, I just told her I would do my best to get some of the gifts on their list.

She was thrilled about the offer and provided me with a short list of toys for the kids. The list was very reasonable; the most expensive toy was $35. I later spoke with one of my friend who had the same thing at her work except her list consisted of two of the latest IPhone for two teenagers! Seriously?  Anyway I asked my tenant to also give me sizes for clothes  in case I was able to get more.

It was a great success; I managed to get everybody to contribute, including my kids and some of my friends. I printed and posted pictures of each toy labelled with kids name, age and size and added a  cash box for those who preferred to give cash. We ended up with ALL the gifts, extra toys, clothes, a beautiful basket of goodies and $500 in Cash. I bought a Wal-Mart gift card with the cash so they could buy food, clothes and whatever else they needed.

I dropped it all off before Christmas and they were ecstatic. All was good! It felt great. It was so much more rewarding to give the gifts in person.

Since Then

Then January came around and she didn’t pay back the amount we had agreed upon for the outstanding January rent. She did pay January in full but I had to follow-up with her on the other amount.

Same thing happened with February. I finally received the full outstanding amount by July instead of March and got very little communication from her along the way. She was so good at letting me know before if she was going to be a little late on rent. Then for the last few months, she has been paying on the 2nd of the month on a consistent basis. Often enough that I sent her a reminder last month that rent was due by the 1st.

December 2017

This month, she paid on the 3rd and short paid by $200, with no communication whatsoever. I emailed her and got another $100 that day but no email, text or call back.  I sent her another reminder about the missing $100 by email and text, reminding her she had to let me know when rent was late. then I followed up with a call and left a message. She still hasn’t responded yet. It is very frustrating and upsetting. She just has to call me back!

I feel bad but I need to step up, put my friendly self aside and file a late rent notice. It is a slippery slope and I can see she is starting to take advantage of me . It’s a good thing I set up my rental property mortgage payments on the  15th, otherwise the bank would charge me a penalty every time. Check out my post To be a landlord or not to be? for additional tips when owning rental properties. That is so inconsiderate of them but the truth is they really don’t care.

That is the part of being a landlord I really don’t enjoy. You try to be nice and it can easily backfire. I have no interest in calling about $100 or filing the form for late rent but I have no choice if I don’t want things to get worse.

The Same dilemma

Once again here comes the dilemma, to be a landlord or not to be? I love the income but I still don’t know if I am cut out to be a landlord; I may just be too nice. At work I can be so tough when needed but this landlord business is different, not sure why.

So what do you think, was I too nice and are they taking advantage of it (sure feels like it)? How about you, any experience you care to share about being too nice to your tenants?

Update: She finally got back to me, apparently lots of family issues going on. She apologized and will send the outstanding amount shortly. I will keep my fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again. On the bright side, I am now in the right mood to let them know rent is going up soon! 

14 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Be Too Nice To Your Tenants

  1. Oh, that’s rough! It’s incredibly hard to stay “all business” with people living in your property. If you’re a warm, caring person, it feels natural to be friendly with tenants. In this case, you went above and beyond and you’re basically getting burned for your kindness. I’ve had similar things happen a few times, not quite as egregious, but I’ve decided that going forward I will always draw the line on rent payment. Late fees and notices always enforced. My line: “I understand you’re having issues, but I need your rent to pay my mortgage payment on time” and then really follow through. It may sound cold, but I once had a family stop paying rent and leave town. They claimed family emergencies and out of town funerals, and I later found out that were on a Carnival Cruise maxing out their cruise cash card! So… basically it happens to all of us landlords! I would just tell this family that you tried to be very helpful last year during their tough time but you’ve had increased expenses and you have to be able to rely on their rent being paid on time and in full every month. If they can’t comply, they need to look for alternative housing. Good luck!

    1. Hi Kat, I have had a similar experience with my tenant “from hell”, I am lucky they moved out back in February (more to come) but apparently they lost their grandmother several times I think:( For the current ones, I will draw a line. She still didn’t send the $ and because it is Christmas time I will let it go . But come January 1st, anything late I will file the N4 (Ontario)!

  2. Very interesting Caroline. Once you got personally involved as part of last Christmas, the relationship changed from business to personal. When it became personal, it was harder to be objective and treat the relationship like the business transaction it is. It is too bad there are people that take advantage of nice people like you. I’m a teacher and students will try to take advantage at times. One teaching colleague told me ” be friendly, but don’t be friends.” Tom

  3. That SUCKS. Sorry to hear about landlord problems especially when you have been so nice. I invest in REITs just because I would not be a very good landlord and dealing with tenants is not for me.

    1. I am not sure it is for me either but the equity growth is so good. They are no other ways I would have made the money with almost nothing initially. Some days I want to sell all three and just yesterday I was looking at a triplex!!!

    1. I agree the law is definitely on their side. I think big landlord do well because they have lawyers behind them. The key is the screening process but you can’t catch everything! thanks for stopping by Troy.

  4. Caroline,
    I see the challenges of being a landlord. Drawing the line is hard. I had a friend who was a landlord for several rentals. The biggest issue he faced was getting the rent on time. The 2nd issue was the property damage caused by some tenants. In Ohio where I live, generally the house price is low. Mos of the people would buy a house if they could afford to. I’m sure some good tenants are there. It’s just not easy to find the tenants who have good credit, steady and decent income and care about the property.

    1. Hi Helen, yes drawing the line is hard. My worse tenants move out in February, they were consistently late with rent and trashed the place on the way out! The screening is critical but you can still make mistakes. There are good tenants out there too but it is still a lot of work

  5. Oh gosh that’s awful!! Yes, you can’t be too nice to them! I can’t believe she just paid out short without much communication. That sounds very anxiety provoking. You don’t want to ‘sound mean’ but at the same time you don’t want to nag, and also you want your money!

    I used to be a landlord (but just for basement suite) and it was kind of annoying. We told them no more than 2 people (it was two girls who were roommate) and then one of their boyfriends ended staying over pretty much for months on end.

  6. What happened to you is exactly my fear if I ever become a landlord – that my tenants will take advantage of my generosity. I don’t think you were too nice – being too nice would be giving them free rent – but I do think they were pushing the limit on your niceness.

    1. I actually considered doing free rent once but so glad I didn’t, I probably would never recover from that one! If rental properties weren’t such a great investment , I would have sold them all already.

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