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!
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.
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.
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!