The 7 Dirty Truths of Landlording (Like ‘Em or Not!)

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It’s not always fun and games when you are a landlord.

Landlording is not always making large banking deposits and Caribbean vacations. Sure, around-the-world trips often come with owning real estate, but you still need to earn it. Here are some of the dirty truths about landlording.

The 7 Dirty Truths of Landlording

The following are 5 truths every landlord faces. They aren’t pretty, but it’s necessary to let you all know what to expect, so let’s get into it!

1. You need to treat it as a business, not a hobby.

You need to treat a real estate investment as a business, not a hobby.

If real estate is just a hobby for you, please skip this article. If you have a hard time looking out for yourself, do not become a landlord, and skip this article. If you are a tenant, keep reading and know your landlord is making decisions like most other landlords, and it is not personal.

Part of earning money in real estate is making the unpopular decisions that can make your life miserable in the short run, but better in the long run. And when you make these decisions, you often make your tenants life exponentially more difficult than yours. It is not the goal to make their life miserable, but it sometimes happens. It is not always pleasant. Sometimes you have to “pull the plug” on a tenant, and that is often a difficult decision. Once plug has been pulled, you have transferred the agony to someone else.

Some landlords hire a property manager to make or carry out the decisions for them. They can remain faceless, hiding behind a property manager façade, and do the dirty work but not actually feel it. Make no mistake, you are just as much a part of the tenant’s misery as the PM is; you are just insulated by them. Taking the coward’s way out does not make you any less a part of the tenant’s agony. Just because you buy your steaks at the grocery store does not make you any less a part of killing the cow.

On the other hand, if you do not make these important decisions, you could go broke yourself. Your eventual distress will be far greater than any tenant discomfort that is caused in the short run. Your distress will go on for years, as you recover your credit score and lost investments.

You are not in the landlording game to provide housing to others; you are in the landlording game to make money. Providing housing is how you make the money, not the purpose of your business. The mortgage company needs to make their money, and they will take away your property if you do not give them their money. They will make the hard decisions if you fail to do so.

You must make the decisions that can cause your tenants suffering in order to avoid longer term suffering for yourself — but also so you can make more money.

2. You need to make tough decisions on tenant applications.

When a tenant applies for your unit, you have to make the decision to accept or reject them.

Solid tenants can go anywhere. Marginal tenants have to look at many places before they are accepted. You want solid tenants. I have had tenants cry over the phone when they are telling me how they need a place to live. It may have been a medical issue, a criminal issue, or a bad marriage issue that caused their situation. Regardless of the cause, they always say it was not their fault.

The marginal tenant will have poor credit, low income, criminal issues, evictions, or even other events in their past. The marginal tenant “just needs a chance.” They may be trying to find a place for a family relative, but yet they do not offer their own couch for the relative. It may have been a “one-time stupid mistake” that the tenant made. It may have been the result of “foolish decisions they made when they were young.” I especially like this excuse when it comes from a 23-year-old renter.

Either way, your decision just made someone’s life more difficult. Your own life is better off with a more solid tenant. If you really want to help out someone like this, co-sign on a different apartment with them. It will be far cheaper for you.

I have declined many tenants that may have made good tenants somewhere else.

You decline tenants to avoid longer term misery for yourself — and so you can make more money.

3. You need to evict tenants.

When you file an eviction, you make your tenants life extremely difficult.

You are taking away their home and getting back your property. It may be because the tenant did not pay rent amongst many other reasons, but they have to move regardless. Moving is costly for them, and an eviction on their record makes it more difficult for them to get a new place. It is a scar on their rental record.

It may well be necessary, and you will suffer too, but your tenants will suffer more. It may be a 98-year-old woman or a person on their last days. It doesn’t matter; your mortgage payment is still due on the same day.

I have had to evict tenants with stage 4 cancer who did not pay rent. The tenant died six months after the eviction. It’s not always fun, but needs to be done.

You evict tenants, to avoid longer term misery for yourself, and so you can make more money.

Related: Evictions – Can You Do Them Yourself?

4. Forced Move Outs

When you do not renew a lease, it is nearly like an eviction for a tenant.

You may want to move into the home you were renting yourself.  Maybe you want to sell the property and decide it is better selling a vacant place.  Maybe the tenants were a real hassle, and you want to avoid the expense of an eviction.  Maybe your tenants in a multifamily have had issues that cause your other tenants to move out.

You may be remodeling to get higher rents, and there is no good way to do it with the tenants in place.  Either way, your tenants need to find a new place, and it will be difficult for them.

I have had to move good people out, as they were no longer compatible with the longer term direction of my properties.  I recently terminated a 7+ year tenant that has always paid rent.

You force out tenants, to avoid longer term misery for yourself, and so you can make more money.

5. Raising Rents on Your Tenants

Taxes go up, utilities go up, insurance goes up, office expenses go up, and your standard of living goes up.

All of these mean you need to charge more for your rental unit.  Your tenant needs to pay more so you can have enough pocket money to buy your $5 cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Their income may be stagnant, or even decreased.  They might have gotten a new job and are working fewer hours, and making less money.  Their employer might have initiated higher co-payments for insurance, and their net pay is smaller.  Or perhaps they could not work as much because they were sick, and did not have enough paid sick days or vacation to get them by.

I have had to raise rents on tenants that could barely afford their current rent, let alone the higher rent.

You increase rents on tenants, to avoid longer term misery for yourself, and so you can make more money.

6. Saying No to a Tenant’s Pet(s)

If you have been a landlord anytime at all, you have had to deal with tenants pets.

Most often, you know about the pets coming in, but not always.  Sometimes a “lab mix” turns out to a purebred pit bull.  Or you happen to notice a new puppy in a place you do not allow pets.  After about two hours, a renter becomes permanently emotionally attached to a puppy.  Perhaps it is the renters’ older childhood family pet that the parents needed to pawn off on the kids, who are now renting from you.  There are lots of reasons pets show up unexpectedly.

But the pet cannot stay; you need to make your tenant get rid of it.  Your insurance company may demand it.  When you force a tenant to get rid of a pet, you are forcing them to get rid of one of their most cherished things in their life.  But you do it anyway.

I have had to say no to tenants with pets, even though I knew it was a hardship for the tenant.

You require the tenants to give up their best friend, to avoid longer term misery for yourself, and so you can make more money. 

7. In the End, Real Estate is all about Money

A landlord is a business owner.  As a business owner, you are required to make the tough decisions.

That is life. You and your tenants need to know it is not personal; the decision is simply about making more money – for you.  You can use this money so you can live better, even if the tenant is worse off than before your decision.  Making money in real estate provides jobs and incentives to continue the process of making money.

Have you ever had to make a decision that made your tenants life more miserable?  Was the decision an effort to make more money for you?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

About Author

Eric D.

Eric is a 55 year old, soon to be former, computer professional. He started several years ago to replace his “work income”, with other alternate streams. He is well on his way to retirement at age 56, and is currently making more money at extracurricular activities, than he is working at his full time job. Whether that is Financially Independent, or just old fashioned entrepreneurial spirit, is in the eyes of the beholder.


  1. Mike McKinzie on

    Hated it! Just kidding! While I agree and have experiences every issue you mention, I don’t always agree with you premise, action or conclusion. For instance, I just had to evict a good tenant because I was selling. Now I could have been cold hearted, evicted the tenant, and marketed the property. But instead, I gave the tenant the incentive of $1,000.00 if they would be cooperative with showings and keep the house in showable condition. In this case everybody WON. The tenant got three months to find another house plus $1,000 in assistance, I got MORE than list price because the house showed so well and I got an extra two months rent ($3,200) from the tenant. And to top it off, my agent told me that I needed to do about $20,000 in repairs to even sell the house. By working WITH my tenant, I put an extra $60,000 in my pocket at closing! And I can back this number up with two sales contracts. Like you said, it is ALL ABout MAKING MONEY, but you don’t have to Ebeneezer Scrooge to do it.

    • Thank you for the comment! You made it easier on the tenant, but you forced them out of their home (scrooge, see #4…) and made $60K when you did it. And only gave the tenant $1,000.

      Great story, keep up the great work!

      • Mike McKinzie on

        I didn’t add that my Listing Agent also found them the rental, a condominium with pool, workout room, two car garage (mine had a one car garage) and much more. They were not able to find a rental, so my agent, at no cost to either of us, stepped up and found them a larger, newer, better and bigger place to rent, at a lower monthly rent. So while there is a hassle in moving, no doubt, today the tenant is enjoying a much better living situation. Yes, I FORCED them out, but I did it with professionalism, class and the lease amount of hassle as possible! And because I did the RIGHT thing, I made an enormous PROFIT. I sold the house TWICE. The second sale was $30,000 more with less than $5,000 in repairs. The first offer came from a “flipper” and he wanted ME to do the repair work for his flip, $20,000 worth, including a NEW roof (I put a whole new roof on in 2012).
        Tenants are NOT our friends, but they are also NOT our enemies. They are our CUSTOMERS and we need to treat them as such. If a Wal Mart has to close due to a water main break inside the store, we cannot shop there. Same goes for a rental we own. There are a myriad of reasons that we many need to “close” a rental, that is life, but how we handle the tenant speaks volumes about what kind of business person we are.
        I will do everything I can to MAXIMIZE my cash flow, but I will also keep in mind that there is a LOT MORE TO LIFE than MONEY. Is it worth it to LOSE money by doing the RIGHT thing? Absolutely. However any Landlord defines “the right thing” is up to them, but all of us know that BELIEVING A TENANT is NOT the right thing because most tenants LIE. For me, giving a tenant 90 days to move is more “right” than 30 days. California law states all I need to do is give a 30 day notice, so I would be in my legal right to evict in 30 days. There is an age old saying that I will paraphrase, “All thing are LAWFUL but not all things are PROFITABLE.” Or put another way, on the gravestone of a car accident victim, “His way was RIGHT, and his will was STRONG, but he is just as DEAD, as if he were WRONG!”
        Landlording requires a lot of decisions, and the better decisions we make, the more profitable we will become. So, in my opinion, we cannot base all of our decision ONLY ON MONEY. Will $50.00 a month more make a difference in my life? Not even close. But will $50.00 a month help a single mother struggling? If she is a good tenant, keeps a clean house, pays on time, never complains, reports real repair issues before they grow, etc…, I may forgo a rent raise for a year. Yes, there is a Limit, a “gray area,” if you may. I inherited a couple of rentals from my parents that were $500.00 under market. And so you have the TOUGH decision to make. WELCOME TO LANDLORDING 101!!

        • You are 100% correct. A tenant is your customer, but when they start shoplifting, you have to make a decision.

    • Mike,
      You may want to read up on allowable reasons for eviction. If your lease gives you the right to terminate in the event that you sell, it’s not really an eviction, but you can’t just terminate unilaterally and kick a tenant out because you decide to sell. Just a thought.

      • Mike McKinzie on

        I have been a landlord for 35 years plus, so this was not my first “rodeo.” The tenants lease was up and they were on a Month to Month. I have foregone many sales because it was mid-lease. In CA, a commercial lease can be terminated by a sale but a residential lease cannot be terminated by a sale, it is one of the questions on the California Real Estate License Test, the exception being a foreclosure.

  2. Robert Leonard on


    Thanks Eric, this article gets a COLD STAR (not a typo) for you! Your focus on causing suffering/misery to your tenants seems almost gleeful? This article is the truth for anyone who sees the world from a very jaded perspective. I would change title to “The 7 Dirty Truths For The Emotional Landlord.”

    My real estate investments are my real estate business, they do not have any connection to my emotions – not suffering or misery. The way you equate every decision to be a matter of imposing suffering/misery on your tenants to save your own suffering/misery is hardly a business approach to decision making. If something goes wrong in my business, I have an opportunity to solve a problem, no misery. That’s one of the things I love about entrepreneurship.

    I bought into the idea of “win-win or no deal” since way back in the early 90s when I read Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” I don’t see a hint of anything remotely win-win focused in your article. The negativity of each of your “truths” just don’t fit my experience. So for the sake of anyone looking for what to expect, there’s a lot you can expect that’s not in this article.

    Your dealing with your stage 4 Cancer tenant poses a stark contrast from the story Michael Q. told about his deal with the dying Cancer patient in his podcast. I think he took a different approach than “it’s all about money.”

    • Thank you for the comment!

      You can always try for a win/win, but ultimately the landlord’s win is always larger then the tenants. It’s never easy, hence my explanation about “pulling the plug”.

      I do not wish misery on any tenant, and I want to have great business relationships with my tenants, but often you have to make hard decisions. Each one of these decisions are because you will make more less, or lose more money, if you do not.

      Sugarcoat it all you want, but in the end, money will decide the final decision and outcome that will be made.

      • I agree with both of you guys. But here is my opinion, its all about the relationships that we build with out tenants. Its about understanding each others situation and communicating that very clearly to each other. Yes we all want to make money and my policy is no pay no stay. But clearly we are all human here and lets not forget about helping each other out. My approach is to always respect the tenant and trust them until they do you wrong. I make it a priority to take care of any issues that arise in my properties in a timely fashion. I want my tenants to stay as long as possible and I do that by being fair and respectful to each and everyone of them. I do raise rents every two years and I do hold them accountable for any and all late fees. If my tenants are miserable its because of choices they made.

        • Thanks for the comment.

          You are correct, most of the pain that tenant have is caused by them. Sometimes, a landlord will bring in an under qualified tenant, and have to evict them, then it’s the landlord’s own fault.

          I run well maintained properties too. And I get the best tenants. Most of the stories were when I was a low income landlord. Lots of Section 8. I terminated all my ow income leases, or evicted, and went to a private market rent. I have posted quite a few horror stories on my blog.

  3. I started reading this article, nodding my head in agreement. By the time I got to the part about the eviction of a Stage 4 cancer patient, my mouth was agape and I immediately skipped to the bottom to see what the commenters were up to. Karma can be a dog devoid of a Y chromosome.


    • Thanks for the comment.

      Actually the cancer patient was very obnoxious. I was glad to get rid of her. She had a free attorney, and attempted to use every legal trick in the book to stay. But she did not want to pay. She was over $4k behind in rent from the previous owner. I evicted her the first business day after I purchased the building.

      • Laurel Devine

        Haha! Yup, it takes a while but after treating my RE business like a social service agency, I finally woke up and smelled the coffee. As a woman, I tended to “feel sorry” for the tenants woes, until I started having trouble paying the mortgages, the water was shut off in one of my buildings and I was making nothing. Now, I treat it like a business and go by the premise — “There are two types of problems in this world; mine and not mine.”
        It sounds cold hearted, but I finally realized the tenants never cared about my finances or my illnesses and would be happy to screw me out of whatever money they could.

  4. Eric, that was really painful to read. I want to be “nice” to everybody all the time. But you’re right. It is a business. I had to learn the hard way that people will absolutely screw you over and you can’t just take their word as truth. My new attitude (even before reading this article) is SCREEN SCREEN SCREEN. Can’t be careful enough, because it is my money. It’s my bills, it’s my kids’ braces and college funds. It’s one thing to be “nice” and another to be wise. I’m going with the latter. Thank you for the hard reality check. I’m pinning it to my cork board in my office. 😉

    • Thank you for the comment!

      Proper screening will definitely remove most of your headaches, you wil still have to decline some people. Even great people, especially when you have multiple people apply for a place. You can only pick one tenant for a single housing unit (they generally do not like you having another family live with them that you pick…)

      It’s never easy, and you never want to make it hard on people, but in the end if you do not do it, someone else will. It will be the person who buys your place and write on BiggerPockets about how great of a deal they got from an investor that could not manage their properties.

      • christian H.

        This is the single greatest comment I’ve read in a long time. “It will be the person who buys your place and write on BiggerPockets about how great of a deal they got from an investor that could not manage their properties.”


      • Eric D.

        Thank you. Virtually all of my investment properties were bought since 2008 were previously owned by an investor. Those can be the best deals. No emotional attachment, they just want out to stop the bleeding!

    • Mike McKinzie on

      I had the same thought Adrian. I live in Southern California and I must be a COWARD because I have a PM for my properties in OK, TN, TX, AZ, CO and Northern California. I do manage the one rental that I own that is less than 10 miles away.

    • Thank you for the comment! I was not calling everyone who hires a PM a coward. PM’s have their place, and I do not use them.

      Some landlords hire a PM because they want to avoid tenant confrontation such as late rent notices, evictions, lease enforcement, etc. Whether you do the ‘dirty work’, or you PM does, it’s stil initiated by you. You are the one causing your tenant’s life to be upset.

  5. Sara Cunningham on

    Your article makes landlords sound like horrible people. I understand that you have to be tough or you are only hurting yourself in the long run. If your rental income is absolutely essential for you to make mortgage payments then you don’t gave any choice.

    I always try to work with a tenant especially if they are long term tenants and so far I’ve managed to avoid evictions, due to them paying up what they owe to avoid eviction or agreeing to rental increases when I’ve inherited them.

    However I know that at some point I’m going to have to get tougher.
    Thanks for the reminder.


    • Thank you for the comment!

      Even if you are ‘working with your tenant’, at some point, your tenant has to adjust their lifestyle to yours, and move out or pay. You are taking away their home when they move.

      No matter how you slice it, whether you have a mortgage or not, you make a monetary decision that will likely be a life changing event for the tenant. Either they move, or pay more, it cuts their current plans and lifestyle.

      Decisions must be made, and it’s not always easy. The old “this is going to be more difficult for me than you” doesn’t cut it. It is never more difficult for the landlord. Using a PM so you don’t have call the shots personally, doesn’t make it any less your decision.

    • I have heard lots of sob stories. In the end, it’s not up to me to provide free housing. My mortgage company will not give me a ride, so I cannot give up to much to the tenants. If I do, I wind up broke.

  6. Eric,
    I’m new to investing but I totally understand what you’re saying. Too often people (whether those be landlords, bosses, or whoever) let their emotions get in the way of their livelihood and forget the reason they jumped into the business – to make money, to grow personally, heck to take over the world, but getting wrapped up in a strangers needs isn’t going to allow one to achiever their goals. Thank you for this! It’s a great reminder and will be in the forefront of my mind when diving into my investments.

    • Thank you for the comment!

      If you are going to be a landlord, know that decisions will be made that impact the lives of others. If you are not ready to do that, stay out of the game.

  7. So according to the writer, buy/hold investors who choose to hire a property manager as part of their business model are “Taking the cowards way out”, geez, tell us how you really feel there Eric.

  8. Just spoke with a tenant that is 17 days late with his rent, young kid away from home on his parent’s dime. This is our third chat about the rent.

    He insist that his dad will pay up and from out conversation he also seemed to think that I can wait as he “will settle his debt.” He even informed me that he just paid his college tuition and bought a car. Hence, he is now low on cash.

    I informed his that I do have a lot of expenses and that I can evict him for not paying his rent. In addition, he could have paid a part of his $10K tuition now and his $600/month rent in full.
    He seemed surprised about this statement. His response; those people are very strict and funny about their tuition. I told him. I will be back in three days for his rent.

    Point is, after reading your article I understand and agree with you. Karma is a wonderful idea, one that Roundpoint Mortgage could care less about. While you can and should empathize with people in this business, you are better off not feeling sorry for them! Very good article 😉

  9. @EricDrenckhahn

    Agree with the bullet points…

    I’m sorry , but I disagree with your motives. Each time, after every bullet point, you stated: “… and so you can make more money…” <– This is the problem with our country… free market promotes greed. I know decisions have to be made, but I don't like how you are promoting a sense of greed. This drives people, but not me. I'm here to learn about different aspects of REI, not how to become greedy:
    "5. Raising Rents on Your Tenants

    Taxes go up, utilities go up, insurance goes up, office expenses go up, and your standard of living goes up.

    All of these mean you need to charge more for your rental unit. Your tenant needs to pay more so you can have enough pocket money to buy your $5 cup of coffee at Starbucks."

    I've seen so many business executives run their business with difficult decisions and yet they get to pocket the profits. I've had different experiences as a renter, as a landlord, as an unemployed person, and as a business. I see people work harder and longer in life when their company claims bankruptcy with no raises in wages or salaries, but yet the owners get brand new porches, mazerati's, and V12 Mercedes… Just so they can make more money IS their motive in driving their business decisions.

    Thank you for the article about the obstacles and difficult decisions in landlording.
    I just do not like your motivations.

    • Thank you for the comment!

      I used a few examples to get some reactions, but all these things are about money. If you are giving away your property, you will have less money. Every decision you make in a property will have money at it’s root. And in the end, your lifestyle is more important that your tenants. Regardless what the impacts are.

      Landlords that do not watch the bottom line are soon weeded out by the very tenants that they tried to help.

  10. Mike Thompson on

    Good article! Looks like you and I are from the same school of thought. It’s all about the cash flow and sometimes we as landlords need to be the bad guy in order to protect it. Also, just like you (and every other landlord out there), I’ve heard just about every excuse on every issue. One of the most common excuses I get from prospective tenants that have bad credit and sometimes from current tenants that are unable to pay the rent by the 1st is “it’s because of medical bills”. My response to that is “So how am I supposed to believe that you’ll pay me the rent when it’s due if you wouldn’t pay the guy who saved your life?”

    • Thank you for the comment!

      Exactly. It’s not saying you cannot have a compassionate bone in your body, but in the end, it’s all about money. And a landlords money dictates their lifestyle. And the landlord needs to protect their lifestyle above the tenants.

      Landlords that do not understand how to be profitable, and make decisions, will wind up as tenants.

  11. I was ready to read about the hard truths of becoming a landlord. I was not ready for EVERYTHING to be about the money. You’re the type of landlord that would not rent to my aunt because you would consider her marginal. The truth is she had a successful nursing career until struck with MS and disability. When she relocated to be with me, it was hard to find her a place to rent, even though she pays her rent on time. And since you mentioned family not wanting to give up a “couch” — I gave up an entire room before she got a place.

    The application doesn’t tell the whole story, and as a landlord you are entitled to make whatever type of decisions you want. It comes down to what is most important. From this article and your responses to the comments, it seems that the business and the profit margin is the priority for you. I don’t fault you for that, but I respectfully disagree. Charity has its place…even in business. That is not to say you become a sucker for every sad story, but there is balance….I just didn’t find any in this article.

    • Thank you for the comment!

      Every landlord has their threshold of what they can take in regards to profitability and return on investment. And the government demands we treat everyone the same. So, you need have a consistent approach to tenants, and stick with it.

      Anyone who tells you it is not about money is lying to you. No landlord goes into business for charitable causes. And if they do, the IRS might determine you are running a hobby, not a business.

  12. 5. Raising Rents on Your Tenants

    Taxes go up, utilities go up, insurance goes up, office expenses go up, and your standard of living goes up.

    All totally irrelevant to raising rents.
    Market rents go up you raise your rents, market rents are stagnant you can’t raise yours (unless you were under market to start).
    I suppose you could raise it some nuisance level like $10 on an $900 rent which they won’t likely move over but will just think you are an ahole. 🙂

    • Thank you for the comment!

      At some point, the extra expenses will cause market rents to go up. It’s inevitable. Or they may go down, and you have to raise rents for some reason. Maybe you started below market.

      But when you raise rents, and as a landlord you will have to at some point, you cause a problem for your tenants. You could skip a meal a week instead, but you raise rents.

      If you are not prepared, or too meek, to make a business decision, stay out of the landlording game.

      • Ah but my point is not that you should not raise rents.
        My point is that if you raise rents substantially when you are at market rent and market rent has not gone up, you aren’t making more money you are increasing vacancy and turnover costs since your solid tenants that anyone will be happy to rent to will go find a place that is at or slightly below market rent.

        If my costs go up that doesn’t at all change what I can charge for rent if I want to find decent residents and keep my units filled.
        In contrast lets say you just successfully petitioned to have your property taxes reduced by $240/year ($20/month), you also changed insurance providers and reduced that by $120/year ($10/month) and you have an adjustable rate mortgage that just adjusted down lowering your payments by $50/month. At the same time you have the residents lease expiring and market rents have gone up $50/month.

        You sure aren’t LOWERING the rent because your costs went down. However you should be raising the rent since market rents are up by a good amount. Maybe you are “nice” and only up it like $25-40 since you can feel pretty safe that without any other reason to that they aren’t moving to pay a little more.

      • You are absolutely correct. Rents need to be at market, and can rarely go above it. But when the market dictates a higher rent, a rent increase is sometimes needed. But it is not wanted by the tenant.

        I have let rent increases slide in the past, and may do in the future, but when you do them it creates a bit of misery for the tenant.

        As a side note, and I may write a post about it in the future, some tenants demand a higher rent due to their risk and their inability to rent elsewhere. You can certainly get a higher than market rate for those tenants.

        • Totally agree that you can get above market rents if you will let people in that have some issue that makes it harder for them to find a place.
          Those would be your marginal tenants.

          Since you were advocating for the Solid tenants I was specifically talking those ones. Since as you said, they can go pretty much anywhere because they check out very well.

  13. Thank you for this. Really opened my eyes and reaffirmed that I am not cut out to be a landlord. I would be bankrupt in no time and I don’t think the bank would find that to be a tough decision.

    • Thank you for the comment.

      It is a business, and as part of the business, you often take away a persons home. Or deny them from entry. Very similar to a bank, or mortgage underwriter. It doesn’t mean that you cannot give away the store, but if you are to be successful, you often have to make unpopular business decisions.

      You are correct about the bank. but people see the bank as a faceless computer controlled entity. A landlord is somehow seen as a compassionate person with lots of charity. Yet, the bank controls the landlord.

  14. Very interesting article! I have been considering adding rental property as an income stream to my portfolio. My question is this: How do you screen potential renters other than their credit score and previous rental history? You mention to have a standard process for each person…but if one person has very poor health and may have a tough time paying rent because of those bills, can you deny them based on that? Thank you.

    • I also use criminal record and income levels. If you look at my blog, I have a lot of articles that indicate how to look for other criteria.

      If I take in a person with only two times the rent in income, and they cannot pay, it is my own fault. I have set them up for failure.

      I do not care what their heath is. They either have the credit score and income, or they do not. I want low risk tenants and being able to pay eliminate a lot of the risk.

  15. Great article on landlording and tenant management.
    I thought your stage 4 cancer patient harsh until I read your explination. Yep Karma is a Female dog!
    The bottom line is it’s you or them. Just cutting through the bull about who is repsoncible for each action!
    You can be as genorous as you want, but as you say, its coming out of your pocket and effecting your bottom line!

    • Thank you for the comment!

      Anytime you make a decision with a rental property, money is part of it. How long do you let someone live in a property for free? How much do you have to subsidize someone else’s life style?

      It’s never easy, but if you are a landlord, you have to make the decisions.

  16. I have never been late with my rent until this month! I am a tenant since 4/2012 and always paid on time. My landlord is what I call more a a slumlord, never maintaining the place i rent and repairs are done as cheap as poccible. The house i rent has many problems, one big one is that 50% of the rooms does not get air conditioned, which is not acceptable in our Arizona summers. However, I have 3 large dogs and 2 cats, I am a victim of domestic violence, short of money and cannot just move out into another house, which made me just deal with all the problems and in my eyes to high rent for what I got. My cancer is now advanced to stage 4 and metastatic, I am waiting for my approval of disability but have currently no income and no support from friends or family. The 4 th day already of this month, I received a phone call from my landlord. He told me that he would send me a 5 day notice. I truly understand that it is a business, still, you can be professional and have a heart at the same time. This weekend he called again…I ask why..he kept saying that I would alright…Yes i said, I will, fighting off my cancer in the homeless shelter, while grieving my pets that will be taken away from me and probably killed at the pound. Sure I will be ok..I said…as long as he believes it, its fine with me. Wen you are a landlord, you want to make $$$ but please do not forget you deal with people, people that live in homes, that count on this homes as THEIR homes even its your moneymakingtool! Go live one day in a homeless shelter, and then, become a landlord! There is a huge difference between people that are sick and wait on money to come that will restore their situation to pay rent on time again and those that on purpose not pay with full bank accounts!!!

    • Thank you for the comment!

      You have handicapped yourself by being a renter, and having 5 pets. And the dogs are large.

      no one wants to evict a person, but if you do not have the money to stay, you should voluntarily move out. I am not sure what you mean by “have a heart”. If you have verifiable income, as stated on some document somewhere, show that to your landlord.

      Short of proof of income, your landlord is probably doing what is required by law, giving you notice to move in a few days, or potentially be evicted.

      If your own family and friends will not help you out, either monetarily or with housing, why do you think a landlord should? Or what if his family has to suffer, because he is supporting you?

  17. Wow, Eric your are a real BAD A??/ I say that with respect and not without a degree of jealousy. In my heart of hearts I know that it takes unbending rules, hard and fast, carried out without hesitation or emotional blocks to be successful at anything.
    These things for whatever reason are some how easier for me to accept when it is me paying the price of misfortune or failure. That stated and tired of cleaning up the messes that are other peoples misfortune or failure.
    I say to you;
    Thanks for a really great, eye opening article:
    Gary O

  18. Jerry W.

    Eric, I do not recall having read any of your articles before. Thank you for taking the time to write and share it. The view you take is not always popular but true. I am a volunteer fireman, and I do it because helping others is important to me. If however I gave my car to every one who lost theirs in a wreck I would soon be a pauper. There are charities I give to and I do sometimes let things go longer than I should on folks who have a hardship going on in their lives, but it rarely works out. Stores do not give a lower price or free food to folks without a job. If I let someone stay when they cannot pay rent I should think would I be willing to give them a check if they were not renting from me. probably not, so why would I give them free rent. I currently have one renter who was a volunteer fireman with me until alcoholism and a heart attack ended that. He is still getting rent for probably $100 under market rates but is slowly catching up on his back rent he owes me. I saw last month where his dog bought him a new pistol for Christmas. In other words he bought it. Funny how that goes. I started evicting him once when he was drinking bad, but I also notice he also posted his one year anniversary of being sober. I have found that giving someone something for free rarely pays off, they will take advantage of you, but someone who pays something, even if it just half of what it is worth is different. There is a pride in paying what you can instead of getting a totally free handout. I also admire the way you have handled the criticism leveled at you by some of the posters. Very professional, good luck to you in your investing career and thanks again for sharing with us.

    • Eric D.

      Thank you for the comment!

      Everything you say is true. When I hear people tell me they would do things differently, I look at their past actions and I can see it is all talk.

      It is one thing to be compassionate, and another thing to go broke for someone who is beyond hope.

  19. If you are a non-compassionate, person who takes pride in bragging about evicting a Stage IV Cancer Patient then this is the article for you. I find it completely disturbing that the author used this as an example and that Bigger Pockets posted this. I am sure their are many others examples that the author could have used that would have been much more productive. The truth of the matter is, Yes, dealing with tenants comes with endless headaches……..that’s what we signed up for and we try to implement systems that minimize those headaches. But at the end of the day, Your worst most broke day is a paradise compared to a Stage IV Cancer patient who is dying. No matter how much of an A-hole this tenant is being the right thing to do (In this example) is to help them in any possible way I can as they transition into the next life. I would even take a second job to pay the mortgage (if I needed to) until I found a mutual solution or until the person peacefully passed away. The easy solution is to just be evil and evict her. Their are many free cancer resources and I would do everything in my power (and spend as much time as needed) to work with the tenant and help her out…possibly something that would work in both of our favors. Sometimes in this business you also have to realize that we are the bigger people and need to rise above in extreme circumstances (like this situation with a Stage IV Cancer patient). It’s certainly not always about money. In my opinion “it’s all about money” is what’s wrong with any industry and a terribly unbalanced approach. The Most successful, happiest and wealthiest Entrepeneur’s have HUGE hearts.

    • Eric D.

      Thank you for the comment!

      I read the Branson article, and it has some interesting fluff and ‘feel good’ talk. Richard Branson is a typical, “I am a billionaire, and I can give away thousands” kind of guy. If he was truly as compassionate as he likes to think he is, he would be living a simple lifestyle, and donating his wealth away. Instead, he keeps his billions and life the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

      Don’t you think there are thousands of people and organizations that could use one of his millions? Even Warren Buffet doesn’t live as high of a lifestyle as Richard Branson.

      While you advocate “I would even take a second job to pay the mortgage”, in reality, that is all talk. You could today, take a second job and donate 100% of the extra money you make to a worthy cause. Perhaps you could pay rent to landlords that have taken a chance on tenants that they should not have. All of those tenants need help too. Instead, you advocate for others to give their time and money away.

      There are plenty of resources here in MN that people can get help, if they deserve it and it will actually help. County emergency assistance, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, etc. are all options. Many other states have the same options.

      I will keep your contact handy, as I have another tenant that might need help. The primary bread winner died at age 51 due to lung cancer. Only the high school kid and his father are living there now. Their dog is so skinny that you can put a finger between its ribs and not cover the gap.

      Can you offer a bit of money for the Vet bill or help them pay rent as they struggle every month?

      • Their is no feel good talk here. That’s exactly what I would have done for this particular tenant…….help her in any way I could …period , end of story. Best of luck to you!

  20. Troy S.

    This was a great reminder about the tougher times of landlording, thank you Eric D.!

    It’s easy to sit back and throw stones but when push comes to shove, I don’t think there are many landlords that could, let alone would, subsidize their tenants lives for very long. The truth is, a large percentage of these tenant issues are self-inflicted by their poor choices. It’s a business, plain and simple.

    • Eric D.

      I think most landlords would like to be like Santa, and give away the place and be liked by everyone. Unfortunately, the banks and their desire to live a decent lifestyle demands a return on investment.

  21. Willis Myrick on

    Whoa. I understand business is business and feelings need to be set aside but why is everything you wrote about end with “long term misery”. I would hate to rent from you because the second I get stable, I should expect an eviction notice saying “to avoid my misery you are being evicted.”

    • Great point and thank you for the comment.

      Like it or not, any action a landlord does is probably going to cause pain to the tenant. Some landlords and investors like to think that “renters expect…” or “it’s part of life” or whatever.

      No landlord likes to cause pain for a tenant. No landlord likes to raise the rent, although they like the end result. That is why many use a property manager, to handle the dirty work.

      Raise the rent, choose not to renew, decline a tenant, make a tenant get rig of a dog, etc. are all significant events to a tenant, and virtually no long-term pain for a landlord. Landlords, and prospective investors need to know that their actions impact a tenant a great deal, like it or not.

      Even a mutual agreement will generally cause more pain to a tenant than a landlord. In the end, Real Estate investing, and landlording, is all about making money – for the landlord not the tenant.

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