5 Things a Landlord May Not Want Their Tenants to Know

by | BiggerPockets.com

Every profession has its secrets — things that those in the profession might wish to be kept quiet.

Landlording is no different.

What are we landlords potentially keeping from out tenants? Here are my top 5 things a landlord may not want their tenants to know.

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5 Things a Landlord May Not Want Their Tenants to Know

1. We Own the Place

Many landlords do not want their tenants to know that they actually own the property. They will perhaps tell their tenants that they are only the “manager” who is working for a group of “investors.” They do this because they want to put some sort of buffer between their tenants and themselves. They believe this buffer gives them an easy out if a tenant asks for something they cannot have, and it allows them to deflect blame to “those investors.”

I can understand all of that. Tenants can be pretty demanding at times. But the thing is, the internet had made finding out who owns the place pretty easy. We tell our tenants we own and manage our properties, and we find that our tenants appreciate that. We have even had some choose to rent with us because of it.

Related: 3 Common Mistakes Landlords Make During Lease Signing & Move-In

So, while I get why you are trying to hide this fact, if you are an active manager of your properties, concealing your ownership may start you off on the wrong foot with your tenants.

2. The Money Can Be Tight

As landlords, we are generally not rolling in the cash like people think we are. There are a lot of expenses associated with owning properties. We have mortgages to pay. Insurance and property taxes also take a nice chunk. We have to keep the grass cut and the utilities on, and we do all of the routine and not-so-routine maintenance.

Plus, when we finally do get a bit of cash in the bank, something big like a roof or sewer line always seems to break. Add on a couple of vacancies and rehabs, and money can easily get tight very quickly. So, while we may fix the important stuff, upgrades may be a few years down the road.

3. We Get Tired of Phone Calls

We get calls about our places for rent. We get calls about maintenance issues. We get calls about tenant squabbles. We get calls when the rent is going to be late. We get calls from neighboring property owners about this or that problem. We get calls from the city, the bank, the insurance people.

Face it; we get a lot of calls. After a while, it can be a bit tiring. So please, when you call, leave a message. Don’t call back if we do not get to you right away. Better yet, send us a text or an e-mail. Those often work just as well.

4. I Do Not Really Know What I Am Doing

This is especially true of newbies. Yes, they can buy a course from some guru or do a bunch of reading here on BiggerPockets, but there is a lot to learn about this business. Plus, all markets and properties are somewhat different, so there is no one size fits all solution.

Laws around the country are definitely different, and if you run afoul of them, you are setting yourself up for a lawsuit or worse. There is no substitute for experience in this business. And even when you have some experience, there is always some new and unexpected wrinkle that you have never dealt with before.

5. We Do Not Need to Hear the Backstory

Anytime a tenant is going to be late with the rent, or may not quite meet your rental qualifications, you should get ready to hear the backstory. This backstory will supposedly explain any and all issues away and make everything all right. It won’t.

Related: How to Avoid Rental Drama by Being a “Boring” Landlord

While we may listen to your story and may even sympathize with you, we really do not need to hear it. Rent is due when rent is due, and my rental criteria are in place for a reason. So, sorry, there are no exceptions.

It’s not that I am cold hearted, but like I explained previously, I have bills to pay. The bank does not want to hear my backstory about my car breaking down; they simply want to get paid on time without any hassle. So do I.

Well, there you have it, my top five things a landlord may not want their tenants to know. Is the above true for all landlords? No, of course not! There will be exceptions. Some days even I might just listen to the backstory. But I bet most of you experienced landlords (and even a few new ones) will agree with what I say.

If not, what is your secret? Care to share?

Let us know with your comments.

About Author

Kevin Perk

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in and manages rental properties in Memphis, TN and is a past president and vice-president of the local REIA group, the Memphis Investors Group.


  1. Was able to ask first tenant to leave with help from [email protected] don’t make people stay. Happy tenants stay for years if you charge reasonable rent, and only leave because they HAVE to (work, family, school, purchased house).
    Seriously, if you have a tenant with a good job offer in another town will you REALLY try to force them to stay? If your tenant loses their job wouldn’t you rather have them give 30 day notice and move? Will you really try to take them to court for money they don’t have?

  2. This past month I sent out a newsletter to one of my apartment buildings. (I do this occasionally to remind newbies about amenities and rules in the building.) In the past few months several tenants had become a bit slow on getting their rent paid on time and did not understand why they had to pay more. After all, “it was only their first or second time”.

    In the newsletter I explained several things about the building. Ex; laundry area, recycling center, reminder to close and lock windows for the winter, etc. I also explained that their rent paid the bills for the building. When they paid late, I paid the bills late. I had to pay late fees. These late fees would be added to the total cost of running the building. Which means, the cost would go up. If they continued to pay late, and I had to pay bills late, then the cost of the late fees would raise the price of their rent.

    They seemed to understand this, because the next month everyone paid on time. A couple tenants even paid before their due date!

    Unfortunately tenants don’t see quite past us taking their money. Most believe we live high on the hog with it. Explaining it in terms that brought the business home for them helped. After all, what happens when they don’t pay their other bills on time.

    This would probably work as well for single family dwellings. Simply send out an “Attention Tenant” letter. Remind them about lawn maintenance, your house rules, where the recycling is in the area, etc. Then remind them that you pay the mortgage (they don’t have to know if you own it free and clear), taxes, insurance, etc. They don’t have to know the amount, just that it’s a bill you pay for the house they live in. That you incur late fees when these bills aren’t paid on time. Cost of business up= rent increase.

  3. Jennifer T.

    Melissa, an analogy that reminds me of is when you go to a buffet and they have the signs that say something to the effect of encourgaing people to make multiple trips to the buffet instead of piling it on in the first trip and then end up with wasted food. Because wasted food raises the restaurant’s costs which in turn leads to the restaurant raising prices.

    Of course, the signs are much simpler and less verbose than I am, lol…but I think we all need a reminder sometimes that unnecessarily causing a business money, hurts us all.

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