13 Things Tenants Don’t Understand About the Rental Process

by | BiggerPockets.com

Tenants often come to the table with assumptions and misinformation. This could be due to a number of reasons. It may be their first time living away from home, they may be ignorant of all of the things that go into running and managing properties, or they may just have preconceived negative stereotypes about the rental process already drilled into their heads.

Whatever the reason, I’ve found that I encounter the same assumptions and misinformation over and over again. Attempting to counter all of this can be difficult, but I feel it’s worthwhile to try. How should we go about doing this? A good start is to make the following points at the lease signing meeting.

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13 Things Tenants Don’t Understand About the Rental Process

1. You need renter’s insurance.

Bad things, like fires, floods and break-ins happen. My insurance protects me and my stuff, not you and yours. If you want to protect your stuff, you need renter’s insurance. It is cheap and well worth the peace of mind it brings.

2. I want to give your security deposit back.

I really, really do. After all, it is not my money. I am just holding it to help ensure you take care of my property. If you do, I will be more than happy to refund your deposit. I do not see security deposits as a potential profit center; I would rather have my property back in the same condition I gave it to you.

3. I have heard (almost) all of the sob stories.

And the stories really do not faze me anymore. You see, I have bills to pay, too, and I can’t give a sob story to the bank or utility company. So while I may sympathize with you, I really need to get paid, so I can pay my bills.


4. I am not out to screw you over.

Landlords get such a bad rap, some of it deserved. Unfortunately, the bad ones rub off on the good ones. But the last thing I need is an adversarial relationship with my tenants. If you treat me and my property with respect, I will do the same for you. Heck, we may even get to like each other.

5. I will fix things; please just tell me.

It always amazes me when I walk into a property after a few months and find a small leak that has morphed into a major problem. Why did the tenant not call and tell me about the leak when it was small? Do I have to inspect my properties every week? I think some tenants are afraid to call for whatever reason, but I try my best to emphasize to them to call no matter how small the problem.

6. No, I will not make upgrades after you move in.

We hear it all the time: Tenants wonder when they are getting the granite countertops, new carpeting, etc. Look, you saw the place and decided to rent it in its current condition. If you want granite countertops, I will be happy to put them in, but I will need to increase your rent by several hundred dollars per month.

Related: 5 Things a Landlord May Not Want Their Tenants to Know

7. I am a nice guy.

I really am. If we did not have the landlord/tenant relationship, we might even be best pals. But…

8. I will evict you if I have to.

I do not want to do this; in fact, I hate doing it. But I will do it if I have to. I know bad things can happen, and if you communicate with me about what is going on, hopefully it will not come to that. But if you bury your head in the sand and stop talking with us, eventually you and your stuff will end up on the curb.

9. Your neighbors do not like your loud music/TV/trumpet/guitar either.

Remember that time you complained to me about your neighbor’s loud music? Well, they also complain about you. I know it sounds good to you, but everyone has different tastes. Please be respectful of your neighbors.

10. Some problems are not an easy fix.

I know it sometimes seems like we are not moving fast enough to fix your maintenance issue, but please understand that sometimes there are problems that are just not easy to fix. Sometimes parts have to be ordered. Sometimes a fix requires multiple steps and trips. Perhaps we need to do a better job communicating with you, but badgering us will not help either. Please bear with us.

Related: How to Get the Best Possible Tenants into Your Rental Property

11. Your bug problem is directly correlated to your mess.

If you call us about a bug problem, your place had better be clean when I get over there to check it out. If your sink if full of dirty dishes and your trash has not been emptied in over a week, the first thing I am going to do is to tell you to get the place cleaned up. There were not any bugs in the property when you moved in. They have been attracted by your sloppiness. Clean it up and keep it clean. Then we can talk about your bug problem—if it still exists.

12. Your rent is due on the first.

I know, I know—you think I am a bank just loaded with cash, but I am not. I need that rent to pay the mortgage, utilities, the lawn company, etc. So please, please: pay your rent on the first of the month when it is due.

13. The other tenants? They’re just like you.

They went through the same credit, criminal and qualifying process you just did. That is about all I can say about them, so please understand that I do not want to violate their privacy, just as you would not want me to violate yours.

Does this technique work? Do they listen? Most of the time, I think so. I believe it cuts down on a lot of the potential adversity in the landlord/tenant relationship, which goes a long way in this business.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out readers newer to our blog.]

What do you have to erase from your tenant’s minds?

Let me 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. Your on it Kevin.
    Screening and finding tenants is tough here in Santa Maria Ca. We have a new build
    4/3 SF…that is sitting empty…b/c my partner requires a 650 or higher Credit Score.
    In the past I would make allowances
    sometimes it worked, and but mostly it was unwise.

  2. Aly W.

    I go over the lease on the phone with each tenant prior to move-in. It takes about 20 minutes. I explain each item, what to do regarding repairs, and what each of our responsibilities are. I also go over in detail what happens if the rent isn’t paid in full and on time. I answer any questions or concerns they have. They sign the bottom of each page.

    That’s the best we can do.

    • Kevin Perk


      You need to learn to say no. You have bills to pay too! It will be hard to say no but you have to do it. I know you want to be nice but this is a business and you have to treat it as such. Remember that saying no doe not equal being mean.

      Good luck and thanks for the comment,


  3. #2 and #11 ring true for me. Why do they always think I want to keep their security deposit? Like you said, I’d MUCH rather have the place back in the same shape. I have the bug issue sometimes. My rental in the poor area of town has had its share of dirty people. The dirt isn’t so bad but the bugs…ick!!!

  4. robert ferrell

    Number 3 (sob stories) seems like the most difficult to deal with, but you’ve offered a great reply. Renting out a property really IS a business and as mcuh as we want to sympathize and help other people out, I don’t think it is fair or wise to do so if it hurts us, and not being able to make your mortgage and possibly losing your property would hurt pretty bad!

  5. Karl B.

    14. Just because we don’t accept dogs doesn’t mean we dislike your dog.

    Every time I post a property for rent numerous people either ask me why I don’t accept dogs or they try to convince me their dog(s) is/are never a problem.

    Dogs bark. Dealing with angry tenants is something I don’t want to deal with.

    I accept renters with cats and charge $20 per month if they have up to two cats. The vast majority of my renters have a cat. Sure, a cat might spray all over the wall (hasn’t happened yet – and if it has the tenant cleaned it so well I had no idea) but for an extra $240 a year per unit, I’ll take that risk.

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