A recent article came out on Vice News, an article that we here at BiggerPockets feel portrays our community, business, mission, and members in a light that is both unfavorable and unfair. This article was published without contact with BiggerPockets, and we feel that it cherry-picked examples from our community to portray the tenant/landlord relationship in such a way as to stir emotions, and perhaps generate clicks, from a specific audience ready to believe the worst of real estate investors and landlords and, of course, a community for the same.
In this article, I hope to set the story straight. I want to show off the wonderful community and positive culture we have here at BiggerPockets, as a company, as a community, and member to member. I invite Vice News or any other media company interested in learning more about what we do here to directly contact me at [email protected].
I hope I can deliver a more realistic portrayal of our world as President and CEO, a real estate investor, licensed broker, and landlord of 5+ years. I hope that prior to publicizing future news pieces with titles like “Inside the Wildly Popular Forum Where Landlords Plot to Screw You Over” that editors will ask their writers to at least reach out to me or one of our capable team members here at BP. I promise, I’m easy to reach, and I clear my email inbox every business day.
That aside, let’s get to the point here.
BiggerPockets is a positive, values-based community that supports people. We know that building wealth, one step at a time, by saving, earning, and systematically investing is possible, and we encourage one another along the way, regardless of where we are starting in our life or wealth-building journeys. Our blog, podcasts, videos, and books provide perspectives from an incredible variety of sources, enabling deep learning by exposing users to opposing viewpoints from equally successful and promising investors. In our community, we invite as many voices as possible into the conversation and strive to provide the tools necessary to build business relationships founded on a core of strong ethics and respect.
The Landlord/Tenant Relationship
Critical to this business is the landlord-tenant relationship. This is a relationship that investors value deeply and that we at BiggerPockets want to honor. We want to make it clear that BiggerPockets values a respectful tenant/landlord relationship and acknowledges the dual responsibilities of each party.
The business relationship between landlords and tenants is a partnership; both sides have obligations to the other. The landlord is responsible for providing a quality place for tenants to live, and the tenant is responsible for timely payment and for keeping the property in good condition.
On BiggerPockets, real estate investors collaborate to discuss real-world investing scenarios, including conflicts in the tenant/landlord relationship, and, overwhelmingly, our community members have productive, values-driven discussions. At the core of these discussions is a commitment to treating all parties with respect, dignity, and ultimately to ethical and professional business outcomes.
I’ve been there. I know only too well the immense relief and gratitude that a first-time or newer investor feels when a seasoned pro with 10 years’ experience and dozens of properties chimes in with advice on how to solve a tricky problem. These folks overwhelmingly contribute with positive, ethical solutions to those problems. These discussions often help investors avoid problems that could arise for the tenant, and they de-escalate situations that could otherwise get out of control. Sometimes, our members advocate a firm approach, enforcing the lease without question, and other times, our members advocate leniency or creative solutions to solving problems.
In no way does our business or community condone unethical, manipulative, or illegal practices. In addition to being morally wrong, these practices are simply bad business and do not lead to the sustainable, lasting wealth that we seek to build here on BiggerPockets. We believe that landlords who engage in such practices will never succeed and will ultimately fail. Ethical business is sustainable business, and the landlords who succeed on BiggerPockets operate fairly and professionally.
We value and encourage quality discussion in helping peer landlords screen tenants to select those who are able to abide by the commitments in their leases. We value and encourage discussion on how to enforce the commitments in landlord/tenant relationships. And, while a sad outcome and the ultimate marker of failure in the tenant/landlord relationship, we value discourse on how to professionally evict and take back property when contractual commitments are not upheld.
When issues in the tenant/landlord relationship arise, we believe our community provides the perfect place to factually describe problems and situations, and get professional, empathetic, and caring advice from peer landlords and investors. The positive energy and compassion for one another in our community is infectious.
If you’re looking to build wealth on BiggerPockets, we invite you to discover for yourself the productive, positive, values-based discussions going on every day here in our community; then, take action, build wealth, and ultimately, give back to the next aspiring investor.
Who Are BiggerPockets Investors?
I want to close out by describing who the community members on BiggerPockets are.
To some, the word “landlord” conjures an image of greed, someone who will heartlessly extort or foreclose upon the poor and helpless in order to make a buck.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your typical BiggerPockets landlord is a working professional who earns between $50,000 and $200,000 per year. A small minority (16%) of our users earn more than $200,000 per year. This isn’t a platform just for the 1%. This is a platform for anyone who aspires to build wealth, often one property at a time, over a period of many years of grind, hustle, self-education, and discipline. It is also true that only about 10% of our members earn less than $50,000 per year, and we certainly acknowledge that getting started in real estate can be difficult when one earns a lower than median household income.
There are 90 million single family homes in this country. Fourteen million of them are rentals. Sixty percent of these rental properties are owned by landlords who manage just one or two rentals in addition to their primary residence. Ninety percent are owned by landlords with 10 or fewer properties. One to 2% are owned by institutions.
If you are a renter and you rent a single family home, duplex, triplex, or quadplex, chances are your landlord is a working professional or small business owner who saves, earns, and invests in real estate. Chances are your rental home is a huge part of their retirement plan, and they are not some 1 percenter with a vast empire of properties. Chances are they used a large amount of debt to pay for the property, and your rent barely covers the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance on the property.
The home you rent might be their former home or their parent’s former home, passed down. It’s possible that many people who are currently renters may one day soon become homeowners, and perhaps even keep that first home as a rental after moving—becoming landlords in the process. This is the path to becoming an investor that many on BiggerPockets take. These are folks who are not professional, full-time landlords; they’re folks who are figuring things out as they go along.
These millions of landlords, mostly normal, working professionals and self-employed small business owners, run a thin line between profit and loss. They are exposed to risk when properties rise and fall in value, and they depend on the rental income to keep their portfolio sustainable. These are hardworking, decent people, who are looking to deploy their hard-earned dollars into investments outside of the stock market, Wall Street mutual funds, or low-yield bond portfolios.
BiggerPockets is where they turn for help. Real estate is one (often of several) investment approach that these everyday Americans utilize to create financial freedom. These investors aren’t looking to cut corners or provide bad service or bad quality. In fact, it is in their best interest to do the opposite. Since they are taking huge risks and trying their best to provide a quality service at a good price so that they can build wealth, they have a responsibility to operate ethically and sustainably. In many cases, they are doing this while working full-time, which is why the BiggerPockets community is here to help.
Here are three examples of folks who turned to BiggerPockets. These were ordinary people who were able to create extraordinary outcomes through hard work, self-education, discipline, and I’ll venture, a little help from the BiggerPockets community:
Ben Leybovich – Ben is a former musician who was forced out of his passion and profession by Multiple Sclerosis. To support his family, Ben bought property and built a portfolio of hundreds of units. He has been successfully investing in real estate for over a decade at this point.
Tony Gayden – In 2008, Tony weighed 476 pounds and worked the night shift at Walmart, deep in credit card debt. Over the past 11 years, Tony worked off over 250 pounds, paid off his debt, increased his income, and used BiggerPockets to help him begin and grow a real estate portfolio. Tony today is closing in on $1 million in real estate wealth.
Palak Shah – After the birth of her two kids, Palak, a former engineer, realized she needed to achieve financial independence in order to spend more time with her family. Her first three years investing full-time, she purchased, renovated, rented, and refinanced properties, creating a multi-million dollar portfolio.
All of these folks attribute at least a portion of their success to the community and information found on BiggerPockets. All of these folks have become independently wealthy, self-made millionaires or are on track to achieve the same. Our “Success Stories” forum contains countless more real journeys like Ben’s, Tony’s, and Palak’s.
We invite you to learn from these folks who have started from every conceivable financial and life position and found success through real estate investing. Why not learn what we have to say? Next time you pay rent, why not ask yourself—how did my landlord become a landlord? Who is he or she? How can I find myself in the same position next year, or in several years?
When and if you do ask that question, BiggerPockets is here to help.
We’ll let you surprise yourself with the community and information you find here and with the results you achieve for you and your family.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.