I’m a relatively new landlord—I house hacked my first property in 2018, and my first tenants were my roommates. I really lucked out, because they were the best tenants-turned-friends I could’ve asked for.
After moving out of my house hack in April 2019, I found a new tenant to move in, which then made me a “real” landlord—or at least that’s how it feels—for almost a year now.
Having my first tenants also be my roommates changed my perspective on what kind of landlord I wanted to be. With my roommates/tenants, I thought it would be strictly a business relationship, but that wasn’t the case.
Don’t get me wrong—I love contracts and paper trails, but sometimes it’s necessary to have a little flexibility and understanding. Sometimes you need to give people a little grace.
Putting People First
When it comes to business needs, it’s easy to forget that our renters are people, too. In a time of crisis like the pandemic we’re experiencing now, it’s more important than ever to remember that.
I know a thing or two about people—if you haven’t checked out my bio, I’m the People Operations Lead at BiggerPockets. However, you certainly don’t have to be in human resources to understand the needs of people.
Two weeks ago, I sent my tenant her new lease, which she had been putting off signing despite my text and email reminders. I had a feeling she was intentionally delaying signing, and I worried it was due to the pandemic and the prevalent fear surrounding coronavirus.
My tenant is a single mom and small-business owner, so considering what it must be like to be in her shoes, I texted her to see how she was doing. I asked if she had any hesitations about signing the lease.
It turns out that not only is she afraid of what will happen with her business, but she also thinks she actually has the coronavirus and has been dealing with sickness for the last couple of weeks. We talked more about her illness and the uncertainty in our world now. We also spoke about how wonderful it is that people really seem to be united in kindness and the betterment of our community.
She consistently knows how to see the silver lining in a situation, which is a trait I’ve always appreciated about her.
Showing Grace in a Time of Crisis
Eventually, we got back to the topic at hand and discussed her new lease—we compromised and arranged for a shorter lease rather than the original 12-month agreement. I also told her if she couldn’t pay rent on time, we would work it out and I’d waive the late fees.
I understand that not every landlord has that flexibility with their mortgage payments, but if I hadn’t reached out to her and talked through her concerns—ultimately adjusting the lease for her—my gut says she would have moved. Even if she didn’t, my hope is that because of the simple conversation where I showed empathy, kindness, and flexibility, she at least thinks well of me. And hopefully, as a result, she wants to stay in the home she is renting for as long as she is able.
The takeaway from this? I hope you agree that when you’re able to give a little grace, it can go a long way. That’s especially true now, at a time when we are all united in a world of uncertainty.
How are you approaching tenant relationships during these uncertain times?
Let us know in the comments below.