How has becoming a landlord changed you?

21 Replies

Hello my favorite community! How has becoming a landlord changed you? This is my first year being a landlord. I have to say, being a landlord has changed my life and how I look at others. I’ve learned very quickly that people will step all over you if you don’t take a stand. Also, I’ve become more selective with people I bring into my properties and into my life. I’ve had to evict people and that made me a little less tolerant of people’s BS. Just to name a few examples. Looking back when I first researched REI I was naive, I had no clue what I was in for. Now, I get what the veterans are saying a little bit more. I’m only scratching the surface and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you all.
Originally posted by @Nick Rutkowski :
Hello my favorite community! How has becoming a landlord changed you?

This is my first year being a landlord. I have to say, being a landlord has changed my life and how I look at others. I’ve learned very quickly that people will step all over you if you don’t take a stand. Also, I’ve become more selective with people I bring into my properties and into my life. I’ve had to evict people and that made me a little less tolerant of people’s BS. Just to name a few examples.

Looking back when I first researched REI I was naive, I had no clue what I was in for. Now, I get what the veterans are saying a little bit more. I'm only scratching the surface and I can't wait to share my experiences with you all.

I agree with all the things you say. I pride myself in the quality housing I provide for my tenants. So when someone threatens to sue or stops paying rent and needs to be evicted...I just take a deep breath and know I'm going to win. Landlord tenant codes are a PITA, but if you know them and follow them (along with construction code). Then you really have no concerns. It's annoying yes...in that regard you'll start to become more numb and callus to people's BS. I think the more important thing to keep in mind is that this is a small portion of the real world. Most people are good people. They mean to do well, they just often don't know any better. When a contractor "screws you over" usually it's because he bit off more than he could chew and is too prideful to acknowledge it and also isn't good with managing money to be able to eat the cost. When a tenant doesn't pay rent, it's not because they don't want to...it usually because a large percentage of our country lives paycheck to paycheck...and life happened. When you become a landlord it become challenging when you start having to deal with humanity...especially when it's a different lifestyle than you are accustom to. 

So to sum it all up...I think what I've learned most or how becoming a landlord has most changed me is to appreciate how fortunate I am to have been raised and been exposed to the opportunities I have and that I was not born into generational poverty and a limiting mindset. Anyone can escape these things, but the social pressure is challenging. 

At best setup systems and processes, make sure your people (contractors and tenants) know these policies and let everyone know it's a two way street for a long term relationship so that you can keep humanity alive. 

No change. I had a back ground in dealing with "people" and went in with eyes wide open. Most new investors rarely consider the consequences of actually having to work with people and will not even bother learning their state landlord tenant regulations prior to investing. New landlords do not understand that their number one priority is in training their tenants. Tenants are like a new puppy. If you do not teach, and punish when necessary, they will not understand what is right and wrong.

Tenants on the other hand rarely view a landlord as a person.

People can be extremely naïve when it comes to considering the responsibilities of being a landlord and do not understand that landlords are resented by most tenants. Compassion and emotions related to dealing with tenants is only a path to failure. New landlords believe respect is a two way street, unfortunately too many tenants do not see it that way. 

If a new landlord is not changed by the experience they likely will not survive. 

@Thomas S. - This is why I like @Brandon Turner 's approach where he talks about being able to blame the lease and the law. This way he's still able to be a good guy, but he's able to commiserate to a certain extent that the lease and the law is what is making him have to protect himself, rather than the fact that he's the bad guy. This way the tenant can still maintain a degree of respect for the landlord while still being trained into the process like you mentioned.

@Nick Rutkowski interesting topic. I actually am a tenant myself where I live as well as a landlord to others now. I say this because I think it gives me an interesting perspective.

Overall I don’t think it’s changed me much. I had a low BS meter before and it’s about the same now. I pay my rent early, every month to my “landlord” (it’s an institutional level landlord), sometimes 2 weeks early.

So if rent is late you get the late fee. If it’s not received within 3-5 days of being late, eviction process is started. In order to stop the eviction, you need backrent, filing fee and late fee.

So far they have paid on time each month.

You say you’ve been the landlord for one year, but you’ve had to evict somebody already. What happened.

I learned to not be so friendly and more firm by drawing a line in the center. I had a young tenant who didn’t pay on time once, and I was there the next day And I told him either you give me the cash today or I start the eviction process. He paid me in cash and has never been late again.

It has changed me in that I have an appreciation that all people need a home.  Not just a house, but a place that they can come back to at day's end to relax, be comfortable and feel safe.   Yes, they have a responsibility to pay rent, to take care of the place and it is important that we hold them to that but I (we) have a responsibility to provide and maintain a place based on the expectations of the lease and how we market it. 

That is why I take the time to talk to perspective tenants to understand there needs and make it clear what my expectations are of them.  I do feel like a mutual respect is earned in that way.

Good discussion!  

Thanks for the responses everyone. I'll answer you in order of replies:

@James Masotti Thank you for the inspiring words. Most people are good people, I'll remember that when dealing with my tenants in the future. 

@Thomas S. You're right, most investors don't consider the consequences of dealing with people. I guess people are a wild card, you don't know who you'll meet. All of this is still relatively new to me but I always love to learn.

@Caleb Heimsoth Would you like to rent one of my places? I'd love to have my next tenant pay me two weeks in advance!

@Marcus Johnson Yes, I had to evict someone out my first time renting out to someone. They passed a credit check, federal and state criminal and eviction searches. Apparently, while living at my apartment his life spiraled out of control. Tough luck right out the gate. Better luck next time!

@Erik Sherburne I'll try to keep everything mutual as much as I can. Thank you for the good advice. 

@Nick Rutkowski if you’re ever buying near Raleigh, sure lol.  

I am somewhat picky though because I know I can be, as I pass any basic landlord tenant screening with flying colors.  I’ve got several landlords as references, good credit and usually make 6-8x rent at least around here.  

I’m not saying this to brag just to say that when you demand a months rent deposit, you can bet I’ll argue against that lol.  

It’s sometimes so early just because I pay rent always on the second pay day of the month.  So obviously that fluctuates some but it’s always early.  

I was well versed in dealing with people before becoming a landlord and had seen my  parents dealings with tenants but doing it myself actually opened my eyes to how close to the edge some people live.  As a result of becoming a landlord I am less supportive of certain social programs now then I used to be,  I like dogs less, and I am now skeptical of anyone who says they are "disabled. And that is all after working in health care with the very poor.   

On the other hand it has simplified my communication style on finances and basic home functioning and made me more tolerant of those who did not grow in the know on those topics.

It has taught me that people suck lol which I already knew of Coarse and how people will wait in line to take advantage of you if they think you can benefit them in some way . Landlording truly is a savage business having to order people around like children because they act like over sized children ! Being i invest in low income areas ( I live in a fine rural community) it has taught me a lot about poor people to be honest . why they are poor .. how they are poor and how they survive living in squalor . A real eye opener that people willingly set their bar so low in life.

For me, my bs tolerance is non-existent anymore. I think I've grown a spare backbone over the last 5 years.  Financially, it's helped big time, both short and long term.  I couldn't fix anything when I started, now I'm mostly self sufficient! 

I fix people for a living, and selectively bought Class A investments for less headaches. Little did I know that doesn’t matter one iota. Now I like humans a little less.

I refer to my Class A rental units as slums and myself as a slumlord (obviously joking). Entitled Class A tenants can definitely make it seem that way.

I am leasing a place myself in a HOCL area but have a couple of my properties going through vacancies currently. I shipped them to property managers instead. Ain’t nobody got time for all that.

I am by the book with my tenants, and stay professional (Dr/Mr/Mrs/military rank, in every communication - regardless of them using my first name). I’m an auto-pay, no BS tenant myself. If everything works, I shutup and pay. I expect the same from my tenants.

I raise rents yearly, fix issues immediately, will evict quick, price them aggressively and move them quick. Took me time to find an equally aggressive PM team.

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

It has taught me that people suck lol which I already knew of Coarse and how people will wait in line to take advantage of you if they think you can benefit them in some way . Landlording truly is a savage business having to order people around like children because they act like over sized children ! Being i invest in low income areas ( I live in a fine rural community) it has taught me a lot about poor people to be honest . why they are poor .. how they are poor and how they survive living in squalor . A real eye opener that people willingly set their bar so low in life.

Funny it doesn’t change much at the top of the ladder either. We’ve leased to ambassadors via their embassies, state politicians, military officials. Just different headaches.

@Nick Rutkowski I'm definitely more picky on tenant selection especially when it comes to meeting people to view properties. I don't just meet with anyone. Tenant screening over the phone is important. Aside from better screening, I've also learned a lot about fixing up properties doing some work and also from some of the contractors I've hired. Always something new to be learned in this business, that's for sure! 

I learned that people are who they are.  They were not good people that turned bad after they moved in.  They were bad to begin with and I did not do my background search diligently enough to find out how bad there were.  The longer I do this the longer my rentals sit empty during vacancies because I seem to keep making stricter requirements and getting pickier with each vacancy.  I would rather have a house sit vacant for a couple of months before I rent to a questionable tenant. 

@Nick Rutkowski it really changed my view of how I look at the world. I have learned that whether you are successful or in a bad situation, it is of your own doing. Choices we make control our destiny. 

In my first year, I had a fire in one of my rental properties. I was younger and didn't have much money when I started so this was a major set back. The tenants daughter was grease frying chicken in an open pan on the stove. That is incredibly dangerous. There was a fire extinguisher on the wall next to the stove that I had installed before they moved in. When the fire started, the tenant ran out screaming and the neighbor ran in. He threw flour on the fire, which made it even worse. He later said that he knew you should either throw flour or baking soda. FYI people it is baking soda, flour is flammable. The fire department arrived and they flooded the kitchen and chopped the walls open. I learned that the fire department can do way more damage than the fire itself. Still better than the place burning down, I guess. The Red Cross shows up and the director comes up to me. He tells me I was being mean to the tenant and asked me to stop blaming her. He asks me what hotel I will put the tenant up at. I told him that they almost burned my property down due to negligence and that I would NOT pay for a hotel. He treated me like dirt. I give money to the Red Cross and I don't start fires in my house, so why I am I the bad guy?

I learned that day that landlords are often viewed as the enemy. People who don't take responsibility for bad decisions they make continue to make bad decisions and that is why their lives suck. I also made the decision that I would not let anything stop me. I decided that not much could be worse than a fire, so if I could make it through that, I could make it through anything. Over the last 15 years, nothing has stopped me. I have seen other landlords come and go as they can't get past a bad situation. Maybe it is perseverance or blind determination, but whatever you call it, that is the most powerful thing I learned. 

Congratulations on your first year! 

I don't know if I'm just lucky but I have great tenants who all pay rent on time, take care of the home, and know when it's appropriate to call me.  I bought 3 rental properties in Raleigh last year, and did a bit of homework first.  Brandon Turner's "Managing Rental Properties" is a great resource for learning how to screen tenants. I also attended a TREIA workshop on legal issues for landlords and had a real estate attorney review my application and policies, and I do move-in inspections with new tenants so everything is transparent and covered up front.  I respond quickly when tenants do call and make repairs when needed. I just renewed my first lease and gave the tenant the option to renew with a a one-year lease /2% rent increase or two-year lease with no rent increase.  She chose the two-year, and I figure it's worth it to not increase the rent to keep a good tenant and have no vacancy expense/headaches.  I welcome others' thoughts on this and whether it's a good strategy.  

I don't think I changed. However, I would say that I learned something about myself. When the value of the property increases, I'm more tolerant of the BS and people's attitudes. When market values go down, I'm less tolerant.

Terry