Landlording question about attitude

17 Replies

Is it possible to be a landlord without being "rude" or worse?  I rent houses that are between 1100 and 1400 sq ft and I tend to rent them in what some would call "B" neighborhoods.   They aren't the worst around, but not the best either.   

Here is an example:

 Tenant in place for 3 years starts lagging on rental.   Goes from paying on the 5th to paying on the 10th or later.  After a few months, it is the 18th of the month and I still do not have her rent check, so I send her our state's notice that she needs to pay the rent or be evicted (I am in NC and typically this can and should be sent out much sooner than I did, but since she had been in the house, I did cut her a break).  

She emails back that I am "Rude" and that she has "never been late" on her rent.  I email her the explanation and the expectation.  I tell her that she has in fact, not been on time in her rent payments for four months, and that from this date on, she will get the 10 day notice on the first day I can legally send it.   I sent her a copy of the law that I was following inside the email.  

From that day on, I got the rent on the 10th of the month until the last month she was in the house.  I felt like she was acting like a 2 year old from that point on.  If she knew she could get away with it legally, she did it.    

This is not the first time it happened...I actually had a person tell me they were working.  I called to verify and was told that the person did work there.  The day she moved in, she quit her job and planned to go on disability....which we all know takes forever.  I ended up asking her to move out so that she would not have an eviction on her record, which she did move.... but not after calling me "rude" for expecting to get paid the rent by the 5th of the month ( our state law).  I even saved one of her emails as a laugh. She was a week late already and sent me an email that asked.....

"Hi, I was wondering if I could start paying my rent weekly?".  It would be easier for me to budget that way.  

Should I care that I come across as rude for expecting to be paid?  What do you do to not be called rude?  

ps:  these people were found by a management company for me, and should have been well qualified (I didnt continue to use the management company after finding the tenant"

I knew someone on the West coast who boasted about how she moved out of her East coast rental home in the middle of winter after turning off the furnace so the pipes would freeze. This was her way of getting back at her landlord. I have no idea who the landlord was and what the issues were, but some people can be downright nasty when they want to be.

I've been told that if you become a landlord and have no street smarts, you are in luck because your tenants will very quickly teach you the street smarts you need to be successful.

I think as long as you're respectful you're ok. The key is that your tenants pay their rent on time and you're not disrespectful. You're stern and that's good. It let's them know that the minute they step out of line, you're going to get them back in line or they have to leave. I see nothing wrong with that. The nice landlords get ran over every day all day.

Expecting me a landlord to absorb your personal situation by paying late (by any margin) is not something I tolerate. And that conversation happens before we sit down to sign the lease. Don’t care what the “reason”, if your heart is beating you pay on time or you don’t get renewed (at minimum).

I wouldn’t be worried about whether or not you’re being perceived as rude when you’re simply trying to collect money that’s due to you. You’re not going to please everyone. Just be professional in the way you run your business.

Also, if someone is late I would take action immediately. Giving them extra time to pay is only teaching them that they can be late paying you. Make it clear that if they are late they will get a late fee and enforce it.

I think it’s time to get rid of this tenant. Is she on a month to month?  Give her 30 days notice. Does she have a valid lease?  Read it and find out when to give her notice.  It has nothing to do with the name calling and everything to do with the consistently late payments. Long term tenants are only good if they take care of the property, follow their lease and pay on time.  I’m guessing you haven’t increased her rent each year either. Time to move her out, adjust the amount you are charging rent and find a new tenant. You’ll be happier in the long run. 

Your tenant is trying to see how much she can get away with because she understands that you have a soft heart like myself.   No need to discuss anything with her or care about what she thinks or says to you.  

I just had a tenant like that in one of my California houses on a hill.  Late rent, unauthorized repairs with no receipts and pit bulls going into the neighbors yards (it was no pets).  It's best to send default letters as soon as the rent is late.  Now only after a lipstick level renovation, I'm asking for almost thousand more than what it was from the last tenant and getting responses. 

@Cheryl R. It sounds like you were well within your rights here based on the info you provided. I wouldn't be concerned with the rude moniker, stick to your guns and send as much of your communications with the tenant via e-mail as possible so that you have a pair trail. The tenant is deflecting and calling you rude to get you off of their back, don't let it bother you. 

There is a difference between being rude and being called rude.  

Part of being a landlord is being able to respectfully spell out the requirements for tenants regarding inappropriate behaviors. Sounds to me like you are doing fine.

If your state permits it, you might try instituting a late fee policy that will discourage "two year olds" from waiting until the 10th to pay.

Both in landlording and in life, you will see time and time again that a person who is in the wrong will often become angry at their victim.  Because it's a lot easier to justify their own bad acts (in their mind) when they make up reasons that the other person is "wrong", than it is to look in the mirror and say, "Huh, I'm a really terrible/deadbeat person."

I am currently dealing with my own "toddler" tenant.  She's inherited and lived in the unit for 8 years.  I've owned it for 3.  Up until this last Oct., Section 8 had always been paying 90-100% of her rent.  I think her p/t job went to f/t and her portion changed to paying 75% of her rent.  Every month I have to text and ask her about it.  Ridiculous.  Every month...until this one...she has paid, but has always been at least 7-10 days late.  She has always had an entitled, me-me-me attitude and my mistake was in trying to work with her on her rent.  I don't even know what I was thinking.

I am always polite and professional when dealing with tenants, but this month she copped an attitude with me when I merely asked about the rent.  We posted a 5-Day last Monday and, short of her bringing the rent today, we will be filing for an eviction tomorrow.  To a rational person, it is utterly insane that she is letting it get to this point.  But then, her "skewed" view of the world has been the core problem all along.

At any rate, there is my own example that you can't be responsible for someone else's skewed POV.  As long as you treat someone with respect and professionalism, while properly following landlord-tenant laws, then you know you're in the right both morally and legally.  Don't give a second thought to some deadbeat that thinks you're "rude".   

I wouldn’t be worried about how the tenant perceives you. You are operating a business and at the end of the day it is your money that is on the line. They should understand that they MUST pay you what is rightfully owed - on time, in exchange for providing them with a place to live. 

That doesn't mean you shouldn't always be professional and curteous, but you aren't there to be there friend and they should understand that from the very beginning.

Do not ever let your tenant pay late. Rude? Train the tenant, don't let the tenant train you.  Do you have a grace period?  My due date is the 1st and grace period is the 5th.  5pm on the 1st, I'm making contact.. No, response or no attempt to get rent to me, I'm sending the late rent crusher letter. I have a pretty stern letter stating Attorney fees, eviction, etc etc is costly, blah, blah, added to rent.  The morning of the 6th, I'm at the door posting the pay or quit notice, taking a time stamped picture and heading to the post office to send it certified as well.

Rude has nothing to do with it.

@Cheryl R. ,

This is a business relationship, not a personal one.     You are responsible for doing what's in the contract, just like she is.   I'm sure tenants have said a lot worse about me, and that's okay!.. what matters is that you are upholding your part of the agreement,  and does the same.    There are no feelings in this, as nothing is personal! 

@Cheryl R.

This one wanted to be called before she got email. You'll meet a lot more like that. They want to be handled, they want to be spoken to gently, they want to be asked if anything's wrong when the rent is late, they want to believe that they have a personal relationship with the landlord. That the agreement to rent institutes a certain bond of democratic equality between landlord and tenant. You're not just in it for the money. You care about them, because they're worth caring about. They want more than professionalism, they want warmth.

You'll meet more like this. I tend to humor them. Until it's time not to humor them. Then they tell you that you have "multiple personality disorder" and "are the most hung-up person" they've ever met. "Rude" is just the tip of the iceberg.

It's alright to have such an attitude but you may be much happier finding a good PM to handle all of this for you. The right PM does not get emotional about these things they just follow to lease and the laws and get things done on the dates they are required. Then you can just sit back and relax stress free. 

I am a landlord myself and I am a PM, I have my staff deal with my personally owned properties and tenants to keep myself out of that emotional state and I just focus on managing everyone else's properly without attitude.

It's not about you being rude. They are testing you. People will test you as far as they can. There's a big difference between being "rude" and putting your foot down. Honestly, I think you let the one woman go too long. There should have been a late fee schedule in her lease. If something is written in the lease, there's no emotions or decisions to be had. It just is what it is, and you can relay to someone by simply pointing to where it says it in the lease. Remember, you are the boss on your properties. 

I can actually relate to this. Until the last couple of years, I let people work me like crazy. I would question myself and my approach when people would pull things like this (in life, not just in REI) and I would doubt reality for the most part- like who was right, who was wrong, was I being rude, etc? Now, with a couple years of training and a huge loss of patience for being running all over me, I have developed a ton of confidence in my stances and whether I'm in the right or wrong. With that confidence, I don't have to be rude about it, I can just be concrete and not budge. I can even do it with a genuinely kind smile on my face.

It's all about confidence! But no, you aren't being rude. They are pushing you as far as they can push you to see how far you will go. It's up to you to stop moving along with them.