Will work for rent.... Yes [] No[]

24 Replies

So the scenario is that I have had these tenants for a couple months now and they want to do work in exchange for rent. They are also never one day past the 1st on rent deposit either. Sounds like a good deal because I get “cheap” labor in exchange for a little money off the rent. They are mostly wanting to do improvements themselves like a new privacy fence and sod things of that nature. What are everyone’s thoughts on the exchange pros and cons.... I’m leaning towards no and spending the money on a professional. As always thanks in advance!!!

Absolutely not . In fact I would be concerned why they need money towards rent . Tenants rarely do a satisfactory job and will leverage this arrangement to their advantage . Don’t do it 

Another no vote here. I can picture a crooked, badly installed privacy fence and someone claiming a hurt back after lifting sod. If it's something that needs to be done, hire a pro.

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

Absolutely not . In fact I would be concerned why they need money towards rent . Tenants rarely do a satisfactory job and will leverage this arrangement to their advantage . Don’t do it 

this never worked for me.  only thing I would consider is if they own a detailing business and wanted to detail the cars or wash and wax the airplane.. that i would consider.

No. And for those sitting in the cheap seats, NO!

Look, if you lower the rent in exchange for work, there is a high likelihood that two things will happen: you won't get the rent and you won't get quality work. If you reduce rent $200 in exchange for some new sod and the tenant fails to do the work or does it poorly, you have to chase them down to get the $200 back and you have to likely spend more than $200 to fix their mess. It's always best to get the rent then pay them separately for any work done.

As a general practice:

1. Always require deposit and rent in full. Either they can afford the place or they can't.

2. Don't hire tenants to do work. If you want sod or a fence, hire a contractor.

3. Don't make improvements just to keep a particular tenant happy. They'll see you as negotiable and they'll try to get negotiate other adjustments. If the property needs a fence and you wanted to put a fence in anyway, that's a different story.

4. If you are going to hire the tenant for work, and that's a big "if", put it in writing with details of what they are allowed to do, who will pay for it, limits to what can be done and what it will cost, what happens to the improvement when the tenant leaves, what happens if they do a crappy job or fail to finish, and SET A DEADLINE for the work to be done. You should treat this like a contract, just like you would if you hired a professional.

It is tempting to hire a tenant to save money. In my experience, most Landlords end up paying much more because the tenant fails to complete the work or does a poor job that has to be fixed.

Put another check mark in the "NO" column.  Agree with everything here that's been said:  It never seems to work out.  The deal is that you provide them a decent place to live in exchange for the stated rent.  

No way!  I see  it being a liability or potential lawsuit especially if  they're digging into your property

@Lee Bell 1. No way vote from me 2. Liability problem-Primary problem 3. Expect lower quality work 4. Harder for you to confront them over any issues if you are depending on them for anything 5. Higher risk of needing to evict over time and it may impede eviction 6. I still wouldn’t pay cash outside of them paying rent. They may get too familiar with you. Are they having money problems? I don’t even want to know my tenants. RS

So judging by the overwhelming amount of NO votes this is a no brainer. I did see it work out in one unique situation with a tenant my parents had. The actually used a tenant to rehab a fix and flip on another property. In this situation the tenant was a carpenter by trade (mine are not) and did amazing tile work. They did put it on paper and as he completed a specific task they gave him credit on his rent. 

@Nathan G. I like what you said: 3. Don't make improvements just to keep a particular tenant happy. They'll see you as negotiable and they'll try to get negotiate other adjustments. If the property needs a fence and you wanted to put a fence in anyway, that's a different story.

I was planning on putting a new fence up but I also have to repair or replace some appliances so I am waiting until i find out what to do with those first. 

A friend of mine also said that he doesn't improve anything right away, he waits until they have been in there a while and paid some rent before he starts making improvement at a tenants request.

@Rich Senyszyn I could see it causing some issues. Im sure in the court room they could always say "well we did this and that in exchange for rent" very good point!! I actually know the tenants personally which makes me curious... What are the opinions on renting to people you know? Sounds like that would be a NO vote from you also LoL

@Justin Hutchins I did this and it ended bad. HavIng been there I would be happy to chat more about what happened and what I’d do different If I ever dId It again. I have no plans to do again anytime soon but I can see how it could work for some situations.

I'll be the exception that proves the rule, lol.  I have occasionally hired tenants...for unskilled, general labor...and usually at other properties.  However, I have always done it as a separate deal, totally unrelated to rent.  So far, it's been "by day" type of work.  Nothing longer than that.  But I wouldn't be opposed to hiring a tenant for a longer term project, if they had the appropriate skills.  It would still be done as a separate contract.

I've had arrangements like this with 3 different tenants.  One tenant didn't do a very good job on the first day we used him.  NBD, we paid him for that day and never asked him to do other work.  The other two tenants we've used did good work.  They each worked for us on a few occasions, when they had spare time and we had work available.  In fact, one of them is still my tenant and he is coming out to a recently vacated rental this Wed. to throw some KILZ on the wall, in preparation for repainting.

As an interesting aside, the tenant who didn't do very good work also ended up being a bad tenant.  The two tenants who were good workers, were/are also great tenants.

Heeeeeeeeeee         llllllllllllllllllllll NO!

They hurt themselves while working on YOUR property? It's an excuse to not pay you ANY rent...of and by the way they will sue you because they were injured while doing contract work for you......

Are they going to do good quality work...or just something to get by....

Are you satisfied with the work they do? If not....do you make them do it again? What if they refuse.....

Absolutely not

@Jennifer T. That’s good to know, that’s a lot like what my parents did with their property. Uses a tenant that was a carpenter by trade to rehab a fix and flip and it worked great for them.