I'm feeling like a bad person.

65 Replies

Hi all,

I'm new here. I'm technically not a landlord yet, but I made an offer on a duplex and it was accepted today. I'm having it inspected this Wednesday. I plan to live there with my two sons and rent out half. I'm feeling bad about something, and I'm hoping some of you can tell me that I'm doing the right thing.

There are month-to-month tenants on each side, and I plan to have the property be vacant at closing. 

Here's why I feel bad....
My 13-yo son is (sort of) friends with a tenant's son, and he (the tenant's son) thinks we are moving in next door and everything is going to be peachy. (My son knew my offer was accepted before I was even able to tell him the news, because this kid told him first at school.) I don't know the parents.

I would be okay with keeping them as tenants except for the following reasons:

1. They wouldn't let us in the see their side the other day even with almost a weeks notice. (I felt this showed that they were not respecting their landlord.)

2. The yard is a mess with broken down stuff and debris. It looks like they don't respect the property.

3. They have 2 large dogs. I like dogs, but I don't want them barking and pooping in the yard, and I worry about fleas and shedding and damage.

4. The amount that they pay in rent is about $400-600/mo less than it should be. (Especially once I remodel.)

5. The boy told my son that their current landlord is an a**hole  - one reason being that he starts a lawsuit if they are late with their rent. (This tells me they have been late with their rent and think it's no big deal.)

So, I know there are so MANY reasons to make them go, but the "mom" in me feels bad - especially since there are few if any rentals in our little school district. And maybe I'm wrong and they are wonderful people and overwhelmed with life. I know I am! 

I know I can't let this bother me. This is an investment and a "business". Plus, I need the rent higher to even make this work. My boys and I come first. How do I handle this delicately? I need a pep talk if anyone is willing. Thanks.

You're doing the right thing by not keeping the current tenants. 

Your 13 year old son will probably not understand your reasons, so I wouldn't go into too deep. 

Blame it on the current a**hole owner. Or your "silent" partner. 

Hey there! I am a single mom so I get it. It may be too late for this, but your best option would have been for them to think you are a renter. You should have bought this in an LLC or something so they wouldn't know you owned it. You could let them think you were renting too and ideally have a property manager handle it.

If it is too late for that....  I think you should set expectations early.  Let them know due to appraisals, insurance, etc. for you both to continue to be there they must keep the place orderly and paid on time.  Normally, I am much less sensitive to these things, but I get it that it could cause your kid problems at school etc.  It may be that they want to stay and are willing to change if you are willing to keep the place up and let them stay.  If not, just try to blame it on things that aren't in your control so they have less animosity to you and your kids.  People will tell you this is just investing and it is, but bullying in school is a real issue and I understand your concerns.  Make sure to be honest with your son and let him know why you have to handle it the way you do, but remember not to give him any confidential information that could get you in trouble if he spoke about it at school.  Hopefully, they will do the right things, but if not, you don't have much choice here.

@Chris Hanisco - think about the $400-600/mo you won't be able to spend on your son and yourself because you're being charitable to someone who has shown a pattern of not respecting the property you are purchasing. Great, now you don't feel bad anymore.

Here's a suggestion on how to approach it: the entire property needs updating so everyone has to leave. They are welcome to submit an application once the work is done, which will be in several months. The chance of them returning is slim. 

Yes make it a requirement to be empty to close, or a X dollar amount off if not.  Something huge to make the point across to the seller.  

Yes those are all red flags of why they need to go.  

@Chris Hanisco . I wouldn’t feel bad about this. You also should learn to separate feelings from being a landlord. Being a landlord is hard enough, don’t let it get personal and make it harder.

I guarantee you, no tenant will feel bad when they trash your unit, don’t pay rent or any number of other things.

No easy way to accomplish this . You are going to have to be the alpha dog and lay the law down unfortunately  . Forget that the tenants son is a friend of your sons . That’s just details that will cloud your judgment . If your sons are important to you then do what’s best for their future and yours . That means full market rent with good quality tenants who pay on  time ! Don’t be a pushover , it will hurt you financially in this business . Wanting better for your family doesn’t make you a bad person . You must do the hard work that is required 

Originally posted by @Chris T. :

You're doing the right thing by not keeping the current tenants. 

Your 13 year old son will probably not understand your reasons, so I wouldn't go into too deep. 

Blame it on the current a**hole owner. Or your "silent" partner. 

 Good idea, Chris. Thanks!

I hope your contract already says deliver this unit vacant.   The sit down is probably with your son to explain why you are going to ask them to deliver this unit vacant and make his friend move.   You need to have a unit to occupy.  That unit needs the most rehab and you cannot afford to manage a late tenant every month.   You probably will need to talk to your son about that and how the other tenant is paying part of your mortgage.  

I think the eye opener for my kids was when they saw the condition some students renters left our house.  My older son is in college now and since his teens every time I say they broke this or that he says charge them because he understands now. He also knows to pay his rent on time and to request repairs from his landlord. Imagine your son when you have to take his friends dad to court because of late rent. Then you will really be the bad guy, better to deal with it upfront.

thats a tough one dont want to set up a bullying situation for your son.. I think it would depend on how tough he is and what the other kid is like.. 

But you can blame it on the bank .. I know being a lender everyone is quick to blame us.. so use that card.. bank made me do it.  :)  Everyone understands big bad bank

@Chris Hanisco  in the title of your post you use the word  "feelings".   Nothing wrong with feelings .  But you are starting a small business .   Its all about the numbers , not the feelings 

Originally posted by @Gina Miller :

Hey there! I am a single mom so I get it. It may be too late for this, but your best option would have been for them to think you are a renter. You should have bought this in an LLC or something so they wouldn't know you owned it. You could let them think you were renting too and ideally have a property manager handle it.

If it is too late for that....  I think you should set expectations early.  Let them know due to appraisals, insurance, etc. for you both to continue to be there they must keep the place orderly and paid on time.  Normally, I am much less sensitive to these things, but I get it that it could cause your kid problems at school etc.  It may be that they want to stay and are willing to change if you are willing to keep the place up and let them stay.  If not, just try to blame it on things that aren't in your control so they have less animosity to you and your kids.  People will tell you this is just investing and it is, but bullying in school is a real issue and I understand your concerns.  Make sure to be honest with your son and let him know why you have to handle it the way you do, but remember not to give him any confidential information that could get you in trouble if he spoke about it at school.  Hopefully, they will do the right things, but if not, you don't have much choice here.

 Excellent advice, Gina. Thank you!

Originally posted by @Tchaka Owen :

@Chris Hanisco - think about the $400-600/mo you won't be able to spend on your son and yourself because you're being charitable to someone who has shown a pattern of not respecting the property you are purchasing. Great, now you don't feel bad anymore.

Here's a suggestion on how to approach it: the entire property needs updating so everyone has to leave. They are welcome to submit an application once the work is done, which will be in several months. The chance of them returning is slim. 

 Good advice. Yes, I cannot afford it unless I renovate and get higher rent. That's just the way it is. 

Originally posted by @Eric C. :

Yes make it a requirement to be empty to close, or a X dollar amount off if not.  Something huge to make the point across to the seller.  

Yes those are all red flags of why they need to go.  

 The seller has agreed to it being vacant. It won't close unless it is. Thanks! 

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :

@Chris Hanisco. I wouldn’t feel bad about this. You also should learn to separate feelings from being a landlord. Being a landlord is hard enough, don’t let it get personal and make it harder.

I guarantee you, no tenant will feel bad when they trash your unit, don’t pay rent or any number of other things.

 I know. You're absolutely right. Thanks.

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

No easy way to accomplish this . You are going to have to be the alpha dog and lay the law down unfortunately  . Forget that the tenants son is a friend of your sons . That’s just details that will cloud your judgment . If your sons are important to you then do what’s best for their future and yours . That means full market rent with good quality tenants who pay on  time ! Don’t be a pushover , it will hurt you financially in this business . Wanting better for your family doesn’t make you a bad person . You must do the hard work that is required 

 You're absolutely correct. Thank you. 

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

I hope your contract already says deliver this unit vacant.   The sit down is probably with your son to explain why you are going to ask them to deliver this unit vacant and make his friend move.   You need to have a unit to occupy.  That unit needs the most rehab and you cannot afford to manage a late tenant every month.   You probably will need to talk to your son about that and how the other tenant is paying part of your mortgage.  

I think the eye opener for my kids was when they saw the condition some students renters left our house.  My older son is in college now and since his teens every time I say they broke this or that he says charge them because he understands now. He also knows to pay his rent on time and to request repairs from his landlord. Imagine your son when you have to take his friends dad to court because of late rent. Then you will really be the bad guy, better to deal with it upfront.

 Very true! Thank you. That's a good way of looking at it.

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

thats a tough one dont want to set up a bullying situation for your son.. I think it would depend on how tough he is and what the other kid is like.. 

But you can blame it on the bank .. I know being a lender everyone is quick to blame us.. so use that card.. bank made me do it.  :)  Everyone understands big bad bank

 The bank. Yes! Thank you. And it's actually true because I can't afford it unless I get the going rate for the rental.

Originally posted by @Matthew Paul :

@Chris Hanisco  in the title of your post you use the word  "feelings".   Nothing wrong with feelings .  But you are starting a small business .   Its all about the numbers , not the feelings 

 Right. This is something I am learning. I can be a real softie. I need to toughen up when it comes to this. Thanks.

You are doing good.  If your son asks, tell him that the other unit needs work in order to make it a nice home.  That's the truth and if he goes inside he will be able to see it for himself.

I agree with much of what has already been posted.  One thing to think about to put your compassionate side at ease is you can also rest assured that any other investor worth their salt that purchased the property would be asking them to leave pronto, so any way you slice it these people will need to move.

Also, if you don't get them out prior to closing, there will be this "emotional leverage" on you once you are neighbors.  You are already struggling with this as you mention, which is very common for new landlords.  However, if you move in and it doesn't work out with this people (and it will NOT work out - you can already intuitively see the writing on the wall despite your being new) it will be a lot more difficult on you and your family - not just emotionally, but financially - as these kinds of people don't always go quietly.

I think @Jay Hinrichs idea is brilliant - just explain that the only way you could get financing in your situation is to receive the other unit vacant to do "necessary renovations" at the recommendation of the bank's inspector.  It's a little white lie, but it will get you off the hook and remove any pressure from you to cave into the emotions and make a bad business decision in your new chapter in life.  This time will be challenging enough for you and your family, without the guilt tripping and drama sapping your spirit.

Good luck!

@Chris Hanisco , Your doing the right thing!   I know you have that the unit has to be vacant upon closing.  Don't compromise on that!  The problem began with the current owner, don't let it become your problem.  Nothing to be sad or guilty about.

Channel the inner Mother'ly protection mode in you.  The current tenant is a threat to your well being, both physically and financially.  This is a business and your lease is a contract.  Your responsibility is to provide a safe, quality property, and respond to maintenance issues as they arise.  Your tenant's responsibilities include paying on time and taking care of your property.  

You will find that if you enforce the contract as written your business will run effectively.  Don't compromise on late fees and don't let tenants not receive your calls or text when they are late.  Have your 3 day demand letter ready because it is not if you will need it, it is when.  Cheers.

@Chris Hanisco when I have sticky lease situation to deal with I do what @Jay Hinrichs is suggesting.....bank is requiring me to do it. As a back up plan I play good cop/bad cop & pin it on my dad (sorry dad!). Everyone knows my dad, he's super old school and Mr. Handshake....I can play the bad cop for being forced to dot the I's & cross the T's. At the end of the day you hold the keys; act honorably and in good faith....six months this will be in the rear view mirror.....focus on forward!!

Best of luck to your new adventure!

What an awesome intro to being a landlord! This is the stuff that forces you to look at this as a business and every one of those enumerated factors are worthy of removal.

Children pick-up on a lot, and if this boy is already badmouthing the old landlord I suspect he hears his parents talking about what a soft touch you will be.

I have found that I worry far more about other people’s consequences then they ever will- it is a complete waste of your energy. They will find another place to live and if need be another school.

You did not create any of this. And just remember:

Every successful landlord would remove these tenants

@Chris Hanisco 1) Does this mean you wrote an offer without seeing the other side at all? (Until your inspection?) Make sure you don’t feel bad if you back out after the inspection. Pet damage can be nasty and expensive.

2) Consider one of my favorite strategies for the other side, which is to provide furnished bedrooms and rent bedrooms to working professionals preferably with year long leases and security deposits. Turnover is higher (nobody will stay 5 years) but your income is usually higher too. Like a 3 br might rent for $1200 but to 3 professionals you might get $1500-1800 (500-600 each plus utils). Higher cash flow is great and you can furnish with nice cheap furniture off Craigslist (like $200 for a queen bed).

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