Coffee with tenant to discuss late rent?

43 Replies

I just read an article that made a recommendation that I found weird and not a good idea, and want to get an outside opinion. When your tenant has been consistently late in rent and is clearly in danger of eventually being served an eviction notice, they said you should take them out to coffee and warn them of the dangers of eviction, and suggest they move out.

In general, and here in Portland, OR in particular, that seems like asking for a lawsuit. Anyone have an opinion on this? Has anyone done this? What was the result?

Coffee with tents? No way.

Why stop at coffee ? Might as well bake the tenant some fresh Toll house cookies and pastries as well . If your supplementing the guys income by free rent a free meal is the least you could do . If he’s not the tea and crumpets Type then Maybe a few lotto tickets a bottle of mad dog and a pack of Newport’s would entice him to pay his rent also

Hi Aimee,

Never, just stick to business.

Good Luck!

Thanks for confirming what I thought. What a crazy idea! 
This was suggested in a blog post by a company that markets services to landlords. I'm guessing the post was written by a millennial who has NEVER owned property.

Coffee is going to over personalize a situation where a person is MOST likely to use personal emotions against you.

Late rent needs to be dealt with firm, fair, and expediently. Follow your lease, not your heart ;) 

No need for coffee. I understand the idea of just compelling them to move without giving you the hassle of evicting them but you can have that conversation without involving hot beverages.

where is this article from?   What is their reasoning? I see no redeeming value of this approach. 

Crazy idea, Consistently late, If the cure or quit did not prevent repeated late payments the tenant should already have had their lease non renewed or been evicted. No reason to ever socialize with tenants.

@Thomas S. Portland's rental laws are particularly crazy right now. We can't just 'not renew' a lease without a huge penalty. If I had a tenant I didn't want to stay, I'd have to either evict them or hope they wanted to leave on their own or pay them up to $4500 to leave (that is another topic altogether). 

@Dell J. It was for cozy.co. 

@Aimee Knier . I am a nice landlord. I offer my tenants a place to live. I charge them a nice large fee when they forget the rent and I send them free mail when they really forget the rent.

After the free mail, if they still forget the rent I help them move by removing them from my property. I’m so nice.

No Never!!!

Send a text to tenant  

Rent is due on the first of the month

Late on the Second 

Eviction process starts on the third

(Follow this process every time) 

You are running a business. You will lose you shirt in real estate if you cannot collect rent every month.  Revenue is essential. Keep it professional. Become rich! 

Big No! Don't even talk to them! Every word that you said can be used against you in the court of law. Consult a local expert and real estate professional about the eviction process.

Do the late rent notice or eviction standard process by the book. Next, have a professional real estate management company to manage your property. It will cost you, but you will save a lot of headaches and potential threats of lawsuits.

I learn a personal lesson dealing with these tenants in a nice personal way. End up with the tenant try to bully me with potential lawsuits. I was fortunate that tenants decide to leave themselves.

@Aimee Knier Here in Portland you’d probably land yourself straight into a lawsuit that would claim you threatened the tenant using intimidation and fear mongering.

I’m being a bit hyperbolic but there are ways you can have that conversation in a humanizing way without being a push over or too overly cold.

Originally posted by @Aimee Knier :

@Thomas S. Portland's rental laws are particularly crazy right now. We can't just 'not renew' a lease without a huge penalty. If I had a tenant I didn't want to stay, I'd have to either evict them or hope they wanted to leave on their own or pay them up to $4500 to leave (that is another topic altogether). 

@Dell J. It was for cozy.co. 

People respond better to positive treatment. Offering to buy them coffee may get them to show up because it is non-threatening. At the end of the day, coffee costs $3 so if it works this is hardly significant. I have never purchased coffee for a tenant having trouble, but I have had plenty of friendly talks. By that I mean, starting the conversation out by saying, "I want to help you". Then explaining to a tenant that clearly the property is more money than they can afford. That is not good for them or me, because I have a bank to pay every month. I make it clear that living in my property without paying rent is not an option. That is a good seaway into offering them the option to leave the property penalty free. I tell them that prevents me from having to take them to court or evicting them. Both of which show up on their record and make it very hard to rent in the future.  

Some landlords think you need to treat people like dirt so they respond, but in life just the opposite is true. You need to be respectful but firm, so you are setting boundaries. In some cases that means telling a tenant, "you do need to move out, let's just discuss the best way". Eviction is sometimes the best way or the only way, but I have also had great success just asking people nicely too.

In the case of Oregon, trying the nice approach seems like a good idea. Even a cup of coffee is way better than offering them thousands of dollars to leave. 

@Joe Splitrock I will have to remember to hire you if I ever need to coax a tenant out! I don't know if I could have that conversation diplomatically. I would be what @Neal Collins would probably call 'too overly cold'. It just seems like it's so dangerous to even attempt a friendly conversation about someone else's financial situation because of the potential for stepping into a hot mess legally. I feel like if someone's headed down that road through their own choices, who am I to interrupt a life lesson in the making? 

@Aimee Knier

Like you we can not simply non renew either. We are forced to use creative measures to persuade tenants to decide it is in their best interest to move on. When it comes to late rent payment we can file to collect the day after it is due and it costs the tenant $190 every time they pay late by 1 day. That and other creative pressure tactics usually achieve my goals.

@Joe Splitrock

"I want to help you".      Interesting landlord/social worker approach. Laughable all the same.

When tenants hear that sort of line I know exactly what they are thinking..........." Thanks but no thanks A-hole I don't need your F-ing help. I am quite happy scr*wing you over on my own".

I might be wrong but I seriously doubt it understanding human nature as I do. 

@Thomas S. We can't charge a late fee over a certain amount and we have to cap it out at a certain amount a month. $190/day would never pass in Portland. We just initiate the 72hr notice at 72 hours, the eviction would be happening after that... by the book, exactly as we stated we would. We haven't had to evict anyone yet. 

I even went to the trouble of putting the exact amount that would be due at each day of the month (and what actions we would take when) in the lease so there's no confusion. 

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

@Aimee Knier

Like you we can not simply non renew either. We are forced to use creative measures to persuade tenants to decide it is in their best interest to move on. When it comes to late rent payment we can file to collect the day after it is due and it costs the tenant $190 every time they pay late by 1 day. That and other creative pressure tactics usually achieve my goals.

@Joe Splitrock

"I want to help you".      Interesting landlord/social worker approach. Laughable all the same.

When tenants hear that sort of line I know exactly what they are thinking..........." Thanks but no thanks A-hole I don't need your F-ing help. I am quite happy scr*wing you over on my own".

I might be wrong but I seriously doubt it understanding human nature as I do. 

Let me help you understand. I am not talking about being friends or giving tenants gifts. I am talking about ways to negotiate situations, where you give up nothing and get what you want faster. Call it influence or persuasion or even negotiations. 

It is a skill mastered by the best sales people (and even con artists). They can convince someone to do just about anything. Often the person thinks it was their idea and happily goes along. There is a large amount of information out there as to how this works, but the main reason is because all people are narcissistic. They care mostly about themselves, so if you can convince them that a decision is in their best interest, they will do it. 

Landlords who get mad or threaten people, often just make the situation worse. If they think you are an A-hole, they may intentionally do extra damage when they do move out. If they believe you have their best interest in mind, they will work with you. Same message can be delivered different ways is what I am saying.

I fully understand your position, it just does not apply to tenants when the reality is that the vast majority have a hidden resentment of landlords. The level of respect they have for landlords is about 10 degrees lower that that of lawyers.

My work/career back ground was in the field of dealing with and conflict resolution. I have 20 years of training and hands on experience in the very skills you are referring to. 

When it comes to the landlord/tenant relationships, having a legal lease, precludes the necessity to negotiate. One does not negotiate a existing legal agreement. It is intended to be followed to the letter assuming it is enforced.  

I personally never get mad or threaten. That would be a display of emotions which has no place in business. When a tenant is of the opinion that their landlord is a A-hole, more than the usual amount, it is because they are being told they must do something they do not wish to do. The form of the message does not change the facts.

I am respectful and professional in conveying th emessage….no pay no stay. Comprendre

@Aimee Knier . You might be the one filing a lawsuit after the tenant throws their hot coffee on you. Treat it as a business and nothing less.

This is a business and there is an art to dealing with people to get what you want in the quickest and easiest fashion possible. I don't see the issue with sitting down with a tenant face to face and professionally and respectfully telling them how this is all going to go down.... it can go down the hard way or the easy way....... and that can be done in a respectful and professional way with little emotion involved. Its not a negotiation and its not time to be friends...its what I call "time to come to Jesus" meeting.....

In my experience I can achieve more success with being a hard *** in a respectful and professional way than I can by going in "guns blazing" right off the bat. When you go at someone all hard core right off the bat, you will get 1 of 2 reactions....... you will scare the crap out of them and they will fold and do whatever you want.... or they will see it as a threat and a challenge and dig their heals in even farther.

So I'm not buying you coffee and a muffin and shooting the breeze with you..... I'm having a meeting where I make it perfectly clear that the lease term will be enforced, the notices have been filed and they are welcome to move out before the official eviction is recorded legally

To each his own.... the goal is the same and there is more than one way to achieve your goal. The "loan shark" and the "con man" technique can be equally effective.... you get what YOU want....

@Aimee Knier  The coffee move seems a bit over-personalized to me and you want to avoid that at this point. The rules of the lease are your best friend (that lease is there to keep you protected). 

I don't know why the writers of the article would recommend that, but personally, my advice is not to treat it like a breakup with a significant other (especially with the legal nature of the eviction process). And I'm saying that as a millennial. 

It is one thing to be more communicative, it's another thing to completely telegraph your move to the tenant (I'm not 100% clear on if Oregon is more of a tenant-friendly state as far as Oregon housing laws go, but even by taking them to coffee and letting them know you'll be proceeding with evicting, prior to serving an actual eviction notice, just seems ill-advised).  And if they've been repeatedly late, something tells me a coffee meet up isn't going to change that outcome. I hope this helps to frame it up from a different perspective! Best of luck to you!

Just to be clear: I wasn't planning on going to coffee with anyone! It just seemed like a bad idea from the start and was wondering if I'm missing something that more seasoned landlords would see. 
Good to hear that my instinct was correct. 

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