Is it a Lie to Tell the Tenant I’m Not The Owner?

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Today I want to stir up come controversy – and get your opinion on this matter.

You see, I’ve stated numerous times on both the BiggerPockets Blog and in the Forums that my favorite tip for being a good landlord is not admitting I’m the owner, but instead just being “the property manager.” In fact, on my list of the best advice for easy landlording, (see How to Be A Landlord: Top Ten Tips for Success) that was my number one piece of advice. I’ve even mentioned it in the Podcasts a few times.

I didn’t invent this idea. I believe I first heard about it from Mike Butler in his awesome landlording book, “Landlording on AutoPilot” (which if you are a landlord and have not yet read – go to Amazon right now and get a copy. You’ll thank me, and Mike, later.)

Ever since talking about this on the site, I’ve had several people ask me if this wasn’t a little too deceptive, especially since anyone can look up the owner in the county records and find out who owns a property. What if I got caught? Isn’t it morally wrong to do this?

So today I wanted to look a little deeper at the issue and get your opinion. I invite you to read through my reasoning below – and then leave me a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree by commenting below.

Also be sure to check out the other side of the debate, by reading Kevin Perk’s great counterpoint article Do You Own the Place? Why You SHOULD Tell Your Tenants About Your Ownership.

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“I’m Not the Owner…”

For those not familiar with this way of operating, I’ve stated previously,

“Finally, my number one tip for being a successful landlord: don’t be the owner. This is especially true for those of you who, like me, are peacemakers and non-confrontational. As a landlord – you are going to face a lot of tough decisions and awkward conversations. When you are the owner – the blame is on you and as a result you will often make decisions based on convenience rather than common sense. (After all – you better not be the owner. The owner should be a business entity that you set up with your attorney.)

Instead, from this moment on, you are no longer the owner. You are simply the property manager. ”I can’t move my 200lb dog into this studio apartment!?” ”no, I’m sorry – the owner doesn’t allow dogs here.” Additionally, you can tell the tenant “I need to talk to the owner about this” to buy yourself time to think about odd requests. Instead of the tenant being upset with you – they are now upset with the mysterious “owner.” Feel free to play this up all you want:

Me: “Sorry, I tried talking the owner into it but he is a stickler for the rules.”

Tenant: “Ugh, I hate that guy”

Me: “Yeah, me too…”

It’s much easier to make decisions when I am just a third party in the relationship, rather than the “big bad owner.” I’ve found this works really well with my personality, and helped me to avoid a lot of nasty conversations that I’d rather not engage in.

Is This Lying?

As a deeply moral guy, I don’t believe lying is ever okay. Not in business, not in life, not ever. So before I decided to switch to this strategy, I really had to ask myself “is this lying?”

In the end, I’ve decided it wasn’t – and here is why.

I hold my real estate properties with LLCs, not personally. In other words – I don’t own the properties. I have a management role in an LLC, that owns the property.

Yes, the distinction is subtle – but in my opinion, it’s separate enough to not bother my conscience.

Not stating the whole truth? Yes. Lying? I don’t believe so.

Some people might believe I’m being too deceptive here, and I understand the concern. I mean, I very clearly am making a point to not let the tenant know I own the property. However, in my opinion – I don’t believe it’s any of my tenants business to know what business I own. I don’t let them know about the companies I have stock in, the political party I donate to, or the church I tithe to. Why should I tell them I own a company that has real estate holdings?

If a tenant directly asked me “Do you have any ownership interest in this property” or “are you involved with the LLC that owns the company” I would not lie – I’d tell them yes. However, I’m not asked this, ever, and don’t believe I ever will be.

Furthermore – I feel even more justified in my decision because I know that in every sense, I am separate from my business. I know if I wanted to go pick up the rent from one of those LLCs, and just stick the money in my pocket and buy a new TV, I would be breaking the law (or at least the tax code.) That money does not directly belong to me – it belongs to the company, which then pays me. If someone were to sue my company for wrong doing, they aren’t going to sue me personally (hopefully) because the company is a separate entity that I paid good money to a lawyer to create.

Conclusion

So I want to know your opinion.

Is it wrong? Is it lying? I’m totally opening up this conversation for debate, because I want to know what others think. In the end, I think a lot of it comes down to my personal conscience – and as of this point, I don’t feel wrong doing it.

Would you?

Please leave your feedback in the conversation below, then check out the following article:
Should You Tell the Tenants that You Are the Owner? [Counterpoint]

Photo: Elisa Dudnikova

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on BiggerPockets.com. Like... seriously... a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down", and "The Book on Rental Property Investing" which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.

110 Comments

  1. Brandon –

    Even if you are the owner of record, if you are dealing with tenants on a regular basis, you are the “property manager”. Nothing deceitful about that.

    And I agree that every landlord should read Mike Butler’s book. It’s one great book for folks that have rental property. I interviewed Mike for my blog a while back. He’s an interesting guy, and one of the smartest investors you will ever meet.

    Sharon

    • Brandon Turner

      Thanks Sharon! I agree – the fact that I am the property manager is definitely not deceitful, since it is what I am. I think it gets debatable when a tenant asks “Do you own this?” in which case I usually reply “I’m the property manager.” I feel justified enough.
      Thanks for commenting!

      • So what if they dig deeper and say “I understand you are the property manager, but do you own it too?” Do reply “no ABC LLC owns it” or do you cave and admit you are the owner?

        • Brandon Turner

          Lol yeah, I think I’d just tell them it’s complicated, cause I work with a lot of partners. If they really really pushed it… I suppose I’d tell em. The point is to minimize hassle, but if the hassle becomes too much, I don’t care if they know I’m the owner of an LLC that owns their home. 🙂

  2. Brandon,

    Think this is going to open a can of moral worms for some people. If you have an LLC or Corporation setup, especially with more than one member and you do all the separate bank accounts as well as expense reporting, then as far as the government is concerned it is a separate entity in and of itself and will continue to exist even if you don’t. On that note, I agree with you in representing yourself as the manager. I personally use a property manager because I think it’s a better use of my time and they have more experience. I do however represent the business as a manager and have it on my business cards and whenever I sign legal documents I use the title manager.
    If I were a sole proprietor, partnership, or other similar business model, then yes you become the owner because there isn’t a legal distinction between you and your company. So I guess ultimately it would come down to how your business is set up and what you feel comfortable with in sharing with people. If you use a property management company, then the issue isn’t even really there even if you live in one of the properties. Good article and thought provoking!

    • Brandon Turner

      Thanks Roy. Yeah, it’s a tough one, that I had to think about but I think I’m comfortable where I’m at, with my LLC’s set up. Soon, I’ll have property management take over so it wont’ be an issue anymore! Thanks for the comment

  3. It seems like a bit of sophistry to argue that you have an ownership interest in the properties, but are not there owner. However, I respect that others may see this as completely fine.

    On the other hand telling the tenant “I need to talk to the owner about this” to buy yourself time to think about odd requests seems like a bald faced lie, unless there actually is another party you need to consult. It directly implies the existence of another person who is the owner, and does not seem deeply moral.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Krishna, thanks for the comment. Yeah – with every property I own I do have other people in the LLC with me (usually my wife) so I’m never 100% in control of the LLC. So yeah, I’ve heard some say that you can use the “partner line” and really it just be your dog – but I’m not sure I’m comfy with that. Thanks for reading!

  4. Brandon

    I try and employ this strategy each time, but I general feel that after about 2 weeks, the tenants know I own the property. For instance, when it comes time to make a quick decision on something and I make that decision before I could have possibly spoken to the owner and had him/her get back to me. I mean, they never say anything, and I never do either but at some point the conversations between us tend to indicate they know the buck stops with me. Not sure if this is just me handling the process poorly or not.

    Kevin

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Kevin, Yeah – I’ve had a couple suspect I’m sure but no one really seems to care. I think most tenants don’t even understand what “title” is anyway – they just know I’m the guy in charge. We take some extra step as well – such as having an actually property management company, with forms, logo, website, etc. That helps define us as the property manager as well.

  5. To stir some more controversy and flip the coin, if a lawyer approaches you to rent one of your properties on behalf of an LLC. The lawyer has legal authority to contract (sign the lease) and write the monthly rental checks and informs you that he is doing this on behalf of a corporate client and the person who will occupy the property is the corporate client’s close relative (mother, son, daughter etc). Is it fair for the actual inhabitant to claim that they are not the tenant?

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Kevin, yeah that does add an interesting angle. I would say that yes, they could claim they are not the tenant, and would technically not be lying. But if they said they didn’t live there – that would be.

      And on an unrelated note – I don’t think I’d ever rent to a lawyer 🙂 I’d be too afraid of them tying me up in court with ridiculous legal things for years. I’ve heard horror stories!

    • Kevin,

      Interesting mental gymnastics. This is common with a commercial property, but it could not occur with our residential lease which requires all persons of legal age residing at the Property to be name on the lease.

  6. Sorry Brandon…. it’s deception, which is a lie. I think it’s always best to disclose things, and then you never have to worry about what was said to whom, etc. Remember the childhood saying “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”? Life’s simpler when we tell the truth.

    • Brandon Turner

      I do agree it might be a bit deceptive – but I don’t think deception is a lie necessarily or even always wrong. I mean – a person on the sidewalk may ask me for money – and I can say “I don’t have any” if all I have is credit cards on me, right? I mean, technically – I do have money, cause I could go to a bank and withdrawl cash and give it to him. It’s not lying – it’s just avoidance and re-interpretation of the question.

      Thoughts?

  7. Glenn Schworm

    Brandon,

    I hesitate writing my opinion on this, but know no matter what anyone chooses to do, no judgement from me whatsoever because I can see both sides of the argument clearly.

    You said something interesting in your article, you mentioned it can be dependent on your personality. I can see your point. Personally I take pride in owning who I am as the owner. I have no problem introducing myself as the owner. However, I can see where a different personality would be more comfortable avoiding any possible confrontation.

    My own feeling on the matter is that honesty is always the best policy. No doubt over time you will eventually be discovered as the owner, and then what? No matter what you tell yourself to justify your position, you are still the owner. I can’t imagine a tenant who would understand the semantics of the LLC/Owner relationship and saying, to you “Oh, thanks for explaining it with these charts and graphs! I guess you’re right, your NOT really the owner. Thank you for clarifying!” LOL, Once they find out, just like any relationship, there will be trust issues. Next time you tell them an honest statement like, I had the electrical problem fixed, it was not too serious. Or I had the gas smell fixed, you’re all set. They will always wonder if you are being up front with them. I guess it comes down to this. If you put yourself in their shoes, how would you feel finding out you were indeed the owner when it was made clear earlier you were not? Just my humble opinion for what it is worth.

    Again I can totally see both sides. What you do is between you and Satan.

    Come on, now that was funny!!!

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Glenn – I really do appreciate your insight on this. I look up to you a lot! And yeah – I am very non-confrontational. We all have character flaws, right!? 🙂 I agree, a tenant will not understand the legal differences, but I use that more for my own justification and moral reasoning. Perhaps if I were not the one involved so deeply in these properties, I wouldn’t have as much of a hard time being “the owner” but, especially when I was 21 and renting to people who were 3 times my age, it really helped “legitimatize” my business.

      Thanks for the comment Glenn!

  8. Well I guess I don’t have to tread this topic, since my properties are managed by another company in another time zone. They have standing procedures and are very efficient at doing things. On occasion, they need me to make a decision like whose going to make repairs with a given tenant moving out. Or I can call them up to veto a new tenant. But other than that, my time is indeed too valuable to be involved in all that.

    My father-in-law owns and manages his own properties. He also shows up to make repairs. Some people are clearly aware of this, but most just think he’s the repairman since someone else there actually collects the rents. You may decide that’s deceptive, but if someone asked him point blank, he would certainly admit himself to be the owner.

    I say let people assume what they want, but there’s no requirement that every internal detail about your business be published at the town square. And you know what assume does, right?

  9. [i]Additionally, you can tell the tenant “I need to talk to the owner about this” to buy yourself time to think about odd requests. Instead of the tenant being upset with you – they are now upset with the mysterious “owner.”[/i]

    I think that doing this is just ENABLING yourself to be a coward. Remember the cowardly lion? He really did have the courage inside him the whole time. He just didn’t want to use it. Don’t be lazy — embrace the fact that as a landlord, sometimes you have to make the difficult decisions.

    Maybe do some self-reflection and ask yourself WHY you are afraid of confrontation. Is it because you have a fear of rejection? Who are you being rejected by — your tenant? Do you want them to be your best friend? No! You have a BUSINESS relationship with your tenants. Even if you say no that doesn’t mean they can’t go on to be a good tenant.

    Look at that conversation above and here’s another way it can go with confrontation:
    Tenant: I want to move my 200 lb dog into this studio apartment.
    Brandon: Dogs are not allowed.
    Tenant: But Snoopy is such a good dog — he won’t cause any trouble!
    Brandon: When you signed the lease, you knew that dogs were not allowed in this complex. That was and still is the rule. Why would you rent the apartment if you wanted a dog and you knew dogs were not allowed?
    Tenant: I thought you’d allow it.
    Brandon: If you would have asked me before you moved in, if I would have made an exception for your dog, I would have said no. Now it’s up to you — do you want to stay here with no dog, or do you want to go through the hassle of moving?

    Now you’ve just put things back in the tenant’s court and given them two options that you can live with — keeping them as a tenant that you can live with, or getting them out if they are going to be a pain.

    • I’m with you Dawn. I’ll admit, I am a little biased on this… and it is very easy for me to sit on my high horse (because I’ve outsourced all of my PM to a professional – so I don’t have to deal with any of this directly) – but this is my honest take on it…

      If the rules are clearly spelled out in our lease agreements, why would we have a problem with holding someone accountable? If we really are in the right, why should we have the slightest problem with saying, “The answer is NO. It’s MY rule, YOU agreed to it, and we both have to honor our commitments.”

      Telling anybody “No” isn’t fun in general. We all want to be liked, not hated… but this really is part of running a business. It’s no secret that people in leadership positions age faster, deal with significantly more stress, and are paid FAR more than the rest of corporate America – because they have to say “No” a whole lot more often than they say “Yes”, and they can’t pin the blame on anybody else – they have to own it all.

      I understand the urge to shift the blame to a “phantom owner” – I think it’s totally human, and I honestly don’t judge those who do it (people can handle their rentals however works best for them)… but the whole premise does lead me to wonder – why go down this path of avoidance in the first place? What are we really afraid of? Do we not believe that we’re right? Are we just afraid of being disliked? What is our goal with real estate – to make money, or to make best friends with our tenants?

      Dealing with conflict takes a ton a tact (and most people aren’t great at it – including me), but I think it shows a lot of maturity when people face conflict head on and don’t feel the need to be apologetic (especially when they have no real reason to apologize).

      • Brandon Turner

        Hey Seth – thanks so much for the comment. I just wrote a similar response to Dawn – but I know a huge part is my personality. I just hate confrontation and people not liking me 🙂 It’s a bad flaw and something I’m working on (I’m actually enjoying it now – I just don’t have the chance for people to be mad now to improve my skills!)

        Anyways – thanks for reading and commenting!

        • I hear you man. I struggle with the same thing – even though I know I don’t have to “feel bad” for holding people accountable, I still hate the idea of stirring up ill will (I think that’s part of why I hired a PM to be the “bad guys” for me in this realm – because I knew I wasn’t great at this). At least we both realize it. 🙂 There’s always room for improvement.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Dawn,

      I fully admit that a huge part of it is my personality and how deeply I hate confrontation. I really want people, even my tenants, to like me. It is by far my biggest character flaw. However, another big reason I do it is so I don’t have to make decisions on the spot – I’m terrible about that. Anytime I make a quick decision – it’s usually a bad one. If a tenant asked me on the spot if they could have a dog- I’d probably say yes. Maybe that stems from my not-wanting to make them mad but it still happens.

      The other part was my age. I started this at 21,renting to people 3x my age. The one tenant that knows 100% I’m the owner (my first) is my most difficult. Always pushing my buttons, pushing the lines, and clearly no respect for me. This solidified my reason. Sure, I could get tough with him and demand respect (I do have a beard now!) but that’s really not me.

      So anyways- thanks for the comment. I really do appreciate it!

  10. john milliken on

    It’s an easy out saying your not the owner. less pressure on yourself. I’ve done it earlier in rental situations starting out.
    After learner/dealing with renters, I like stating I’m the owner and final say on the spot. Putting off decisions is a time waster when you know the answer you want to say to the tenant(s). you gotta be fare as a landlord, and remember you can bend but don’t break your rules.

    I would side with the statement being a lie. Thanks for the article Brandon.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey John- I agree, it is an easy out. but for me, it’s not so much about putting off decisions as it is about giving myself time to think on those decisions. If I make decisions too quickly – bad things happen 🙂

      Thanks for the comment John – I appreciate it!

      • Jesse Kropf

        Great article. I would side with not deceiving. We can withhold information when the other person doesn’t need it, but not with the intent to deceive.

        If you need more time, you can use other strategies. One is, let me think about that and get back to you. I don’t want to make a decision on the spot. But you’ll still need to tell the the answer.

        Another is, let me talk to my wife (or business partner) and get back to you.

        I used to hate conflict also, and had a very hard time telling people no. But I’ve learned that the best approach is to learn some self respect, man up, and tell them the way it is. In a nice way, but firm. Even my wife appreciates when I take that approach when there’s conflict in our marriage. Imagine that! 🙂

        People just want to know what you will or won’t do. Some will try to manipulate you, but most won’t. Learn to respect yourself, and others will also respect you for the most part. 🙂

  11. Hi Brandon,

    I like your idea and want to get a little bit more technical with the LLC structure.
    Do you own and LLC which owns properties and rents them out or are there more entities involved?

    I am thinking about setting up two LLCs. One would own properties and lease them to a second LLC. The second one would own nothing and sub-lease properties to the actual tenants.

    Would something like that work from asset and lawsuit protection standpoint? E.g. if a tenant wants to sue, they will have to sue a management LLC that have no assets and can be shutdown quickly if necessary.

    Thanks

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Nick – this isn’t legal advice, but what I do is this: I have an LLC that owns my property, and I have another set up to manage all my properties. It works well for me this way – but definitely consult an attorney on the best set up for you. Hope that helps!

  12. valerie pastore on

    No Branding I do not think we owe our tenants complete honesty. As you correctly pointed out we create companies for a reason. As long as we do not lie if asked a direct question that should be acceptable behavior.

  13. SIMPLE SOLUTION:

    Tenant: “Are you the owner?”
    You: “I am the Property Manager”

    That should work at least 9 times out of 10 with no further inquisition.
    Them: “But do you also own it?”
    You: “It is owned by a corporation”

    That should further enhance your ability to safely skirt the issue.

    Them: “Do you own the corporation”
    You: “I have an unpaid position on the board of directors”

    OK, does that work for your conscious?

    😀 Mark

  14. I just don’t see the point in not being truthful. I have no problem being the owner of my rentals, anymore than I have no problem being the owner of my business. Tenants to me are no different than employees – they both need to follow the rules set out for them in either the lease or the company’s policies and procedures. You can’t be in business (of any kind) and completely avoid uncomfortable situations – that is not realistic. In fact, those situations have led me to be a better authority figure over the years.

    If the tenant tries to push the rules, I refer them back to the lease. The lease is the bad guy – not me! And if they can’t follow the rules, then they need to go. I think most tenants are much more afraid of an owner than they are a property manager anyway, so letting them know who you are up front can lead to them asking for less favors or exceptions.

    The whole LLC justification argument is tantamount to Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sex with that woman” just because it was only oral. Come on! It’s an excuse you’re trying to use to negate the fact that you are, in all reality, lying about who you are.

    I’ve followed you for a while, and you strike me as neither lazy (as one commenter suggested) or wimpy. In fact, you seem like you have a great deal of business sense about you. So I can’t for the life of me figure out why you think you need to hide behind a title in order to effectively deal with your tenants. Time to man up and be proud of who you are! Landlord is not a 4-letter word!

    • “Tenants to me are no different than employees – they both need to follow the rules set out for them in either the lease or the company’s policies and procedures.”

      Sharon,
      Interesting persepctive. I view our tenants as I do our clients/customers in my other business. In both instances there are contracts for services under which both parties have obligations to one another and available remedies should one party fail to meet their obligations.

      • Sharon Hiebing on

        Yes, Roy, I view tenants as customers too, but contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right, which is why we have contracts lol! If my tenant follows all the rules, just like a great employee who always goes over and above the call of duty, then I treat them accordingly. But what I was trying to say is if they don’t, then I don’t have a problem speaking to them personally about it and referring back to the lease they signed.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Sharon, thanks for the comment. I agree – it is sidestepping the question to avoid confrontation (as well as to give me time to think about problems) but I’m not convinced it’s a lie. It’s simply more convenient and helps me make clearer decisions and avoid problems. Furthermore, I worry a little since I landlord in a small community, with lots of “low income punks” that should a tenant get seriously angry at me – it will be very easy to find me and hurt me or those in my family. If I’m just the manager, people seem to understand easier. Thoughts?

      • Sharon Hiebing on

        I don’t know, Brandon, that’s a hard one. I think if I ever seriously felt that much in danger from my tenants, I’d just make sure my properties all cash flowed with a property manager and let them handle it. It’s never worth it to put you or your families lives in danger over a rental home.

        I also think you give the punks a bit too much credit. The saying “don’t shoot the messenger” came from somewhere lol!

        But hey, do as you will. It’s an interesting discussion and I honestly never really knew people “hid” if you will behind their LLC’s. A spirited debate is always good for everyone.

  15. Hey Brandon, you don’t waste any time do you! I know I was one of the people questioning you on the forum about this policy. Great blog post to generate a lot more discussion in the comments here.

    I think that my take on this, at least for my situation is that it isn’t worth the risk. The risk is that my tenants will find out that I was being deceptive and lose respect for me. And if they don’t have respect for me then they won’t have respect for my property.

    I’m not too worried about the morality of lying to a tenant. It just doesn’t seem like there are big advantages to concealing your identity and there are potential risks to be deceptive about it if asked.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Adam, thanks – yeah I figured it would be a good conversation starter (Though I didn’t think people would be so hot about it! I think I’ve been called “embarrassing” and “scummy!”) But yeah – if I were the owner and I told the tenant I wasn’t – and then they found out – I would be concerned. But since the truth really is “I’m not the owner” – because it’s owned by an LLC – the issue isn’t there, is it? I mean, if a tenant looked up my LLC and saw I was a part of it, then what? They would simply say “Oh- he’s part of this thing.” And then nothing would change, in my opinion. If they asked me – I’d tell them “sure – I have an interest in this, along with some partners. My role is the property manager.” Also 100% true, and end of the discussion with them. Thoughts?

  16. Hi Brandon,

    If I own it, I own it, regardless of the LLC or my wife’s partial ownership. Until this stops working for me in a big way, this is how I’ll proceed. I personally think that tenants are less likely to try to mess with an individual that they see on a fairly regular basis (assuming you maintain high standards and expect the same from them), as opposed to a faceless “Corporation”. All tenants know that the evil “Corporations” can just write off their losses, right?…(I think I remember ‘writing it off’ from an old Seinfeld). Now, if you are universally despised by your tenants, well, I guess that would be another story.

    Thanks! Steve

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Steve, thanks for the comment. Yeah – I have thought about this, but it hasn’t been the case yet. I don’t think anyways. I guess I don’t know if my crummy tenants would have left it nicer had they known. I suspect not.)

      But being despised by bad tenants is a concern as well. If they know that I had 100% of the say in them being evicted or not- they are going to personally be mad at me, and in a small community like I live in – I worry about that. What if they come after me or my family? This is why I have an LLC – so I am not the person 100% responsible. The policy is, the company is, the system is. No one goes after the manager. Thoughts?

      • Jesse Kropf

        I think you need to learn to put the responsibility back on them. Most of the time, a tenant is evicted for what they did… they broke their lease or failed to pay rent. That is not your problem. If they fail to keep their end of the agreement, the stated consequences should occur. You’re not the bad guy for holding them accountable to the agreement they signed.

  17. Andy Teasley on

    First let me point out that being a Californian I am concerned about being sued at any time and therefore ALL of the various LLC’s I control belong to an IRREVOCABLE trust that my wife’s cousin set up to benefit my grandchildren. While I am the trustee of this trust I do not own it, am not its beneficiary and didn’t create it.

    That being said I am not the owner although I have all the power. I enjoy being able to do a no notice inspection of any of my properties by showing up with my bag of batteries and step ladder to check the smoke detectors. I am just Andy the Handymen to the tenants and my business card says so. As you stated when someone asks for something unreasonable from either “the Handyman” or the professional property manager, we can both say we’ll ask the owner.

    PS I believe a professional property manager is the best investment a small (less than 100) unit owner can make. For 7% plus a set up fee they screen tenants, collect rents, handle calls, pay the bills and mortgages, do book keeping and handle evictions. The one thing I don’t allow my managers to do is send out repairmen without prior approval from me.

  18. Brandon,

    This an excellent piece, and the premise is completely revolting. I find the expressed notion so profoundly offended and against everything that I believe…

    What?

    Really? Are you sure?

    Oh – OK. You’ve convinced me. I will write a rebuttal post 🙂

    As a side note – you are an inbound giant my friend…great subject!

  19. First off I believe the legal manuvering and titles and LLCs are above the head of many tenants so at the end of thr day you are still the owner. Also a lie of omission is still a lie and I see little rrason for it.

    I recently refinanced a property and transfered it into an LLC at this time. I saw the tenant shortly after and I told them that I just sold the property and their face was priceless. I of course then explained.

    I understand you hestitation because of your personaility traits. I would recommend that you read the book “Thou shall prosper” by rabbi daniel lapin. It is a great book on the value and importance of business. I don’t believe that you feel bad about what business you are in but with our culture it does not help. I love being the owner. I can fix all the problems and take all the heat. I get to explain why I am charging a late fee or why the rent is increasing. I can show the value of everything I do to the property and in service to the tenant. In fact I recently had a tenat call from 2-3 years ago and asked if she could have the fancy storm door that she put on years ago when she lived there. I obviously said no and explained why and listened through several layers of lies and sob stories but I was able to clearly state my intention and it felt good to standfirm in my decisions and choice. I even instructed this old tenant to hire an attorney if she wanted to pursue this further and have the attorney contact me directly as she would continue to get the same answer from me.

    Great topic Brandon.

    • Brandon Turner

      Thanks Kyle. I agree- most tenants won’t know about the LLC thing and would assume that I’m still the owner if they knew. But I also don’t volunteer that info. Sure, if they asked, I would but I just tell them I manage the place (cause I do) and no one ever asks anything more. I’ll check out the book though. I don’t mind conflict all that much, I just find it so much less stressful to avoid. Thanks for the comment!

  20. Well, I don’t think that it is necessary. Showing them that you are the real owner will give them the idea that you are really responsible one and a hands-on landlord. If you are confident enough in your property then there’s no reason to lie about it, eventually when they buy yours they would know who really is.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Maurice, thanks for the message. I agree, there is something good about showing a tenant I care and I’m hands on. However, I think I can do that as the manager as well. My worry is when things go bad. I don’t want some deadbeat tenant breaking into my house and beating up my wife because they are mad I evicted them. However, if some company evicted them – it’s a different story.

  21. All I can say is this is another one of those areas that non-licensed investors might (that’s a big might), get away with, but as a licensed agent we are held to different, not necessarily higher ;), standards.

    We have to disclose the fact that we own any interest in a property to all parties involved… No questions asked…

    Sooo… since Im licensed I wouldnt be able to pull this one off whether it is immoral or not.

  22. I don’t own anything. All of our properties are in trusts and owned by the trust.

    That being said, even before we put our properties into trusts, I never told a tenant I owned a property – I always presented myself as the property manager for all the reasons you listed. It does no one any good for them to know you own the property – it only sets you up, as the owner, for a lot of aggravation.

    If your ego wants to brag about what you own, join your local real estate investor group and brag there!

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Karen thanks for the support. I think we’re on the minority end of this debate. (And boy – I didn’t realize what I was stirring up with this one. I was called some mean names on Twitter. Ouch!)

      Thanks for the comment!

  23. Jonna Weber on

    I’ve wrestled with this for years. I definitely never let the potential tenants know during the application process, but if if they ask me directly after the lease is signed, I let them know that yes, I have an ownership interest in the property. It has worked out fine to date. I don’t feel like I’m hiding anything, and overall it seems they tend to be more cautious about up keeping the property, because they know and like one of the owners. I rent in good neighborhoods though – so I may feel differently if I were handling C class properties.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Jonna, yeah – I rent to a lot of lower income tenants, and while I do proper screening, we get some bad ones from time to time. This is the situation I try to hide from – I don’t want someone attacking my family because I was the one 100% in charge. I wouldn’t care if my higher -end tenants knew who I was. Thanks for the comment!

  24. I like to get answers to questions that have all sense of context boiled away, but it’s unavoidable. Every decision we make involves some amount of surrounding context.

    There is the concept of “I don’t own it” as in the situation where you are in a court-of-law and have certain liabilities and responsibilities based on what legal entity actually holds the property. Thus, LLCs, trusts, and individually owned properties have different impliciations.

    But there is a different context, such as when you are visiting your family for Thanksgiving. If you tried explaining to your own family that you “don’t own any property” you will look silly. Given a room of people encompassing the planet, if you are the one that carries the most significant stake and influence for a given piece of property, than effectively you DO own the property. But again, that isn’t the same context as determining your legal responsibilities.

    When interacting with tenants, it seems like things can cross either of these contexts. On one hand, they can sue they sue whomever they wish. They can name you, your LLC, and your best friend’s wife in our wonderfully litigious society. Even if you’re right, it can still be expensive, so I understand the desire to curtail this risk as much as possible. But I also understand the idea that if you look “shifty” and “dodgy” by avoiding tough situations, certain tenants won’t trust you ever again. I’m not saying they’re right. It’s just the way it is.

    I think there is a spectrum spanning between these two contexts, and it can be strongly influenced by location, quality of the property, whether or not this involves Section 8, and other things you can’t control like what day of the week it is.

    Thus, I wouldn’t presume to tell someone exactly how to play this out in their own locations. I might even have a different opinion if I sold my Austin units and instead invested in San Francisco. Just sayin’.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Greg, thanks for the comment. I agree – it is a more complex issue than it might seem on the surface. I wouldn’t want to ever tell a flat out lie, but I don’t think a lie is determined by someone’s impression of it. If that were the case, we’d be lying all day, every day, because there are always crazies who think crazy things. Anyways thanks for jumping in!

  25. This is a tough one. However, if you live in the community and are plugged into the people, politics, and churches…there is no hiding your ownership. I’d like to say I’m just the property manager, it would be easier, but it’s just not true.

    Lying is Lying and Reputation is everything.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Mark, thanks for jumping in on the debate. I don’t think it would be that tough to hide, if I were hiding ownership – cause I don’t talk about it. My own extended family doesn’t know most of what I have an interest in.

      And I know it’s a technicality, but that doesn’t make it a lie, I don’t think. I mean – it’s not a lie to say “I don’t have any money” to a bum if you only have credit cards in your wallet. Technically, you really don’t have money so it’s the truth. It may be a technicality but it’s still 100% true. Thoughts?

      • Jesse Kropf

        To the beggar, why not just say, “I’m sorry, no” if you don’t want to give them money? I’ve turned them down already when I just didn’t want to give them money. Another approach is to buy them a burger or something. Or give them money. But my answer doesn’t need to have any connection to how much money is in my wallet at the time, or whether I can pull out money at an ATM. 🙂

  26. William Collins on

    Brandon,

    The distinction which you are making is a fine line of technical matter. If someone sued the property- the LLC would be named. And if you are the sole proprietor of the LLC, than you would be the managing member in it. So while your other assets- housed in separate LLC’s would be offered some protection- the original property would not.

    Hence you own the LLC which owns the property. You own the property.

    Now I really do understand your blog is made for conversation and stirring thought. Here is my .02 on it. The shelter provided by stating “the owner wants this” implies that you as the property manager do not care. This gives a false implication to the tenant that you might look the other way since you both,”hate that guy”. Be honest, act with integrity, call a spade a spade.

    Bill Collins

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Bill, thanks for the comment, and yeah – I wanted to have a conversation here. In reality, the whole “yeah I hate that guy” was suppose to be funny but judging by some of the comments, I’m not sure it came across that way. When a tenant asks if I’m the owner, I just say “I manage this place.” They never dig further than that and it’s not a lie (I don’t think … though some would disagree.)

      Thoughts?

  27. Early in my “career” I would always make my wife (she was not present) the bad guy.

    “No, you can’t paint – my wife loves this color.”

    “My wife is afraid of big dogs – and little ones as well.”

    “My wife is allergic to smoke.”

    and so on as needed.

    Don

  28. Personally, I feel that if being the “manager” vs. being the “owner” avoids conflict then both parties (you and the tenant) will benefit from you being the manager. It seems that confrontation has a tendency to escalate rapidly these days.

  29. My question on this would be, “If you went to court for any reason and the judge discovered that you were engaged with this tenant and they thought you were the property manager and were led to believe there was another ‘owner’, how would that fare for you?”

    My guess would be that it would paint you as being dishonest to the judge and likely cause your penalty (if any) to be more severe. Also, you can ask yourself, would the tenant see this as being dishonest? It’s easy to make the case for yourself, it much harder to see it from someone else’s perspective. The folks here that are in support don’t really count because they are not a truly disinterested party because they are in the business.

    Personally, I see the benefit in the short-term protection, but see it going quite another way if ever you were brought into litigation.

    • Nope, no problem with it in litigation. Problem is, was the law followed or breached and by whom.

      Typically, we’re in court because they breached through non-payment and we’re awarded possession. Easy. Anytime it comes up, I present myself as property manger (which I am) and who owns the property is not a conversation or a necessary point. Our company manages for other owners as well. We are always there on behalf of the owner. The one seen as “dishonest” is the tenant who promised to pay and didn’t.

      🙂

      • I was not specifically talking about non-payment. That is easy. More about grey areas. The He said, She said type of situation that investors tend to get burned on. These two are not the same. One is based in hard fact, one pays or doesn’t pay. The other is based in public opinion. Did you really do everything possible to prevent X? Or, did you properly maintain or otherwise fix Y? If you are shown to be dishonest in your dealings (which a good lawyer will discover), you will get the sharp end of the stick.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Dave, it’s a good point. We never will really know what a judge will say. As Karen said, the law is the law so it shouldn’t matter. That’s also why I only do month-to-month leases. If I’m having problems with a tenant, I just give them notice to move. If they don’t – then there is no grey area, they are evicted. But that’s besides the point I suppose. If a tenant sued, yes – a judge may come down harder. However, I think they would agree, as they were trained in legal theory. But who knows! Good point.

  30. I always tell them I work for the owner. I also paint the owner in a positive light. “He’s will do that improvement in the spring when finances allow. ” “He just an ordinary guy, not some greedy penny pincher” “He believes that there are good folk in all neighborhoods and he thinks they should be able to find high quality homes to live in” “He cares about the safety of all that rent from him” etc etc. All very true statements. I want tenants to think twice about potentially trashing a unit. I don’t want them seeing the landlord as some big nameless group or greedy landlord. Its much harder to trash something when you put a real touch to it.

    I also don’t want them to know who I am. I have the safety of my family to think about. There are enough crazy folks out there who could find me via Google without much effort. I do not want to take those chances. I live in an average (4 out of 10) area, but stuff happens. A landlord was killed by a tenant just a mile from my house and I drive by the Aurora Theater shooters apartment everyday on my way to work. There is no good reason for them to know who I am, and plenty of very dangerous reasons to keep that info from them.

    Jason

  31. I always tell them I am the manager. The property is owned by the LLC, not me and I am the manager.
    We just decided to get tighter on the payments, since the economy is turning around and, I have had to tell a couple of people to move. So, the company made the decision to tighten up on the payments and I have to go by their rules. I even had one of the tenants thank me for working with them, which I did for awhile but, now we are not doing that anymore.

  32. I agree, it is a slight lie. BUT, I am a property manager and I do have a partner in the LLC.
    I’ve been “the property manager” since the 90’s. And it has saved my …
    If a tenant asks me directly, are you the owner, I would probably answer yes. Obviously, they probably already looked me up in public records.

    But saying you are the property manager allows you to make better decision instead of snap-decisions when it comes to certain repairs that might be up to the tenant to pay for, (not normal wear and tear).

    I’ve had to evict probably over 30 in the last 10+ years. It’s the bad part of the job. I’ve only had to file and go to court on 3 of them because I am just a paid employee trying to make a living. Which is who we are, if you’re just starting out or a seasoned investor.

    You can always use a title-holding trust and take your name out of chain-of-title. Then if you tell them you’re the owner and they look it up, they really will think you’re a liar! This has happened to me. About 90% of my hold inventory, I’m not the last guy on title. But I’m the owner/controller/beneficiary.

    That’s all I can afford, I only had 2 cents.

  33. I can’t believe there are people saying that is wrong, maybe they need to step out of there bubble. You are technically the manager, and owner. I would say that the lie would have to affect the other party, and I cannot see why it would.

    If you came to the door dressed as a sheriff to tell them to pay rent or move out….That Would Be a Lie! LOL

      • Brandon, I got a great idea! Take down the names and phone numbers of the people who think your wrong, and when the tenant gives you a lie/excuse why they cant pay the rent, don’t blame it on the “owner,” just tell the truth. Then call up all the people that wanted you to tell the truth, and ask them for the money???

        I had to sell my triplex at a loss because my tenants walked all over me, even when the great welfare state of California paid 90% of their rent, they would not pay the other 10%. It’s exhausting!

        It’s sort of ironic if you ask me. Your too nice a guy, and have to tell a lie because your conscious wants to let them off the hook, so you have to invent a bad cop.

  34. Well I don’t think that there is anything wrong with saying you are the property manager since that IS your job. If they never ask if you are also the owner no flag no foul…

    If you do actually own the property (like in your name and that is the public record) and they ask you and you say “no” then you are flat out lying.
    One may justify the “need” to lie about it, but you are lying regardless.

    When you get into entity ownership that muddies the waters since it is true YOU do not own the property. But if you own the entity, or control the Trust, there is a bit of semantics going on.

    Not actually a problem that has ever come up with tenants but on several flips that I have listed myself for resale I have been asked the question of if I own the place. Note I always put in the MLS disclosures that “Listing Agent has an ownership interest” so nothing was hidden. This will come up more with like the home inspector and often the appraiser.
    They way I answer is that “I am part owner of the company that owns the property”. If I had a tenant ask the same thing for a unit that I owned in an entity I would probably answer the same way as it is the most honest and accurate answer I could give.
    I also don’t think this is beyond most tenants that a company owns it and you are part owner of that company.
    Also by stating you are not the only owner (assuming you really aren’t, even if the only other owner is your spouse) you can still use the “I have to ask them” line.

    Oh and @Brandon Turner unless your wife lives in a PO Box why would they even know where you live to be able to hunt you down and accost her?

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Shaun, thanks for the comment. I agree with you completely, and I realize it gets a little muddy when I bring the legal entities into the equation so I chose to be okay with it (obviously other’s strongly disagreed!)

      And I live in a very small town and am fairly well known. I’m the youth leader and music leader at a big local church, so most of the town knows who I am and where I live. If they also knew what property I owned, I think I’d have more of a problem. So I like living in somewhat obscurity.

      Thanks again for reading and for the great comment.

  35. One is not required to volunteer information, but if your intention was to deceive or mislead, irrespective of the factual accuracy of the information provided, then what you have done is wrong in my opinion. I believe actions should be judge according to intentions.

  36. Of course it’s a lie (defined in Merriam-Webster as: “to create a false or misleading impression”). Whether you consider yourself to be the owner of the property itself or the owner (or partial owner) of the LLC that owns the property is quibbling (ditto for trusts, etc.). You are for all intents and purposes the owner. You are the decision maker and policy creator, which is the salient issue in these interactions. You are creating the false impression that you are not responsible for the policies and have no say in their creation, modification or application. Ipso facto you are lying.

    Your tenants are not asking for detailed, inappropriate or privileged information about your business – the denial of which information you use as part of your justification. They are trying to determine who makes the policies under discussion and who has the authority to make exceptions or modifications; something which they are reasonably entitled to know.

    “As a deeply moral guy, I don’t believe lying is ever okay. Not in business, not in life, not ever.” Unless, apparently, it’s lying to spare yourself a small amount of emotional discomfort or “avoid a lot of nasty conversations that I’d rather not engage in”. Conversations which occur regularly in situations that you intentionally put yourself in and actively sought out as a significant portion of your lifestyle and method of making a living.

    People who are “deeply moral” don’t ask themselves ‘is this REALLY a lie and if so how can I rationalize it away or justify it on specious legal grounds?’ and then reach out to a community of people to vote on the morality of their behavior. Deeply moral people ask themselves “does this action deceive someone or allow them to be deceived?” And if it does, then they don’t do that action regardless of its utility to themselves or the opinions of others.

    Is telling your tenants you’re “just” the property manager (or leading them to believe you’re not the owner, which is the same thing) convenient? Sure. Is it effective? Most of the time. Is it cheaper than using employees, property managers or other mechanisms to actually create the separation that you’re trying to indicate exists? Hell, yes. Is it a lie? Absolutely. Is it moral? No.

    It’s a little depressing how much the comments on this article have focused on (probably largely fallacious) legal minutiae while ignoring the statements about morality and conscience it contains. Highly effective real estate investors? Maybe. Deeply moral group? Apparently not.

    Folks, if you’re willing to lie as part of running your business, or just to make your life easier, fine. Go for it. It doesn’t make you a bad person. But it also doesn’t make you a moral one.

    • You lay out a very convicting chain of arguments. Except this part:

      “Folks, if you’re willing to lie as part of running your business, or just to make your life easier, fine. Go for it. It doesn’t make you a bad person. But it also doesn’t make you a moral one.”

      Are you suggesting that a moral person and a good person aren’t synonymous or congruous? That sounds a bit flawed to me.

      “…and then reach out to a community of people to vote on the morality of their behavior. ”

      Isn’t that a bit melodramatic? The author of the article saw this subject debated back and forth in the forums so decided to craft a debate on blog front of this site. I don’t think Brandon was seeking personal justification for his policies to soothe his conscience.

      I am sensing from many comments, discussions, and forums, that depending on what market you own your property, there are different levels of “the good guy finishes last”. By that, I mean that in some areas, you want to keep your head down more than others. After all, what drives people to avoid indicating they are the owner? Not to avoid trivial confrontation, but instead to avoid costly or risky confrontation.

      My wife remembers a time when she was a kid and some tenant of her father flew off the handle. He came to their house in the middle of the night with a shotgun. Her grandfather also lived there, and he answered the door, giving the tenant the false impression that he had come to the wrong place. The tenant was drunk, and eventually left while my wife and her sister were hiding in a closet. Was her grandfather lying? All he said was “I’m not (wife’s dad’s name).” Created a false impression? Certainly, but what would you have done? Rare circumstance, I know. But a clear reason that people like to reduce their personal visibility in managing real estate, even in a landlord-friendly state as this.

      Kitchen too hot, so get out you might say? Perhaps. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with this moral dilemma because I employ a property management company. My time is too valuable to deal with background checks, evictions, collection, showings, form signing, maintenance, etc. The fact that it takes three hours (by plane) to reach me helps.

      Bottom line: It’s really hard for me to evaluate someone else’s market and tell them to NOT keep their head down in whatever ways they can. Heck, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Todd,

      I appreciate the time you took to read and comment. This has been an interesting debate, which is what I was hoping for!

      However, I still have to counter your point (you know I have to!) because your entire argument is based upon an assumption that I don’t agree with and you simply glossed over: I am really not the owner. You called it “quibbling” but that’s simply an opinion of yours, an assumption you make and base your argument upon.

      Yes, you can pull out the Websters dictionary definition, but you only quoted half of it in order to make your point. The first half of their definition is “make an untrue statement with intent to deceive” and that is the point I’m making in this argument. It is simply not an untrue statement. It is 100%, factually, ethically, morally, true.

      I would argue (as I did with Ben in his awesome counter post) that if you have a property that is owned by an LLC or Trust- and you claim you ARE the owner, you are actually the one committing the lie, for the same reason you claim I am : for convenience. To say you are the owner is simply not true, and deceiving your tenants into believing something that is untrue is the very definition of a lie. However, I’m not going to judge your morality because you feel it’s easier to tell your tenants a lie simply because you don’t want to sit down and explain the legal differences between ownership and management of a company. If you feel justified in it – great. For a lot of landlords – ownership is a sense of pride and if that makes you feel powerful – by all means, continue the lie that you own it. (Now – if you do, in fact, own the property in your own name, then great – tell them you own it. It would be a lie to say otherwise.)

      Yes, I participate in the creating of the policy and the decisions, but not alone. My business partners, my wife, and the government all have a say – so again – the policies are that of the company, not of mine. It’s not quibbling at all – it’s simply fact.

      Therefore, judging someone’s morality based upon an assumption that you personally hold that many others do not has caused more wars and more problems in our world than any other thing.

      In the end however – I have to add that because it’s a “gray area” and I am trying to be a moral guy (at the shock to some people, which according to some I am failing at miserably because of this article!) – in reality I don’t even bring this up with my tenants. I just tell them I manage the place and leave it at that. No one questions further. I’ll let them assume what they want – they know that the buck stops with me and I’ll take care of them if they take care of me.

      Thanks again for jumping into the debate. It’s conversations like this that really make BiggerPockets such an awesome public place for discourse.

  37. Brandon, you know I love you buddy, but the intentions of saying you are not the owner are 100% deceptive and anything you say to the contrary is just your way of rationalizing to yourself is that what you are doing is the right thing. The right thing is to be open and honest. You are a part owner of the LLC that owns the property so the honest thing would be to tell the tenant, “I do hold an ownership stake in this property but I am one of a few.” I just read your “What my Dad taught me” blog before I read this one and I can’t help but think about your Dad always saying, “Be a righteous man.” Is intentionally being deceptive considered “righteous?”

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Pete, I appreciate the comment. I definitely see your point, and your suggestion is kinda what I do. I’ve only ever been pressed on the issue and that’s what I told them. The rest of the time I just don’t bring it up. If they ask “Are you the owner” I always say “I’m the manager.” Yes, it’s withholding the whole story, but I don’t think I’m bound to explain the whole LLC partial ownership thing either. I am the manager, that’s my role, and that’s how I want to be seen. If they push the issue – sure, I’m not going to lie. But neither will I volunteer the whole truth. Thoughts?

  38. Nicola Hernandez on

    Im a tenant dealing with a liar. The lie told was exactly what you are referring to and it has caused so much unnecessary drama because where does the lie end? The Property Manager here used it as the crutch to violate our rights ‘because the Owner was demanding that she do this or that at the property” because basically I was dealing with an Owner that wanted the income from the property but talked in the third person as leverage to excuse their behaviour.
    There is a fine line being drawn here and being deceitful about ownership makes me question pretty much everything else that comes out of that persons mouth because you are just playing with words and life is much easier if you can just be straight with people. I see what you are trying to do by saying you are the property manager, you are trying to make your life easier, but really all you are doing is wimping out because you dont want to deal with the issue at hand and Im pretty sure at some point that lie is going to get you in hot water legally because as I said its all a play on words and lawyers are the best at it. Many contracts are voided by a few words and when you sign a lease agreement do you sign as Owner and Agent for Owner? Come on, get real, man up.

  39. Jesse Kropf

    As a retail business owner and store manager, I run into this on occasion. Rather than telling the customer that I’m not the owner (technically it’s an LLC including my wife), I tell them that yes, I am the owner, and no, I will not be giving everything away free.

    I’ve learned to divert it with humor rather than deception. Such as, “Yeah, I’m the owner, so that means I can give everything away free, right?” Said in a tone of voice that indicates it’s obviously a joke. Another one I’ve learned to use when someone is pushing for an unwarranted favor like “Come on, for me you’ll do a better price, right?” I sometimes reply with, “What do you want me to do, double it?” Most customers are not looking to put you out of business, they just want to make sure they’re getting the best deal they can. When you indicate that they’re really getting the best deal they can (with you), typically they’re happy.

    A few customers do think I should give them a big discount when they find out I’m the owner, but I use the “I’m the owner” as the reverse… it’s *because* I’m the owner that I’m not going to give them an unwarranted discount. This is my livelihood.

    Some business owners play on pity with customers… “If you don’t buy this, my kids won’t eat” etc. It might be true, but probably isn’t. I don’t like to be manipulated, so I don’t do it to other people.

    At the end of the day, if you respect yourself and the boundaries you’ve drawn, your clients/tenants will too.

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