Just for fun, I polled some of my friends about what they, as tenants, would love to say to their landlord’s face. I told them to be brash and forthright.
Here are their replies … 7 things your tenants would love to tell you:
1. Just because I’m a day late on my rent doesn’t mean I’m not going to pay it. Asking politely is one thing. Turning into a ruthless mob like character if your rent check is a day late is another thing entirely. Calm the heck down … you’ll get your money!
2. Telling me that you’ll have someone over soon to fix the A/C is nice, but actually sending someone over would be better. Tenants know all too well that when the landlord says they’ll send someone over, that means “I’ll get to it when I get to it.”
3. It would be great if you answered the phone. It’s amazing how if the rent check is a moment late you can’t get away from your landlord, but if you actually need something from them, you can never get a hold of them.
4. Even though I live in your property I am still a human being. Please don’t treat me like a child, and please don’t begin our interaction with the assumption that I’m going to trash the place. I haven’t done anything wrong (yet.)
5. Those outlandish rules included in the lease were ridiculous. I can only use the shower during certain times of the day? I’m not allowed to light candles inside the home? Yeah … those rules are ridiculous.
6. My pets aren’t going to destroy your home. I have two small harmless cats that, I promise, will not piss all over your carpet or scratch up your trim.
7. It’s not my responsibility to do maintenance on your home. I’m calling you because the faucet is leaking. That’s not because I can’t fix it. It’s because I pay rent so that I don’t have to.
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7 Things I want My Tenants to Know
Okay, fair enough. But just for fun, here’s my reply to each of those points, one by one: 7 things that I, as a landlord, want my tenants to know:
1. Dude, I don’t get to just blow your rent check on champagne and strippers. If I’m hassling you about getting me the rent check, it’s probably because I have to pay the mortgage, the tax man, the insurance, the contractors, and more. Those guys all want their money now, and they won’t take “my tenant hasn’t paid me yet” as an excuse.
Besides which, we have an agreement: I provide you with housing, and you pay rent on the 1st. I’ve held up my end. So where’s the check?
2. Yes, sometime’s there is a delay in getting a contractor over to your house to fix that broken thing. But it’s not due to a lack of trying on my part. If you can recommend someone who’s actually good, affordable and reliable, let me know. Those people are near-mythical.
3. If your landlord / property manager isn’t doing as good of a job in being responsive to your needs as he is in collecting rent, then you need a better landlord. Our job is to communicate with you and to answer the phone when you call.
That said, your role as a tenant is to understand what requests are reasonable … and what aren’t. Fixing a broken dishwasher is reasonable. Replacing all the (perfectly fine) windows with “newer” windows is not.
4. If I thought you were going to trash the house, I wouldn’t have rented it to you. So relax. I obviously trust you to take reasonable care of this house. That’s why I let you live there.
5. If I don’t specifically outlaw something within the lease, you can always claim that there’s “no rule against it.” So yes, I have a clause saying that you can’t operate a BBQ grill inside of the house. It should be common sense, I know. But you’d be surprised.
6. Pets cause more damage than you might realize. They cause excess wear-and-tear on the carpets. They leave dander in the carpet, drapes and vents, which needs to be professionally cleaned in case the next tenants have a pet allergy. That’s why we charge a pet deposit.
7. I definitely don’t want you to do maintenance on the house — so it sounds like we’re in agreement on that point! That said, PLEASE call me when something is amiss. Don’t wait until a tiny problem grows into an emergency before you call me and say, “Hey, the water line from the freezer has been leaking slowly for months, but yesterday it got really bad ….”
What are your thoughts? What do you think your tenants want to tell you? And what would you like to tell them?
Photo: Laura Berardi