Free Rent for a Month, Anyone? (What Would YOU Do?)

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So – this is going to be a short article by my standards, but I feel rather passionate on the subject and thus – here we go…

I made an immediate and border-line impulsive decision to give a tenant a month free of rent the other day.  And, I feel so OK with doing it that I am actually a little bit surprised.

When I did it, I thought to myself – this is really out of character for you Ben; I hope you know what you are doing… It certainly was out of character for me.  I never mess around with things like this.  If someone is late on their rent payment; they immediately receive a 3-Day Pay or Quit Notice, which most of the time is final for me.  I very seldom will accept late payments and fees.

In fact, I have a process in place whereby with proper notice and a Payment Pledge any one of my tenants can be late on their rent without incurring any additional costs.  Thus, if someone is receiving a 3-Day Notice from me it’s their own fault – I give people every chance to do things the right way.

For more on this, look up Tenant or Professional Bum – Do You Know How to Tell.

But this is different

This tenant is one that I inherited when I purchased my 10-unit in February of this year.  We got off to a rocky start when I showed up at her apartment on March 6th with a 3-Day Notice.

She was surprised – “I have it right here,” she said pointing to the coffee table in her living room.  “The other guy always came to pick it up.”  No wonder he sold at a loss, I thought to myself…

I let that one go and everything was fine for a couple of months, but then she got very ill – I am talking “hospital ill” and some heavy stuff.

She was late on her rent.  She needed help, so we went ahead and put her on a payment plan.  She was doing the best she could, however, by August it became increasingly clear that she was not going to make it…

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My General Philosophy

I believe that of all people who fail, some do the best that they can and still fall short, while others don’t even try.  Those in the latter category can expect nothing from me – period.  However, I am always up for helping people who truly do the best that they can, but come to a bump in the road whereby they could use a little thrust.  I tend to always be there in those situations.

There are many ways to explain this behavior on my part – people helped me and I am paying back; I am paying it forward because I know that I will need a hand at some point; or, simply this:

I am not a religious man, but I am a spiritual man.  I have a moral compass and it defines very clearly right from wrong.  This compass is stuck in the direction of what’s right, and sometimes that parts ways with the mighty dollar.  I NEED to be able to look in the mirror and see a guy looking back at me who did all he could – sometimes I pay dearly for that…

It’s Tough This Month For Me

My Cash Flow is at a premium. I have one long-term tenant moving out because she is now married and is buying a house, while another is moving out of state for work.  Another couple had a baby and they want a less expensive place without stairs – I can certainly understand that.  And then there’s this kid graduating from college and moving out of state.  Bottom line – it is not a good time to be benevolent; it’s not a good time to be subsidizing someone’s rent…

I did it anyway.  I let her stay for a month for free!

She could stiff me after all and I may still have to evict her

We’ll see – that’s all I can say.

Takeaways

There are a couple of thoughts I’d like to respectfully share with you:

  1. Real Estate is not about dirt, bricks, or money – it is about people!
  2. A property manager would have never made this call – in fact they are paid to do just the opposite.  Is it important to you to be able to make these distinctions?  It is to me – no property managers here!

Update

It is one month later.  I posted a 3-Day Pay or Quit Notice on her door this morning…

Question:

Now that you know the whole story, can we take a vote?  How many of you have given a tenant one month of free rent?  If so – why?   If not, would you ever consider doing so?

Photo: tonx

About Author

Ben Leybovich

Ben Leybovich has been investing in multifamily residential real estate since 2006. His area of expertise is creative finance. Ben works extensively with private as well as institutional financing. Ben is a licensed Realtor with YOCUM Realty in Lima, Ohio. He is also the author of Cash Flow Freedom University and creator of a cash flow analysis software CFFU Cash Flow Analyzer.

48 Comments

  1. Douglas Dowell on

    My experience has shown its okay to give a free month under the following two conditions:

    #1. When the occupancy in your market your in is soft

    #2. When you pro rate over the life of the lease

    Otherwise, we are just a sitting duck for the professional guard house lawyer/tenant. Just way too much risk with no cash outta pocket imho.

  2. Ive never given one month free. I have looked the other way on late fee’s given some particular circumstances. I also recently allowed a tenant to move out, and her children move in, provided her name stayed on the lease. This tenant is also going through serious medical issues and needing to stay at her mothers house. The first situation came back to bite me hard, let’s see how this second one goes.

    Kevin

    • Hey Kevin,

      I do not feel sorry I did it even though now it is plainly obvious that I will loose. It’s hard and unpleasant but I’ll be OK. She, on the other hand, had to miss so much work that I don’t think she’s got that job any more. And now she’ll have an eviction on her record since she is choosing not to go on her own accord as we had agreed. Sad, but I am not sorry for taking the high road on this one!

  3. Thanks for a post that makes you think. We’re looking to add rentals to our portfolio and I have everything to learn on that front, so I’m looking forward to seeing the replies to this scenario.

    I’m curious what the other landlords here do when a tenant has a genuine medical hardship. (The assumption in my question is that you have indeed been able to determine it’s genuine.)

  4. I let one of my tenants move out without paying last’s month rent, jet to get rid of him as he was going through a difficult time. I agree with you Ben: For me RE is about people and meeting a need while making a profit.

    That said, I have to admit that being too soft can make a target for people to take advantage of you…..But, risks one take!

  5. We have had the same excellent tenants for almost seven years. About two years ago, the restaurant where the husband worked burned down. Suddenly, their income was slashed in half. My husband had been laid off about 1/2 year before, and we knew how hard it was waiting for that first unemployment check. We would have liked to have given them a free month, but we were struggling ourselves, so we did the best we could, and had them pay only 1/2 the rent that month.

    We didn’t do this for any business reason, but just because we knew how difficult it was. However, the upshot is we have extremely loyal tenants, and when rents dropped in the area and other tenants were negotiating for much lower rents, our tenants didn’t. We also have better relations with our property manager because of this.

    All that is a bonus; we just did it because it was what we wanted to do, and we’ve never regretted it.

  6. When my tenants have run into problems:
    1. They have the option to pay equal portions of rent out of each paycheck. This reduces the feeling that such a large amount is due on the original Rent Due date. For those that get paid bi-weekly, it is a slightly bigger break for them.
    2. If they can show me, receipts, bills, etc that they are struggling, but also they are doing what they can do to to keep themselves afloat (ie work two jobs if they are capable), I will do a contract with them, they still owe the full amount of rent, however only have to pay 30% of take home check without penalty (I require that I get a copy of the pay stub), remainder is tacked on to the end of their lease. In the event that a payment from a paycheck (that 30%) is greater than what rent should be, they are required to pay that overage to reduce the still owed amount.
    I have used this formula for 5 tenants over the past 3 years, they have all “turned” their lives around, caught up on what they owe me, AND are still renting from me.
    Putting people first, yes it is a risk to take, however I feel good, and they are grateful to me for not putting them out on the street.

    • We are in a crazy economic time Geoff – would you agree? Shit happens to good people. Assuming that someone is worthless on account of money struggles is beneath us as landlords. We hold a lot of power, with which come responsibility to let people be the best that they can be. If they can not, then all bets are off. But, this is a people business…

      Thank you for valid ideas Geoff!

  7. I remember several years ago Wells Fargo Mortgage had a program around the holidays where you could *skip* the December or January rent. They could either add that payment onto the end of the life of the loan, or spread it over the next few months. You only got ONE pass per year. Usually I didn’t take it, but one time I did and was grateful it was there.

    I was thinking of giving my tenants a one time “ticket” if we were in a long term lease situation. Definitely something to think about.

    • Hey Melanie,

      What you are referencing is called Negative Amortization. It is uncommon in conventional finance, but is prevalent in the world of creative finance, which is where I live. I never thought of it’s application to rents but it’s worth a consideration…

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  8. Ben – This brings up a question I have had since beginning RE: Why is this business looked at differently than any other, just because it deals with housing? In almost no other business would the owner not only ALLOW a person who has repeatedly not paid for the product get away with it again, but encourage the behavior and reward them with some free merchandise. The squeaky wheel always seems to get the oil in this business and I don’t understand this rationale. I would be more apt to reward an on-time paying tenant with a free month than one who consistently is late or stiffs me. With any other product or a loan etc., if you don’t pay its tough s***, but if you are late with the rent, and the owner insists, the owner is a slumlord, dirty businessman, greedy rich old fart. Not saying you don’t have the choice to run your business the way you choose, but i think its perpetuating that thinking aamong tenants, IMHO. Thanks.

    • Hey SF,

      This is not a problem in RE. It is only a problem because I made it a problem.
      Look SF – have you ever been in a hospital wondering what next; I have. She may have played me, but I am willing to take that chance because I’ve been to the dark side. Yes – it is a month of rent; but, it’s only a month of rent.

      If I was managing someone else’s money I wouldn’t do it obviously. But as it is I gave her a chance…

      BTW – It would be nice to have at least the first name. Perhaps you can amend your profile 🙂

      • BEN: –This is ABSOLUTELY a problem in RE. Tenants constantly try to guilt landlords into giving them a break, it is much more pervasive in RE than any other industry and the entitlement mindset of tenants cannot be denied. Like I said, run your business the way you like. I do believe, however, that you are setting a precedent that could be harmful to yourself and other landlords, and is not fair to your on time paying tenants. Moreover as has been noted in the thread, tenants talk, and you may start the ball rolling in the wrong direction with these gestures.

        EDIE: I QUOTE
        “sf, you actually said it — our product is different, because we provide homes, not sneakers or frozen pizzas or lipstick.”

        —–I run a business, not a charity. There are plenty of charities and government programs that to fill the need. So you want all of the good tenants, or me out of my own pocket to pay the mortgage on a rental property so that someone else can live there for free, when the bank would not hesitate to foreclose on me and throw me out on the street for the same behavior at my own residence? But of course im being silly, im a rich landlord, right?

        EDIE, If you feel the need to help the less fortunate, I would suggest volunteering or contributing monetarily like I do, not running your business into the ground.

        ALSO EDIE: I QUOTE
        “As to other tenants, if they come up and say, “You helped those folks, why aren’t you helping us?”, you just tell them you decide these matters on a case-by-case basis, and what you did or did not arrange with other tenants has no bearing on any other tenant’s case.”

        Try telling that to the Magistrate! With your arbitrary decision making, you are setting yourself up for a discrimination lawsuit. Age, race, gender, disability etc are not reasons to treat people differently. You would be amazed at how a tenant can spin your arbitrary ‘good deed’ for another tenant into a lawsuit, because you didn’t give the (insert race or religion etc. here) tenant a free month of rent too.

        BACK TO BEN:
        If you can show that your tenant miraculously begins to pay rent on time and in full, I WILL GLADLY PROVIDE MY MEA CULPA, and begin to give free rent to all of my working class tenants who had something come up this month…This business puts food on my table and this behavior perpetuates the stigma among renters, friends, family, that landlords who insist on being paid on time are evil, greedy, etc. I hold up my end of the bargain, and so should the tenant. That is their responsibility. Bottom line.

        You seem like a nice guy, and I would love to rent from you. I can’t come up with the security deposit because my dog ate it and I’m going to be late with the rent because my moms sisters husband needs an operation. But I will get you back, I promise, once I get back on my feet. 1 or 2 months, tops.

        • SF – you are not understanding me. It’s not about the tenant; it’s about me – get it? I did what I had to do for this one. This is out of ordinary for me, but not out of character. I’ve filed for eviction yesterday because I am not a charitable organization. However, I do not feel bad; in fact I feel good about what transpired.

          Do onto others as you would want done onto you. Remember this – some day it may be you lying in a hospital bed without hope…

          Thanks so much for taking part in this discussion! I still would like to know your name 🙂

    • sf, you actually said it — our product is different, because we provide homes, not sneakers or frozen pizzas or lipstick. People must have a home, and when someone loses a home, not only does it affect all other areas of their life, but it rips them apart emotionally.
      And we aren’t the only ones who have to make these choices when a customer/client/tenant tells us they’ve run into hard times. My uncle had a grocery store, and he had to decide what to do about customer’s accounts when they lost their jobs. Restauranteurs get hit up for food from people who say they are hungry. Doctors (like my father-in-law) get patients who really need treatment, but can’t pay some or all of their bills. I could go on, but you get the picture. Those of us who deal with life’s necessities are going to face these choices, and how we respond can determine people’s lives.
      It’s true that the kindest thing we can do for some people is to stick to the rules. There are some people who need to learn to be responsible, and if we yield, we’re just teaching them that being irresponsible pays off. However, most people aren’t like that, and if we penalize them because of the others, then I believe we contribute to the cruelty and injustice in the world.
      I’m not saying that we can or should help everyone. In the case of my tenant, we truly wanted to excuse their rent that month that the restaurant burnt down, but we couldn’t afford it. We crunched the numbers and did the best we could, excusing a half-month’s rent. I certainly wouldn’t make my children go hungry in order to help someone or deny my mother needed medications. But if we do what we can to help people who appear to be good people truly hit by an emergency, we offer a lifeline that can make all the difference to them. Our tenants said they wouldn’t have made it that month without the rent relief.
      Please also note that our tenants had always been prompt with their rent every month before then, took good care of the place, and were genuinely nice people. They didn’t need to ask us for help, because as soon as we saw the smoking remains of the restaurant, we knew what they were up against, and offered the rent reduction. If they had had a history of missing rent payments or being late, if they had been loud, obnoxious, careless, or destructive, we would never had offered help.
      As to other tenants, if they come up and say, “You helped those folks, why aren’t you helping us?”, you just tell them you decide these matters on a case-by-case basis, and what you did or did not arrange with other tenants has no bearing on any other tenant’s case.
      There are people out there who will lay, cheat, steal, or otherwise play us. But if we let them make us hard and cold, then we lose ourselves. I’d rather occasionally help someone who doesn’t deserve it than turn someone out who does.

      • Edie,

        Thanks very much for your thoughts! I’ve known business owners who when time got tough took money out of their pocket to pay salaries – what make a guy do that aside for humanity? We all see business differently because we see life differently. People may not agree, though you and I seem to be closer on this issue than me and SF, for instance.

        Thank you for joining this conversation indeed!

        • Or living up to their contractual and ethical responsibilities.

          I think you are mixing up your analogy here.
          In the boss paying his employees salaries out of pocket would be like the tenant falling on tough times doing anything they could in order to scrape together the rent money to live up to their promise (lease).

          What you did would be the employee saying “Hey boss I know the business is hitting tough times right now, you don’t have to pay me this month since I know what a strain it is putting on you.”
          THAT would be the humanity aspect where they sacrificed what was rightly theirs to help someone struggling. In your example the business owner was just doing the right thing and living up to his obligations, as admirable as it is that he did.

  9. Ben,

    Would this be that 10 unit low income property you were so hesitant to buy in the last blog?
    If so you have just fallen for the biggest low income tenant trick.
    I had the same such nice old lady who has claimed brain cancer, liver cancer, robbery, a death in the family etc. This horrible luck put her past due by 2 months right when I was buying the place for peanuts.
    I too allowed a pass on the rent, which I took from her security deposit, then allowing her to pay a bit more each month until the deposit was back.

    What occurred was every other month her terrible luck caused a partial rent and then a windfall where it was paid without a late fee. I was pretty sick of this but this nice old lady was a fixture in the neighborhood (block captain) and told me everybody would be mad if I evicted her.

    Not knowing the area so well I put up with her hi-jinx for 5 months waiting until the cold weather to start an eviction. Evictions in Philadelphia can take up to 3 months, and the place was a pest hole (the way she likes to live) and would take about a month to rehab.

    What I later learned was every couple of months this nice lady would use my rent to fund her drug purchases, and then sell what she did not use to raise the rent.

    What will come of your glaring error at reinventing low income landlording is a building full of tenants who now think you are a sucker (pushover).

    The character of the evil landlord dressed in black with a cape and top hat is how low income tenants see their landlord. This landlord is feared and paid on time, the nice guy with sunbeams all around ends up hated because the tenants have so many demands that you will not be able to fulfill, paying rent when they feel is the one they will want the most.

    This how I do it, late 5 days $50 late fee and a notice to vacate within 5 days. Late 10 days I without hesitation file for eviction, if the tenant comes up with the rent and late fee they also need to pay the non refundable $410 fee I pay the lawyer. If the tenant does not cure and I see them in court I will not take a deal that allows them to continue tenancy.

    Sorry but this is the time tested way to operate a low income building. Call the fellow you bought this place from and ask him about this tenant, he will get a chuckle.

    One last item, every tenant in low income housing uses drugs (legal or illegal), and never under any circumstances tells the truth.

    • Derek – no, this wasn’t the 80 unit. This was the 10-unit in a very nice area which I purchased in February.

      I am not sure that I am onboard with your philosophy. Stuff happens to everyone, regardless of income status. People in the lower income bracket default on rent, while more affluent people default on mortgages – same difference. I don’t think that income is a qualifier or a disqualifier by any standard.

      This wasn’t one of those things where I can say – I did it and now I’ve learned. I believe this is a good person who ran into some serious issues and has not been able to climb out yet. Now – I can not in any way shape or form subsidize her for any more than 1 month, and as such she will be out. But, I gave her a chance – I would like a chance if I were in her shoes… Furthermore, I don’t care if she appreciates it or not. I thought it was the right thing to do, even though there will not be a positive outcome.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  10. I have run into this bunches of times. Lower income tenants are like children with management. Not all but many come with enough life issues and choices to fill up a book.

    The bank doesn’t care if you have a bleeding heart when the mortgage is due. Your wife and child, and or significant other will not care about the rent didn’t come in this month because I let a tenant off. What you are saying is that a tenant is more important than your family.

    I am not speaking to anyone in particular but I am saying that I put my family ahead of the needs of tenants.

    Tenants are like children in that they see how hard they can push to take advantage. I have seen tenants have power, gas, water, nice tv, new clothes but have a story about they can’t get the rent this month.

    Stare at a wall or walk to the library and check out a free book. You do not need the cable, internet, cell phone (you can have one with 911 calls only for free). Tenants in multifamily buildings talk and if you cut them any slack others will follow. If they see tenants stuff being thrown out and the tenant says I didn’t pay my rent so they immediately threw me out they know the landlord means business. So they know they have to pay rent and try to negotiate late payments with utilities, people they owe money to, etc. as the rent comes FIRST !

    Case in point:

    My mom is 70 years old and she has a friend who is in her 60’s. Her friend has a son that has been from job to job to job and isn’t worth sh&t under a shoe. He is worthless and in his 20’s. He uses his mother and has fathered about 3 kids with different women. Finally probation told him to get a job or he was going to prison. His mom has dialysis and other health issues. She has signed for cars for him and other things over the years and he has trashed them. She is in love with the person she WISHES he could be instead of who he IS. My mom and her other friends stay far away from her. My mom’s friend is a retired government person and has a great pension to live on if she didn’t keep helping her deadbeat son.

    She went in the hospital recently with health problems. During that time the son was supposed to use the check card to get 50 dollars worth of groceries. My mom’s friend comes out of the hospital after a week and her son has put her account into the negative and now she doesn’t have rent for the nice apartment complex (250) units she is staying in.

    Management says pay up or all your stuff is going out and eviction is already in process. To an outsider looking in this might seem like a helpless old lady fallen on hard times. The COLD HARD TRUTH is that her situation is a predicament from not taking hard stances with family and other people around her to make sure her interests are protected first. My mom’s friend called around and I do not know if enough people bailed her out by coming up with the rent. My mom doesn’t give any money or go around the person anymore because of her issues. So what I am seeing is behind a bleeding heart case there are life circumstances that lead up to that moment. Of course if someone shows they have recently discovered they have brain cancer or other things which you verify with their doctor then in extreme cases you try to help. When you tell them eviction will continue until those documents are provided and you can verify then 99% of the time they are lying otherwise they will give you the proof you need. If their mouth opens and anything else comes out besides “Yes I can provide that” then they are just diverting to buy time and play the professional tenants game.

    If your building earns a rep fro being fair but not putting up with the BS then you will attract quality tenants that pay (screening properly of course).

    • Hey Joel – I agree with everything you’ve said. I did what I though was right. I believe that until and unless you screw me, there is no reason for me not to trust you. I do everything by the book, and everybody gets the same chance. Her apartment, once vacant, will be filled with someone who will pay $75 more and will love it 🙂

      Thanks so much!

  11. Wow, there are some cynical people in this group! The old adage “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” I’m sure rang true for you, Ben, given your medical condition. Certainly you could relate to “what if it were me”? Whether you made a mistake or not, only time will tell, but at least you can look yourself in the mirror.

    I’ve never had a tenant stop paying rent or ask for an extension much past a few days (which I’ve been known to grant, penalty free, if they normally pay on time). However, I have had two separate instances where different tenants left “in the middle of the night.” Yep, one left me a voice mail after they were out, a few days after Xmas, about where to find the key. Another sent me an email telling me she had left and I could use her security deposit as her last month’s rent.

    I didn’t have a warning with either tenant that anything was wrong. With both later I found out they were filing for BK (one a long-term tenant who overspent on her wedding). In the end, I guess they saved me a lot of hassle by not having to pursue an eviction or agree to discount rent until they could get back on their feet, but at the time, it was not fun. Being a landlord is never easy – if it was everyone would do it 🙂

  12. From a landlord’s perspective, strictly speaking, I would say it’s a good idea if you think it will make you money in the long run (ie keeping a tenant that may be hard to replace or who you think will be with you for a long time). But as your update indicates, you never know.

  13. I think you can also justify your decision from a cold, hard business perspective, Ben: turnover costs. If there’s a reasonable expectation that a lapse in rent is a one-time incident, rather than a change in life circumstances that’s going to prevent them from being able to afford their current rent, then it’s logical to float them a month if your turnover costs are going to be fairly significant.

    Looking at it this way, it’s a matter of balancing risks: the risk of continued nonpayment versus the risk of turnover and eviction costs. If you can minimize your risk of continued nonrepayment (as others have suggested by asking for paystubs, bills, etc to ensure that it’s a manageable problem), then a month of free rent isn’t ALWAYS a bad business decision.

    I know this doesn’t touch on the real reason for your actions, but I’m just throwing it out there so you can see that there are other justifications as well!

    • Ben – you are right!

      Though, if pressed I would tell you that I didn’t have any illusions about getting paid. As you’ve correctly alluded to, I did what I did because it’s my money and I can, and I felt it was the right thing to do. If I was managing other people’s money, unfortunately I would not be able to do this – then it’s purely business…

      Thanks so much for your insight!

  14. I don’t own any properties yet, but this is one of my biggest concerns about being a landlord. I consider myself extremely ethical and compassionate, and I’m not sure how I would react to such a situation. After reading your article and the comments, I think this is what I would do:

    Compile a list of every possible social service agency in my local area, state, and perhaps some national agencies. Try to figure out other possible options for people in need (some of you may know that if a tenant has a workplace retirement plan–401k, 403b, etc–they may be able to take a loan [for any purpose] or a hardship withdrawal [for medical expenses, to avoid eviction, and a few other reasons] that could help them pay the rent). After compiling that list, I would give it to someone who presented me with a sob story and leave it up to them to figure a way out of their bind.

    That way you have done all you can for them, without being the charity yourself. I don’t like the idea of making someone’s difficult situation even more difficult by evicting them, but the last thing I would want is for someone else’s problem to become MY family’s problem. If they have a problem now, chances are pretty good they’ll have a problem later, too (especially with medical bills, which have a way of ballooning enormously, as you probably know, Ben), so you’re just postponing the inevitable.

    Plus, the only thing that scares me more than a tenant’s sob story is creating a precedent that could be used against me in a court of law. The short-term assistance provided to the tenant wouldn’t be worth the long-term risk to me and my family.

    • Hey Greg,

      I must offer to you a simple but potent reality check – your time, and mine, is worth much more than a month of rent…

      Thanks so much for reading and leaving your thoughts. At the end of the day, this is business – remember this!

      • Ben, I’m not sure what you mean by your reply, although I think your saying your/my time is too valuable to spend compiling a list of social services and shepherding a tenant through a bad situation. That’s not what I meant, though. I was thinking of compling such a list from the get-go, just as you would prepare your standard lease agreement, condition inspection report/checklist, etc. Then, if such a situation arises and you don’t feel capable or willing to make any concessions, you hand them the list, explain why you can’t make the concession (if you feel that an explanation is necessary), and say “I hope one of these resources can help you with your situation.” At least you’ve provided them with some kind of assistance without sacrificing your business. The only time spent is maybe an hour compiling the list at the outset (and I’m sure the help of a local librarian could cut that in half), and maybe a five minute conversation when you hand them the list.

        Or did I misunderstand your reply?

  15. Steve Johnson on

    I like your philosophy of giving your tenant every chance to help themselves. If they don’t its their fault.

    Not that I have experience in this field yet, but I have on suggestion that may have turned things around. Providing you have a low vacancy rate, which it sounds like you don’t have in this particular unit, and that you can fill up any vacancies quickly, you could have offered to have paid her to move out. I know it sounds contrary and even a bit crazier that what you’ve already done, but by paying her to move out you can agree that she’ll be out by a certain time, she’ll have the deposit to move into a cheaper place, she won’t have the eviction on her files, and you won’t have to worry about her leaving bitter and perhaps leaving the place in shambles. Now, considering she is unhealthy, I’m not sure how plausible that is, but like you said, you could have given her the option and had she not taken it you’d be in the same spot now.

  16. Ben,

    I’ve made special payment arrangements before, but I’ve never awarded a free month of rent out of the blue like that.

    I’d like to suggest an alternative. If you feel that a tenant deserves a free month, make them earn it. Where I live, we have charities that will sit down with a tenant and review their finances with them. Before giving them a break, why not force them to attend one of these meetings? It can only help.

    I know this sounds harsh, but low income earners with financial problems aren’t that different than drinkers who have alcohol problems. Make your tenant earn their discount by having them attend the financial equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous. It will do them good, and it will also prove that they value your discount and take your generosity seriously.

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