Tenants often come to the table with assumptions and misinformation. This could be due to a number of reasons. It may be their first time living away from home, they may be ignorant of all of the things that go into running and managing properties, or they may just have preconceived negative stereotypes about the rental process already drilled into their heads.
Whatever the reason, I’ve found that I encounter the same assumptions and misinformation over and over again. Attempting to counter all of this can be difficult, but I feel it’s worthwhile to try. How should we go about doing this? A good start is to make the following points at the lease signing meeting.
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13 Things Tenants Don’t Understand About the Rental Process
1. You Need Renter’s Insurance
Bad things, like fires, floods and break-ins happen. My insurance protects me and my stuff, not you and yours. If you want to protect your stuff, you need renter’s insurance. It is cheap and well worth the peace of mind it brings.
2. I Want to Give Your Security Deposit Back
I really, really do. After all, it is not my money. I am just holding it to help ensure you take care of my property. If you do, I will be more than happy to refund your deposit. I do not see security deposits as a potential profit center; I would rather have my property back in the same condition I gave it to you.
3. I Have Heard (Almost) All of the Sob Stories
And the stories really do not faze me anymore. You see, I have bills to pay, too, and I can’t give a sob story to the bank or utility company. So while I may sympathize with you, I really need to get paid, so I can pay my bills.
4. I Am Not Out to Screw You Over
Landlords get such a bad rap, some of it deserved. Unfortunately, the bad ones rub off on the good ones. But the last thing I need is an adversarial relationship with my tenants. If you treat me and my property with respect, I will do the same for you. Heck, we may even get to like each other.
5. I Will Fix Things, Please Just Tell Me
It always amazes me when I walk into a property after a few months and find a small leak that has morphed into a major problem. Why did the tenant not call and tell me about the leak when it was small? Do I have to inspect my properties every week? I think some tenants are afraid to call for whatever reason, but I try my best to emphasize to them to call no matter how small the problem.
6. No, I Will Not Make Upgrades After You Move in
We hear it all the time: Tenants wonder when they are getting the granite countertops, new carpeting, etc. Look, you saw the place and decided to rent it in its current condition. If you want granite countertops, I will be happy to put them in, but I will need to increase your rent by several hundred dollars per month.
7. I Am a Nice Guy
I really am. If we did not have the landlord/tenant relationship, we might even be best pals. But…
8. I Will Evict You if I Have to
I do not want to do this; in fact, I hate doing it. But I will do it if I have to. I know bad things can happen, and if you communicate with me about what is going on, hopefully it will not come to that. But if you bury your head in the sand and stop talking with us, eventually you and your stuff will end up on the curb.
9. Your Neighbors Do Not Like Your Loud Music/TV/Trumpet/Guitar Either
Remember that time you complained to me about your neighbor’s loud music? Well, they also complain about you. I know it sounds good to you, but everyone has different tastes. Please be respectful of your neighbors.
10. Some Problems Are Not An Easy Fix
I know it sometimes seems like we are not moving fast enough to fix your maintenance issue, but please understand that sometimes there are problems that are just not easy to fix. Sometimes parts have to be ordered. Sometimes a fix requires multiple steps and trips. Perhaps we need to do a better job communicating with you, but badgering us will not help either. Please bear with us.
11. Your Bug Problem is Directly Correlated to Your Mess
If you call us about a bug problem, your place had better be clean when I get over there to check it out. If your sink if full of dirty dishes and your trash has not been emptied in over a week, the first thing I am going to do is to tell you to get the place cleaned up. There were not any bugs in the property when you moved in. They have been attracted by your sloppiness. Clean it up and keep it clean. Then we can talk about your bug problem — if it still exists.
12. Your Rent is Due on the First
I know, I know — you think I am a bank just loaded with cash, but I am not. I need that rent to pay the mortgage, utilities, the lawn company, etc. So please, please: pay your rent on the first of the month when it is due.
13. The Other Tenants? They are Just Like You
They went through the same credit, criminal and qualifying process you just did. That is about all I can say about them, so please understand that I do not want to violate their privacy, just as you would not want me to violate yours.
Does this technique work? Do they listen? Most of the time, I think so. I believe it cuts down on a lot of the potential adversity in the landlord/tenant relationship, which goes a long way in this business.
What do you have to erase from your tenant’s minds?
Let me know with your comments.