Setting the Tone With Tenants

The first contact with your tenant actually sets the tone for your entire relationship. It occurs when you show them the house … they loved the ad they saw on Zillow or elsewhere, loved the pictures, and the price fit their parameters. When I meet with potential renters, I let all of them know what’s expected of our tenants, mainly:

  • We expect you to pay rent in a timely manner
  • We strictly enforce late fees and file eviction for lease violations
  • We expect you to treat this home with loving care

With those things in mind, if someone moves in and is late with rent, they know we aren’t going to let that slide. Early on, I tended to let things go, and accept late rent with no late fee attached. Tenants caught on to this quickly, of course! Why the urgency to pay on time if there’s no penalty for paying late? I learned the hard way, of course ….

Now, I stick by my lease, which demands a 10% fee if I don’t have the rent by the 6th day of the month. If someone has to pay that late fee one time, they make sure it doesn’t happen again. Those fees can be hefty, especially on higher end rentals.

Moral of the story? Be kind, but be firm and stick to your lease terms. At the end of the day, it’ll create a calmer environment for you AND your tenants!

Foolers …

I usually trust my “gut.”  Are you a good judge of people?  I like to think I am, but just when I’m feeling pretty good about that, a tenant comes along and totally fools me.  Trusting your gut is never good enough when you’re renting places to people.

That’s why you need to have applicants bring a copy of a paycheck stub with them, to submit with the application.  Recently, I decided to forego this requirement … I made an exception.  This couple was excellent.  But they forgot to bring the paycheck stubs.

I went with my gut, after verifying their work information and getting a recommendation from their supervisors.

To make a very long story short, I was soooo wrong!  They did nothing but gripe about small things after they moved in, and then didn’t quite get the full rent paid for June.  when I didn’t get July rent within the 5-day alotted time frame, I filed eviction.

They moved out before the court date (yay!) but stole the stove and range hood, refrigerator, and most of the window coverings (waaaahhh!).

Wish I’d gotten those work addresses, because of course, I don’t have a forwarding address.  And shame of me for being too trusting.  This attribute got me in a LOT of trouble early in my career, but rarely now.

Their court date is tomorrow, so I’ll go — they won’t — and I’ll file a writ and get another court date on which I can file for damages, which is the money they owe me and also the cost of the items they took.  I’m also filing a police report, so they’ll be in the criminal system.

Bottom line?  Always have your applicants provide documentation for their workplace.  And if they can’t or won’t, they’re probably scamming you.

Oh, and here’s a good one … this couple mentioned, in passing, that they’re Buddhists.  Whaaaat?  Isn’t the Dalai Lama Buddhist?  I thought they were supposedly kind, gentle souls.  Evidently, we should never generalize about any group.

Onward and upward!