It’s possible to be too nice to your tenants. If you’re guilty of that, you can find yourself in a situation with a lot of stress – and you could even end up in legal trouble. There’s no reason to be a mean just because you’re a landlord, but you definitely want to remember that business is business. People’s stories about how they can’t pay rent because something horrible has happened to them are not your problem. That may sound harsh, but being a landlord is running a business. If renters don’t pay, you don’t get paid, either.
If you have a mortgage on the building you’re renting out – and many landlords do – you may not be able to easily make your payments unless your renters provide you with the monthly income you’re expecting. There should be some “wiggle room” in your budget for vacant units, but it’s very important that you collect the proper amount of rent each and every month from tenants who have agreed to pay you. If you’re too nice and let things slide, even one time, the tenant will know that they can continue to get away with things. That can lead to months of unpaid rent, damage to the unit, and other problems that you just don’t want to have to deal with.
You can also end up with a legal problem if you bend the rules of the lease agreement for one tenant but won’t do it for another tenant. That’s discriminatory, and could lead to a tenant taking you to court. While that probably won’t happen, there’s no reason to risk it. Stick to the way the lease is written for each and every tenant. If you do choose to make an exception for a tenant who can truly prove a legitimate problem, make sure you make the same exception for other tenants – and keep good records of all of it! By having good records and applying any leeway fairly to all tenants, you reduce the risk of being accused of discrimination, unfair business practices, and other issues that tenants may try to claim.
There’s a big difference between sticking to business and not being nice, and you can be polite with tenants even when denying their request. The more polite you are, the better, but remember that you’re not getting paid to be nice. Letting tenants walk all over you because you don’t want to be unkind just sets you up for more problems down the line. Then when you decide it’s time to stop being so nice because you’re being taken advantage of, you’ll meet with a lot of resistance from tenants who were used to getting their way.
That can mean more trouble than you would have had from denying their requests in the first place, and make an already difficult situation much worse. Don’t take the chance. Be firm but fair with every tenant and stay consistent, so you can avoid the problems that come with being too nice of a landlord.