When you work as a landlord, it’s very important to keep your personal and professional life separate. A lot of landlords don’t do that, in that they choose to rent apartments to family members or friends. That might seem like a great idea on the surface. You already like them, so renting to them makes logical sense. You get the chance to help out a person you care about, and you’re able to have renters in your units so you have cash flow coming in. It would seem like the ideal arrangement, and an excellent way for everyone to benefit from the arrangement. Many landlords have rented to family members or friends, and some of those agreements have turned out well. Many have not.
Unfortunately, the way renting to friends or family often works out is far from what would be expected between people who care about one another. For the most part, friends and family members will actually make bad renters, because they’ll expect more from you than a tenant who doesn’t know you. You may get a lot of requests for maintenance and repairs, even for minor things, and you may also find that family members and friends think they should be entitled to perks because of your personal relationship with them. For example, they may expect you to waive the tenant screening fee or not perform a tenant background check all together. When they don’t get special treatment, they can get angry with you, and that hurts both your professional relationship and your personal relationship.
If you really want to help a friend or family member out when they need a place to live, there are other things you can do for them. Renting to them shouldn’t be on the list. It can be hard to say “no” when you know someone you care about is really struggling, of course, and some landlords do help friends or family members out with short-term arrangements, but even those can become problematic. Generally, mixing the business of being a landlord with personal relationships isn’t a good choice, and should be avoided. There are plenty of other ways you can help out someone who matters to you. You could even let them stay in an empty unit for free for a few nights if they really needed a place to go.
That would keep you from having a rental lease agreement with them, but keep in mind that you would still have to evict them if they’d been there very long and didn’t want to leave. How long they could stay without needing to be forced out and what kind of agreement you could be said to legally have with them would vary depending on the state in which you live. It would still mean taking a risk, but that would be a choice that only you could make. Just be aware of the problems that many landlords can run into when renting to family or friends, and don’t think it can’t happen to you. Protecting yourself from a business standpoint is still very important, no matter who your renters are.