When you are leasing and managing your property yourself, one of the regular events will be direct communications with your tenant. These communications need to be guarded. When we speak to owners considering adding a property manager, the most common reason why is they realize how difficult it is to be both owner and landlord/manager. In the process they often want to act like a “good guy” to the tenant. This results in “open mouth-insert foot” moments.
Statements To Tenants To Be Avoided
Here are a few owner statements we have learned about after assuming management. It is really not a good idea to say these things.
- Don’t give the tenant your home address. Meet them at the home and have the rent mailed to your office.
- In the process of getting the lease signed, don’t tell a tenant when they have questions to not worry about what the lease says as you will work it out with them.
- Whatever you do, do not violate the Fair Housing Act. While there are some exclusions for single family owners renting their own properties, the cost to defend yourself from a claim of discrimination will put you in bankruptcy. Certain questions are just not to be asked. You do not care if they are a same-sex couple. You will rent to people married and not married as long as they qualify. Same goes for all the ethnicity you will run into. All have a right to rent from you. They also have a right to make your life miserable if you discriminate against them by denying rental based on those factors, or treat them differently once in a lease.
- Don’t tell stories about what happened with the last tenant. That is a private matter and you have no business sharing the fact that you evicted them. Even if they are nameless, the new tenant may end up with their mail one day and find out who they are. Let the natural sequence of things provide your new tenant the clues about the last tenant.
- Don’t make promises to get somebody on a lease unless you will fully honor them. The most common one we hear when taking over management of a property? Owner Joel promised me that we would get our security deposit back. Really, even if you put a hole in the wall when you are moving out?
- Don’t later be sorry after you rent to family or friends.
There are many other examples but this gives you the flavor that it is best you have a straight business relationship with a tenant. Business is business. Your rental property is a business with laws and protections for your tenants. Pay attention to the care that you need to take as a owner/manager.