Emotional Manipulation

Problem Applicants and Emotional Manipulation

As a landlord, have you ever been or felt like you were emotionally manipulated by a prospect or application who had too many issues to qualify to rent from you?

If you haven’t had this happen to you, you are lucky.  Emotional manipulation is a tool used by prospects or applicants who know they have a bad enough issue or too many issues to qualify to rent a property.  They desperately need a place to live and their goal is to guilt you into renting to them.

Dealing with these people can be emotionally exhausting and can leave you questioning whether or not you are a good person.  These problem prospects and applicants know this!  They have a game plan that works a lot of the time and they are really good at what they do.  Remember, if you rent to these people, the emotional manipulation or blackmail will just continue.

How This Starts

  • You are my only hope!
  • I just need a second chance!
  • None of this is my fault and I can’t catch a break.
  • This will never happen again!

How It Ends When You Turn Them Down

  • Blaming you for all of their problems.
  • Disbelief that you won’t take a chance on them.
  • Threats sometimes.
  • By saying NO, You STOP this verbal abuse from continuing.
  • You move on and find a great tenant who won’t act this way.

How It Ends When You Succumb To Their Emotional Blackmail

  • They pay on time at first, if you are lucky.
  • Rent starts being paid late.
  • The excuses start.
  • Begging to give them time.
  • Tenant stops answering phone calls, texts, email and won’t answer the door.
  • Eviction process starts.
  • Might pay something to stop the eviction.
  • Get behind again.
  • Eviction filed again.
  • Finally evict the tenant.
  • Tenant has left a mess that will cost you more money.
  • You are angry, stressed and out a lot of money.

Things To Remember

Remember that this is a business.  It is your job to take care of your asset (the property) and to collect the rent.  Your job is to avoid making a bad business decision which would be to rent to these people who do not meet your guidelines.  It is not your job to help these people out, to fix them, give them a second chance or rent to them.


You need to stop the cycle and move on!

The key is to quickly identify these people and not allow them to treat you in this manner.  You will notice that they will be desperate to connect with you.  As soon as you realize what is happening, stop communicating with these people.  Tell them clearly, in writing, that they do not meet your guidelines and move on. Refuse to “get on the phone with them”.  That is how you end up going down that dark hole where they convince you that you are a terrible person for not renting to them!


Limit Your Contact With Prospects

Try to nip some of this in the bud.  One thing that try very hard to do is to limit how much I talk to prospects on the phone.  I have a pre-screening process and that includes a list of pre-screening questions that I email to every prospect who wants to tour a property.  It is much easier to tell someone in writing that they do not meet your screening guidelines and you will not be able to show them the property.

If I do get stuck on the phone with a prospect I go through the questions verbally.  Once I hit a disqualifying issue, like income for example, I stop and say “I am sorry, but company policy requires income of 3x the rent.”  When they start with “Well, can’t you make an exception . . . “  I say “I am sorry but I am not allowed to.”  Them quickly move to get off the phone.  If you have to say, “I am sorry but someone is standing here that needs to talk to me.  Have a great day!”  Then hang up the phone.

When you can identify these people in the pre-screening stage, you don’t end up standing in front of them showing them the property.  Your goal should be to only meet people who meet some very basic minimum guidelines.  These people won’t have the chance to tell you about their challenges and sad stories because you are not going to meet them at the property.

Better yet, I go one step further and once someone has met my pre-screening guidelines, I call them up, introduce myself and explain that I am going to text them and ask for a copy of their ID.  Once they text that to me, I will give them the lock box code to tour the property on their own.  This works well and I don’t get stood up waiting on people to show up.  They go on their own time table and no one is waiting for them to show up.  Just be sure and rotate the lock box code often.


Have A Support System

Have a support system that you can reach out to.  I am a rule enforcer and I won’t apologize for that.  You need someone you can call for support who understands rules and why we have them.  We all need someone that we can vent to.  Even when you know you are making the right decision, sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you made the right decision. This can be especially true if you have a spouse or a partner telling you that you should have considered bending the rules.  Often times, one of you has to be the rule enforcer and you know that if you are the rule enforcer, it is not fun and it is not easy. 


Tenants Behaving Badly

I also have a few current tenants and several past tenants who started behaving badly.  Usually this behavior starts when they cannot pay their rent or you tell them to stop doing something.  They will call you names, swear at you and threaten you.  They are outraged that you have the audacity to tell them that they owe money.  Some of them threaten to get an attorney and sue the company.  Of course, they never do because they have not grounds to sue and they don’t have the money! 

Set the ground rules quickly with these tenants.  Do not allow them to talk to you this way. 


Tenant Case Study

I have one tenant who thought it was ok to come to the office and yell at me in person about a light bulb that had gone out.  She was mad that maintenance had not shown up within the hour to replace it! 

The first time she did that, I was so stunned that I just listened to her. I have been yelled at on the phone a lot of times over the years but never have I had a tenant come to the office for the sole purpose of doing that.  After she left, I thought, what the heck!  I texted her and told her that was not allowed to come to the office and demand that I do anything. 

She was very determined that no one was going to tell her what to do and showed up again about two weeks later.  I have a glass door that is locked and I talked to her through the glass door but refused to let her in until she told me what she wanted.   Her issue was that her mail box had been run over.  She loudly and rudely demanded that maintenance get over there that afternoon to replace it.  She kept insisting that she needed to come in to talk to me about it.  I didn’t see the point.  I also didn’t feel safe.

When I still wouldn’t let her in, she started yelling at me.  I turned around and walked away from the door.  I called her on the phone to tell her to leave and she kept yelling.  I ended up hanging up.  I texted her, while she was standing outside my door, and told her that her behavior was unacceptable and that she was not allowed to talk to me that way.  I also told her not come to the office again for any other reason than to drop rent in the drop box.  When she refused to leave, I threatened to call the police and she finally left.  I am on the second floor so I locked the first floor door as well so she couldn’t get to my office door.

I thought I had solved the problem.  Unfortunately, I found out a few weeks later that banning her from the office wasn’t enough.  She just started calling me on the phone, always about very minor things, and just screaming at me.  In addition to banning her from the office, I refused to talk to her on the phone. 

I found out that she had been treating maintenance this way as well and I told her that was going to stop.  She was informed in writing, that the next time she treated maintenance badly, they would not be back and she would have to hire her own contractors and pay for it.  

This tenant is now only allowed to communicate with the office via text, email, regular mail or after hours by leaving a voice mail.  She was informed of these options via text, an email, regular mail and a certified letter.  Yes, that was over kill but she is impossible to make happy.  

I am tired of her and her verbal abuse so, when her lease is up in a couple of months, her lease is not going to be renewed.  She has already been verbally warned that we are not renewing her lease and that set her off again.

Do Not Let These People Abuse You!

This is an extreme case and I am not sure what the heck is wrong with this woman.  The bottom line is that you do not have to accept this kind of behavior from anyone.  You have options and none of them are to allow anyone to treat you badly.  This is a business and these people should not harm your mental health. There are other tenants who will behave and not act like this.  Find a way to remove the bad acting tenants from your property. Be very sure that you do not knowingly rent to someone who will use emotions to manipulate you just because you feel sorry for them.


Free Training – How To Sidestep These Emotional Manipulators

Watch this FREE video on how to avoid these bad tenants.


Connect With Me

Do you have a story about prospects, applicants or tenants behaving badly?  I would love to hear about it!  We are all in this together and it is great to hear how other landlords dealt with these issues!

You can connect with me on my blog at Commonsense Landlording.com


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