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.
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
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
Be sure and join the Commonsense Landlording Facebook Group for more tips. Join Here
Tenants who pay late are very common. If you are lucky, they call you and explain why they are paying late. Other tenants don’t bother to let you know and just randomly pay.
These late paying tenants are a serious problem if you count on the rent money to pay your mortgage. Even if you don’t depend on the rent money to pay any bills, it is very annoying when your tenant continually pays rent late.
Procedure For Handling Late Paying Tenants
Unfortunately, you cannot force anyone to pay. You need to fall back on your procedures for ensuring that the tenant knows what happens next.
Always send out the appropriate late notice. Know the laws in your area. Be sure and consult with an eviction attorney so that you can give the proper notice to your tenant. I live in Louisville, KY and we send a 7 day notice that basically says pay or get out.
Once notice arrives, the tenant will usually touch base with me. If this tenant has already called, this person was warned that they would be receiving the 7 day notice. I do occasionally run across a tenant who is offended that I won’t just “trust” them to pay the rent as soon as they can. I explain that company policy require me to send a 7 day notice to every tenant who has not paid on or before the 5th day. We have a 5 day grace period.
The late notice should list the past due rent and any late fees. I have a $50 charge on the 6th and $5 per day after that. So, if the tenant pays on the 10th and their rent is $1,000, the tenant would owe $1,065. I don’t charge for the actual day they pay. It is in your best interests to insist that the late fees are paid along with the rent. There are times that I will allow a payment plan, especially if the late fees are high. For example, if the tenant paid rent on the 25th day of the month, late fees would be $140. Many tenants won’t have that much extra money. But, I only allow it to be split in half.
The main issue is that when a tenant pays this late in the month, the chances that they will pay late the following month increase dramatically. Then you are on the path of a tenant who pays chronically late and can’t afford the late fees. At some point, this has to stop and the tenant needs to move. I usually sit down with the tenant and try to get them to move out but I will evict them if I have to. It is much easier and cheaper to get them to willingly move. Not every tenant will be agreeable to just moving but it is what I try first.
Always Pays Late But Pays Balance In Full
I have a couple of tenants who pay late roughly 5 or 6 months out of 12. For one of them, I moved the rent due date because she went on disability and SSI and her payment often didn’t arrive until the 10th or the 11th of the month. She was never going to get caught up and it was just easier to move her due date.
For the other tenants, they randomly just pay late and they always pay the late fees. While this is annoying because I still send the 7 day letters every single month, they always pay the late fees and they never complain about paying them. The company makes more money every month and for now, it seems to be working.
Improved Screening Of Applicants
This issue drives me crazy. I did a review of these tenants to see if I could have spotted these issues during the application process. There were no red flags during the application process that I could find. I always send over a questionnaire for the previous landlord to fill out and none of them flagged these tenants as late payers. It is possible that the landlords just wanted to get rid of these tenants and didn’t say anything.
One thing that stood out on two of them is that while they met the income requirement of 3x the rent, they had no extra money. One tenant ended up losing their job and the new job didn’t pay as much. There was no way to predict that this would happen.
Another tenant had a lot of student loans that they started paying on which reduced their spendable income. Very few landlords count student loans or medical bills but I have started to see some issues with this. Remember, at some point they will have to start making payments on their student loans and those payments can be quite high. In many cases, those monthly payments will cause the tenant to not meet the debt to income ratio. You need to have a process for considering student loans because it can significantly reduce your tenants monthly income.
3 Strikes Rule
Many landlords I know have what I call a 3 strikes rule. Typically, they only allow 2 late pays or 2 eviction filings per year before they move to evict. Once the tenant pays late the third time or has an eviction filed against them for the third time, the landlord will no longer accept the rent. The landlord will move to evict these problem tenants.
I personally don’t have this rule because it is very costly to turn a house and get it ready to rent again. I work with the tenant within reason. I follow the process but if the tenant comes up with the money for the past due rent, the late fees and the court fees, I will accept the money. This is strictly a business decision on my part.
Neither way is wrong and you will need to decide what works for you.
Follow Your Procedures
Late paying tenants seems to be one of the top problems that landlords have. When you have this issue, have procedures in place and follow them.
Spell out in the lease what happens when a tenant pays late and follow through.
Send the late pay letter and charge late fees.
Be prepared to file an eviction against them.
Decide at what point you will no longer accept payments.
How many late pays or eviction filings will you allow?
Following Your Procedures Makes For Better Tenants
The most important thing to always remember is that you are setting expectations for your tenants. When you follow your procedures every single time, they know what to expect. If you don’t follow your procedures every time, you are teaching your tenants that it is ok to pay late. Why should your tenant pay on time every month if you don’t charge late fees or you never start the eviction process by sending out a late notice?
It is your job to make sure this tenant stays on track. It is my belief that bad paying tenants are created in part by landlords who don’t enforce their rules. These tenants never learn that they have to follow the rules.
Tenant Parking Issues – Parking Where They Are Not Allowed
This is a fairly common problem that landlords have to deal with. But, it can be difficult to stop your tenants from parking where they shouldn’t.
I don’t know about the area where you live, but most areas do not allow parking in the grass. To make matters worse, some areas do not allow parking on the street for very long or at all. Don’t ever assume that just because you see cars parked on the street where your rental is located that it is allowed.
Tenant parking issues are something that I deal with from the start of the lease term. All of my tenants are told when they sign the lease to only park in designated areas, which does not include the yard. I usually find out that a tenant is parking somewhere other than the driveway when I get an official notice from Metro Housing. It is usually a warning at first and a fine will follow.
Tenant Behaving Badly
I had a tenant who would not stop parking in the grass and the fines totaled $600. I went by the property and spoke to them in person and that didn’t work so I sent a cease and desist. That didn’t work either. The tenant ended up having to move because he and his family would not stop parking in the grass.
Parking in the front yard caused a lot of damage. There were deep tire ruts all over the yard and the grass was mostly dead.
A truck load of dirt had to be brought in and along with a bob cat to spread the dirt out and level the yard again. Then, grass seed and straw were put down and the yard had to be watered. It was expensive and a huge hassle. A collections case has been filed against the tenant but who knows if the money will ever be collected.
How To Protect Yourself
Be sure and address tenant parking issue sin the lease.
Clearly state where the tenant is allowed to park.
Clearly state that any and all fines issued will be billed to the tenant.
I would further state that rent will not be accepted until the fines are paid.
State that the tenant will be responsible for paying to repair the yard if necessary.
When this issue crops up, immediately send out a 14 Day Cease and Desist letter or whatever notice is appropriate in your area. Consult your attorney to find out what you have to do.
It is very irritating to send out the notice only to either talk to your attorney or get to court and find out that you did not do this correctly. It takes to send out the proper notice and will end up costing more money.
Know The Rules In Your Area
Know the rules about parking for each of your rental properties.
Is parking allowed on the street?
Does your property have a short driveway?
Is the garage likely to be just used for storage?
Do not assume that even when you cover the rules with the tenants that they will listen. Many of them will just ignore you. Many tenants can’t figure out why this is such a big deal! They are completely blown away that this is such a big issue. Do not assume that just because there is a garage your tenant will use it to park vehicles.
Start With The Application
Tenant parking issues usually do not crop up over night. When you starting having issues with a tenant, you may find that when you go back and look at the application, you could have identified this problem before this tenant ever moved in.
When you are reviewing an application, one thing you should always do is have the applicant list how many occupants and how many vehicles will be kept on the property.
If your applicant has 4 or 5 cars, and the rental property has a short driveway and/or no garage parking and street parking is not allowed, I can guarantee that parking is going to be an issue.
Here, you are only allowed to have 3 cars on the property. Police and Metro Housing are loose about enforcing this rule unless it becomes an issue. Once this has popped up on their radar, it is not going to go away.
You may have to disqualify the applicants if there are too many vehicles. This may sound extreme but I have had that happen once.
Common Tenant Issues
This problem will come up from time to time and is not at all uncommon. When this problem does occur, deal with your tenant quickly and firmly.
Have policies in place and enforce them.
Be sure that your applicant / tenant knows what the rules are and that they will be enforced.
Be prepared to evict the tenant if the issue is not resolved.
Your tenants need to understand that you will enforce the rules and that you will bill them both for the fines and any resulting damage. This is a big deal and you need to make sure your tenant understand this. Once your property has been called out for this violation, or any violation, it will be on the radar of the local housing department and they will continue to check on it.
Be sure and join the Commonsense Landlording Facebook Group for more tips. Join Here