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Landlord Advice: Nice Guys Finish Last

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Have you ever heard the expression, “nice guys finish last?”  If not, and you’re a landlord, you’d better learn it real quick.  I’m a nice guy at heart, but I learned long ago that it’s generally better to be a little blunter, a little less forgiving, and a lot stricter when it comes to dealing with tenants.  The harsh reality of managing rental property is that most tenants will take what they can get, and if you are too nice, they’ll have no qualms about trying to take advantage of you.

Therefore, in order to be a landlord, you must think like a landlord.  As such, be very business-like in all your interactions with your tenants, and let them know who is boss right from the beginning.  Yes you should be cordial and responsive, but there is no need to be “buddy-buddy” with them.  Avoid discussing the personal details of your life with them; in fact, give them as little information about yourself as humanly possible.  The only things your tenants really need to know about you are your name, how to contact you, and where to send the monthly rent checks!

Another thing you must do is be strict with your rules and policies.  In other words, if the lease says that the rent is due on the first of the month, if you have not received it or heard from the tenant by, say, the fifth of the month you must act swiftly.  Do not allow late payers to dilly dally until the cows come home, because it could very easily turn into a slippery slope where the lateness becomes a monthly occurrence and/or the payments come later and later each month.  Similarly, treat all tenants equally when it comes to your policies.  Not only is it discriminatory to only arbitrarily enforce the rules, but it encourages undesirable behavior as well.

Finally, let your actions show that you are serious and that you take your landlord responsibilities seriously.  As such, always conduct thorough tenant screening practices, review the lease line-by-line with all new tenants, conduct a move-inspection with all new tenants, and perform routine inspections.  This will demonstrate to your tenants that you care, and that you will stay on top of things at all times.

The bottom line is that there is not much room for being nice when you’re a landlord dealing with tenants.  Be business-like at all times, avoid discussing your personal details, be strict and consistent with your enforcement of the rules, and let your actions demonstrate that you are not a pushover.  Follow this advice, and you will do just fine.  Good luck!

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