After 30 plus years as a property management company and dealing with tens of thousands of tenants, we have seen it all. Over the years, many tenants come to us with many misconceptions about the responsibilities of being a tenant, the expectations required of them, and our role in the process. They come with many preconceived ideas about what we do as property managers and how our policies, although seem harsh, are actually there for their benefit.
Here are 7 things tenants misunderstand about renting, property managers and landlords:
1.) Your rent is due on the first
Just because there may be a grace period before late fees are charged, whether mandated by state law or offered in the lease, that does not mean the date it is due changes at all. It is late on the second and I consider the number of times a tenant paid rent late when considering to renew their lease, not how many times they paid rent just before the eviction process begins. Train tenants to pay rent on the first by communicating expectations, not waving late fees, and sending out delinquent rent notices on the second.
2.) You have to pay utilities
In the management of single-family homes, tenants pay for their utilities. Tenants often max out their budgets on rent without factoring in this expense and find themselves over extended. Be open and be sure the property advertising and the lease agreement clearly communicate tenant responsibilities concerning utilities.
3.) We want to fix the property more then you want it done so please tell me
Many tenants are every apprehensive about reporting maintenance issues. They often think that just because something breaks that their rent is going to go up or that it is somehow a reflection of how they are caring for the property. The reality is that not reporting maintenance often makes the problem worse and then does become a reflection of their care for the property. Prompt reporting of maintenance is often a good indication of a quality tenant. Be sure to regularly communicate to the tenant your desire to maintain the property. Make them your eyes and ears to potential problems and preventative maintenance.
3.) We’ve heard all the stories
We have heard it all. It’s in the mail, I dropped it off, the bank messed up, there was fraud on my account, I gave it to my roommate, I have this disease or that one (generally the one currently being hyped up in the news), etc. If everyone always told the truth, honored their agreements and always did what they said they would do…well, we probably would not be having a discussion with the tenant about how they are not able to pay their rent in the first place. Please, save it. Although I am very sympathetic to the tenant’s difficult circumstance, that does not eliminate the responsibility I have to collect rent on time. Unfortunately, the mortgage, utility, and insurance companies are the ones who are also making the landlord pay on time. Besides, if we determined who was allowed to pay rent late, for example, by the severity of their story, who is to say where that line is? In order to be fair to everyone, the story does not matter.
4.) We want to give you your security deposit back
Giving a tenant their security deposit back is always our goal. That means they were great tenants, who paid their rent on time, and took care of the property. Many tenants leave with the preconceived idea that all the landlord wants to do is steal their deposit like the landlord is the Sheriff of Nottingham coming to steal from the poor. Many tenants with this idea of landlords adopt the mindset of, why try to clean the place when the sheriff is just going to steal my deposit anyway. Be sure to clearly communicate your desire to return their deposit and your guidelines and expectations for them receiving it.
5.) No, we will not completely renovate the property after you move in
The opportunity to find out if their unrealistic desires for the property is before the lease is signed, not after. Be clear during the leasing process that the property is being rented in “As-Is” condition. It can be a good practice to only begin showing the property after it is move-in ready so the tenants know exactly what they are getting.
6.) The bugs that moved in a year after you did are because of you
Ants, fleas, bed bugs, cockroaches and the like are most often directly because of the tenants own mess. They were not here when you moved in. Have the difficult discussion with the tenants about the cleanliness of the home.
7.) You are no different then the tenant down the street
No, you are not being discriminated against, we expect every tenant to pay their rent on time and take care of the property. Yes, that is correct, when you have been evicted, owe money to past landlords, and/or have a rap sheet as long as the story you told me about how great of a tenant you’re going to be, we probably won’t rent to you. Be sure to have a written policy and procedure manual outlining your application screening criteria, and policies regarding, late payments, maintenance, lease violations, processing of the security deposit, etc.