We interact with thousands of landlords every single year, including hundreds in the San Antonio area, and almost all of them are genuinely nice people. They care about others, take their role seriously, and want to provide safe, comfortable living conditions for the people in their communities. Yes, they care about profits – and we do, too – but they aren’t greedy or entirely self-serving. In other words, landlords aren’t the people that disgruntled tenants often make them out to be.
Truth be told, we don’t see many San Antonio landlords being jerks to their tenants. It’s much more common that we see tenants steamrolling their landlords and taking advantage of their willingness to be flexible. And if we were to give you any advice, it would be to avoid being a pushover. Because until you reach a point where you’re willing to stand up for yourself and diplomatically follow through on consequences, you’ll never be as profitable as you should be.
The Problem Many Landlords Face
Want to know a “secret” universal truth? People want to be liked. It doesn’t matter if it’s a three-year-old child pining for the attention of her mom or the president of the United States – we all want to be liked by others. And one of the quickest ways to be liked is to make other people happy. Unfortunately, making other people happy is often the quickest way to get taken advantage of.
For landlords, the desire to be liked could lead you to make exceptions for tenants who break rules or pay their rent late. You want to be perceived as “nice” and “understanding,” so you let it slide. In doing so, you think the tenant will like you a little more.
“Therefore, the natural tendency is to make an excuse as to why an infraction can go unenforced,” investor and landlord Nick Baldo writes. “While this may feel good at first, it doesn’t take long for you to go from being a ‘nice guy’ to a ‘pushover.’ Your failure to enforce your lease is a sign of weakness. A tenant will see this as an opportunity to continue breaking the rules set out in the lease.”
To be quite frank, your willingness to let things slide is rooted in an inaccurate view of reality. Truth be told, tenants expect you to enforce the rules you put in place. When you don’t enforce them, they wonder why. When you do enforce them, 90 percent of tenants will realize that they were in the wrong. If you and your tenant signed a lease agreement, you’re legally obligated to follow it – good or bad. Don’t let your desire to be more likable override your word.
7 Ways to Avoid Being a Pushover
A pushover is someone who lets the desires of others dictate what they do and say. In our context, it’s a landlord who lets tenants push them around. You can avoid adding this title to your resume by doing the following:
1. Draft Crystal Clear Lease Agreements
Your lease agreements should be detailed and specific. For example, don’t just include a fee for a late payment. Be specific about the deadline, the amount, how/when the fee increases, what happens if rent is lost in the mail, acceptable means of payment, etc. In addition to setting clear expectations for the tenant to abide by, descriptive language like this provides legal protection
2. Review Expectations With Each Tenant
Never assume that a tenant has read the lease agreement. While they’re legally obligated to fulfill their end of the agreement once signed (whether they read it or not), you can prevent a number of uncomfortable situations by reviewing the contents of the agreement with them. Pay particularly close attention to rent payments, late fees, tenant responsibilities, and important clauses (like rules regarding pets, subleasing, and landscaping duties).
3. Keep Open Lines of Communication
Many issues can be prevented by keeping the lines of communication between you and the tenant open at all times. Make sure you’re checking in with your tenant every couple of weeks – not just when there’s a problem. This will help you build rapport.
4. Enforce Late Payment Penalties
When a tenant misses a rent payment for the first time, it’s tempting to waive the fee and move on. And while it can feel a bit harsh – especially for a tenant with a record of making payments on time – enforcing the late fee is a must. It shows that you’re serious and will make them less likely to repeat the mistake in the future.
5. Offer Incentives for Early Payment
If you’re only penalizing and never rewarding, you can come across as a bit of a jerk. Do yourself a favor and offer incentives for early payment. Ironically enough, this makes it easier to enforce the late payment. (It shows that you’re a reasonable person who is more than accommodating.)
6. Let the Little Things Go
Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war. The key is to lose on things that aren’t really that significant (and to casually and humbly make the tenant aware that you’re being flexible).
There’s a difference between being flexible and being a pushover. Being flexible means working with someone who is being honest, truthful, and cooperative. Being a pushover means getting taken advantage of by someone who is purposefully trying to manipulate the situation.
7. Hire a Property Manager
One of the best ways to avoid being a pushover is to remove yourself from the situation as much as possible. By hiring a property manager, you’re able to put a layer in between you and the tenant. It’s easy for a tenant to give you a sob story and guilt you into doing something you aren’t comfortable with. It’s much harder for them to deliver a sob story to a property manager. (And the property manager is paid not to be emotionally swayed.)
Green Residential: San Antonio Property Management
Green Residential has been in the property management business for more than 40 years. Over that time, we’ve served thousands of landlords and tens of thousands of tenants by providing comprehensive property management services.
If you’d like to learn more about our San Antonio property management services and how we can help you streamline your duties and responsibilities as a landlord, we’d love to chat! Contact us today to discover more!