Why You Shouldn't Be Friends With Your Tenant
There are many reasons why becoming friends with your tenant can cause problems, whether you’re managing your own property or using a property manager.
There has always been a debate about whether or not you should be friends with your tenant. Some find that having a friendship increases their odds of a longer tenancy and makes for a pleasant experience for both the landlord and the tenant. On the other hand, many landlords have run into issues or been taken advantage of by tenants that got a little too comfortable.
Whether you are managing your own properties or working with a property management company, being friends with your tenant isn’t a good idea. Some landlords like to know who is residing in their homes, but we’ll explain why this can create problems for you.
If You Hired a Property Manager...
Creates a Triangle of Miscommunication
When multiple parties are involved, the tenant won’t know who they’re supposed to report to. They might tell you one thing and the property management company something else. Even if they only report to you, you could relay incorrect information to the property manager.
On top of that, tenants usually assume that the property owner is higher up on the totem pole. Once they establish a relationship with you, they will feel that you hold the power and send complaints and requests to you instead. This creates frustration for you because you hired the property manager to handle any questions or concerns that arise with the tenant.
You Hired a Buffer
The reason you hired a property manager is because you didn’t want to manage the property yourself. The property manager is there to communicate with tenants on behalf of you. It’s one of the biggest perks of having a manager!
The property manager should be the one responsible for things like determining necessary repairs, increasing the rent, and scheduling inspections. Things can get messy when you, the owner, try to step in. You might agree to something without consulting the property manager, leading to a conflict both with them and the tenant.
If You're Managing the Property Yourself...
Befriending the Tenant
If you’re managing your own property, you will likely meet your tenant since you don’t have a buffer person. This relationship should be kept on professional terms so you don’t run into future issues.
Your tenants need to respect both you and your home. When you develop a friendship with your tenants, they will treat you as a friend and not an authority figure. They may ask for leniency when it comes to late payments or lease violations. You’ll be tempted to give in to their requests as to not make things awkward.
This will only cause more problems for you in the long run. You won’t want to cause friction with the tenants, but you could lose out on necessary fees. It’ll be hard to tell when you should draw the line once you allow them to break a rule.
Should You Rent to a Friend?
You might also consider renting to a friend or relative. On the surface, it seems like a great idea to rent to someone you already know and trust. However, these situations can quickly turn sour.
These tenants might be more relaxed about maintenance issues or repairs, but when it comes to issues involving money, be prepared for problems to arise. Because you already have an established friendship with them, they may ask for leniency on security deposits, late rent payments, or rent increases. It’s up to you if you want to relent, but over time you will start to lose out on important rental income. It also sets the precedent that you are willing to make exceptions for them.
Lastly, you should be treating all tenants the same if you have multiple properties. You could get into big trouble if you’re allowing late rent from your friends and being strict with other tenants.
The moral of the story is that your relationship with your tenants should always be professional. They should respect you as the owner of the home and understand that they need to abide by any rules you have in place.
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