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August 16, 2012

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Pro Tips on Being a Good Landlord

It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to be a good person. Yet, it still seems to elude some people. Dealing with a nightmare landlord can be even more stressful than a fist fight with a manatee (and they don’t even have fists). Or highly entertaining, provided you aren’t prone to letting an idiot with the IQ of a marine mammal ruin your life.

Ah, the manatee - Truly, the therapists of the sea.

Ah, the manatee – Truly, the therapists of the sea.

This metaphor makes no sense. I just really like manatees, ok? What decent person would want to punch one, anyway?

Being a Decent Human Being – You’re Doin’ it Wrong

If all your tenants get together for a BBQ and share horror stories about their dealings with you, you might have a problem. I mean, sure, there’s a small chance that every single one of them may just be problem tenants, but… really?

So here’s a guide on being a good landlord. I write this, of course, because of a recent experience I’ve had. It’s healthy to get this stuff out on paper, right?

But if you think about it, there’s a lesson here for all the cynical, the jaded, and the hateful. You don’t even have to be a landlord to get it.

The ‘Do’s

  • Do be pleasant when interacting with your tenants. They’re people, not subordinates.
  • Do actually meet your tenants at least once. It’s reassuring knowing there’s a face to the name.
  • Do make sure that you’re familiar with tenancy law before you start throwing the book at your tenants. When you make an accusation, and they know more than you do, you look like a colossal tool.

That’s all I’ve got. Surprised?

The thing is, you don’t actually have do a lot to be a good landlord. Nobody says you have to be anyone’s best friend, and you don’t have to be around very much.

As long as your tenants know they won’t have a fight on their hands every time they talk to you, you’re doing a good job. See? It doesn’t take a lot of effort.

That Four-Letter Word: Don’t

  • Don’t refuse to give your phone number to your tenants, insisting only on email communication.
  • Don’t harass your tenants’ references, calling them over and over again, even going as far as questioning their character.
  • Don’t fight your tenants on every issue they bring to your attention.
  • Don’t complain about one tenant to… Another tenant.
  • Don’t spread rumours about a tenant being “on drugs” to another tenant. This is very bad form, indeed.
  • Don’t assume your tenants know nothing about the law, and try to cheat and deceive them.
  • Don’t try to use the law to intimidate and dominate your tenants, especially when you’ve broken a few, yourself.
  • Don’t leave your address off the rental agreement or lease, unless you like trying to hold your tenants to an invalid lease.
  • Don’t throw a tantrum, and then complain about being treated like a child.
  • Don’t act like a dictator, and then delude yourself into thinking your tenants respect you, because they’re being “nice.” They aren’t. They just don’t want to be harassed anymore than they already are.

Rant Over

I like to think it takes real effort to be consistently rude and hateful to someone who has been nothing but courteous and respectful to you. After all, nobody’s born that way. But then, maybe you’ve had a life full of hardships.

FacepieMaybe you’ve endured years of the universe constantly kicking your ass and shoving pie into your face, and this has turned you cold and cynical. But there’s a lesson here, and it applies universally to dealing with your fellow human.

There is good in everyone, even you. But if you treat people like shit, you will be looked upon and treated accordingly. The only way to break such a vicious cycle of hate and distrust is to build a door in that wall you have around you, and venture out occasionally. Stop taking your problems out on everyone else!

Dare to be pleasant. Dare to offer the benefit of the doubt, from time to time. Dare to smile back when someone introduces themselves, and be friendly. Life will be easier, and more will float your way.

Remember, when you pick a fight with a manatee, everybody loses. And come on, you knew I was going to end with a manatee reference, no matter how little sense it made…

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 16 2012

    Tris, you had a bad landlord! but not all are bad, but that was particularly sucky!

    I was telling you about my friend in London who had a major fight with their landlord. They won in court muahaha! But she told me that many landlords go into this all wrong. During the 2000’s in London you could make big money by renting property. people renting a lot of property became millionaires and it was appealing to make instant money by doing that. However those people interested in it just for money got greedy, they don’t care about the tenants. She (my friend) said like you did that landlords should be good with people and fair. But if they are only interested in the money coming in, they don’t care about anything else! if you are really bad with people you should have a agency deal with it all for you and not get involved!

    But anyway at least you are getting away from her! karma does exist 🙂

    Manatees are the coolest animal! everyone wants to go swimming with Dolphins but not Manatees cos they are not as cute! well Manatees are the animal!

    Reply
    • Aug 17 2012

      This one was greedy allright, Dan. She raised the rent by $150 when she relisted it after us, and then raised it another $100 after showing it to a bunch of people. All she cares about is the money. But that’s ok for her, I guess, since money is probably all she has.

      Reply

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