say no to tenants

Being a landlord is not for the faint of heart; from dealing with tenant horror stories to facing everyday difficulties with your tenants, you can face some hard-to-navigate situations during your time as a landlord.

In the end, your profitability will be directly affected by the choices you make when interacting with your tenants. And while it is a business at its core, there is a human element involved that you wouldn’t find with another service. Listening to tenants’ complaints, and knowing how to provide excellent customer service to your tenants is imperative to the success of your rental business. Simultaneously, a successful landlord knows how to balance those concessions.

Knowing when to “lay down the law” and when to provide a little grace to tenants is key. A kind, but a firm landlord is a recipe for both profitability and content tenants. These situations are instances where a landlord does not need to feel guilty for not giving into tenants’ sob stories or overreaching requests.

When They Hide a Pet:

It can be difficult to determine whether you want to make your rental pet-friendly or not. However, you have likely done some research on the matter and weighed the pros and cons. If you decide that you would rather limit your property’s exposure to pet damage in spite of the larger renter pool that comes from opening your space to pet owners, then it is prudent to stick to your lease terms should a tenant ask to house an animal–particularly if you find they have hidden a pet on the premises. If you do decide to say yes, don’t be afraid to ask for pet rent, if your local laws allow.

When They Ask to Decorate:

Depending on your rental market, you may find that you attract more tenants if you allow them to make small alterations to the building. However, what a renter may consider an improvement, may not help your long-term investment. If you have faced a poor renovation before, don’t be afraid to tell your tenants not to make permanent changes. That lovely color of royal purple may not be so lovely to cover up later, and certainly will be less lovely if careless tenants drop any on the carpet. Thankfully, saying no to permanent changes still allows your tenants to make space their own. There are numerous resources for damage-free or renter-friendly decorating and supplying your tenants with a few removable ideas may be just the thing to help prevent long-term property damage from alterations.

When They Pay Rent Late:

This one can be tough. It’s easier to say no to a renter’s request to paint your whole property a garish color than it is to deny a person who appears to be struggling with a bit of grace. And while a long-term tenant who has paid rent on-time repeatedly may be granted a little extra leeway, you should rarely–if ever–waive a late fee or allow your tenant to pay rent late without consequence. A late payment can wreak havoc on your cash flow, and a tenant who notices that you are generous with your grace period will slowly take advantage of that extra time. Unless you are required by your state’s rental law, uphold the late fee that is listed in your lease. Convey to your tenants that late payments are not permissible from the start, this way you can mitigate any bad payment behavior and will have the cash flow to grace a late payment in an extreme circumstance of a death of a loved one or another emergency.

Final Thoughts:

Saying no to a tenant can be daunting, and–even if you believe it’s the right move for your rental business– the personal nature of renting can make saying no feel downright mean at times. Remember that sticking to your lease agreement is imperative, and if you went over your lease terms with your tenants upon move-in, they had full awareness of the agreement. Above all, remember that to avoid a sticky legal situation, it is crucial that you treat all tenants equally. Sometimes the easiest way to say no is to simply say that the policy cannot change for one renter without it seeming that favoritism was given. This takes the burden of the decision away from you or your management team and forces the tenant to recognize that the policy isn’t personal.