The Bad One That Got Away
June 1, 2002
There go two more prospective tenants out the door. No way you’re going to rent to them, but was it ever tempting. They seemed like such nice people–nice car, good looking. But when you handed them a copy of your rental policies and procedures, along with the rental application, they read them, said “we’ll take this home and fill it out,” and almost ran out the door.
You know they won’t ever come back or call you. It just a sixth sense you get after being a landlord for so long. And good riddance!
It was tempting to forget all about your carefully-crafted rental standards because you have had this unit vacant for a month and a half. It hurts to make a mortgage payment when it all comes out of your pocket. But you know what hurts worse? Walking into one of your rental units after you have just managed to evict the tenant who hadn’t paid the rent in two months, left it filthy in ways you can barely describe, and left no fixture, wall or door knob undamaged.
You still have to make the mortgage payment on a vacant unit, but you have untold expenses and grief on top of it. Plus, there’s no way you would be able to get it rented again for another couple of months, what with having to clean up the disaster.
No, you know from years of experience that it’s better to have no tenant than a bad tenant.
But bad tenants count on a couple of things. They know, possibly unconsciously, that people buy for only one of two reasons, fear of loss or hope of gain. So they use “techniques” on you to get you to forget all about your common sense and any procedures you might have. Even better, for them, they pick on landlords who don’t have any set procedures for getting a unit rented, much less any common sense.
Eighty percent of people buy (or rent to someone) on the basis of fear of loss. That’s why bad tenants try to make you afraid you’re going to lose them. They have any number of nefarious tricks to sneak that message into their conversation with you from the two properties trick to the wad of cash trick to the latest trick some other bad tenant divulged to them.
One of the most difficult things a landlord has to do is to send a questionable or bad tenant on his or her way with a mortgage payment is staring him in the face. You grit your teeth and you take a deep breath. Then you shake your head and say “you know, you seem like really nice people, but we have business-like procedures that we follow for every applicant. We have found that when we follow them it ensures that the people who live in our rental properties are good stewards and good neighbors. That’s the kind of people you want as neighbors, isn’t it?”
About 45 minutes after the bad tenant high tails it out the door, though, you will come to your senses and think to yourself, “that’s another bad one that got away.” Aw, shucks.