After four years of being landlords we have made enough mistakes with our tenants to know better. But still we make the same mistake every time – we want to be friends with our tenants!
What can I say? We’re just nice people. We like a chat. We want to be friends with everyone!
But you cannot be friends with your tenant – and here’s why;
- As the landlord you have to be the authority figure. This is a business after all and as with all business transactions, clear expectations must be established at the outset. It’s pretty hard to do this when you’re exchanging twitter handles and comparing shoes. Trust me, I’ve done the’ leg’ work. Ha..
- Friends ask for favours. It’s okay when your bestie asks to borrow a tenner because they want to meet you for brunch but they’ve spent all their money on impressing their new boyfriend. It’s not okay when your tenant asks if they can write you an I.O.U for this month’s rent because they’re a bit skint this month. The problem is, when you’re friends with your tenant they feel like they can ask for favours. And you feel like you can’t say no.
- Friends let each other down. We once met a lovely couple who we hit it off with instantly. A double wedding followed by us being godparents to each others children was in out future. The only issue was, these people were viewing our flat with the hopes of renting it. We promptly dropped the boring couple who had told us they wanted the property only 20 minutes earlier for our new best friends, even agreeing that they could move in 3 weeks later than was convenient for us. 3 weeks later we got a frosty text message saying they were sorry but they no longer wanted to rent the flat. But guys!! Should we cancel our couples holiday?? GUYS??
- Friends fall out. We’ve all had an argument with a good friend that sees us go from best chums to sworn enemies over who gets the last slice of pizza or something equally ridiculous. All the tiny annoying things that you’ve never noticed about your pal become huge irritations that you can’t bear until even your friend’s finger nails drive you nuts. Make up, or don’t – who cares? But have this kind of fall out with your tenant and it could be war. I’m talking court cases, vandalism, section 8’s flying around all over the place. And if you didn’t bother to sign a contract with your pal – you will be stuffed.
It’s so easy to make friends with prospective tenants because they are always extra friendly when you show them around. They want you to like them because they want you to choose them. But they’re not your friends today and they won’t be next month when you have to chase them for the rent. Remember to wear your figurative landlord hat at all times and keep all your exchanges professional and above board.
And so with a heavy heart we have learnt to refuse our invitation to the friend zone and save our friendship for our friends.
So erm…… anyone need a couple of friends?
Have you made any mistakes with your tenants? Let us know in the comments below.