Every DIY landlord has those situations where your brain has to stop your heart from saying yes. Some are easier than others to say no to. For instance here are some I pulled from this link: https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/52/topics/49794-share-your-worst-tenant-requests-
“I know the rent was due on the 5th, and it is now the 18th, would you mind waiting until next week to cash that check?”
“can you come over and change our lightbulbs in the kitchen?”
But then there are some that are harder to deal with.
Them “My mother just passed away and her dog has nowhere to go. Can the dog stay with me in the unit?”
You: “Well it’s a no pets apartment”
Them “Really the dog can’t stay with me until we find somewhere for it to go?”
Or how about
Them “I just got laid off and I can’t pay rent this month, but I can’t put my kids out on the street so can you let me pay a month late until I get situated?”
You “The lease says that you have to pay by the fifth and if after that we still don’t have the rent you have to pay late fees. So you’ll have to come up with the rent to avoid late fees and receiving an eviction notice.”
Them “But my kids man! What do you want me to do!”
All of these pull on the heart strings a bit. We’ve all been in a hard spot and we all realize how horrible it is to be going through these situations as the tenant, but ask yourself this: If you stopped paying your mortgage because you lost your job would the bank still foreclose?
If the bank was going to foreclose on you and you didn’t want it to happen don’t you think you’d drive uber, work minimum wage, and do whatever you had to do to pay your bills?
If your child was super allergic to pets do you think you’d still find a place for your mother’s dog that wasn’t your house?
This is where landlording from your head and not your heart comes into play. Yes there are situations where you may bend the rules for an otherwise GREAT tenant (long term, pays all bills on time, super clean, basically your dream tenant), but generally speaking remember that if you say no to someone they will get mad, they may curse you out, but in the end you have to look out for your investment. If you let that dog in it could TEAR apart your unit. If instead of tearing into your unit it tears into some neighborhood kid’s leg be ready to lawyer up, because that kid’s family lawyer is going to bring you in as the landlord that allowed the dog on the property. And surprise, since you didn’t put the dog on a pet agreement and they didn’t put it on their renter’s insurance you have NO release of liability and they can go after you. Will they win? Who knows, but that’s still requiring you to show up to court, pay a lawyer, etc.
If they don’t pay you rent can you just tell the bank, “hey my tenant didn’t pay me so I’m not going to pay you this month.” Nope. Unless their happiness is worth your mortgage payment don’t let them get away with free rent. There are better ways to donate $700 to charity.
So here is how I propose saying no to minimize the emotional side of it. Use the No, because statements. Although some landlords will probably debate me and just advise saying no because it is in the lease, I like to give tenants a reason. It doesn’t work all of the time, but a lot of the time it prevents them from getting overly mad about it, and let’s face it landlording is still a customer service business if you don’t want vacancies.
No you can not do ______, because if you do I may be responsible for _______ and this section of your lease prohibits it.
In example, No you can’t watch the dog, because if you do my insurance company may drop my insurance and your security deposit does not cover you from damages caused by the animal. In the event of those damages your renter’s insurance may not cover the damages as well and I would be forced to collect damages directly from you. If you are willing to pay the nonrefundable pet deposit of $X and monthly pet fee along with the pet application we can consider allowing you to take in the pet.
The last sentence is only if you allow pets generally, but haven’t screened this one. I like this because it give an impartial reason why you can’t accept it. The lesson is to always have a legitimate reason to decline a request and reference the lease as well. That way they can’t say it caught them by surprise and they have your reason why. It’s not just, because I said so. No one likes that answer.
Also, another trick is to always say no because of some third party. No I checked with my partner that also owns the house and they said that because the lease does not allow it we can’t allow you to do that. No my insurance declined my request to allow that. Occupancy laws say I can’t do that. Just have a reason for them.
Long story short is that there are times where emotionally it can be hard to say no. Just remember that your business relies upon you ensuring the profitability of your asset. If you can’t say no consider hiring a property manager or at least someone to take tenant phone calls. That way you can make the decisions from afar and be the bad guy with a middleman in between.