When you first rent a unit, your tenants are usually strangers. Over time, however – especially with long-term renters – you’ll naturally become more familiar. What happens if you hit it off with a tenant? Maybe you get to talking, and you discover that you get along great and have a lot in common. Is it ever ok to cross that line and start a more personal relationship? The definitive answer to this question is a resounding ‘no.’ Here are four reasons why.
They may start to expect special treatment.
As they say, it’s always good to know someone in charge. The same can often be said with tenant-landlord relationships that turn into personal friendships. As you become closer and the lines get blurrier, they may begin to expect you to overlook certain things or treat them special.
For instance, they may make excuses about paying the rent late, expect you to waive the late fee or ask to have a pet when your lease prohibits it. Whatever the case may be, showing favoritism can come back to bite you in more ways than one.
They’ll probably get upset if you enforce the rules.
Even if your friendly tenant doesn’t outright expect special treatment, they may still start to be lax with the rules. And when it comes time for you to enforce those rules, even if you do so in the least confrontational way possible, chances are they’ll end up feeling slighted.
At the very least, it’s likely to be an uncomfortable and awkward conversation that might lead you to just look the other way instead. Again, this leaves you at a disadvantage as a landlord.
You could lose other tenants as a result.
When other tenants begin noticing that you are showing favoritism, or that someone else is getting away with not abiding by certain rules that they have to follow, resentment is sure to arise. This may result in a confrontation with you and/or the tenant receiving special treatment.
If things get bad enough, it could cost you their rental income, leaving you with the expense of having to re-rent the property. Is it really worth losing a reliable, paying tenant over a questionable friendship with another? Likely not.
It’s probably not going to end well.
Friendships where money is involved rarely survive for the long haul. For example, what happens when it comes time to raise the rent? Will your tenant be upset that you’re asking them for more money? Will they feel slighted to the point where the relationship sours?
And then what? Will you be faced with an uncomfortable situation every time you have to interact with that tenant while they remain living at your property? Again we ask, is it really worth the risk?
Befriending a tenant may seem like no big deal, but if you take a step back, take a look at the big picture and consider all of the potential downsides, it becomes clear that it’s simply not a wise idea. To avoid this, set clear boundaries right from the start, be friendly but professional in all interactions and resist the urge to step over those lines. You’ll be glad you did.