Your tenants are not your friends

Written by Lara Cutler

A common mistake new investors make is trying to befriend their tenants. This can be out of fear or out of the goodness of their hearts! The notion that if you befriend your tenant they will take better care of the property is an easy assumption to make. If this resonates with you don’t feel bad, it happens to the best of us. You will however want to read on and take these words of caution into consideration.

Reasons why Landlords try to befriend tenants:

  • You want to break the mould that Landlords “don’t care”
  • You want your tenants to like you/you’re a people pleaser
  • You think happy tenants pay their rent/take better care of the property
  • You also live in the property and don’t want to create tension

The list continues! 

This can open an investor up to potential losses and disappointment. When you befriend your tenants it becomes too easy to let late payments, noise, mess and other things slide. It can be very difficult to go above and beyond for your tenants just to have them not reciprocate this relationship. When these relationships fail or are not reciprocated, this can often lead to emotional decisions and resentment. In addition, when you befriend your tenant there is potential that your tenant’s expectations of you can become unmanageable, unreasonable and unsustainable. There is a high likelihood that this can make those difficult conversations (handing notices, requesting rent payments, asking to clean up etc) even more challenging. 

All of this can come from a place of great intention. You may never experience any of these issues, but it is important to fully understand these implications by befriending your tenants.

Now, we should specify something – we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with being a nice/good Landlord, in fact we suggest you should! However, your investment portfolio is a business and should be treated as such. It is important to remain professional and cultivate professional relationships with your tenants as a Landlord. This will set clear ground rules and expectations of each party as well as protect you as a Landlord from potential losses. After all, the bank isn’t going to let you slip on your mortgage payment; the city can still fine you for not maintaining your property etc. Your tenants should be held to the same accountability when it comes to their lease obligations no matter your relationship with them. 

We encourage you to be friendly and respectful as well as fulfill your obligations as a Landlord but keep your business relationships separate from your friendships!