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How to turn down a tenant

For brand new landlords, tenant requests can be overwhelming. The tenant may be making frequent requests, or may be asking permission for things you may not have thought about. No landlord wants to be adversarial with a tenant. To keep things cordial, you may feel pressured to say yes to your tenant’s requests. But while you may be attempting to make life smoother by acquiescing to your tenant, you might do yourself a big disservice.

Consider the tenant who thinks that “you’ll never know if you don’t ask.” Your tenant may be asking for something they don’t really expect, just for the sake of finding out how far they can push. As a landlord you may be receiving some wild requests. Saying yes may set you up for the tenant to push the envelope even further, just to see what happens.

Before torturing yourself wondering about your tenant’s motivations and how you should respond, your first course of action should always be to check your lease.

What does your lease say?

As always, a tight lease that covers every scenario you can imagine sets you up for the most success. If you have addressed the tenant’s request in the lease, simply enforce your lease and feel good knowing that your rental agreement backs you up. The ezLandlordForms Lease Builder will walk you through creating a custom lease, and will ask you to think about – and set up rules for – questions that may not have even occurred to you.

Can you sleep at night?

A useful litmus test for landlords to pose is whether you can sleep at night with the consequences of what the tenant is asking for. Is your lease provision causing the tenant a true hardship or making their living situation difficult or untenable? Or are they looking for something for comfort or aesthetic reasons? If it is the latter, you can sleep soundly knowing that you run your business using a comprehensive lease, and that the tenant signed that lease agreement. If you want to consider a non-urgent request, that is up to you, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the decision is truly in your hands.

When refusing a request, give your tenant a reason. Try to turn the request down while still maintaining a positive relationship. Your tenant may not understand the hidden financial impacts of their request. When you spell out the implications of what the tenant has asked for, it may make it easier for them to understand why the request has been denied. Just like they hopefully spend their money thoughtfully, you run your business using a budget. As the landlord, you have the sole responsibility of caring for your investment. This means that sometimes you have to deal with the unpleasant burden of saying no, when it must be done for the health of your business.

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