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When should you compromise with your tenants

We all know that getting by in life sometimes requires a little bit of compromise. As a landlord, strict adherence to your lease can be a good overall philosophy, but it does not mean that you cannot open the door to compromise when it makes sense to you. Occasional flexibility can actually benefit you if you can make a good arrangement.

Know your lease, the law, and other pertinent restrictions

Your obligation to your tenant will be defined in your lease, and it will also be spelled out in the law. If the tenant is looking for something that is required by law, you will have to provide it.

What is your first choice, when you compromise with your tenants?

It’s fine to consider what you would like to happen in a perfect world. It makes it easier to assess whether the concession the tenant is asking for will work for you. For example, let’s imagine your tenant has asked to paint their unit, the same shade as the existing colors, at their expense and liability. Perhaps in your perfect world you were planning on painting soon anyway. This makes the issue very easy, as what you want and what the tenant wants align nearly perfectly.

Is there a compromise that fits all parties?

On the other hand, perfect aligning rarely happens, so it may fall to you and your tenant to work out a compromise. If a tenant is asking for an improvement that will also improve your rental, you may want to consider it, even if it is not in your perfect timeframe. Perhaps the tenant would like to have a ceiling fan installed. While you can rent your unit without a ceiling fan, it may make it more attractive to future tenants. It could also reduce cooling costs if the tenant uses the fan in lieu of air conditioning. For a relatively small investment you may be able to make your current and future tenants happy, and reduce utilities.

Perhaps the compromise can come in terms of the timing. If a tenant is asking for a cosmetic improvement, it is easy and reasonable to say that it is not budgeted to replace that item at this time. However, you could agree to address the issue at renewal time. That gives you additional time to save up while knowing the date that the improvement will be made. At the same time, it serves as a motivation for your tenant to stay in your unit, knowing that they can enjoy the improved unit if they stay patient.

Write it down

Remember that your answer does not have to come with no strings attached. You can negotiate a rental increase or additional deposit, or implement additional responsibilities for the tenant in exchange for an improvement or allowing an accommodation in the lease. No matter what the resolution is, be sure that you and the tenant agree to any changes in writing. A lease addendum should include all of the details, any deposits collected, required maintenance, and what will happen if the tenant tries to take a foot when you gave an inch when you compromise with your tenants.

Sometimes compromising with your tenant can benefit you as well as your tenant. The key is to determine what the true cost will be over the short term as well as the long term. If you can work out a way for your renter to compensate you for an improvement, then it may be worth the added effort. Be sure that you are getting, as well as receiving, and remember that you are ultimately in control of what you will or won’t allow in your rental property.

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4 years ago

I actually had an Asian family come and look over an apartment. When they found dust above the window cill, they asked me who did the cleaning and how often did they clean. Then to top it off, they wanted to know where they should put their dirty laundry to be cleaned!
The overall topper was when they told me that there would be between 15 and 18 people moving into a 2 bedroom apartment. When I told them that this was against the law, they tried to claim diplomatic immunity or something like it. They finally gave up when I told them that they had to clean the place themselves as well as do their own laundry.
I can imagine a landlord doing such things to rent a $550 a month apartment but anything’s possible I guess.

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