Do You Do Favors For Your Tenants? by Robyn Latman, Esq.
Recently, I have been getting questions from Landlords who wonder why their tenant seems to take advantage of the Landlord’s kindness in certain situations. The Landlord granted some form of relaxed rule, and now, the tenant is pushing back at following the rule at all. Have you done favors for your tenant?
WHAT IS A FAVOR?
You may be asking yourself what that means. What is a favor? If you want to ease the rules, how can that be wrong? You were trying to help.
A tenant fell on tough times. He lost his job. He had medical bills. His rent would be late. The landlord told him not to worry about the late fee. Month after month, the rent came late. No late fee was paid. The tenant got a new job. The rent still came late. No late fees were ever paid. Now, the landlord wants the tenant to pay on time or pay late fees, as the Lease requires.
A tenant hasn’t paid rent for months. She explains her reasons for not having the rent. The landlord feels sorry for her situation. The tenant says that the rent will be paid soon. The landlord lets it go for a few months, thinking that soon, the rent will be paid. A year goes by. The landlord paid the mortgage, the taxes and the utilities. The rent has not been paid.
The Lease says no pets. The tenant moves in with a pet. Or the tenant gets a pet soon after moving in. The barking dog bothers other tenants. The fish tank breaks and floods the unit below. Another tenant sees the cat and wants to get one, too. Do you allow the tenants to keep their pets?
The heat goes out in the middle of Winter, on a holiday weekend. The landlord offers to supply space heaters for the unit. The tenant resists and says that he will go to his family’s home for the holiday. He doesn’t need any heaters. The landlord accepts this answer. The heat gets fixed two days later. By then, the tenant has already called the Housing Inspector about the lack of heat. The landlord winds up in Municipal Court a few weeks later, defending the decision not to supply heaters. A fine is issued.
Doing Favors versus Running a Business
Are you pursuing your hobby of owning real estate or are you running your business of being a Landlord? It’s nice to help people. We often help our friends and family members. However, when it comes to running your business, it is important to set your rules and enforce them. Doing a favor today often leads to frustration later.
When thinking about what rules to relax for a tenant, it may be helpful to ask yourself some questions. Would your bank do the same favor for you? Would your dentist? What will be required later when you want the tenant to start following the rule?
As a Landlord in New Jersey, you may have other reasons or ways that you do favors, give breaks or cut some slack, however you view it. Please share them with us by writing a comment below.
Information gathered from this blog post is intended to be educational in nature only and does not replace the advice of an attorney about your specific matter. If you are a landlord of either residential or commercial space, and you are wondering whether you can enforce your lease agreement, collect unpaid rents or remove a tenant who is breaching its lease agreement or the law in some way, please contact this office for additional information. We look forward to speaking with you.