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Ask Dave

Showing Mercy

Alex doesn't want to be mean to her tenants, but as their landlord, she has to figure out how to deal with them not paying rent this month.

QUESTION: Alex is wondering if she should let her tenants skip this month’s rent. The woman lost her job last month, and in the last 10 months they have been on time with payment. She thinks they had enough money to pay her, but used it for other things like a car payment. What should she do?

ANSWER: I would have told them that food is first, lights and water second, rent is third and car is fourth. I would require them to take my advice or move. If they will follow your advice, which is based on being good for them, then I would cut them some slack. But if they are misbehaving with money, why would you cut them slack? You have to be firm and fair to be a quality landlord. I try to treat someone like I’d want to be treated if I were in their shoes.

Tell them you want to see a written copy of their budget, and that they are spending their money wisely. If they don’t, you can start to move them. If they are out of work and are literally choosing between you and food for the family, cut them some slack. If they are having keg parties on the weekends, then get them out.

It doesn’t make you evil to say that you’re not running a homeless shelter. Sit down with them and get intrusive into their business, in order that I can feel good about extending them mercy, so you can see how they are going to pay you. If they don’t let you, start looking at moving them.