Emotions: The SPL’s Nemesis

I recently spoke with a client and friend of mine about a tenant that she needed to evict only after one month of tenancy. It seems the tenant didn’t really have the best history but her mother pulled on the heartstrings of my friend and now she has the tenant from hell.  Even the other tenants were complaining about her, from loud music, smoking and violating other building rules, you name it this tenant was guilty.  What happens to us as humans that even though we have irrefutable evidence, we allow our emotions to lead us away from sane and responsible decisions?  And we’re all guilty of this faux pas. Ditching the gym, avoiding a household chore, delaying a work project, not returning important calls.  And depending on what we’re turning a blind eye to, the consequences to our well being may vary. If I eat a slice of the office birthday cake, I risk feeling guilty for not making healthier choices. If I willingly enter into a lease agreement with a known chaotic tenant, I risk so much more than my sanity.  But emotional decision making is one of the greatest common denominators I see in SPLs.  Whether feeling guilty or trying to be nice, SPLs are always lowering themselves into ditches that can take months to years to get out of. I made one emotional decision as a landlord and it was enough hell to burn into my brain a searing reminder to never do it again. I was at a financial weak point and needed a tenant badly.  I did my due diligence and researched as best I could the applicant’s background.  Although no red flags popped up, instead of taking my time to get acquainted with the application information, I was rushed head first to occupy an empty unit.  This tenant ended up being a nightmare I couldn’t seemingly get rid of. The lease I discovered was useless when it came to her rights on certain things. I was left in the dark and had to accept it while holding my breath waiting for the lease to expire.  This tenant nick picked over any and everything which left me running around like a headless chicken.  And the ONLY way I was able to expel her from my building was due to my anal retentive documenting that she could not legally contest. Talk about a lesson learned, the hard way!  I now refuse to let external circumstances, no matter how dire to move me to make an unfounded decision.  I know we all want 100% occupancy but nothing is worth our sanity.  I have found that having high standards not only ensures my sanity but leads to higher and longer term occupancy rates than not.  It also helps to weed out those who aren’t looking to abide by the rules.  So leave your emotions by the door when it comes to running your business  (yes, it’s a business people!), especially when it comes to friends and family. I never rent to those two groups, the headaches and liberties they take aren’t worth your sanity and it compromises your ability to be the CEO when needed.

Getting back to my client’s situation, I told her to document everything, even the warnings she has given the tenant and to move on evicting her as there is proof of lease violations. As SPLs, we’re not the big real estate companies with 10,000 or more units. Our multifamily buildings are our homes where we interact with our tenants and see them on almost a daily basis.  It’s the place where we raise our children, rest after work, host family dinners and have birthday parties.  And because those important things happen in our home, we deserve to see it as a place we want to be not a place we have to tolerate due to unruly tenants.  But the peace we deserve can never come forth from emotional thinking.  So put your emotions to the side and be the CEO of your sanity.

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