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Old 05-19-2020, 02:30 PM
MikeF is offline
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As a Landlord Am I Being Fair? (Covid related)


I have a tenant (my only one) who pays $1300 per month. She got laid off at the end of March as a result of covid and asked for a break on the rent. I said I could knock it back to $800 and we would see how things went. She asked for another $100 off and I, reluctantly, agreed. Same thing in May - $600 off. She now has asked to continue since she is still not back to work. The thing is, I know that she is making almost exactly as much as before, based on the $600/week money. She was taking home about $1000 every two weeks before plus some money as a Door Dash driver. Additionally, she gets unemployment, the $1200 one time payment plus the $500 child one time payment. I also know that she has various credit card debt and suspect she is taking advantage of me a bit in order to pay down these bills. I said I wanted to raise the rent by $200 a month until it was back to $1300. This would result in an overall savings of $1800 for her. FWIW, there are no tax or other breaks that I'm aware of for lost rent money.

I think that I've been more than fair but I have a biased opinion. What do you think?

P.S. - She has not once been on time with the rent. All kinds of excuses. It always gets paid eventually but two weeks late is an average. I've waived late fees so that she doesn't get so far behind that she decides to stop paying altogether and I have to go through the eviction process. Which, due to covid, would be on hold anyway even if I wanted to.
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Old 05-19-2020, 02:41 PM
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You've been more than fair and the tenant is taking advantage of you.
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Old 05-19-2020, 03:00 PM
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You've been more than fair and the tenant is taking advantage of you.
I tend to agree with this but it's fair to ask yourself, "What are my best options?" If you go back to the original rent amount and demand full payment on the agreed upon schedule, what's likely to happen? Do you think she'll shape up and are you prepared to begin eviction proceedings if she doesn't? IF you can evict her, can you find a new tenant at your preferred price point?

Much depends on what kind of a tenant she is otherwise. Does he maintain the place in a neat and tidy manner? Is she quiet and reasonable or is she disruptive and demanding?

If she's generally a good tenant and you want to keep her around, the first thing I'd do is quit waiving the late fees on tardy rent payments. I'd also let her know that ready or not, the rent is going back up in some specified time frame at least three months in the future. Be professional and direct about it.

If she's not worth the trouble, bring the hammer down by executing whatever legal options you have and let the chips fall where they may.
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Last edited by Alpha Twit; 05-19-2020 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 05-19-2020, 03:03 PM
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You have been fair, but I'm not sure that your new plan will work out anyway. Is she likely to actually make the payments?

Do you have a lease with her? I suggest you draw something up which sticks the interim rent to something you can live with for 3 months (6 months)? At which time, the rent will return to the previous level, and missing amounts will be charged interest.

Side note - if she's taking home $2000 a month normally, she can't afford your place.
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Old 05-19-2020, 03:16 PM
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P.S. - She has not once been on time with the rent. All kinds of excuses. It always gets paid eventually but two weeks late is an average.
Red flag. I am not a landlord but I have been a tenant, and if I were a renter I would be OK with the deal you have provided in order to provide stability (for her and for you). I am sure it is not simple and easy to find trustworthy, long-term, good tenants. But this statement sets-off red flags for me all over - it makes it seem like she is a flake taking advantage of the situation, IMHO. With the current rules about evictions it sounds like you have no real options, so I would carry-on with your current agreement with a timetable for the amount phasing back to the prior arrangement.
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Old 05-19-2020, 03:55 PM
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Iím another ďlandlordĒ thatís renting out a single property.

I think the breaks you have given her are more than fair, way more than fair. Itís more than I would probably give and itís more than I could afford to give. The fact that sheís asking for more is a bad sign.

Frankly, I wouldíve given my tenant some sort of deferment if he had asked but I doubt that I wouldíve outright forgiven anything. I guess a lot of it depends on what your costs on the property are, mine are only a few hundred bucks less than the rent I charge.

I donít know how the rental market is where you are, but your tenant doesnít sound like someone Iíd jump through hoops to keep. My tenant is a professional with a good job and he reliably sends my rent checks out 5 days before the first of the month so I always get them by the 1st. Iíd work with him just to keep him.

If he approached me needing help Iíd know he really meant it, it isnít something he would do lightly. But your tenant sounds like one of those people that canít take responsibility for her own life.

I think you need to tell her that you canít help her out more than you have so far and if she needs financial help she needs to go to her family or friends.

And thereís something else I think you need to do with regards to the $1800 in rent concessions that you are extending. You need to get some sort of written agreement that these rent reductions are conditional upon her paying the agreed upon rent on time for the duration of the lease and/or her occupancy and giving proper notice when she intends to vacate. IANAL, so I canít advise you as to how to accomplish this legally.

But the intent would be that if she ever becomes unable to pay even the reduced rent and breaks the lease or you have to start eviction proceedings - then you can sue her for the $1800 in concessions you gave in addition to anything else she might owe.

Because it sounds like a situation like this may be in your future. And it may push her to start paying on time.
Of course, no matter what you agree to legally, you canít get blood from a stone.

Last edited by Ann Hedonia; 05-19-2020 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 05-19-2020, 04:09 PM
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I think you've been more than fair and given her a good deal. It sounds like she's taking advantage of your kindness. If she's consistently late on the rent, then likely she's late or slow-pay with her other bills as well. I think at this point you tell her you need to start increasing the rent because you need to cover your costs as well. You can tell her you gave her a deal on the rent because you thought it would be temporary, but you can't afford to keep going like this. Either you need to find a tenant who can pay $1300 or you'll sell the place. If she can't pay, you don't need to extend her any more favors. It sounds like she'd be better off in a cheaper place anyway if she's behind on her other bills. She should be putting the extra rent money towards those bills.
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Old 05-19-2020, 05:18 PM
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I've been a landlord.

In fact, I desperately wanted to skip this thread, but it's like looking at an accident scene as you drive by.

Fact: tenants cannot add or subtract.

Fact: tenants cannot tell time.

Fact: tenants have no clue what a calendar is for.

Our tenants used to seem like normal people, until they moved into our property. Then they were taken over by the alien pod people.

Right now, today, would be a good day to see this lady, face(mask) to face(mask). Don't invite her into your home, because she will look at all your nice stuff and decide you don't really "need" her money.

Well, truthfully, most tenants figure that, anyway.

Tenant brains look at their own circumstances, and see all the things they need: utilities, food, gas for their car, booze, cigarettes, and drugs. And then they think of that gigantic pile of money you want for rent.

There's no question THEIR needs outweigh YOUR needs.

I can't understand how people develop such a selfish lifestyle. The way I was raised was, "first you pay the bills, and then you eat."

Anyway, back to your situation...

The "accommodations" for this pandemic situation is that rent, mortgage, and utilities are DEFERRED. Some people need that word defined, because they get the impression it means "gift."

Tell your renter that the rent is $1300 a month. Right now, and forever more. You deferred the rent for her, but you cannot continue to do so, because she will be stuck owing you so much money!

In your hand, have a letter that says just that, 2 copies. Have her sign and date your copy.

Then go home.

FYI the back rent that you deferred for her is forever lost. Keep records and declare it on you taxes next year as a business loss.

You have my utmost sympathy.


~VOW
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Old 05-19-2020, 05:31 PM
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Tenant checking in.

The OP has been more than fair.

On the other hand, I'm the sort of tenant that pays my rent on the first reliably, and on the rare occasion that's a problem I tell the landlord ahead of time along with how and when I plan to pay it. And then I stick to that commitment.

Not all tenants are flakes, but a lot of them are.
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Old 05-19-2020, 05:42 PM
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Tenant checking in.

The OP has been more than fair.

On the other hand, I'm the sort of tenant that pays my rent on the first reliably, and on the rare occasion that's a problem I tell the landlord ahead of time along with how and when I plan to pay it. And then I stick to that commitment.

Not all tenants are flakes, but a lot of them are.

Where in the Hell were you when we had rentals! I would have kissed your feet every month!


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Old 05-19-2020, 06:26 PM
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You have been entirely fair. My sisters and I own and rent the former family home. Our tenants have been there for 15 years and are exceptional. One of my sisters made an inquiry to the management company that handles our place. "Were the tenants financially impacted by the covid situation?" The answer was yes so we three decided to waive (not defer) the May rent.

Exceptional tenants are entitled to occasional exceptional service. You helped your tenant when she needed it, but don't throw yourself under the bus.
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Old 05-19-2020, 10:19 PM
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OP's unreasonable demands have already driven this poor women into debt, and on hearing that she might have received a $500 payment to feed her child, OP's only thought is, "Why isn't that mine?"

OP is a monster.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:18 PM
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Where in the Hell were you when we had rentals! I would have kissed your feet every month!


~VOW
I don't need my feet kissed, thank you, but I'll accept cookies.

Frequent tenant, I agree with Broomstick's opinion.

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Originally Posted by blindboyard View Post
OP's unreasonable demands have already driven this poor women into debt, and on hearing that she might have received a $500 payment to feed her child, OP's only thought is, "Why isn't that mine?"

OP is a monster.
What, you get that from "I know she's got some credit card debt"?

My Telepeaje counts as a credit card: any time I pay a toll with it, I incur credit card debt. Apparently in blindboyard's universe that is the fault of whomever I happen to be renting from at the time.
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Last edited by Nava; 05-19-2020 at 11:21 PM.
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Old 05-20-2020, 10:32 AM
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My tenant was late and behind for a year after a period of unemployment. I worked with her on payment plans, and reduce the late fees, but didn't reduce the rent. She had every excuse int he world as to why she couldn't make rent. Finally, just as COVID hit, she was current, but had been given a notice to quit because I was tired of dealing with her every month.

She now says she's put a deposit on a new apartment complex being built, but things are delayed (not a surprise here, where building is going crazy). She has stayed current through this time of COVID. I even offered her a rent reduction, because she usually has a 2nd job as a bartender, and I knew she wasn't going to be able to work that job. But she says she's good - her company is paying them an extra amount for daycare expenses, or something. I've extended the time she's allowed to stay, but still expect her to move out.

Some things are just not worth the headache.

For your tenant, I'd tell her you can no longer afford to discount the rent, and that full rent is due or she vacates the place. No more excuses, no more late rent. Pay or leave.

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Old 05-20-2020, 10:47 AM
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Where in the Hell were you when we had rentals! I would have kissed your feet every month!


~VOW
Did you run credit checks? We've had at least 6 different tenants between our two rental properties, and everybody has been pretty much on time. No issues yet. Our payment schedule is first of the month, but grace period until the 5th. I think once or twice in the past nine years have we had someone exceed the grace period, and it was only by one or two days, so we didn't charge any kind of interest or anything.

As to the OP, you are being more than fair, and I agree that the tenant is trying to take advantage of you.
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Old 05-20-2020, 11:58 AM
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OP's unreasonable demands have already driven this poor women into debt, and on hearing that she might have received a $500 payment to feed her child, OP's only thought is, "Why isn't that mine?"

OP is a monster.
Unreasonable? Isn't a lease or rental agreement where both the renter and the landlord agree on what is reasonable so there is no confusion on this point later? And in this case, the OP has provided some flex due to the situation but the tenant still sounds flakey on paying rent. How is the landlord in this case able to feed *their* children if the tenant can just decide how much to pay and when? Do you think all landlords are sitting around eating bon-bons counting the money they are raking-in from their tenants? Well, other than Jared Kushner, that is.
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Old 05-20-2020, 12:17 PM
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OP here. I sure hope blindboyard is whooshing. Otherwise, wtf? She has asked to extend the deal for one more month and then go to the graduated payments until normal rent is paid. She claims that she hasn't received her stimulus money yet since she doesn't have direct deposit with the IRS. I know this is an issue with the payments so I can't argue that. I agreed with no further breaks and she agreed to that. So, its another $200 I eat. She does have other income - child support, Door Dash driver and a boyfriend that stays there some or most of the time who she claims is contributing. Not the ideal candidate but the best of the applicants that I was getting. Rent is late but it always arrives. Outside of this rent thing, I have been relatively untouched income-wise so I look at this as my contribution to those less fortunate (and make me feel less like a sucker).
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Old 05-20-2020, 12:46 PM
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Did you run credit checks? We've had at least 6 different tenants between our two rental properties, and everybody has been pretty much on time. No issues yet. Our payment schedule is first of the month, but grace period until the 5th. I think once or twice in the past nine years have we had someone exceed the grace period, and it was only by one or two days, so we didn't charge any kind of interest or anything.

As to the OP, you are being more than fair, and I agree that the tenant is trying to take advantage of you.

We sure did! Called employers and current landlord, too!

Alien pod people!


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Old 05-20-2020, 01:07 PM
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Speaking as an Ex-Landlord.

The eviction process sucks ass, is difficult, and at every turn, lubes you up for one more turn at your backside. If you can avoid it, do so.

Talk to her, and say that you understand her situation, and in these troubling times, perhaps she may need to look for a place with lower rent. Offer her one free month of rent if she gets out by the first. The $1,200 you'd eat would be significantly lower than the court costs, legal fees, processing fees, etc.

Also, if you can get her out that way, usually, they won't trash the place, like they do if they get the full 90-day eviction process through the courts. The costs of repairs, landscaping, etc., can also be avoided.

Once you've been dragged through the full legal process for 90 days, you'll do whatever you can to avoid it.
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Old 05-20-2020, 02:45 PM
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Where in the Hell were you when we had rentals! I would have kissed your feet every month!


~VOW
I begin to understand why my landlord was so sorry to see us go, when we finally bought a house, even though he was probably able to charge a fair amount more to the next tenant. It's a landlord's market where I live (San Francisco) due to chronic shortage of rentals, and very high rents. But he was a very good landlord, never raised our rent over 5 years, and always fixed things immediately (though things rarely went wrong.)

I think VOW's advice is pretty wise. You need to be business-like and not let your tenant wheedle you into giving more than is warranted.

I also agree with Sunny Daze, it sounds like she can't really afford that place. I don't know what you can do about that now, unless you end up evicting her and can select a better prospect next time.

Finally, I was probably raised with values like VOW's, but I would change it to: "First you pay your bills, then you eat, then you save, then once in a while you can buy something, for cash, that isn't a necessity."
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Old 05-20-2020, 04:07 PM
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OP's unreasonable demands have already driven this poor women into debt, and on hearing that she might have received a $500 payment to feed her child, OP's only thought is, "Why isn't that mine?"

OP is a monster.
Seriously?

There is NOTHING unreasonable about a landlord wanting the rent to be paid. That is, after all, the whole point of renting - exchanging a fixed amount of money in exchange for living in a sound building.

If the tenant could not afford $1300/month in rent but signed such a lease anyway that is NOT the fault of the landlord - that is the fault of the tenant for making a poor financial decision.

When a tenant has a financial upset the ethical thing to do is go to the landlord and explain what the situation is - which it sounds like happened in the OP's scenario. Now, the landlord is under zero obligation to renegotiate or change any terms. Many will do so, because losing a tenant case be a hassle, and evicting one is always a hassle. But no landlord has to do that. It is entirely legal for a landlord to begin eviction proceedings the first time rent is missed (although right now evictions will be on hold in some places, but that won't last forever).

The OP generously cut the tenant some slack. But there is nothing unreasonable in wanting the rent money because a landlord has bills, too. A rental property isn't a charity, and even when it's run as a non-profit there are still bills to pay, taxes, maintenance, etc. Now the landlord knows the tenant has received some money it's not at all unreasonable for the landlord to ask the tenant "hey, will you pay some of that money you owe me?". I don't think the landlord is expecting the tenant and kid(s) to go without food, but speaking as a tenant, I'd personally would at least offer $50 or $100 towards any rent owed as a gesture of good faith even if I can't pay it in full. Because the last thing a landlord wants to do is have to chase you down.

Other things I have done when strapped for cash is offer to mow the lawn, tend the landscaping, do simple repairs, etc. The landlord won't always take a tenant up on that offer, but some will.

This is going to be a problem for awhile, because a lot of people have lost income but their name is still on a lease.
  #22  
Old 05-20-2020, 04:19 PM
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Wait, do you know for a fact she's getting unemployment? And the $600/week addition covid pay? Or are you assuming she's getting it?
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Old 05-20-2020, 05:59 PM
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I would agree she is taking advantage of the situation. If she is getting unemployment, she is likely making at least what she was before and there is no reason she shouldn't be accountable for her rent. If she is making the same amount of money or more, then why should she be getting a price break? You still have to pay your bills related to the house, whether you defer or not. Just because you own the property doesn't mean you don't have to pay bills for it!
As for Blindboyard's comments, I don't see any unreasonable demands from the OP. He set the rent, she agreed to pay it on specific terms. Not only has she not been sticking to those terms, she is now asking for more concessions from the property owner, who still has his own bills to pay. The OP isn't forcing the woman to live there; she agreed to his rent and terms when she moved in. I get it that things happen and rents are ridiculously high now, but the OP has been quite generous at this point.
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Old 05-20-2020, 08:33 PM
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Wait, do you know for a fact she's getting unemployment? And the $600/week addition covid pay? Or are you assuming she's getting it?
This. Very much this. It seems like for most of the country, regular unemployment claims are being held up for weeks, and the PUA isn't being paid out in a timely fashion, so even people who are entitled to both are waiting to see even one thin dime. Just because she might be entitled to these payments, doesn't mean she's gotten any of it.

Not that it doesn't put landlords in a very tough position, especially when you have mortgages and property taxes to pay yourselves. Hasan Minhaj just did a Patriot Act episode on the coming rental crisis on Netflix, it was very...scary.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:35 AM
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You've been more than fair and the tenant is taking advantage of you.
This. (FWIW I've been a renter since 1994.)

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Originally Posted by Sunny Daze View Post
Side note - if she's taking home $2000 a month normally, she can't afford your place.
I get why you say this, but in truth the only indication of whether someone can or can't afford a rental is whether they pay their rent on time. Not their income.

When I switched from apartments to townhouses, there was a time when my rent was slightly more than 50% of my monthly takehome because I prioritized having a quiet, safe place to live. But my payment record is spotless, I've always had good credit, and I've always gotten my full security deposits back (which is why my applications were always approved). How much rent I'm willing to pay is my decision; potential property managers should put much more weight on those rubrics than my income.

Of course, I'm not saying that landlords should approve everyone who claims they will pay the rent regardless of their income. Likewise, high income is no guarantee of regular payment. Rental histories and credit ratings often tell a much better story.
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Old 05-22-2020, 12:38 PM
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She's getting unemployment. At least she told me she is. What she also said was that the stimulus money hadn't arrived. I don't know if that means just the $1200+$500 child money or the $600/week. I've evicted one tenant and it was fairly easy as they didn't contest anything or show up in court. Still, the "between tenants" costs (painting/repairs/carpet cleaning) are pretty significant and I like at least two years with any tenant to recoup the cost. I took chance with this one and I knew it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things are back to normal in September. If not, the lease is up two months after that.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:26 AM
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the property owner, who still has his own bills to pay
As far as I can tell, the OP has not said this. Maybe I missed it, as I did start skimming a bit due to the repetition in the thread. Because, to me, this changes the moral calculus a lot.

If the OP needs more money, that is a different moral calculus than simply thinking they could make more money. Having to increase costs to survive is just an unfortunate part of the system we live in. But if the OP is just trying to make money, then the rule of "people matter more than money" also must factor in. For example, it would obviously be horrible to kick out the tenant during a pandemic simply because you wanted more money for a luxury yacht.

That said, even this is a balance issue, because we don't know how much the tenant is operating under necessity. That said, I don't agree with those who assume from their behavior that they are "taking advantage." What I see described is just the behavior of people with low money. You have competing bills if you're poor--and if you can pay late to one, but not the other, then you'll prioritize the other. If you can negotiate with one and not the other, that's what you'll do.

To me, the actual "fairness" as asked for in the OP depends not on whether something feels fair or on a one sided calculation, but on whether the landlord's needs and wants are balanced properly against the tenant's needs and wants. Neither should be getting more of their wants than the other. And the OP has to prioritize their actual needs.

I don't share blindboyard's reaction that the landlord is definitely wrong, but I'm also not for this "OP is obviously right" attitude in the thread, either. This is a moral balancing issue, and thus needs a counterbalance.

Plus, well, such a reaction makes me suspect the poster may also going through a housing issue right now, and may be projecting their own situation onto the OP. If I were getting unfairly kicked out of my house right now, I'd be more likely to read the OP unfavorably as well.
  #28  
Old 05-27-2020, 10:44 AM
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As far as I can tell, the OP has not said this. Maybe I missed it, as I did start skimming a bit due to the repetition in the thread. Because, to me, this changes the moral calculus a lot.

If the OP needs more money, that is a different moral calculus than simply thinking they could make more money. Having to increase costs to survive is just an unfortunate part of the system we live in. But if the OP is just trying to make money, then the rule of "people matter more than money" also must factor in. For example, it would obviously be horrible to kick out the tenant during a pandemic simply because you wanted more money for a luxury yacht.

That said, even this is a balance issue, because we don't know how much the tenant is operating under necessity. That said, I don't agree with those who assume from their behavior that they are "taking advantage." What I see described is just the behavior of people with low money. You have competing bills if you're poor--and if you can pay late to one, but not the other, then you'll prioritize the other. If you can negotiate with one and not the other, that's what you'll do.

To me, the actual "fairness" as asked for in the OP depends not on whether something feels fair or on a one sided calculation, but on whether the landlord's needs and wants are balanced properly against the tenant's needs and wants. Neither should be getting more of their wants than the other. And the OP has to prioritize their actual needs.

I don't share blindboyard's reaction that the landlord is definitely wrong, but I'm also not for this "OP is obviously right" attitude in the thread, either. This is a moral balancing issue, and thus needs a counterbalance.

Plus, well, such a reaction makes me suspect the poster may also going through a housing issue right now, and may be projecting their own situation onto the OP. If I were getting unfairly kicked out of my house right now, I'd be more likely to read the OP unfavorably as well.

The OP isn't running a charity!

News flash: landlords have bills, too. Landlords also have to serve regular meals of money to the mortgage company! And landlords are on the hook for repairs.

Truthfully, if the landlord has overdue bills or wants to hire dancing girls, it is of NO CONCERN to the tenant. The original rent was established at $1300, agreed to by both parties.

If you need a tank of gas for your car, or you buy a bag of groceries at the store, you don't wonder if the grocer or gas station owner is making payments on a yacht. Why in the Hell would it even cross your mind what the landlord is doi g with his or her money.

The rental is a business. There is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. The landlord has fulfilled his part of the contract, the tenant needs to fulfill her part.

Period.

If the tenant, or anyone else has a problem with renting, go buy a house!


~VOW
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  #29  
Old 05-27-2020, 12:25 PM
MikeF is offline
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OP here, again. Big T - who is to decide if I need more money? Some government agency? You? Do you need your income? Couldn't you get by with less or do you just want more? Just so you know, I went from making a little money to losing money. I do have bills, like everyone else. I am, essentially, giving this tenant $2000. That's cash never to be seen again. No tax break, no stimulus money. Its not like I have hundreds of units and can absorb the loss easily. I have exactly one unit and can't operate at a loss for long. The tenant's needs and wants have nothing to do with it. Is that how rent prices should be established? I'm a nice guy and like to help people when they're down but there are limits and I've reached mine. The tenant seems to understand this and also seems to be appreciative. We shall see.
  #30  
Old 05-27-2020, 02:54 PM
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Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VOW View Post
If the tenant, or anyone else has a problem with renting, go buy a house!
Based on my family's many experiences with both renting and owning a home, you are a hell of a lot more likely to be able to negotiate some leniency with a landlord than with a bank holding your mortgage, which is the very definition of a situation without mercy.

If you can't handle rent on a regular basis you really can't handle a mortgage.

I do realize this can leave the destitute with an unsolvable problem. That is, of course, a major reason we have homeless people in this country.
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