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.

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.

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.

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.

I’m another “landlord” that’s renting out a single property.

I think the breaks you have given her are more than fair, way more than fair. It’s more than I would probably give and it’s more than I could afford to give. The fact that she’s asking for more is a bad sign.

Frankly, I would’ve given my tenant some sort of deferment if he had asked but I doubt that I would’ve 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 don’t know how the rental market is where you are, but your tenant doesn’t sound like someone I’d 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. I’d work with him just to keep him.

If he approached me needing help I’d know he really meant it, it isn’t something he would do lightly. But your tenant sounds like one of those people that can’t take responsibility for her own life.

I think you need to tell her that you can’t 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 there’s 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 can’t 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 can’t get blood from a stone.

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.

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

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!:smack:
~VOW

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.

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.

I don’t need my feet kissed, thank you, but I’ll accept cookies.

Frequent tenant, I agree with Broomstick’s opinion.

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.

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.

StG

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.

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.

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).

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

Alien pod people!
~VOW

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.

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.”