I really do not know how you do it. If I could get a dollar every time someone said this to me, I may not have to do it. Being a landlord that is. Truth be told, it really isn’t that hard. What it is is incredibly stressful and heart hardening. Yes, you need a very thick skin but who knew I would need a hard heart as well. Hard hearts are made, not given.
We are living in challenging time and interacting with people can be less than desirable. People are made up of all different ways and some of those ways can be extremely difficult to work with. Some people are so kind and easy to deal with and then there are some that are just downright rude and think they are in charge. Many lie, some are always honest (rare), most are right in between. Tenants forget that this isn’t my first rodeo and most of the behaviors I have seen before just in different individuals. People are a creature of habit; I can typically tell right away what type of individual I am working with.
As I get older, I am learning to judge less and have more grace. My first reaction is always to battle back. But lately I am working on responding and not reacting. When they say fight or flight, I am never one to flight. I am very protective of my property and want it cared for. Does this happen? It is very, very rare. As a landlord you have to remember people do not care about your home like you do. It will harden the heart to see how floors are scratched, walls are filthy, blinds are broken, appliances damaged, dirt, grease and grime become part of the fixtures in just a few short months. Most do not care. Some do. Some will treat your house like they own it, leaving it as close to good as they found it. But I am learning it only hardens my heart and l am the only one losing sleep by stressing over what others do not care one bit about.
So what am I doing so I can live a little freer (mentally and emotionally) while also being a landlord? Here are a few things:
1. I think first before reacting. I ask myself will I feel good about my communications when I go to sleep at night and replay the entire interaction.
2. I think about the particular family or individual’s situation. Am I renting to a single mom who is working full time and has no assistance or is it one of my tenants that has 100% government assistance, no job and still causing me grief? I deal with everyone a little different. I may be a little more lenient with the first because the reality is I can relate a better.
3. I judge less. I found myself rolling my eyes when I would review applications that showed income coming from everything free except a job. If I am going to accept a tenant who doesn’t work, I cannot judge why they don’t want to work. Does this mean I cannot have my own opinion about it? Absolutely not, but I do my best not to judge the situation.
4. I make blanket statements to avoid the pushback and combative tenants who think everything is a slam on them or who think the rules do not apply to them. I have learned to say, “this is being sent to everyone,” or “this is not being directed specifically at you.” It helps a little with the aggressive responses that are quite common these days.
5. I stand firm in my rules and regulations of my property.
6. I don’t forget it is my property, I am just allowing others to rent it from me and I have the first rights in spite of what tenants may think and say.
7. I remember this is a choice, it is only a year and if the tenant demonstrates poor behavior or is not respectful of my property, I will not renew the lease.
8. I don’t take it personally. I know they are hard on me because I am their landlord this year. Next year it will be someone else. It is not me; it is just what role I play in this person’s life today.
Of course, I cannot rattle these things off to those who say to me they don’t know how I do it. I usually just simply state being a landlord is not always that bad. Like anything, there are ups and downs. It all comes in waves. When I sit with myself and ask myself if managing properties is worth the hard heart, I remind myself what I should be responding with is, “I don’t know how you don’t do it.”