I am often asked if I have rental vacancies or if I know of any other private landlords that may have units available. My first question is why are you seeking a “private landlord” and what exactly does that mean to you?
A “private landlord” is the owner of the property that also operates the property or acts as the property manager. Just because we are acting in this role does not mean we are more lenient than a large property management company, do not operate by the same rules, or will accept a tenant with poor credit or poor rental history. Actually, it is the complete opposite and here are a few reasons why.
1. A private landlord has way more stake in the game than a management company. It is his/her hard-earned money that goes into the property and therefore he/she is going to be more particular about who rents the home.
2. A private landlord knows he/she will ultimately be on the front line when it comes to dealing with tenant issues. He/she wants to deal with kind tenants that make he/she feel comfortable.
3. A private landlord knows he/she will suffer if your rent is not paid or you damage the home. It affects his/her pocket directly. If the tenant was a non-paying tenant in the past or a destructive tenant in the past, we are aware there is a good chance the tenant will repeat the behavior.
4. A private landlord recognizes a tenant is going to have access to him/her more readily than dealing with a large property management firm that may or may not call you back when issues arise. Therefore, he/she wants to deal with tenants that are respectful of his/her time and communicate professionally and respectfully.
Private landlords notice way more things when selecting a tenant than a large property manager. A large property manager determines whether you rent one of their units solely on criteria. This criterion may be (but is not limited to) credit score, monthly income, past judgements and evictions, and rental history. A private landlord also uses all of this criterion AND more. More being your character, the way you communicate during the entire process from inquiring about the unit to waiting to see if you are accepted. Are you kind and courteous with your emails and texts or are you curt and short with poor grammar? Are you being considerate of the time of day you are reaching out? A private landlord takes all of this into consideration. I once had an applicant who would call me several times a day asking questions about her application and every time she called she would be fighting with her boyfriend using extreme profanity. I can assure you that that candidate was checked off the list immediately even if she had a perfect credit score and made a lot of money.
Communication matters prior to leasing and during your lease. I often make hard decisions not to renew someone’s lease even if they were a solid payer because of the disrespectful communications during the lease term. When a tenant is working with a private landlord we take all of this into account. We note how a tenant spoke to us, how they maintained their home inside and out, how they communicated maintenance issues or issues related to late rent. We noticed if you had more people in the home than you were supposed to because as a private landlord we care about our properties. A large property management company is more than likely going to be staffed with people that come and go and do not have a personal relationship with you or the property. They do not take ownership in the property they are managing; they simply manage it for an absentee owner or an owner who does not want to deal with the day to day operations.
If it were me, I would think a private landlord was going to be more particular and follow all of the lease protocols as they are written as this is their legal protection. Maybe a “private landlord” is not more lenient after all.