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Sunday, December 14, 2008

When do other folks problems become your own?

I had a conversation the other day with a friend of mine who happens to be a landlord. She has a tenant whose husband lost his job, the wife was put on bed rest due to a high risk pregnancy (she lost the baby) and couldn't work and then a close friend of hers went missing with no one to care for her toddler child and this woman took the child in. In the midst of this, she can't pay her rent. Another thing, it's close to Christmas and COLD outside. Now, I can see the story from both sides and I have empathy for all involved. My question is, when does this tenant's problem become the problem of my friend the landlord? And further, why should it? Let's say for the sake of argument that none of the above situations were in any way, the fault (directly or indirectly) of the tenant and her husband. Should that still mean that my friend should pay her mortgage and forego collecting rent because the tenant had a really bad run of bad luck? Should the tenant even expect this? Quite honestly, I don't think the tenant's bad luck should be of much, if any, concern to the landlord as this is a business deal NOT a charitable organization and I don't think the tenant should even expect the landlord to take these things into consideration. My friend has been patient and compassionate about the situation for over a month now but how long should she have to wait until she either gets money or gets the property back so she can rent it to someone who will pay rent? Should my friend be faced with paying for the tenant to have a place to live foregoing her own family's financial needs (especially now at Christmas). When does enough become enough? It's a tricky situation when you are in a business as important as providing someone a roof over their heads. I'm not sure I'd want a dog in that fight on either side.

But that's just me.


Fiona D. said...

There are business consdierations too. Would your friend be able to rent out the house this time of year if it became vacant? How desirable is this home to rent out in general (location, neighborhood, etc.?). Does the landlord have the money to pay for the home to be fixed up into rentable condition? Is this a short term problem? Does the tenant have a history of bad payment issues? Most likely the landlord has weighed these and decided it is easier to keep the tenant and see if they are really getting it together than to pay for the expenses of a vacant home. Because, a vacant home and the expenses to get it ready to rent out costs about three times as much as the actual rent.

I am just saying...

Ernie said...

True. As I said in my post, I see the issue from all sides. I'm just saying, if one isn't careful, allowing a tenant to stay past their "welcome" could be construed as the landlord being okay with the non-payment of the rent and instead of the tenant appreciating the leniency and patience afforded to them, a lot of tenants will simply turn predator and decide that they can slide on the rent whenever they need to finance a vacation because the last time they weren't thrown out. As I stated, this is a slippery profession for my friend. It's a hard decision either way. But, whatever decision she makes, I am convinced, will be the right one for all parties. She's just that good.