How to Train Your Tenants : Real Estate Investing Property Management

July 29, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More

How to Train Your Tenants : Real Estate Investing Property ManagementIt is amazing how quickly the tenant/landlord relationship can be defined and redefined.  You must lay the groundwork for how the relationship will work from the start.  If you lack an iron fist up front, it will be hard to enforce your rights later on.  When you try, your tenants will accuse you of “being a jerk all of a sudden.”  On the other hand, if you are tough up front and help them out later on if need be, your tenants will think (correctly) that you are being extremely fair. 

For example, I recently bought an investment property with tenants already in place.  The sellers had mailed the tenants a letter informing them there would be a change in ownership and management.  I did the same and also informed them of the new address to send the rent to, who to make the check payable to, and the contact phone number for any problems or questions.

The tenants were behind on their rent when I bought the property, and due to a family emergency I hadn’t followed up on the late rent.  By the time I was able to check again on the rent another due date had come and gone.  Up to this point, I had received no contact from the tenants. 

Hmmm . . . I am a new owner/manager.  I have tenants that are late on their rent.  And the tenants haven’t even bothered to call me about it.  This was bad, especially this early in the relationship.  I was training the tenants and teaching them how our relationship works. I had to nip this in the bud quickly.

I filled out and mailed a Pay or Quit Notice as well as a Statement of Account showing the tenants the amount they were behind, including late payments, late fees, and legal fees if I had to pursue that route. 

Now, normally at this stage, I also file an eviction on the tenants.  In this particular case, I didn’t because the previous owners had told me the tenants had been good in the past but had run into some life problems and were paying, but consistently paying late. 


This can actually be a benefit.  If properly handled, a consistently late paying tenant can add up to big profits for you, as long as you enforce your late fees. I was taught by my mentor to let the paperwork do the talking.  Therefore my leases define all the late fees plus a rental discount that is lost as soon as the rent is late.  I make at least $100 the first day the rent is late, plus $5 per day after that.  It’s a great profit center!

I had to travel to the area of town where my late paying tenants lived so I personally placed the “Notice to Pay or Quit” and the “Statement of Account” in their mailbox at around 4:30 that afternoon. This paperwork has very strong language about the implications of not paying.

At 6 pm that day, I received a phone call and an anxious sounding voicemail asking me to contact them as soon as possible to resolve this situation. I did not respond. The next morning at 8 am, I received a second call and another voicemail pleading with me to call them. I waited until about 10am to call back because I wanted to make a statement to the tenants. I don’t want them to think that I am at their beck and call. If they think that they can ignore me and their obligations and get me on the phone at any moment, their wrong. That’s not the kind of tenant/landlord relationship that I want to create.

We ended up negotiating a workable payment plan, and I wrote up a consent judgment for the tenants to sign.  If they don’t make the agreed upon payments on time, they have already consented to a judgment being filed against them (without the hassle or expense of me going to court) and agreed that a writ of possession would be issued giving them 24 hours to vacate the property.

How about that?

You are going to save untold hours of frustration and headaches wondering if and when you’ll get your late rent and fees by following this advice; plus you’ll have tenants who know you hold them accountable for their actions, but also know you are fair and willing to work with them when the situation warrants it.

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Category: Property Management

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  1. Tage says:

    Wow great stuff. I would often think that you would jump on that phone call, but after you have said this, it makes a lot of sense to not answer one’s phone every single time. Training them this way would be helpful.

    Also I really like the part about if you are really nice and lenient up front, but strict later you are a jerk. Yet if you are strict up front by lenient later, you are nice. It is all about conditioning, something that I haven’t thought about before. Thanks!

  2. Patrick Riddle says:

    That has to be a tough urge not to answer the phone when you have a delinquent tenant who is calling about money they owe you. I commend you on that one!

    I love the idea!

  3. WChristenson says:


    It’s all in the mindset when put into perspective. For example, if a tenant owes you a thousand dollars, it probably isn’t going to make you or break you. From that viewpoint not answering the phone is easy. If we look at it from the tenants perspective, they usually get served an eviction notice the day after receiving the pay or quit notice and could very well lose their home. As one of my favorite mentors says, “Never forget who has the problem” …or in this case never forget who has the BIGGER problem.