How To Completely Blow A Rental Opportunity

February 27th, 2011 · 15 Comments · Property Management, Rental Property

Creative Commons License photo credit: de rigueur

As you know I make my living leasing out properties for smaller landlords. I get the properties I get and I have to rent them. In many cases, this can be a difficult job. This situation happened just yesterday and it was the landlord that completely blew the deal in about 37 seconds.

The Property In Question

The property is wonderful, in a fantastic area. I’ve been having problems renting it out because at $1950 per month, it’s at the high end of what most people can afford. It’s also a duplex with a basement apartment. Three bedrooms upstairs with separate everything and 6 appliances. Most tenants, when given a choice, will choose a townhouse with no basement apartment tenant.

It’s also no smoking and no pets. This alone reduces your tenant pool by about 50% especially the no pets. This property appeals to the following tenant profiles, roommates and families. Families often have pets. They also make noise and this is a concern with a shared property.

You can also expect in a property like this, that you won’t need a ton of showings, it is beautiful.

How The Owner Totally Blew It

So I’m showing the place and the potential tenants are interested. It’s a family. The lady asks “How much are the utilities?”  I don’t know so I go to ask the owner…and that’s when the deal blew up in my face.

Instead of answering the simple question he starts going off the deep end. Here’s a summary of what he said in about one minute.

  1. His first tenants, a couple, used about $155 per month. They stayed there for 15 years.
  2. He applied this usage to the next tenants, a family of six, who were waiting to have a custom home built, they used “way too much”
  3. They kept the house “way too hot” at 79 degrees
  4. They didn’t pay him and owe him $400 for extra utilities.
  5. He’s suing the previous tenants in Small Claims Court
  6. He starts talking about the HST and how it makes utilities more expensive.
  7. He starts talking about the downstairs tenants and how he absolutely does not want them disturbed. They are very quiet.
  8. Then he asks if they have kids (illegal according to Human Rights)
  9. He gets a look like he just bit into a lemon when the tenants say that they do.
  10. He then repeats that the downstairs tenants have been there for 8 years and must not be disturbed.
  11. He’s a big shot landlord and has 25 properties and has been in the business for 43 years.

There’s a lesson here.

Don’t Take Your Emotional Baggage From One Tenant to The Next

Have you ever been on a first date where all the person does is talk about how men/women are crap and how horrible their ex was?

Did you like it? Is this pleasant?

Approach New Tenants With A Clean Slate

There is no reason to assume that your new prospective tenants will be anything like the last ones. They may be better or worse and only time will tell. But as a landlord if you start talking about your last tenants, especially if they were bad, to your new prospective tenants you’re going to scare any decent tenants away.

You’re not focusing on evaluating your new tenants, you’re busy flapping your lips about the last ones. You want to find out as much information as possible about your new applicants rather than talking about yourself and your bad experiences, HST and things that have nothing to do with the person in front of you.

Good Tenants Are In Demand

They don’t have to put up with your unresolved anger with your previous tenants, the current landlord & tenant law or any other issues you may have. They don’t have to rent from someone who acts like a hostile lunatic.


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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Joe Q.

    The owner made these comments in front of the prospective tenants? If I were them I’d have run for the hills.

    Life is too short to rent from someone who is confrontational even before you’ve signed a lease.

    • Rachelle

      I summarized the conversation but I doubt I conveyed the inflection used… I just asked about the utility amount and this is what came out, kind of like when your cat coughs up a hair ball. Very unpleasant.

      It took the tenants about 60 seconds to clear out after he finished.

  • zerovacancygal

    Wow….that showing went from good to worse in a split second eh..

    Is it safe to ask if you are still representing this landlord?

    • Rachelle

      Sure it’s safe… I still am representing the landlord and this is the second property I’ve rented for him. Regardless of if they realize it or not this is the type of landlord that needs my services most of all.

      Left to their own devices, they have a very high chance of getting a horrible tenant. Although it’s fair to say that, if he happens to be at the property next time during a showing I won’t be asking any more questions. 🙂

      You should also the lease he’s come up with after 43 years in the business. It contains no less than 8 unenforceable clauses.

  • Mr. Cheap

    I’ve had the same experience (as a potential tenant) where I could tell the landlord had unresolved issues with previous tenants. Would I want to rent from them? No thanks!

    Good post!

  • Money Smarts Blog

    Good story.

    I’m wondering – if the guy is hiring you to do the property management – why is he even at the house?

    • Rachelle

      It’s because he buys houses on the the same street, he guts them and totally rebuilds them. The house he’s currently working on has no heat in it and so he goes to his empty house to warm up.

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  • Inge Laakso

    I’ve just totally gutted two semi-detached; top of the line and modern; have a website ( . I had a lot of interest, inviting those who contacted me to “come see”. Although I’m asking under 1600$, as soon as they get that info, they run away and my friendly overtures are kind of like a girl trying to get a date. NO ONE has come to see it. I am “at my wits end”. Any suggestions?

    • Rachelle

      After a very very brief look at the market in the area, it seems to me that you are right at the very very top of the price point for the area. In my opinion you have over improved your semi detached. It may well be worth what you are asking for it, but the number of people who are able to afford it considering the economy of the region is tiny. It seems to me from your site that you have paid a lot of money for brand name this and that but 99% of tenants don’t care if their toilet is a Kohler one piece or a $69 Home Depot special as long as it flushes when they use it. So that is what I think. I’d suggest that you read and go by that. If you aren’t getting any showings the price is too high. The market is speaking to you loud and clear,you just aren’t listening.

      Also as far as your website is concerned I’d suggest that you think and advertise about what the benefits are for your target market rather than a description of the property. You need to try to evoke emotion.