Easy on the people, hard on the problem

Easy on the people, hard on the problem


I learned my property management system from David Tilney. He has a fantastic course that will change the way you view land lording in general. One of the things David says is, “Be easy on the people but hard on the problem.”


Truthfully, when I heard this, I had no idea what David was saying.


My first real-world teacher, whom I’m blessed to call mentor, Bill Cook had to teach me what that saying meant.


So you see, David taught me his property management system, but Bill taught me how to implement it.


Let’s look at an example.


We have a mobile home down in Cartersville we bought as a Lonnie Deal. A Lonnie Deal is where you buy a mobile home on a rented lot for cash and sell it with owner financing.



The people buying that house were really late paying us last month, but they stayed in good contact with us and asked if they could have until the 14th to pay. We agreed, but we went ahead and gave them a pay-or-quit letter on the sixth like we do everyone else who’s late. In the letter, we gave them until the 14th to make their payment. They paid and everything was good.


This month they informed us that they needed until the 18th to pay – that’s too late.


When things like this happen, go ahead and start the dispossessory (eviction) clock by sending out a pay-or-quit letter (be hard on the problem), but schedule a face-to-face meeting so you can find out how to be easy on the person.


As it turns out, the husband in the household had taken a new and better job. The job transition was supposed to be seamless. After working a notice at his previous job, however, the man found his new employers had postponed his start date by two weeks.


That meant two weeks without pay – our people had been playing catch up ever since.


At the meeting, I found out this new job was leading them to move to South Georgia; actually the husband was already there. Their plan was to move the rest of the family this coming summer. With this in mind, we all decided purchasing the home was no longer right for them. Instead, we decided to convert their contract to a lease agreement that would end when the family moved down to join the husband. To help them out, we forgave that month’s payment. That put them back on their feet – easy on the people.


hand-written-noteFinally, I had the wife hand write a letter outlining our agreement to convert the contract to a lease agreement (citing that month’s payment forgiveness as consideration). I also had the couple email the office stating they were satisfied and grateful (their words) for how things had turned out.



Why’d we do all that?



This whole time we’d been working hard on the problem. We’d started the dispossessory process by sending the pay-or-quit letter. But to help the couple, we exchanged their ownership position in the home for forgiveness of the late payment, stopping the dispossessory process, and converting our agreement to a lease. The hand written letter, along with the time-stamped and dated emails, would make claims of ignorance on the couple’s part or claims that we took advantage of them hard to substantiate in court should they ever want to renege on our agreement.


In the foreground of this process, we were actively helping our tenants. But our background actions allowed us to cover ourselves. This methodology stems directly from Bill’s teachings, and that’s how he showed me how to be easy on the people, but hard on the problem.


Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.

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