I got called a four-letter word
Last night, I was taken aback. I had a tenant call me a four-letter word. Now, I’m used to being called some four-letter words, and I’m OK with that. You see, not all of them are bad. I’m used to being called “boss.” Ashley calls me “cute,” and sometimes bumps it up to a full-fledged “hunk.” Of course, I have to be doing something special to gain that title. In general, the four-letter word people use to describe me the most is “nice,” but the word the tenant chose to use was not nice, and it was downright offensive.
Now, I don’t ever remember being called a male reproductive part by a tenant until now. That’s because we tend to have great relationships with our tenants. As a matter of fact, I’ve even been sitting in eviction court and had the tenants brag to the judge about how good we’ve been as landlords.
The reason for this comes down to the four jobs of a tenant, which I’ve discussed with you many times. If you’ll remember, those jobs are: 1. Take care of the house. 2. Pay on time. 3. Be conformable to work with by staying in good communication and always being respectful. 4. Be a good neighbor.
These jobs are what we require of our tenants in order for them to stay in our houses. And they are so important that we list them at the top of our lease, which makes them a part of the lease. Our tenant application process is designed to help us find people we believe can do these jobs, and we part ways with anyone who neglects them. In other words, we hire and fire based off of these criteria.
But it dawned on me that those jobs don’t just apply to tenants. They apply to us as the landlords, too. You see, we take good care of our houses, which translates to taking good care of our people. We pay our mortgages, taxes and insurance on time, which, once again, allows us to take good care of our people. We stay in good communication with our tenants, and we’re always respectful. And we make sure we’re good neighbors to them and the community.
And by implementing that mindset, we keep good people who do the same.
The tenant who decided to be ugly to me was lashing out. You see, they were an inherited tenant — meaning we bought the house with them in place. That also means that they didn’t go through our application process and meet our criteria. We kept them in place for a number of years trying to work with them, but the long and the short of it was they couldn’t afford the house. They couldn’t afford it when the previous landlord installed them, and that fact caused issues for them over the years.
We worked with them so that they could get into some income-based housing. The issue arose when they decided to move without giving proper notice and without paying for the month of the move. They were keeping their stuff in the house as they moved, but because they weren’t sleeping in the house, they didn’t see why they needed to pay rent.
We gave them a letter of demand informing them that they did owe rent for that month, and then, we filed for eviction like we were supposed to when the time came and they hadn’t paid. Once we filed, however, we let them know we had filed and why, along with what they could do to remedy the situation.
Seven days later, I got called the four-letter word. (And apparently, I was the biggest one they’d ever met.) They just couldn’t believe I would do something like that to them, and they went on a long tirade talking about how hard they’d worked to get out.
But here’s the thing: They still aren’t out. They still have stuff in our house, and they aren’t coming back to get it. And we can’t move that stuff out until we get a writ of possession from the court. And, they still owe us money. They tied our house up for nearly an additional month and paid nothing for that.
Now, when they called me that name, I could have engaged them and aggressively defended our position. I could’ve even jumped down their throats for being so disrespectful. But that’s not good business. And you know what else? It wouldn’t uphold the standard we set for our company. So instead, I chose to honor our code by being respective and continued to be some other four-lettered words: “calm, fair, just, and good.” And I like being called those words much better.
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.