Sometimes it’s about staying within the law, but usually it’s about fostering goodwill and mutual respect between you and your tenants. Of course, landlords are people too and just as capable of letting their frustrations get the best of them. However, taking it out on your tenants is never a good idea.
We don’t get to hear the landlord’s side of the story, but take a moment to read this story on the Consumerist. The gist of the story is that a reader shares a letter from her landlord that states rent will be increasing one cent due to the increase in the price of stamps.
The story points out the absurdity of spending money on the paper, ink, and delivery (door-to-door) of this letter to every unit in the apartment complex when, at most, they’ll recoup eleven cents per unit with the increase over the period of the lease.
Do not squash tenant goodwill pinching pennies
While we don’t know the terms of the lease, it’s likely the landlord was within his rights to enact this one cent increase, but should he have? The fact that the letter is being mocked publicly on the Internet might be enough evidence that he shouldn’t.
You may be thinking that the tenants could surely afford a one cent bump in rent, but the point is that by asking them to do so this landlord is murdering any goodwill he’s managed to build up over the years. Stamps are a cost burden that landlord and tenant bear equally: the landlord uses them to send his tenants their bill and the tenants use them to send back the rent. By passing that cost onto the tenant, the message being conveyed is that the landlord is more important than the tenant and is willing to exert his power over them in the situation to make sure that’s known.
Since the amount in question seems so insignificant, the tenant only sees it as an oppressive show of power and regards the landlord as a bully. Is that how you want to be seen by your tenants? Do you think the good ones will want to continue renting from such a landlord?
My guess is this landlord acted on an emotional reaction he was having to the increase in stamp costs, not thinking about how passing the cost along might cause his tenants to perceive him.
So the next time you have a strong emotional reaction to something, be sure to reflect on the actions you are about to take. As a landlord, you might just keep yourself from damaging the goodwill you value between you and your tenants.
photo: Jonathan Pobre