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What NOT to Say to a Prospective Tenant

Think Before You Speak!

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

We always try to say the right things during the rental process, but sometimes the prospective tenants hear something that scares them off. Most savy landlords know what to say and what not to say, but amazingly, people still say stupid things to prospective tenants. Here is a helpful and sometimes humorous look at what I have personally heard other landlords say to prospective tenants.

  1. Discriminatory Statements or Questions can get a landlord into serious trouble as they are a violation of civil rights and the Fair Housing Act. http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing/title8.php
    • "I don't think you'd be happy here. This is an all ___(race, religion or nationality)__ neighborhood."
    • "I can't stand the smell of that kind of cooking."
    • "Are you two people gay?"
    • "I only rent to married couples. I need to see your marriage license."

  2. "I want the rent in CASH."
    Statements like this can lead the tenant (often correctly) to the conclusion that the landlord is not reporting the rental income to the IRS. If and when push comes to shove, tenants love to threaten that they will report you to the IRS for tax evasion.

  3. "I live in Beverly Hills."
    Don't brag to a tenant about where you live.
    • They should not know where you live.
    • They do not like to hear about how well off you are and how their hard earned rent is paying for your mansion and car.

  4. "My last tenant owes me 6 months worth of rent, plus I lent her some money when she got in trouble. How can you ignore someone who comes to you for help, ya know?"
    This kind of statement invites your new tenants to use you as their new ATM when things get tough.

  5. "My previous tenant is suing me for her security deposit."
    Why in the world would you share this information with a prospective tenant? It sounds like you are in the habit of not returning the security money.

    Famous last words...

  6. "Do whatever you like to the place. I'm sure whatever you do will make it even nicer."

  7. "If you have a problem with anything, let me know. I'll fix it."

  8. "Do you have LOUD SEX? Our bedroom is right under yours. Our last tenant was pretty loud. We heard every detail!"

  9. "The last tenant died in the rental."
    This little tidbit of information never seems to help make a rental more attractive.

  10. "Don't worry about what the lease says. We'll work things out as we go."

  11. "This is an illegal apartment with no permits. If anyone asks, you are my neice from New Jersey."
    You've just given the tenant a loaded gun pointed at you for use in any future disagreement. Tenants often play the "illegal apartment" card when the landlord tries to enforce various terms of the lease, such as payment.

  12. "I've never been a landlord before and I have NO idea of how this whole landlording thing works."

  13. "Please don't cry..... Don't worry I won't evict you."

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