Personal Feelings Aside: Good Business or Good Samaritan?

Personal Feelings Aside: Good Business or Good Samaritan?

7:51 AM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago 9

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When you have a business of putting people in homes, it may be quite easy to get wrapped up into doing what’s “right” as opposed to what’s “profitable.” Many of us want to help our fellow humankind keep off of the streets, but when does it become problematic to do so? We may feel like we are in a position that can help those in dire straits, but does the bank account agree with that assessment? Good Business or Good Samaritan

Keep Mindful of the Business

Many landlords can be seemingly heartless when it comes to the misfortunes of others. They seem to be comfortable with throwing families out on the street. However, is this a justifiable way to view someone who is simply looking out for their business? After all, doesn’t a landlord have the right to eat and sleep under his or her own roof? Being a good Samaritan can have a deeply negative impact on the lifestyle of the landlords themselves.

Provide Customer Service

Having good business sense doesn’t mean you should turn your back on humanity, however. Word of mouth and customer service play hand-in-hand for future success regardless of what your business pertains too. This doesn’t mean you should let every person who has a difficult time scraping together the rent take advantage of your hospitality. There has to be a middle area where business and being human coalesce.

Screen Every Candidate

Depending on the area your properties are in, you could hear sad stories from nearly every person walking into your doors about previous housing experiences. While many of them may be justified in having a harsh time, such as layoffs or debilitating injuries, many more still are looking for someone who isn’t going to give them a hard time once per month. Performing a background check on every potential candidate can help you see what kind of a past history the person has had in terms of paying rents on time. If he or she has had a long history of multiple housing due to a lack of payment, you can almost assure yourself that you may have the same experience with them.

Sustain Your Business

If you are able to sustain a loss from a potential candidate, then the risk may be worth your own peace of mind knowing you did what’s right by society. However, you need to make sure that your own needs are met as well. If you put yourself into bankruptcy in order to help others, then you will no longer be in a position to help additional people. In today’s world, being a goodSamaritan can only get you so far. Banks and debt collectors may not care that you are helping your fellow humankind keep off of the streets. These organizations are going to want the money without excuses. If you are affected by turning people away because they are unable to help you keep your business afloat and make sure you’re not in the same position they are, then you may want to look for a new profession.

You can be a good Samaritan and practice good business as long as you’re able to sustain yourself. It’s a fragile balance that could weigh heavily in one direction or another. There is nothing wrong with helping those in need, but it needs to be a method that the business can absorb. Your business is a separate entity that needs to survive in order to help you and your staff survive. Just because you turn someone away with a terrible decade long history of non-payment to a landlord, doesn’t mean you are any less of a person.

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Neil Patterson

8:30 AM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

The only way people will be able to afford housing is if Landlords stay in business.

Simple economic Fact.

Nice well balanced article thanks Liz 🙂

Jonathan Clarke

8:33 AM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

I aim to create a good deal for the tenant but a better deal for me.

A happy tenant and a happy landlord are not two mutually exclusive entities.

I am pretty charitable towards my LHA tenants I believe who are at the opposite end of the financial scale to me. I do not chase top ups as rigorously as I should. Partly because I like being lazy sometimes and partly because the £25 to them means much much more than it does to me.

Its an ever changing sea between letting someone off some rent and being taken for a ride and being seen as too soft. One of my tenants thinks I`m far too lenient. Maybe I am but I shout back at them . Its MY business so I will run it as I see fit. Running a business is a very personal thing. What works for one doesnt work for another. The Human kindness factor doesnt really feature in a business plan but it is what is within our soul that often is the very engine which drives a business forward . Especially in the service sector which I consider myself part of.

I think it was Naomi Campbell who said she wouldn`t get out of bed for less than 10K. I set my figure considerably lower than that but the sentiment is the same. We all have our level. These levels change with our moods.

By being a good Samaritan on occasions i might make the recipient feel good but I sure as hell make myself feel good as well - so thats selfish right ? Its all about me me me again......
As they say - Is there any such thing as true altruism?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

8:49 AM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

Yeeee Ha!

Welcome to Property118 Liz, you are our first guest blogger from across the pond. I'd love to visit Houston Texas one day. Is it really true that the cowboy landlords over there really do still wear Stetsons, chaps and spurs? LOL

My wife and I have a very close affinity to the Southern States, we were married on 10/12/2012 at 12:10 pm on St. Pete Beach Florida.

Nice article 🙂

10:28 AM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

Hi Liz,

Thank you for a considered and well thought out article.

My hope is that good landlords and good tenants will find one another and work together to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

I always try and deal with my tenants in a compassionate manner and work with them if they are in any kind of difficulty or trouble.

Good communication is absolutely paramount, and, as long as the tenant continues to communicate with me and does what they say they are going to do, I am happy to work with them and help them through a difficult period.

"Do you like people" was one of my "questions to ask yourself before becoming a landlord"!

Tenants are humans, not a rent payment. People do not always behave in a manner that you would expect, or that you would behave in yourself. It's worth bearing this in mind when being a landlord!

Jayne Owen

11:27 AM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

Hi Liz,

A good point, well considered. I would agree with what you are saying, though my wording might be different.

My thought is: how can we help anyone else if we do not help ourselves first? It may seem like a selfish perspective at first glance, but when you dig deeper, it's a matter of realising that if we are struggling, then we simply are not in a position to be able to support anyone else. The same is true for being a landlord - if we are struggling to pay the mortgage (etc), how can we be in a position to provide a decent home for a tenant? We may be able to manage for a short time through circumstances and a sense of humanity, but it's not sustainable in the long term.

Is it therefore more selfish to disregard our own affairs in favour of others if it brings us to a place of need ourselves?

Roy B

11:47 AM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

Just a quick word or thought- Is it better to lose a months rent and help the tenant than find a new one - yes as long as comunications are good. For even a half decent tenant is better than none and that months rent could be the breathing space for them to stay for a few years or more! Good business sense to me, Just choose your tenants wisely and treat them well.

12:09 PM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

I agree Roy.

I had a case last year where a female tenant was made redundant. She had four children and was incredibly worried about losing their home.

She went £600.00 into arrears, but I worked out a repayment plan of £100.00 per month for her over six months and she quickly got back on her feet, got another job, and all is back in order.

Communication is everything in these instances, but picking a good tenant in the first place, who wants to develop a lasting relationship with the landlord, is paramount.

Jayne Owen

12:26 PM, 5th November 2013, About 10 years ago

Absolutely. If the tenant is good, then it is both good business sense and a matter of integrity to support them through a challenging period, where there are positive intentions on both sides.

Mary Latham

15:46 PM, 8th November 2013, About 10 years ago

A very nice article Liz and a dilemma that more and more landlords are facing as more and more tenants struggle to keep up with their financial commitments.

My sister has a variation on your ethos and she often says this to me when am dealing with a tenant who has problems

"First save yourself then you can save the world"

The PRS must survive, because without us homelessness will be off the dial, but we are all people before we are landlords and a little compassion can make a big difference to a tenant in trouble. My compassion has cost me a lot of money over the years but I would not have it any other way.

Follow me on Twitter@landlordtweets

My book, where I warn about the storm clouds that are gathering for landlords is here >>></a

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