Rent Sense: Why favors are not fair
By Neil Fjellestad and Chris De Marco
FBS Property Management
On a daily basis we are asked to make exceptions to our policies by existing and/or potential renters.
Here’s a sampling of these requests-
• I know we have a credit problem but it shouldn’t keep me from being considered for this rental.
• We had a problem at the last place we rented but there were special circumstances.
• My roommates are providing personal guarantors but I shouldn’t need to do so.
• Maybe we did clog the commode; break the window; stain the carpet but shouldn’t be charged.
• My rent payment is late but I want you to waive the required late charge.
• I can’t pay my rent because I had to make my car payment; lost my job; my spouse left me or I spent the weekend in the hospital.
• Pets are not allowed at the property but I needed a new roommate and he has a dog.
Usually these requests are couched as favors that are needed; have been granted by others; and we must comply in order to be fair or humane or to avoid a barrage of complaint by this person or someone that stands up for this person. Frequently, there is an attempt to contact the rental owner directly hoping to get something from them that was not approved by us. At the end of the day our rental customers must come back to resolve the issue with us.
We respectfully listen to the requests; explain the purpose of our policies and how these policies apply to this situation. We have to point out that our assignment is to provide quality rental housing at competitive rent and this is why they were attracted to do business with us in the first place. We remind that we reviewed our policies along with the terms of the lease and all these were accepted in writing by all parties. Allowing an individual to ignore one contract requirement can be misinterpreted to unravel or dilute other contract terms. Finally, we note that an exception for one is in effect unfair to everyone else that didn’t receive special treatment. For some such exceptions can be construed as a Fair Housing violation, for others just bad customer relations.