Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Emotional Intelligence in the Rental Business

We had a fire in one of our rental units a few weeks ago.  We were fortunate.  No one was injured and the damages did not spread to the other half of the duplex.  Still, the unit was declared uninhabitable.  Of course, the fire was investigated.  It started in the kitchen.  In the end it was determined that the fire happened due to negligence on the part of the tenants.

The displaced tenants, a refugee family of six, found themselves homeless after the three day hotel stay covered by the Red Cross was up.  Their initial plan was to immediately find another place to live, which we agreed with.  We were surprised when they approached us a week later and asked if they would be allowed to move back in after the damage was repaired.  While Dad spoke with my husband through an interpreter, the two small daughters looked up at me with hopeful eyes.  My husband laid out the conditions upon which we would allow them to re-occupy the unit: a new lease, a new deposit, a rent increase, and payment in full for any damages their current deposit did not cover.  They agreed.  We put it in writing.
“This just doesn’t feel right,” he told me day before yesterday. 
He had been at the unit the past two days and was having a difficult time getting the tenants to get their belongings out of the unit so the disaster recovery team could do its work.   He continued.
“They are hoarders.  They’ve made no effort to clean up their belongings, and we can’t have their smoke-filled furniture back in the unit after it’s clean.  I’m just not comfortable with them moving back in.”
“But we told them they could.  We put it in writing.”  I argued
“And after we let them move back in, then what?” he countered.  “I’ll have to do inspections every month, and I’ll probably end up evicting them anyway.”
I argued with him for two days.  My emotional connection with this family had me hooked.  I wanted to help them.  I also felt a strong emotional need to not go back on my word.  This literally blinded me to the fact that allowing them back in would be a poor business decision.  When I finally recognized this, we both confessed to having made the decision to re-rent the unit to them based on emotion. 
This is so very easy to do.  We meet prospective tenants.  We see the wife gush about the glass top stove in the kitchen.  We see children fall in love with their new rooms in our apartment.   And when they don’t meet our qualifications, it’s really hard to turn them away.  But we have to do it anyway.
Thankfully, my husband is more emotionally intelligent than I am when it comes to our rental business.  He contacted the family yesterday and told them to find another place to live.  Yes, it was a difficult call to make.  Yes, they were disappointed.  And yes, it was the right business decision.

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