Why Rent Credits Are A Bad Idea

said on May 17th, 2010 categorized under: Tenants

green lawnWith last week’s rain and this week’s sun, lawns in the Twin Cities are growing like crazy.

In fact, if you own your own home and a duplex or two, lawn mowing could become your full time job. But odds are good you already have one of those and mowing is just something you do on top of everything else.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just give one of your tenants a rent discount in exchange for mowing for you?

Probably not.

In my early years of property ownership, I often traded reduced rent for help with snow, the lawn, painting or some other job I simply didn’t have the time to do.

This always seemed to work out…initially. As time went by, however, I discovered more often than not, my tenants didn’t keep their end of the bargain; at least to my standards.

Weekly mowing soon happened on every other Saturday. Snow was shoveled three days after it snowed.

Why?

Because it’s difficult to enforce the labor required for a rent credit.

You may tell the tenant she  has to make up the $50 in rent she was credited for lawn mowing. From experience, however, I know the odds are that she’ll never pay you; because she feels she did a good enough job as it is.

The next thing you know, you’re chasing her for money, she’s dodging you and the grass is long enough for braiding.

On the other hand, when you hire someone, they generally the work in order to get paid. If it hasn’t been completed to your standards, you can simply withhold payment until it is.

An easy solution, but one it took me too long to  learn.