How to Say No to Tenants (the art of dealing with demanding tenants)

Successful landlords have learned how to be effective business managers. Real estate investment is a business, and as a landlord, you are responsible for making the necessary decisions that allow your business to be profitable, all while staying within the law.
One of the most effective things a landlord can do in order to run a business effectively is to learn to say no.
While this may sound cliché, mastering the skill of saying no can help you keep your sanity, streamline your business practices and make things easier for you and your tenants in the long run.

Dealing with demanding tenants

Modern culture has somehow changed someone’s polite refusal to do something into a harsh shutdown of conversation. When you say no to someone, you probably feel rude, mean or uncaring.
However, if you’re dealing with demanding tenants you must learn how to say no and draw boundaries.
Learning to say no is both empowering and freeing. It helps you assess responsibility, limits your time focused on unnecessary tasks and gives you a chance to prioritize your goals.
Many people also associate negativity with saying no, with the idea that someone who always says yes is more likeable and eager to please. As a landlord, neither of those characteristics really benefit you.
Instead, by saying no to some things, it opens up the doors for you to say yes on other requests and sets the tone for the landlord tenant relationship that you are not a pushover and won’t capitulate under pressure.
Successful landlords have learned this technique, and if you can master it, your management abilities will definitely improve.

6 Tips for Saying No to Tenants

As a landlord, learning to say no can be difficult and it may take you several instances to gain enough confidence to deliver your message. When you follow these tips, it can help you master this important business skill practiced by the most successful landlords..
Here are 6 helpful tips on saying no to tenants:

1. It takes practice

It may take some practice with saying no before you feel comfortable doing it in real life. Run through scenarios in your mind and formulate answers to requests where you say no.

2. You don’t have to be mean

Remember that when you say no, you never have to be mean or rude. It’s a real skill to turn down requests in a polite manner using language that is clear and concise but not abrupt or negative.

3. Body language is important

Your body language and tone of voice is a key part of delivering an effective no. Make eye contact, keep your voice even and firm, and deliver your decision with an explanation if needed.

4. Don’t apologize..too much

Many people bundle up a no with profuse apologies, which minimizes the effect of the conversation and suggests room for negotiation or another petition. Avoid overly apologizing—one simple and sincere apology will do.

5. Be respectful

Make sure you are saying no to the situation or request, not to the person. Being polite and respectful to the tenant while denying the request emphasizes that you are clearly focused on the business decision you are making, not putting the person down.

6. Explain your reason clearly

Offer an explanation as part of the message. When you can present your reasons clearly, the other person is more likely to accept your answer as final. They may not like it, but at least they will see your reasoning.
These tips can help you boost your confidence and get you mentally ready to stand your ground as needed when it comes to managing your business and making appropriate decisions for how you are handling your property.

Scenarios for Saying No to Tenants

In a perfect landlord tenant relationship, there would be no conflicts with tenants or instances where you would have to say no to someone. However, real life requires successful landlords to be able to deliver the no messages and gently but firmly decline requests.
Here are some scenarios based on real life situations where landlords said no gracefully, and how it benefitted their business:

Problem: Overly Demanding Tenant

Roberta has a tenant who is extremely demanding. The tenant, Lisa, frequently calls or emails Roberta with maintenance demands that must be fulfilled immediately. In order to get results, Lisa often vaguely threatens to contact various authorities, such as her lawyer, the police or a local tenant landlord group. Roberta always jumps whenever Lisa puts in a request for something, because she is intimidated by Lisa’s demands and threats.
This has resulted in many late night visits, expensive after-hours fees for service companies and plenty of stress for Roberta.
Solution: Roberta decides to say no to Lisa’s frequent immediate repair and maintenance demands.
Unless the repair threatens the safety of the tenants, would damage the property somehow or otherwise affect the warranty of habitability, Roberta says she will address the maintenance in a timely fashion. On this call and for the next several “urgent” request, Roberta tells Lisa that the requested service is not urgent, she won’t be addressing the nonessential repair immediately and that she will resolve the issue within the week and keep Lisa informed of progress.
Each time Lisa protests, Roberta calmly says no, explains that her approach is well within the legal requirements of landlord responsibility and that she will be sending a written statement of the course of action to Lisa and keep one for her records. After several similar incidents where Roberta says no, Lisa’s requests are fewer and more respectful.

Problem: Denying a Tenant Request

Davis is a landlord who has been fielding calls from other tenants about noise, parking problems and other lease violations from the guest of one of his tenants, Marcus. It seems that Marcus’ girlfriend has been staying at the rental unit almost every night and day, and it is evident that she is the cause of much of the problems. When Davis confronts Marcus about the girlfriend and the lease agreement violations, Marcus asks if his girlfriend can move in and be on the lease agreement. Davis knows that while Marcus has been a good tenant, the girlfriend has proven herself to be nothing but trouble.
Solution: Davis tells Marcus that he will not allow the girlfriend to be added to the lease agreement and that Marcus is in fact responsible for the actions of any guests to the rental property.
Davis is firm when he tells Marcus that if he cannot remedy the situation with the girlfriend’s behavior, Marcus will receive a 30 day notice to quit for lease violations. When Marcus protests, Davis shows him the place in the lease agreement about guests and violations and reiterates that the next report means official action.
The next time the girlfriend visits, she violates the lease agreement again and angers other tenants, who notify Davis. Davis delivers the official notice to Marcus the next day, and receives a desperate phone call begging him to reconsider. Davis says no, and sticks to his timeline as outlined in the notice. When Marcus moves out, other tenants express their appreciation for how Davis handled the situation. It goes without saying that other tenants internalized that Davis is not a pushover when it comes to enforcing the lease agreement.

Problem: Pushing the Boundaries for Late Rent

Marissa is a landlord who delivered a late rent notice last week to Brian. After several days of trying to get in contact with him, Brian finally calls and states that he will pay the rent as soon as he can, probably a few weeks. He asks that Marissa toss out the pay or quit notice and stop the eviction process until he can pay because he promises that it will only be this once. Brian then offers to pay partial rent soon and the balance later. He indicates he is willing to do payment arrangements as well—anything to stop the eviction process.
Solution: Marissa knows she is in a tough situation and needs to be firm on what she will accept.
At the beginning of her journey as a landlord, she decided that she would never accept partial payments or do payment arrangements, so she stands firm and delivers a solid no to the tenant. Marissa reminds Brian that if he could come up with the full rent payment plus late fees, she would stop pursuing the eviction. She tells Brian that the eviction process will go forward as planned until the rent is paid in full and after a certain point, she will not accept rent.
Despite his promises to pay and his attempts to get her to call off the eviction process, Brian never did follow through. By the time Marissa realized that he wasn’t going to pay the rent, the eviction process was well underway. Had she waited to start the process until she realized that, Marissa would have endured several more weeks or months with no income while the eviction process got started.

Check Emotion Before Communicating with Tenants

There are many ways to deal with confrontation, c, nflict and stress than resorting to losing your temper.
Landlords have to deal with a wide range of people and some of the most unusual situations. Keeping your cool can help you be a better business owner and will definitely help you resolve conflict in a more effective way.
Here are 5 tips on how landlords can control their anger and get better results from themselves and others in resolving any business situation.

  1. Stop and Think. Anger emerges in big bursts and can often fuel a landlord for a long time. Before opening that symbolic door to anger, people can mentally step away from the situation and take a minute to collect themselves. It’s not out of the way to state, “I’m going to need a minute,” and take a long pause before getting into a conversation with someone. The old trick of counting to ten really can help people get their thoughts together before they speak.
  2. Don’t Match Anger With Anger. Sometimes, anger is triggered because another person is confrontational and aggressive to begin with. Landlords can be the voice of reason in a tense situation and can even steer the conversation toward a more civil tone by keeping calmer than the other person and refusing to rise to the level of anger they are showing. Even if the landlord starts out angry, they can change the tone of the conversation by calming down.
  3. Move Forward. When feeling irritated or frustrated at a landlord situation, it’s important to keep moving forward. Staying stuck in a fit of anger will only make a situation worse and cloud judgement, preventing people from making the best decision. Address the situation with a problem-solving attitude and the anger will fade soon.
  4. Just Walk Away. If a situation is getting too tense and both sides are not expressing themselves well or being heard by the other, it’s time to walk away and resume at another time. Landlords can physically remove themselves from the situation, ask the other person to get out or call the police in extreme situations. With a commitment to resume the conversation at a later time or date, both sides will benefit from a new perspective and from blowing off steam.
  5. Look For The Positive. In almost any situation, there’s a little bit of positive and often that can be enough to hurdle over feelings of anger. For example, if the anger is triggered by heading to court for an eviction, landlords can see the silver lining in that they are almost done dealing with those problem tenants. When confronting a bad tenant about a lease violation, the landlord can keep in mind that a formal written warning may compel the tenant to better behavior.

Consequences of Saying No

The benefits of saying no when it is appropriate are huge, but there are some downsides and consequences of taking a stand. Anytime you refuse someone, they will most likely not be happy about it.
In a business relationship, you’ve got to set limits and being a landlord is no different. Knowing when to say yes and when to say no is a key part of a successful management strategy.
Whether a tenant gets angry, gives you the silent treatment or turns passive aggressive, sometimes the consequences of saying no can feel personal. Above all, don’t take it personally because feeling slighted when refused is simply human nature.
As a landlord, you must own your decisions and realize that you are making them for specific reasons. When you are educated about what it takes to run your real estate business, your confidence in making the right decisions will carry you through any guilt you might feel.
Have you learned how to say no at the right place and time or do you struggle to stay firm against tenant requests? Please share this article and let us know more about your approach in the comments section below.