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The Art of Saying No to Tenant Requests: Tips for the New Landlord

Saying no is a difficult thing to do when you’re running a rental property business for the first time. As a new landlord, you feel compelled to keep tenants happy because that’s the way to reduce vacancies… right?

But to be an effective landlord whom everyone respects, you should learn how to say no to unreasonable demands. Mastering the art of saying no will maintain your sanity and ensure a problem-free business in the long run. 

After all, you cannot please everybody -- no matter how just you are. At the end of the day, the right tenants will stay. Here are Landlord Prep’s six tips for you:

1. Focus on the request and not on the tenant.

The last thing you want is a tenant accusing you of taking things personally. If you decide to say no to a request (for example, a tenant who has asked to delay payment the sixth time), make sure to emphasize that you are adhering to the best practices of your business. Keep things business-related. Let the tenant understand that your decision is nothing personal.

2. Act like you mean it.

Pay attention to your body language. You might be saying no yet it seems that you’re unsure of your decision. Do you look down when you speak with your tenants? Do you fidget? Remember to use body language a way that conveys a surefire no. Make eye contact with a tenant. Keep your tone firm.

3. Provide a clear explanation.

If your tenant wants an explanation, provide an explanation. In fact, I would recommend that you prepare for it ahead of time. Think carefully about how you deliver your explanation. It must be clear and easily understandable. Reasonable explanations will reassure upset tenants and avoid losing them.

4. Offer solutions. 

The truth is that some people just can’t take no for an answer. So here’s my suggestion: Say no and follow it up with possible alternatives you are okay with and may also work for your tenant’s situation. Doing this shows that you are helpful and care about everybody’s welfare. At the same time, you’re being firm.

5. Acknowledge the complaint.

Saying no immediately can sometimes come off as threatening. Even if you had planned to say no, show a tenant that you acknowledge his request. You can say, “Thank you, Mr. Smith, for letting me know about your concern. Let me think things through. I’ll get back to you with an answer.” A landlord also needs to take a step back from certain situations. Taking a pause prevents any tension from escalating.

6. Say it in a positive way.

You can say no and elicit good reactions from tenants. Say no in a way that doesn’t offend people. Refusal doesn’t have to be negative. Be polite in your response. Express that you understand your tenant’s situation. In this tip, I would again suggest that you offer alternatives or possible solutions.

Wrapping Up

Before you communicate with tenants, it’s also important to check your emotions. Taking a stand the right way, using the tips above, will give you fewer regrets and a successful business. Think about what’s best for your business while being a good landlord. 

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