Smart Ways to Rent to Your Friends and Family

As a property manager, screening applicants and making rental decisions can be one of the more challenging responsibilities that you have. When you’re vetting strangers or online applicants, your final decision is solely based on the that you have at hand. However, when it comes to friends and family, how can you be sure that you vet them objectively like the rest? They may be a wonderful cousin, sister, or friend, but what about a resident? While there are certainly benefits to renting to friends and family, there are also some drawbacks.

Reasons to Rent to Friends and Family

Depending on the person, renting to a friend or family member could be a good thing! Need to talk to them about picking up dog poop? Easy. Want to make sure your unit is being taken care of? They’ll feel comfortable enough to tell you when something is awry. Beyond the few examples above, here are a few reasons why you might lean towards renting to friends and family.

Personal Knowledge of Background

An advantage of renting to someone you already know is just that — you already know them. Having a good idea of your future resident’s personality and habits can take some of the guesswork out when finding a new renter. You have a bit of insight as to whether or not they are reliable, trustworthy, or clean. Knowing their personality can also help when dealing with any resident disputes or complaints.

Of course, your connection to a friend or family rental applicant should never out-weigh your written rental standards (like income requirements, credit score minimums, and more). Giving preferential treatment to friends or family applicants and ignoring your leasing standards can get you into huge legal trouble.

Helping Out Someone in Need, With Information!

We all know the saying, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”  You may have plenty of friends who are looking for a one-bedroom unit at a good rate. If you’re comfortable with the idea of leasing to a friend or family member, why not let them know when you have a vacancy in their price range? Better yet, tell them your leasing requirements. While it’s up to them to fit into your community’s written rental criteria and pass a background check, the more they know, the better prepared they are and the more likely they’ll be able to land that coveted one-bedroom apartment. All thanks to you!

Reasons to Avoid Renting to Friends and Family

Of course, your connection to a friend or family rental applicant should never out-weigh your written rental standards (like income requirements, credit score minimums, and more). Giving preferential treatment to friends or family applicants and ignoring your leasing standards can get you into huge legal trouble.

Expecting Special Treatment

One of the biggest problems you may face is that your friend or family member renter may expect special treatment. It can be difficult to avoid blurring the line between friend and property manager if they begin to fall on hard times and expect you to simply be more lenient. They may begin to push the boundaries when it comes to paying rent and fees or expect you to come running for small issues in the property. Worse case scenario, your other residents could complain about your friend or family renter getting special treatment. If you decide to rent to a friend or family member, establishing boundaries is essential.

Soured Relationships

Another negative aspect of renting to people you know is how it could affect your relationship going forward. It’s your job to resolve resident disputes and enforce rental rules, and for your friends and family that can be a tough pill to swallow. Putting your foot down at work could sour your relationships in your personal life – beyond the one friend or family member renter. If you had to evict your Uncle Steve, would your cousin stop talking to you? How would this affect your relationship with your other family members?

Depending on the friend or family member, renting to someone you know can either be a safe bet or a poor gamble. If you decide to disclose your upcoming rental vacancies to relatives and friends, be prepared to have a talk about your community’s strict leasing standards, your property’s rules, and your position and how it could affect your relationship. Set expectations now, before their application is accepted.

Have you ever rented your rental property to friends and family? What advice would you give a landlord in this situation?

Let us know in the comments!

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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