Cat allowed vs. smoking inside refinery…

As landlords, we often confront cases beyond “black and white” that has no simple guide to follow. How do you handle them? In this post, I will share such a story and how I handled it by drawing the wisdom from my past seemingly unrelated experience.

Firstly, a brief summary on what had happened – A tenant called a few days ago, he asked if his girlfriend can join him for the last month of his lease (He will move out after) and also, his girl friend has a cat, and he is willing to pay the pet fee if needed.

This tenant has been with us for the last three years – always paying rents on time and taking care of the property. However, this condo’s floor are half hardwood and half carpet. It has never ever been allowed with any pets in the past.

So we said yes to the girl friend but no to the cat. He said nothing.

During the latest showing shortly after, a cat was glanced inside the unit – it seemed knowing its own illegal status – just in a sec, it ran underneath the bed and out of sight during the whole showing.

Unsure what to do exact on the spot, nothing was said during the inspection from either side (the tenant was there as well, felt awkward with no word either…)

I thought it over and pondered a few likely options:

Option 01 – A standard way is to confront him with warnings and fines even eviction as per the lease agreement.

If we do this, there are a few likely outcomes:

  1. He will comply and get the cat out, which is unlikely.
  2. He will ignore, play dumb or fight with us – the legal process will take much longer before he leaves with a bitter feeling, not mention his resentment can be easily spiraled out of proportion in the process.

The real question is – is it worth the fight?

Option 02 – Make an exception under the condition that he will be responsible for any damage and an additional pet carpet cleaning needs to be ordered and charge back to him.

Option 03 – option is to let it slip and hope for the best.

While I was pondering these options, an unrelated experience form many years ago, when I worked in a refinery, hit me like a light bolt. It was an incident smoking inside refinery.

It is not a rocket science for most of us to realize how dangerous it could be to smoke in a refinery where inflammable gas and oil, chemicals are all over the plant.

That is why it is one of the most strict rules in refinery – Anyone who smokes inside refinery, will be fired on spot upon found.

You might think this shall settle it for all. Nothing further from the truth unfortunately when human nature comes to play.

One night, as a young engineer, I accompanied John, the plant general manager to check around. We ran into a shift supervisor smoking inside a change room. This supervisor was also one of few top performers among the experienced workers in the refinery – What was going to happen next?

John looked at the supervisor, simply said: “Clean up here, go back to work”, then he turned around and left, I followed him without saying a word either.

Inside my head, it was nothing less shocking than witnessing an atom bomb dropped in that dark change room filled with cigarette smoke.

Although It made no sense to me, a new engineer just starting career in a real world, I did realize likely there was some good reason for John, a well-respect manager with years of experience, to take this bizarre approach

I felt like a beginner chess player watching a move by a grand master, eager to see what was going to be unfolded in the end…

Instead of hours over a chess board, this event took years after that night before all became clear: The supervisor turned out to be one of the most deliciated employees in the refinery, besides being one of the most loyal subordinates to John – whatever John said or do, he would be always the first one to follow, with no exception.

One thing I also realized that if John fired that guy that night, not only we lost a talented and dedicated employee, it would be super difficult for the supervisor to find another similar well-paid job to support him and his family, the devastating effect to him would be nothing less than an atom bomb exploded in that supervisor’s life – he would be destroyed and finished without doubt.

The wisdom I have learned via this experience is that sometimes you need to be unconventional in order to achieve the best outcome in the long term, for all the parties involved. It helps to think based on principles instead of rules and policies. To highlight, below is a few notes I took from this experience:

01 – One should always think win-win whenever possible.
02 – Rules and policies should be used by man instead to man.
03 – Sometimes short and wrong action is needed for long term goal.

With these wisdom in mind, it becomes a lot more easier to address the girlfriend and cat issue now.

To me, it is not worth the effort to fight over this issue as it is likely to cause lose and lose to both sides.

It is respectful to make sure the tenant know we are aware of the case – it is simple honesty no matter what – it need to be acknowledged.

we let him know that we would like to deal with this situation with the following three points
– we have worked with the owner to make the stay of this cat in the last month as an exception.
– we trust that he is going to pay extreme caution without damage by cat.
– Additional carpet inspection and cleaning will be conducted by our office upon your move-out and the treatment necessary shall be covered by you.

We do hope we can get over this issue in a mutual trust and respectful manner and close your tenancy with us with a perfect ending.

let us know if you have any issue with the above.

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