Jon’s Story-the frustration and pain we also likely experience in renting…

“Lack of trust” is the wrong foundation to start any kind of business or relationship. And unfortunately, that is where many residential renting start and stuck with. Just picture a story goes like this:

Jon, a hard-working middle-class professional, saved years and bought the first rental. Get a tenant and wait for the money rolling in! It sounds simple, but it turns out to be not that easy. 

All of sudden, Jon finds that now he needs to be a brilliant writer to deliver a masterpiece of the ad to stand out of the thousands of other ads, it works! Phone calls, messages, texts, and emails are pouring in, and soon Jon finds out he needs to return the inquiries right away or few people have patience span longer than 5 minutes to wait before they move way to other rentals.  After a few conversations, he lined up a few viewings, driving over, then the other side doesn’t show up, or showed up and tell you they do have the best pets in the world deserve 100% exception. Or he forgets to mention he does smoke… Jon is not the type that gives up easily, so he preserves, and it pays finally. An “ideal” family finally moves-in, and exhausted, Jon thought, it is not too bad after all, well, before Jon put half of the smile on his face….

The tenant called and claimed the house is filthy, it needs to be cleaned by “professional” for “Professional standard”, whatever that means, so Jon paid the bill of hundreds, without realizing this is just starting: the toilet plugged, plumber needs to be called in immediately, tenant lost his keys mid of the night, so a great customer service is needed right now; window mysteriously was broken on its own, or definitely by neighbor’s kids, and it is Jon’s job to pay right away as what kind of Slum-landlord he would be if he even allow this broken glass to threaten the tenant’s family safety for one-minutes longer…. And this is just a warm-up for the true nightmare step onto the stage for the exciting entertainment, the right words for the kind of strong spirit like Jon!

Now the rents are bounced, neighbors complained, police showed up…. Jon’s investment dream soon is turned into a nightmare that haunts him all day long. Time for the help, so Jon turns to property management companies and pays the fees to evict the bad one and fees, to get a good one, and fees of 10-15% of rent every month for the property managers to take over the hassle. Jon is finally out of the hook, with the price he thinks might be worthwhile…

And soon Jon finds out that his investment house instead of making money, not it becomes a deep hole to burn his pocket each month, because not only he has to continue to keep up his bargain to pay all the ridiculous (to his standard anyway) bills to various fancy and chunky bills to fix houses, he also has to pay the fees to the property managers, and they politely tell him to set expectations reasonable, as they are professional service, and he should not expect to send professional to work on something for free all the time. 

Actually it is even worse, because it is turned out to be a black hole: Jon has been told as per the lease he can not get in touch with tenants or visit the house without property manager’s approval, so what is really going on with the tenants and houses he absolutely have no clue at all, his best bet is on the performance of the property manager solely. And to be fair to any decent property manager, it is not a fun job to deal with what Jon used to deal with, and the fees of 10-15% that has already put Jon into a deep hole, is being regarded by the standard of many real estate professionals as the 2nd-class income compared to much more lubricated buying-selling-house-deals, then why he/she does that, well let’s settle on the claim that he loves it or has a passion for the “endless suffering”, and I know you feel suspicious too. But it is another story for another day before we get sidetracked. And it is time to dig deeper to truly see what has gone so wrong….

What is fundamentally wrong in this whole picture is actually the lack of trust, because although Jon, the renter, and the property manager are all in essence decent people, the real dominant theme is FEAR instead of TRUST, which leads to a downward spiral for many. 

Start from Jon:

his main goal is to find someone who pays rent on time and takes care of the property. It sounds simple, but actually not easy (remember – simply does not mean easy necessarily). In fact, Jon does not really know what he needs to do first is to attract the proper renters (they are plenty of them) and guide them step by step in a way of “pull not push”.  So fresh in the game, Jon throws the darts in the dark and leaves it to chance and luck. And we all know who is NOT the final winner at the gambling table in LA. 

For the renter:

The rosy feeling of moving into a great house that he/she falls in love with, has faded quickly and it is taken for granted. He/she doesn’t have a lot of chances to know Jon except for the rent to be paid on each of every month, and it is one of the biggest and “ridiculous” bill that has to be given away painfully every month! which is at least one third if not more of his hard-earned money! is gone!!! It is a simple human psychology to take what we already have (in this case, the rental house) for granted, and we want the most out of something that we have to pay every month – of course, let’s set the bar high – The customer service standard of the world top 500 big corporation is the easy starting point, he simply assume (and this time, we have something easy and simple which will do no one good in the end). Unfortunately, Jon in reality, is nothing more than another decent human fellow just like any of the renters, has to sleep, eat, work in order to put food on the family table, and he doesn’t have 1-800-line or a website to match up, and yes, he do need minimum sleep hours too. And no, he does not have 24hr emergency line ready for you. But that doesn’t matter, because instead of a real human, Jon is a landlord, and nothing more than a phone number to call for all the unwanted to dump through …Because I pay my rent every month, and I deserve nothing but the best for my hard make money! Oh, new management? Who cares, no difference to me anyway, just a different number to dump “all the careless” through…

As for property manager:

With little to none trust to start between tenants and landlords, he knows that everything he has to deal with is very likely time-consuming and not pleasant, and the money he gets paid is hardly justified half what he is doing in his own judgment. So be tough as he can be, he needs to look for all the opportunities to spend the least time with either landlords or tenants but put his best effort into the place where the next penny can be squeezed out. “Building Trust”? what you are talking about? For God sake, I have a hundred leaking toilets to send to be stopped, dozens of evictions to be resolved, my voicemail is full again! Kido, I really have no time for this “trust” thing at all!

And our poor Jon, beaten up, empty-handed, with deep black holes in both pockets, he is trapped hopelessly now, and seemingly doomed…..

Jon’s story is in a large extent, my own story in the past until we start “Culfdiant” If you are the one just starting and middle in the journey, welcome the new stat of the new era of residential renting – culfidant.