We are all born with basic skills, but then we rely on our parents and educational institutions to teach us what to do with those skills. And one skill that never seems to be accurately taught in high school, college or by mom and dad is how to be a good landlord. And this causes many real estate investors to either outright fail, or to miss the full potential of their property.
This is one skill that many parents were good at. In the mobile home park business, this comes into play in two areas: 1) collections and 2) rules violations. To succeed as a mobile home park landlord, you have to be willing to say “no”. A lot. Payment plans? “No”. O.K. to leave trash in my yard? “No”. Loud music at midnight fine? “No”. “No” is pretty much the most common word you will hear in tenant relations. In fact, if you only knew that word in the entire English language, you’d fare well in mobile home parks. If you start to “customize” and make exceptions, the whole park will fall into chaos. Rigid structure is mandatory when you are dealing with people who have trouble with following rules and accountability to begin with.
Again, this is one of the skills that many of us received at home. If you want to keep tenants happy and obey fair housing, you must strive to treat everyone the same. However, there are some investors who did not learn this skill and think it’s fine to turn away tenants with kids, or tenants with disabilities, or any other group they just don’t like. And that’s fine until Fair Housing officials show up and you’re in huge trouble. Also, some landlords prefer to have their “inner circle” of friendly tenants who they treat completely different than everyone else. Again, this is a disastrous flaw, as you create a sense of hatred among the bulk of residents who will return the favor by treating you unfairly when you can least afford it (like when the water line breaks).
But never be friendly
This is the killer for most people. They were taught by their parents, teachers and coaches to get along with everyone, regardless of how offensive their behavior. While this worked well for your soccer team and English class, as well as riding in the car with your obnoxious brother, it is a terrible quality to have as a landlord. You can NEVER get friendly with your tenants and be successful. To be friendly means that you seek approval, and a good landlord is never going to get anything but hatred. In addition, you are more prone to violate the first two tenets, shown above, if you let “friendly” enter into your goals. So while you can be respectful, you want to have no personal relationship with your tenants. If you need friends, look for them outside your mobile home park.
And that includes the manager
Even worse than being friends with the tenants, is being friends with the manager. You have a business relationship with the manager – period. Don’t look at them as your buddy or (the worst idea of all time) love interest. You will one day have to fire the manager you are looking at. Do you really want to have all kinds of personal complications with that? On top of that, you’ve heard the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt”? Well it does, so don’t go there. Most of the embezzlement we see in mobile home parks comes from owners who became friends with the manager, and the manager took full advantage of that false relationship.
Being a landlord means having to “un-learn” some of the skills that your parents, teachers and coaches taught you. At Mobile Home U, we try to re-train you to become the best landlord you can be. Management success is not that hard, as long as you approach it the right way. Let Mobile Home U show you how.