Landlord Basics – Part I: Don’t Rent To Family Or Friends.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate

A while ago – well maybe longer than a while ago – OK back when I bought my first investment property – I thought it would be a great idea to rent one of the units to a friend. He was down on his luck, recently divorced, needed a year to get back on his feet, had a good job and I’d known him for years – just an all-around good guy. 

Just two months into the lease: police calls, trash/junk violation notices, damage to the unit and more. It was driving me nuts trying to figure out how to handle it!  I know, anyone can do this – but it’s much harder to deal with a friend or relative when there are problems like this.

As with so many things, trying to make something business-related work with friends or family can backfire.  Regardless of having a lease, friends and relatives might assume that you will give them a break and that “rules don’t apply to them”.  They will do things thinking that it doesn't matter because they "know the landlord"  In the end, friends and family expect your personal relationship to come first, and if you try and follow the rent-related matters, your personal relationship quickly becomes strained.

And if the rent related matter is “non-payment of rent” – that usually ends the relationship.  Bottom line policy – don’t rent to family or friends.

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This blog is written with my opinions and my opinions are  presented with accuracy but not guarantees. Please talk to a professional before making any real estate, financial or agency decisions.    Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind - 2014. If you want to reprint parts of this - just email me for my permission: .



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Sally K. & David L. Hanson
Keller Williams 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Kinda like lending money...which unfortunately often ends up to be the same thing...either way, instead of being the good gal, you somehow end up on the wrong end of the relationship for expecting them to be responsible.

Oct 01, 2012 10:50 PM #1
Dan Hopper
Keller Williams Realty Downtown LLC - Denver, CO
Denver Realtor / Author / Advocate/Short Sale

Set the groundrules up front.  Make it clear to them that you may be family or a friend, but DO not expect favors that result in poor performance of  a contractual agreement.  They may have expectations that you will give them a break, clear that up in the beginning, and that you have expectations of them, too.  If any favor is to occur, work that out in the conractual terms, less monthly rent, extra days to pay before late penalty, etc.


Oct 01, 2012 10:58 PM #2
Larry O'Sullivan
Sandy, UT

Gabrielle - very good points. Been my life experience also. Ground rules very necessary. Perhaps why in most family trees a lot of nuts are to found.

Oct 01, 2012 11:08 PM #3
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

It is a hard thing to NOT do. I agree with Dan though. Make sure it is understood that there will be no favoritism. The rules are the rules and they are same for all.

Oct 01, 2012 11:10 PM #4
Arizona Home Group RE/MAX Excalibur
The Arizona Home Group - Scottsdale, AZ

Personally, I feel an extra responsibility to perform when I am the recipient of a friend's business relationship and am stunned when I hear stories like yours.  I have a friend who is dealing with a situation like you had described.  She is renting to a co-worker and discovered he had trashed the place.  Crazy!  So sorry to hear it happened to you!

Oct 01, 2012 11:13 PM #5
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


VERY TRUE!  I helped a new landlord a few years back who is so thrilled to have a non friend, non acquaintance, non family member in his place who pays ON TIME, EVERYTIME!  His last "friend" wasn't paying rent, as they told the wife, they needed money to buy the items they wanted to take back to their mutual home country!!!!!  The tenant thought it should be no problem as the owners had enough money and she needed her money.  Priceless.  That's not a friend, that's a moocher!

All the best, Michelle

Oct 01, 2012 11:58 PM #6
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
"Franklin MA Homes"

Good morning, Gab...  good advice for everyone....if you're going to rent to family, keep a close eye on things...

Oct 02, 2012 12:08 AM #7
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

Gabs, We all learn this lesson sooner or later. That's why I use a property manager, let my moocher deal with my pit bull; so to speak. I love my property manager but I don't call her the 1st 15 days of the month...

Oct 02, 2012 07:47 AM #8
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Short and right to the point . . . . Save the relationship and don't rent to family or friends.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Oct 02, 2012 12:39 PM #9
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Gabrielle I'm with you on that one.  I also have a problem listing properties for friends or family that can cause problems in of themselves.

Oct 02, 2012 08:29 PM #10
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