Generally, it is best to avoid renting to people you know. The most obvious reason is that doing business with a family member or friend can damage the relationship. But it’s a small world, and at some point, you are bound to be approached by someone you know who wants to rent your property.
There are two choices: make it a policy to never rent to someone you know or take a chance and find out who your friends really are.
That’s what happened to a Saskatchewan landlord when she tried to help a friend who was displaced by a fire. According to a
, the landlord rented out a home to the family trusting they’d take care of it. But instead, the family trashed the house, possibly manufactured meth, and stole everything of value, including parts from a truck kept on the property.
The landlord didn’t do a condition report and didn’t check references. The tenant didn’t pay rent. The landlord was only trying to help a friend. Now, her community is trying to help her cover her costs.
Before deciding whether to rent to a friend, consider the main reasons
to rent to people you know:
1. When landlords rent to acquaintances, they cut corners and don’t screen.
With no tenant background check — and possibly no rental application — it’s impossible to calculate the risks. Likewise, with no move-in condition report, it will be difficult to hold the friend accountable for any damage.
2. Friends tend to take advantage of the situation.
A friend is more likely to push limits, like staying longer than the landlord anticipated or asking for concessions when paying rent. Friends are less likely to take the lease seriously.
3. It is difficult for the landlord to enforce the tenancy agreement.
Landlords are hesitant to push for late rent, rein in the tenant, or claim deductions on the security deposit because it’s awkward socially.
4. A friend is less likely to report problems.
Maybe the friend doesn’t want to seem ungrateful, or maybe the person caused damage and doesn’t want to admit it, but acquaintances are less likely to bring up repairs and other issues occurring at the property. That can lead to increased costs, and possible code violations.
Ultimately, the decision to rent to a friend comes down to how much you are willing to give, and how much you can afford to lose. Consider worst-case scenarios. What if the person pays no rent? What if the property is damaged? Losing a friendship is one thing but losing the friendship and incurring significant income loss at the same time can be devastating. Maybe there’s a better way to help out a friend.