Fairness Policy & What's REALLY Important To Me
I have always believed that a person’s true character is what matters the most in life. We all face challenges, temptations and fear. And sometimes it seems easiest to go into “survival mode” or “defensive mode” when times get tough.
As a landlord for more than 30 years (since I was 25), I have had tenants who chose to forego doing the “right thing” because they believed they would be financially better off in the long run. This could include not paying rent as agreed upon, not being responsible for damages caused to my property, not following the rules of the lease agreement, not abiding by the cancellation policy they agreed to, etc. In spite of the fact that I always live up to “my end of the bargain” when renting a property to a Tenant or hosting a Guest in one of my short-term furnished rentals, sadly, some folks modify their behavior when it comes time to live up to “their end of the bargain.”
Consider these five famous quotes:
Treat other people with the concern, fairness and kindness you would like them to show toward you.
– Modern translation of The Golden Rule
Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.
– J. C. Watts
Every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character.
– Oscar Wilde
The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
– Thomas B. Macaulay
I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
– George Washington
Here’s what many of my Tenants/Guests don’t know about me… it’s really NOT about money to me. I have been blessed with a successful business for many years. Therefore, it is MORE important to me that I treat my Tenants/Guests with respect, give them everything promised in our agreement, and exceed their expectations whenever I am able. And yes, I do expect the same in return from my Tenant/Guest.
Therefore, when any type of disagreement presents itself, I want to sit down and talk about the situation… face-to-face… adult-to-adult. Unfortunately, many times, the Tenant/Guest goes into a type of “avoidance mode” and refuses to even discuss the situation. Perhaps they feel that ignoring the discussion will make it all go away. They don’t return phone calls and messages. They avoid meeting with me at all costs. It is at this point, I begin to see their true character.
They have two choices… 1) to discuss the situation with me… or 2) to avoid me and the situation all together and “run and hide”.
What they don’t know is this…
If they choose to sit down and discuss the situation with me like responsible adults, I instantly develop an entirely higher level of respect for this person. They are obviously willing to talk about the issue, and potentially face the consequences. It is because of this higher level of respect they have earned from me, I forgive the debt/situation and we part as friends. I don’t pursue a settlement, I don’t file legal action, and I don’t make disparaging comments about them to other people. On the contrary, I consider them to have great character… and therefore I reward them for this by dropping the issue.
If they choose the second option and avoid me and the opportunity to discuss the situation, then they don’t realize that they’ve lost a wonderful opportunity. They’ve lost the opportunity to save themselves financially (by me forgiving the debt, extra repair/cleaning/replacement charges, avoiding legal action, etc), but more importantly, they’ve lost my respect. During my 30+ years as a landlord, I’ve had to file legal action against a Tenant/Guest on eight different occasions. Because I keep meticulous records and maintain the necessary documentation, I have never lost a court case. Never once.
In spite of “winning”, it still makes me sad. The Tenant/Guest could have avoided all of this expense, investment of time and energy, and day-to-day stress had they just sat down with me in the beginning to have a conversation. Instead, they refused and tried to avoid me or “disappear” altogether.
Why do I do this in spite of being “in the right” in the first place? It’s because I strongly feel that people who are WILLING to own up to their commitments and responsibilities need to be rewarded for this exhibition of “good character.” Those who aren’t willing to even DISCUSS doing the right thing receive very little compassion from me any longer.
Of course, I never tell a Tenant/Guest this information in advance… it would simply skew the outcome and the revelation of their true character. And most people would never find this page on my website without knowing where to look.
I hope this explains the value I put into character and the messages found in my five quotes above. I encourage everyone to reflect upon their own character as you read one of my favorite poems:
THE MAN IN THE GLASS
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
– Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr