Avoiding the “ghetto attitude”

I have found after 28 years of leasing rental property that “undesirable” tenants share certain characteristics which I affectionately refer to as a “ghetto attitude”.  Now in this litigious and overly-sensitive society I will immediately be labeled as a bigot or extremist of some kind, as labels are easily thrown about these days.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We rent to a broad spectrum of people that span the entire range of protected classes.  None of these tenants have that ghetto attitude.  

There are people living in ghettos that have a ghetto attitude, just as there are people living in upscale neighborhoods that have a ghetto attitude.  There are also really good tenants living (unfortunately) in ghettos just like there are really good tenants living in a host of other neighborhoods.

So what makes up a ‘ghetto attitude’?

1. Entitlement.  Many renters have a fatalistic attitude of entitlement — that the prospect is entitled to be given all of the rights, with none of the responsibilities.  The concept that as a housing provider I must provide everyone housing — regardless of attitude — is ridiculous.

2. Respect.  Don’t get me wrong — we respect everyone from the outset.  You have to earn our disrespect.  (But that isn’t too hard to do, either these days!)  When we are showing a prospect a property, we look to see if they show us respect, show each other respect, and show their potential future home respect.  The more time they spend checking the cupboards and details of the house the more excited we get.  When we find their children running through the house like they own it, well, we try to understand that children will just be children.

Next time you show a property, look for either of these 2 traits.  Find either one and you are setting yourself up for disaster.  I have rented to some very poor and indigent people.  But they understood the concept of hard work and were very respectful.

Attitude has nothing to do with money.

The author, Peter Nelson, is President of Full  Service Property Management of Seattle, WA — a company that prides itself on providing healthy living environments to all of its tenants regardless of their economic status or social class, but all with a great attitude!  They can be found at www.fullservicepm.com.

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