With all of my properties, and these unexpected vacancies, I end up taking in many rental applications over the course of a year. If I had to guess, I would say that I receive over 30 applications every month for various properties.

It never fails to amaze me that in EVERY single application where the person had been previously evicted, it was NEVER their fault. Here’s one I got this week:

“I rented an apartment for a friend trying to help them out and they didn’t pay the rent but my name was on the lease.”

This same person actually had their wages garnished for amounts owed to the landlord who had evicted them. Yet, it wasn’t their fault. 🙁

After questioning the eviction, the guy’s girlfriend told me that he was good person. I’m sure he’s a great person and that’s not what I’m questioning. What I am questioning, and concerned about, is his commitment to paying rent in a timely manner.

It seems that in about 80% of these evictions, the applicant tells me that it was their landlord’s fault that they were evicted. Their former landlord didn’t make repairs, or the home had black mold so the person stopped paying their rent.

They don’t seem to realize that I’m a landlord myself and that not paying rent for any reason is unacceptable. I’m fairly certain that every tenant I’ve evicted has also blamed me for their eviction. 🙁

I always deny these applicants quickly via text by sending something like this…

“Unfortunately, due to your prior eviction/felony/background check, I am unable to approve you for the home.”

In 80% of these denials, the person responds with a nasty message indicating that they’re going to talk to their attorney and sue me. If they don’t threaten me, they’ll usually tell me that the property they applied for is garbage and I’ll be lucky to find a tenant.

Think about that for a minute…

The person doesn’t get what they want so they throw a text temper tantrum. This happens all the time. Far too many people feel a sense of entitlement these days. They feel like they should be able to have whatever they want without having to earn it like the rest of us.

Years ago, I had a younger couple apply for one of my single-family homes. The guy’s application indicated that he had a felony. After seeing the felony on his application, I sent him a text indicating that I couldn’t approve them for the home due to the felony.

He replied with something to the effect of…

“I understand. I made a stupid mistake and now it’s time for me to pay the price for this mistake. Thanks for letting me see the home.”

I was completely caught off guard by his reply, because he actually took responsibility for his situation. I ended up renting the home to him.

Guess what?

This family is still renting the same home and he has paid on time for several years. I have never had to post a 3-day notice. Even better, he has improved the home significantly. 🙂

There are three take aways from this:

  1. Stay away from ANYONE who will not take responsibility for their mistakes. This includes prospective tenants, job applicants, friends and family members. The reality is we all make mistakes. If someone isn’t willing to accept responsibility and learn from their mistakes, you need to stay away from them because their behavior will soon become your behavior. Without even realizing it, you’ll begin to think like they do. All your problems will magically be blamed on someone else.
  2. Consider giving, or making an opportunity, for ANYONE who actually accepts responsibility for their past mistakes. These people are very special. They’re outliers and may be worth taking a risk on. They’ve learned some valuable lessons and will make better decisions going forward.
  3. If you’re applying for a home for rent and you have an eviction or felony in your credit report, do the opposite of what everyone else does. Explain that you made a mistake and that you’re working hard to make improvements in your life. Share what you’ve learned and how you’re using this lesson to make better choices today. You’ll stand out BIG time and this should open up many opportunities for you.

As I watch my children and their network of friends, I’m starting to become very concerned about the future. Many young adults today don’t seem to take responsibility for anything. The crazy part is that these are actually incredibly smart people and they have trouble “seeing” their mistakes.

They simply blame someone else for their problem(s). And because they blame others, they don’t learn to self-correct any of their behaviors. Sadly, they’ll continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Instead of self-reflection they simply point the finger elsewhere. Self-reflection is too hard. You have to admit that you messed up. You have to apologize. You have to make an effort to fix the situation. All of these things are hard to do.

However, blaming someone else is easy. You don’t have to admit that you’ve made a mistake. You don’t have to apologize. And you don’t have to try and fix anything.

Accepting responsibility is very hard.
Blaming problems on others is very easy.

Easy > Hard

I’m really hoping that this is simply a sign of immaturity and that these young adults will grow of this phase at some point in the near future. If they don’t learn to accept responsibility, we’re headed for an ugly future.

What would happen if were to flip this equation around using it as a new operating principle for life?

Hard > Easy

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