Many companies only care about one thing: making money. The problem is that only caring about making money is very short sighted. More money can be made but goodwill once lost may be lost forever. A business should care about goodwill. Businesses need goodwill just as much as they need money. Goodwill is what keeps a business in business and more profitable.
Follow Your Instincts
Several months ago (probably around April or May) we signed a new lease with our apartment complex. It was a short-term lease because we knew we would not be here long. Rather we did not think we would need to be here long. It was only for three months: from June to September. When we were in negotiations the complex seemed to push us to sign as quickly as possible. The odd part was that we still had plenty of time left on our lease. They also wanted us to sign our thirty-day notice. I thought something was off (why did they need us to sign so quickly?) so I asked them about it. The assistant manager said they needed to have it signed so they would know their availability for the up coming year. We acquiesced and signed. I should have followed my instincts and refused to sign the thirty-day notice.
Post Bar Life
After the Bar, life has not gone as planned (it rarely ever does no surprise there). I have not been able to find the work that I wanted. I have been working for Uber and Lyft and I will start a document review position mid-September. Given everything else we are going through (i.e., baby coming in October and Bar results in November) we wanted to stay in the apartment just a few months longer.
We approached the apartment complex and asked them if we could rescind the thirty-day notice and pay month-to-month. Here is what they said:
“I spoke with my supervisors and it looks like we already gave you an extension to your move out date and they want to move forward with our agreement of your move out date being September 30th 2017.”
We knew that going month-to-month would mean that we would have to pay an extra $150 per month, but it also meant not having to move while my wife is eight months pregnant. It also meant that we would move after I found out the Bar results and could get full-time work as an attorney (a little presumptuous of me but I have to hope and believe that I passed).
My family has lived here for seven years. We pay our rent on time every month. We are good tenants.
So why would they not be willing to rescind the thirty-day notice and let us stay just a little while longer?
Profits Are More Important than Goodwill
Because they are “renovating” the apartments as they become available so they can charge more rent. Essentially they are putting on a new façade and increasing the rent by several hundred dollars (charging the same amount as much nicer apartments). The problem is that substantively, these apartments will always be sub par. We lived here because they were affordable. The supposed improvements will do little to increase their real value. They do not want us to stay any longer because that will put them behind schedule.
A contract can be rescinded or modified with the consent of both parties. A contract change is permissible if there is new consideration. We were perfectly fine paying the extra $150 a month until we moved. The month-to-month term and the extra $150 was the new consideration required. The renovation and ability to charge even more money than the month-to-month fee was the only reason they would not rescind the thirty-day notice.
We even asked if we could rent a two-bedroom here. Well, you can if you make 2.5x the monthly rent in income. The problem is that they are charging way more than the apartment is actually worth so 2.5x is not reasonable (we can get a much nicer apartment elsewhere for the same net amount). Also, you have to give them thirty-days notice to transfer to a two-bedroom. We did not have thirty-days.
Final Thoughts on Goodwill
Although not exactly evicted it sure feels like it. We have been good tenants. There is no valid reason other than making more money that they should not rescind the third-day notice. I know they are in the landlord tenant business and making money is their primary purpose, but they had the option to keep our goodwill. We are going to leave, that is inevitable. However, they had an opportunity for us to leave on good terms. They chose to place money above their tenant. I am not naïve, it is fairly common that landlords place making money above the well-being of their tenants. That is why there are laws in place to protect the tenant, but keeping someone’s goodwill leads to being more profitable in the long run.
The problem is that it is more expensive to get a new tenant (or client) than it is to keep an existing one. That is the point of goodwill. If we were leaving on better terms, then if someone were to ask me about living here I would be inclined to endorse the apartment complex. The complex cannot constructively evict my family and expect me to tell my friends positive things about them!
A budget or a deadline should never come before the person. You may not be able to help every tenant (or client) in the way they would like, but you should not hurt them either. The amount of money they would have lost by rescinding the thirty-day notice is insubstantial compared to the goodwill that has been lost. The goodwill that has been lost forever.