Friday, August 29, 2014

Black Market Renter Referral Bonuses for Sale!

Our apartment community has an incentive program. Refer new tenants and once they move in, the tenant making the referral gets $200 off their next month's rent. It's a good program. Or it would be, if the tenants were being honest. I like to think most of them are, but I have yet to meet any of those honest souls.


When we moved in, we were referred by a friend and co-worker of Collin's who pitched the place by saying, "If they'll rent to me, they'll rent to anybody." Seriously, it's a great place. When it comes to "location, location, location," they got it right. A number of troublesome neighbors aside, it's almost perfect.

The day we were approved, we gave the property manager the name of the tenant who referred us so she'd get her bonus. It never occurred to us to even try to sell the referral to her or anyone else. We just did it because it was due her. It was the right thing to do.

A co-worker moved in a short time later. He offered to sell his referral form to Collin for $100--and asked Collin to help him move in. Collin said, "I'll do it for $100." The guy refused. He wanted free help. He didn't get it...and Collin didn't get the referral. But at least he was open about it, unlike those that followed.

Not long after that, Collin recommended it to another co-worker. But he wasn't the only one who had, and he lost out on the bonus. 

A couple of years ago, he made another recommendation to another co-worker. She told him she'd be sure and give him the referral form as soon as she got it, which would have been the day she moved in. Days passed. She kept putting him off. Finally, she did a complete about-face. She got angry. She told him she didn't even know he lived here. She even unfriended him on Facebook. Collin was blindsided...but cynic that I am, I knew where she was coming from. He hadn't offered her any money. Because he hadn't, she wasn't going to let him get anything, either. 

 
Apparently, not many of Collin's co-workers understand that a renter referral bonus is a reward to the tenant who brought in new business--the new tenant isn't supposed to share in it.

I told him he should stop referring his co-workers, but in the past month, we went through the bullshit once again. This time, the co-worker was someone he considered trustworthy. She was planning to move in on the 26th. Right up to the last minute, she assured him he was going to get her referral. I tried not to be negative, but I had my doubts. Wasn't it Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result? I guess I'm not nuts, after all!

Sure enough, I got a text from him when he got off work yesterday. He was angry (and Collin is extremely slow to anger, unlike his hotheaded mother). I asked him why, but I already knew the answer.


He said he wasn't getting the referral. Again. She was apologetic, of course, but it was out of her hands. She told him another co-worker who also lived here had convinced the property manager to not run a credit check on her, so the manager gave the other co-worker the bonus. (Yes, I know it makes no sense.) This woman, who had lost her job at the previous restaurant where she and Collin had both worked because a co-worker had lied about her, was herself lying about someone else. Had her story been believable and told to someone who didn't know the manager and the procedure for getting approved, she could have caused the manager a lot of trouble.

In short, she not only lied to Collin, she insulted him by expecting him to believe that lameass story. Had he not been so angry, I would have laughed. Nobody was going to believe that garbage. I knew what had happened. The other tenant/co-worker had bought the referral.

I wonder if the property owners know how many bonuses they've paid to tenants who didn't really earn them....

*****

For those of you who are following the latest installments of my memoir and Sam's Story, I'll have new posts up late today or sometime tomorrow. We just installed a new modem last night, so I'm at least a day behind on everything! 


20 comments:

  1. Well like you said it's 'ALMOST' perfect. Our future home awaits where everything WILL be perfect and no referral fee is necessary. Well that could be quite an argument! LOL

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  2. I am one of the daft people who believes almost everyone or gives them a second chance or third or fourth. But there comes a time when you just say OMG WTF !

    cheers, parsnip

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  3. @ Eve: Some of us, anyway....

    @ Gayle: I eat there sometimes. I'm never letting any of them walk away from me with my credit card! (And yes, OMG ! WTF is not only acceptable in this case, it's necessary!)

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  4. Unfortunately, a lot more people are dishonest than honest, it seems.

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  5. I don't know if we've got this system of referrals here. Some people can be real prats.

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    1. Most of Collin's co-workers are, it would seem.

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  6. Now those are some really special co-workers. And I thought only Florida had morons like these in it.

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    1. Oh, no! Missouri has Olympic-class idiots, Shelly!

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  7. The system, as designed, is working fine: pay someone a referral fee, and empty apartments get filled.

    But that's all it is designed to do. There is no built-in incentive for the new tenants to 'do the right thing.' So they don't - they do what is convenient for them.

    And there's no incentive for the referrers to really only recommend people who would be good tenants - in fact, the incentive to the referrer is exactly opposite, unless there's some clause that says 'if the new tenant doesn't stay a year, or causes problems, the bonus isn't valid.' If it were me, that bonus wouldn't get paid for a while - but that also makes it lose its attractiveness as a bonus.

    With incentives, people do what the incentive really sets them up to do. Only a few honest souls do what they think the incentive is supposed to do. I would try very hard to get the bonus to the person who recommended me, and to be up-front about it, because I can afford it: I don't know how I would behave if $200 were enough to be real money.

    Systems aren't always fair or reasonable. I say that if there is a system designed by a human, there will be another human who will figure a way around it. It's the human in us - or maybe the leftover monkey. Altruism has a cost.

    For me and for most people, 'do the right thing' is an ideal; sometimes I will, more because I wouldn't want to face a tenant in the same complex who is mad at me, and possibly bad-mouthing me, than because it is right.

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    1. When we moved in, there wasn't even a form to be completed. We just gave the manager the name of the person who referred us.

      I agree, I'd make them wait for the bonus, too--and if I caught anyone selling the vouchers, I'd kick them out. But this place is owned by a large management company, and as you say, they only care about filling empty apartments. The only way they'll intervene is if those referrals stop coming if we can only get them by paying off the new tenant.

      My parents owned rental property years ago. They didn't have any problems with their tenants because everyone knew my dad didn't make empty threats. If he said, "Do this and you're out of here," he meant it. He'd go out of his way to help a good tenant who was in a tight spot,but he had no patience with dishonesty.

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  8. This sounds so strange to me Norma, we don't have that system here.

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    1. It's not universal here, either, Grace. Some property management companies choose to do it, as Alicia says, as an incentive.

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  9. What awful people. But it sounds like there's some material here for a short story!

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    1. Always fun to find new material to write about. Funny how it pops up nearly all over.

      Have a great weekend, everyone.

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    2. A former landlord of ours (and close family friend) once suggested I write about that neighborhood. I tried. I wrote a story and submitted it to a national magazine. The rejection letter read: "There's no way these people could be real."

      The relatively normal neighbors offered to send signed affidavits!

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Disagreements are welcome; trolls and spammers are not. Any and all comments by either of the latter two will be immediately deleted.