"I guess they do that sort of thing" is what the bank examiner in the time honored classic, "It's a wonderful life." This was in response to George Bailey extolling the heroism of his brother, Harry, and being awared the Medal of Honor. The bank examiner's reply was to let George know in a somewhat subtle way he was not interested in listening to his story but was there on business and business alone.
In the world of migratory (a term I use for renters who move from one property to another leaving behing financial disasters) and bad renters, I've often found these bad renters will see your empathy and kindess as a weakness to be exploited. They will attempt to play on your very real human emotions to their advantage to get what they want.
Several times I've fallen victim to that. In one such case, a bad renter who vacated the property owing me $300 in rent and about $800 in damages often talked to me about her sister's newborn who had pulmanary problems and was in ICU. Of course, knowing this I responded with queries about the baby and thought of my being inappropriate to ask for current rent. I knew the gig was up once when calling about rent, I inquired about the baby and her response was "What? Oh...that...I don't know..." She was soon expunged from the property.
The question to ask yourself is if you're capable of guarding your emotions when it comes to renting? Are you able to look at real and false tragedy but stick to the busiess at hand? If not you may find yourself on the other end of someone who is stringing you along in order to buy time to run up a bill and vacate the property. There is nothing wrong with empathizing with the woes of your tenants but there is a time for such emotions. Trying to collect rent and keep your property up is not that time. Your business is providing a home in exchange for money and nothing else. Express remorse or condolensces AFTER you have secured your rent.
Just recently I was able to use my new tool in collecting rent. A renter recently informed me why the rent was late by telling me he had a drunk driving charge and needed to pay his attorney or risk going to jail. My response was to express heartfelt sympathy and to remind him he now had seven days to pay or else begin the procedures of getting expunged.
I may not have a family in Elmira that I want to get to but I do have a business to run and personal problems are not my interest.