Managing boundaries when your tenant is your neighbour
One of the benefits of having a property manager is that a clear separation can be made between you and your tenant. The lines become blurred however when you live next door. This happens surprisingly often – when a property owner buys the apartment next door as an investment and rents out, or when there’s a granny flat or separate dwelling on the property that can be used to generate income, for example. It may seem superfluous to have a property manager in these instances when you are so close by, but in fact these situations call for management more so than others.
A great approach is to remain anonymous as the landlord to your tenant – this creates a clear boundary for you to treat them as a neighbour and for them to see you as nothing more than that. It does however depend on your making good choices as a landlord regarding entry to their property and raises the personal and ethical dilemma of them allowing you on site, not knowing the full scope of your relationship. If you choose anonymity, it’s also important to draw boundaries between being neighbourly and developing a strong meaningful friendship – which for some people is an important aspect of being neighbours. If the friendship develops and you start to feel uncomfortable, disclosing the truth is a reasonable next step – assuming you feel boundaries can be respected with regard to the management of the property. It’s all fun and games until someone burns a hole in the carpet or starts a flood with a carelessly running tap!