Sunday, August 31, 2008

proof read, please.

I recently wrote a very professional letter to a renter who moved 2 cats into a "no pets allowed" unit. I was pretty irate about the cats because the unit has brand-spankin-new carpet and their contract clearly states: no pets.

I really like these renters and didn't want to kick them out even though they violated the rental contract. Renters who pay with cash on time and keep the place neat and clean are hard to find. I set about writing a strongly worded letter informing them of my disdain and the fact that I will be adding a monthly pet fee to offset the inevitable costs of pets in the rental unit. Please read the following sentence:

"Because I feel you are contentious people and will do your best to minimize any damage caused by your cats I will charge only a minimal pet fee."

Oh, how I wish I would have had someone proof read the letter. My husband read the letter after it was already sent and said, "What does 'contentious' mean?" A slow steady burn of embarrassment crept over me as I realized my mistake. It was supposed to me "conscientious" people.

1 : likely to cause contention
2 : exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes

And the word I meant to use:

1 : governed by or conforming to the dictates of conscience : scrupulous
2 : meticulous, careful

My only hope is that the renters don't look up the meaning of "contentious." If they do, they will think their property manager believes them to be perverse and wearisome and then stop taking care of their cats' messes. No, really, I think you are conscientious people and would never, ever let your cat defile the new carpet. Conscientious. Really, truly. 


Grace said...

Bummer! The sentence you were writing was positive sounding though, so hopefully they will notice the missplaced word. It stuck out to me immediatly what word you meant to have used!

Shawna said...

Maybe they will stretch the definition and assume you meant the synonym "Discord"1 a: lack of agreement or harmony (as between persons, things, or ideas). There is definitely "lack of agreement" regarding the "rental agreement". They might misinterpret it to mean just what you meant, given they misinterpreted what "no pets" meant! Good for you for standing strong though. I hope to read it all worked out eventually. If they pay the pet fee, is it refunded if when they leave there is no damage? Renting is hard.

simplykersh said...

As an ex-property manager, a tip would be to give them a call, hopefully before they receive the letter, and let them know the mistake. You could also offer to reduce the pet fee by $5 to show you are truly sorry. Most people know that mistakes like this will happen and are more than willing to work with you, especially if they are saving $5! Good luck!

Sara said...

That's awful! How embarrassing! I like the previous poster's comment about giving them a call to let them know about the mistake. I think most people have an idea about what the word "contentious" means and you can't assume they'll guess what word you meant to use.

Also, I have to disagree with you about the "inevitable costs of pets in a rental unit." Kevin and I rented an apartment for two years in PA. Our cat left no damage. Nothing. No scratch on the window screen. Not one bathroom accident on the carpet. Absolutely nothing. A lot of indoor cats are well behaved and do not damage anything. Now dogs on the other hand.... =)

Not being a cat person yourself, you probably don't understand why someone would break your contract in order to have their cats in their apartment. But believe me, it is VERY HARD to find decent rental units that allow pets. Maybe a good idea would be to make them pay a pet deposit and then they could get half back if there are no signs of pet damage when their contract is up. The place we stayed at required a fee up front and then a monthly fee added to our rent, but when we renewed for another year they dropped the fee since we were good renters.

Cathy said...

Oooh, I feel your pain! AND, you're getting a lot of opinions on this one! So, I'll go ahead and add mine. I would give them a call too, just to clear it up and be up front (like they should have been with you). I don't agree with sara. They lied. Being a cat person or dog person or elephant person doesn't mean they should be dishonest. You can show them grace, but they need to know that they were wrong in what they did.

Aly sun said...

I appreciate the feedback here. It doesn't make me feel better for using the wrong word, but it is the price I have to pay.

As to conscientious cat people, I do know they exist. I would love to rent to Sara or someone else who takes great care with their pets. But I can't assume anything because one mess, just one mess, left uncleaned will make the carpet stink, require cleaning, and spot care and then it still may have a pet odor.

I really like the idea of a returnable pet deposit. It gives the renters incentive to keep the pet from causing any damage, while a pet fee alone may just make them think the pet can/will cause damage, oh, well.

Andee said...

Oh my sides!! I've made a couple of big ones in my time, but that's a doozy. I figure they probably can't read though, so I wouldn't worry about it too much. Meanwhile, no pet means no pets. Loving cats is not a good reason to violate a signed contract. Loving good renters on the other hand, might be a good enough reason to keep them.

Grandma Sherri said...

alysun I dont sea anythink rong with your werd.Ithunk yew should stink with tha contrap.Luv dad

Grandma Sherri said...

I just read your dad's comment ... and I'm laughing, but hoping people will see his signature on that!! I agree about making the call tho- tough as it may be you don't want to create any more contention...

Anonymous said...

OK, your Dad is pretty funny! My Dad would have done the same thing...

Mrs. M.

PS I agree w/ your sis...regardless of how 'contentious' they are, they broke the 'contrap'!

Sara said...

I feel the need to clarify something I said. I did not intend to convey that I thought it was fine that your renters broke their contract just because they are cat-lovers. Breaking contracts is not a small thing. However, I was hoping to show you another side to the issue so that you might have more sympathy toward them. Since you mentioned that they are good renters in other respects (on time payments and keeping the unit clean) and since you've had worse difficulties with previous renters, I thought that maybe cutting them a little slack (or at least some understanding with an added pet deposit fee =) wasn't too far fetched.

Anonymous said...

Be sure that if you do a pet deposit that you clarify it is a 100% refundable. Other wise it is not a deposit. If you fully intend on keeping any of it regardless then part would be considered a fee and part a deposit. Just call it a deposit not a (pet deposit)otherwise if there is damage other than from the pets you legally cannot use it for other than pet. And trust me the only thing that causes more damage than cats are chihuahuas. (sp?)The most damaging thing to carpet with animal urine is the home or rental carpet cleaners. The way they are designed they "push" the urine further into the pad and causes more damages. Good resident or not..... It is not worth the turnover costs. In the last 6 weeks I have had 3 apartments that have had to have the carpet or the carpet & vinyl replaced from authorized pets. On average the repairs are 3,000+ to fix. The likely hood of getting that back from a resident is extremely minimal. I say stick to your contract, you'll pocket book will thank you later. Besides, if they lied about the cats, what else are they hiding?