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What Would You Do in This Situation?


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Long-Term Tenant Asks for More Land

So a tenant asked me if I had half a sim available, and I didn't, they were all taken except a homestead 1/3 which wouldn't have enough prims anyway (homesteads have less per square meter). And in general I don't deal in larger lots because when they don't rent, they are harder to sell especially nowadays.

I mention that I was contemplating getting some abandoned land on a sim next to where I had a community, and I could split it with her. After reviewing all the options around there, she declined. I explained that basically with so much abandoned land everywhere, she should just pick a place with whatever specs she needed. So I showed various options I knew about. I also mentioned that she should consider just buying it herself and controlling the land completely, that's often best for people, especially a store.

She didn't want to pay tier to the Lindens -- because it's more costly as an end user -- until you get over a sim, until you have grouped land, it will always be more costly to be buy rather than rent. So I tried to find an area that was abandoned near other lands I owned so if the deal collapsed later it would be coherent.

History of Late Payments 

And the reason I had this cautionary sense is that this is a tenant who most months did not pay on time and would often wait long past the grace period and never make up the difference unless aggressively presented with the bill, something that's always unpleasant for landlords. I think a reason some landlords get automated systems that simply kick a tenant off land with their prims or out of a group or whatever they need to do to immediately end their access -- to avoid the unpleasant process of collection. I reject that approach as I would rather the Mainland be more like real life, where if someone is sick or someone has a problem buying Lindens because they are outside the US, they aren't punished and don't lose their home.

So I went over the details of this deal several times, with multiple and detailed explanations of the pros and cons of this land -- there would not be any waterfront (because that was taken by tenants); that script usage was already 5000 on the sim and if the business needed to add more than 1000 to it and had heavy traffic and use of rezzers, this might not work, etc. etc. I had studied all of this extensively at this tenants two other locations in my rentals, checking script usage etc. People have all kinds of beliefs about what lag is and script time is, but there's no substitute for just measuring it on the spot and seeing how it feels.

Buying Abandoned Land for a Tenant

Anyway, after asking one last time if the tenant wanted this land, I request it, and then I pull the lever on buying this land for US $138 from Whitney Linden. That's not a huge cost, but it's not trivial because it's a sunk cost, really; anyone who thinks you are "investing" in Second Life land is fooling themselves. You don't make the cost back from an "investment" like that for a year or more, I find.

Why was I eager to move quickly on this particular sim? Because a lot with plywood and junk which had sat there for months, sometimes being set to sale, finally got abandoned, sat there with plywood for some weeks and finally got cleared by Lindens. When I see Lindens moving quickly on a sim I think: they're going to put it to auction, I need to ask ASAP to buy it directly as abandoned land. This factor was a big one in this loss -- because of this policy of letting anyone who wants abandoned land to ask for it, rather than letting those who live on the sim have a veto. There's also the arbitrariness of when land does or does not go to auction and how that is decided. But ultimately, the vagaries of the Lindens abandoned land purchase system is not the problem in this story.


Double Loss of Rent

Meanwhile, the rent on the other two locations expires. My expectation is that as soon as the land is purchased and the rental box is ready, the tenant will pay it immediately and move immediately, mindful that the landlord has just done her a US $138 favour and helped her business reduce its costs.

Instead, it took 3 days to pay - and a week later, the other locations aren't emptied. If nothing else happened, I would be included just to do nothing. But I am aware that if in any given situation, someone in Second Life can screw you, they will. And that's why you must always have an eye to your self interest, and that's why people can seem extremely nasty and self-interested in SL -- they have to be. Margins are extremely thin for all the businesses but a very few. This person is already late with her Christmas sales - other tenants had them out, as I say every year, "on October 32st" -- more than 3 weeks ago.

Reneging on the Deal

So you know where this is going, and it's not a mere refund -- which you can do in my rentals, thank God. Instead, first, this tenant asks if I can move the other tenants who occupy the waterfront so she can have it. Clearly, she was never really happy with this parcel but then it's unclear why she decided after repeated checking to make sure that she would take it.

Answer: no, I don't move small tenants for big tenants, obviously, as it is, moving a store into a sim could cause some to flee for fear of lag if not actual lag.

Then we discuss land nearby that is for sale for a very low price, a whole sim partly with waterfront. I said I don't want to pay even that very low price when $1/m is as high as I will go, i.e. abandoned or somebody's fire sale unless it's on a sim where I have a project or desperately need prims. I point out once again -- why not? -- that any tenant with a store who needs a large piece of land is better off buying their own. Usually, I send tenants either to deals I see or to other rental agents that have big pieces of land, why not? I do not like buying big pieces of land. If at this point, this tenant who has already gotten me to buy land for US $138 for her decides she would rather go now and spend $280 to secure even a larger parcel, that's great, I could accept that as reasonable and try to cut my losses.

Going to Competitor

What I don't expect -- because despite 16 years in SL and knowing that in any given situation, if an avatar can screw you, they will -- is that this tenant will IM this relatively small and new land dealer who is not offering a rental but only sales and asks if she is willing to rent it for less than I'm charging.  And that land dealer of course jumps at the chance to cut losses on land she has tiered for sale for at least a month or more, gradually lowering its price.

That's fine, people can and should always be looking out for themselves and finding a rentals deal that makes them happy and saves them money on their business. It's just that I'm out the US $138 for having bought the abandoned land. Sure, I can regroup and get it rented or sold but not very quickly; I wouldn't have bought it unless I had a ready customer. Usually when I buy abandoned land for customers it's 512 to 2048; then it's not a loss if they bail. So my fault, really. But when I've been shafted in a deal, in the way you often do get shafted in SL, I guess I expect the other party to try to mitigate it somewhat. I don't expect them not to get a deal for themselves over my hurt feelings or losses -- that's stupid. But I do expect some mitigation.

Dilemma

Now here's the dilemma. What to do now? The tenant has still not moved. Her store is still there on the two previous sims, with her vendors selling and the rent expired for a week.  So I immediately return everything on one sim and immediately put it back to rent -- it might rent in the next few days, reducing losses. That seemed fine because I knew the configuration it was in would not suit the new rental -- that rental at lower rents than mine. Now comes her other main store with all its vendors. Returning vendors can mess them up; returning a big store with lots of displays creates a big chore for someone to work with as it doesn't return neatly always but is in clumps. It's always better if you can pick it up. But I could be selling this land instantly and recouping my losses. So do i:

1. Immediately return everything and put it to sale or rent, let the chips fall where they may, this tenant shouldn't expect anything else, she's caused me a big loss.

2. Not return it, and wait until after Thanksgiving. Since she didn't refund and had 4 days left, she may feel entitled to keep going -- although these are two separate pieces of land, and both need to have rent paid (I find end users think that if tier is paid only once a month, it shouldn't matter, but in a business, tier has to be paid every single day or you lose -- and you have staggered tier dates to Linden as well).

3. First make a list of items in her store she had offered as compensation for causing me a loss, although ordinarily I wouldn't buy such things. But maybe I can send them as gifts. It would be impossible to choose enough to make up my loss, but it's a token. Then return the things later.

4. Ban from future rentals.

5. Publicize and urge a boycott.

 

Several people including those in the business say "return everything immediately". I'm leaning toward no. 2. No. 3 I don't care that much about and it prolongs the already bad relationship. 4 seems prudent. 5 seems excessive because you can only blame yourself for buying land in anticipation of a deal; you have to have other uses for it if it falls through.

 

Edited by Prokofy Neva
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How about a variant of #2: Block public access to the parcel except to the tenant who has been in arrears for way to long already, effectively closing her shop.
Send a message that she is to pick up her stuff no later than Friday 12:00 SLT and if it's still there after that time, everything will be returned to her, potentially messing up her vendors.

She is not paying rent anymore, so she really is no longer your tenant. If she does not vacate the parcel then the consequences are for her to bear. You have been patient enough with her. 

Oh, and in addition to this, I would add option #4, no more Prok rentals for her (or her alts).

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36 minutes ago, Fritigern Gothly said:

How about a variant of #2: Block public access to the parcel except to the tenant who has been in arrears for way to long already, effectively closing her shop.
Send a message that she is to pick up her stuff no later than Friday 12:00 SLT and if it's still there after that time, everything will be returned to her, potentially messing up her vendors.

She is not paying rent anymore, so she really is no longer your tenant. If she does not vacate the parcel then the consequences are for her to bear. You have been patient enough with her. 

Oh, and in addition to this, I would add option #4, no more Prok rentals for her (or her alts).

It would never occur to me to block a parcel like that to prevent shoppers in a store or tenants in a residence, I've never done that in 16 years. It seems excessive.

And in an open group, it's hard to do. You could put "group only," but with an open group, anyone can just join the group and enter. You can put "access only" and put only that tenant and yourself, I suppose. It just seems like the sort of hardball I never play in SL, i.e. griefing or bombing people, etc. On the other hand, hardball has been played with me. Thanks for your thoughts. The problem is I've already asked multiple times to vacate the lot, and it's being ignored. So I guess a notecard with the deadline will be in order. 

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25 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

On the other hand, hardball has been played with me.

It has. Moreover, she is depriving you of an income, therefore blocking the parcel to deprive HER of an income is anything but excessive, it is responding in kind.

But yes, especially since she has been ignoring your requests to vacate, the next step would be to tell her "get out or else...".

 

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8 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

I guess a notecard with the deadline will be in order. 

as this is your standard process for delinquent tenants then I suggest to go with this

most people who rent your properties know that you have fairly tolerant delinquency processes and have always been consistent about this even when you have sometimes been taken advantage of

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