The way your live your life determines your legacy. Rental ownership is face-to-face capitalism. The way you do business affects the households who rent from you.

Leah has been blind since birth and she’s rented from a friend and client for more than a decade. She was a widow for many years before she met the disabled man who has since become a great husband for her. Social security, disability and a small pension are the only income for Leah’s household.

In the last decade the water and sewer bills at the apartments where she lives have doubled. New inspection programs increased the landlord’s costs. The landlord has upgraded most of the units. He has installed better flooring, cabinetry, appliances, lighting, and window treatments. Apartments with similar upgrades rent for 20% more than Leah pays.

Some of my heroes are my clients who live out their compassion and their faith, quietly and privately. Leah’s landlord is doing that. Her rent is the lowest in her building. The landlord is seizing an opportunity to do good that rental ownership makes possible.

A few landlords have not raised the rent in 20 years. Their tenants love them. The owner knows they are subsidizing their tenants. That’s an ethical and honorable choice. But it’s not the only ethical and honorable choice. There are several right answers to the legacy question.

Some landladies I serve are more interested in building legacy for the grandkids. These landladies charge market rate for their rentals. Sometimes long-standing residents leave because they can no longer pay the market rate. Those landladies can help their grandkids because the tenants pay fair market rates.

Your legacy choices should guide all your landlording decisions. Good landlords provide clean, safe, and functional housing for their tenants and also increase the value of the property. There are as many ways to build legacy through apartment investing as there are investors. Two ways are most common.

Some investors’ legacy involves how their wealth will be used. These fair and compassionate landlords use their wealth to benefit the world. Their wealth educates their children and helps their relatives. The excess goes to the causes they care about and the church or synagogue they belong to.

Other rental owners use their position as landlords to benefit others. These folks are content. They need more money like they need a second nose. Rental ownership presents opportunities to do good on a one-to-one basis.

In 100 years, we will all be gone. You will leave an inheritance: dollars, diamonds and deeds. But I suggest that the legacy you leave is more important. Legacy is how you live your life, the values you pass on by what you do, not just what you say.

How do you live out your values?

This post was adapted in part from Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating.


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.