From the mind of the Airman Leadership School Commandant: Own or Rent?


May 27, 2018

A wise Chief Master Sergeant once asked an audience of up-and-coming young Master Sergeants (in training to be First Sergeants), “I want to know, do you own or do you rent?”

There was no discussion about the question. The audience and the Chief just sat in silence marinating in the deep richness of the thought. Everyone learned a valuable lesson that day.

You see owners will pick up that small piece of string that has been laying in the corner of the living room; renters won’t.

Owners will maintain their yards knowing that it is a representation of who they are; renters will let the lawn go.

Owners will make repairs and improvements to their homes; renters will expect someone else to that (landlords).

Owners will make an effort to engage other owners to maintain and improve their homes; renters won’t.

Owners have a keen eye for detail especially on home improvement projects that they personally worked on; renters could care less.

Owners don’t complain to management; they are management.

Owners invest; renters have no stake.

Owners pay down their mortgages and increase their home equity; renters pay someone else’s mortgage.

Owners who PCS (are forced to move) have say in what happens to the home; renters don’t.

Owners can keep owning after they move and rent it out to a renter (still paying down the mortgage and increasing the equity).

Owners are invested; therefore, they will stay engaged and ready to protect their investment; renters won’t.


Owners have rights that renters don’t.

Owners tear down walls and expand living space.

Owners install windows where there were none.

Owners add value to their homes by acting on their rights of ownership; renters must ask permission and will usually have to undo any changes that they have made when they leave the home.

Owners also own pets without concern; renters must put up deposits (some non-refundable) and even pay “pet rent” and are ever conscious of what their pets might do that could cost them later .

So, I ask you, as that wise Chief once asked me: “I want to know, do you own or do you rent?”

Because it isn’t about owning a home. It’s about knowing who you are. Do you want to add value: repair, build, maintain, improve, and encourage others to do the same or do you just want to coast through life unengaged, disregarding responsibility and expect someone else to take care of everything for you?


You are the HOA.

Encourage your Owners and renters to be true owners of what they do, their work centers, and their job tasks. Respect their homeowner rights to tear down walls and expand job capabilities and install windows where there were none so that for you and your owners work will be a joy. When they decide that what works best is “owning” let them own and make good positive changes. Don’t hold them the HOA rules that have “always been”. Your young owners need to know that you believe that they can add value to the neighborhood.

Encourage your people to hire a Realtor who is an owner don’t let them sign up with a realtor who is a renter.

Owners add value renters have no stake…

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