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I am a multimedia journalist currently working as a Senior Web Journalist/ Videographer with Khaleej Times in Dubai, UAE. Prior to this, I worked as a news editor with CNN’s Indian affiliate in Noida. I graduated from Syracuse University in New York state in 2012 with a Masters degree in Broadcast and Digital journalism. I have worked in video production, online journalism, features writing and market research over a period of four years.

Feature: A landlord who treats tenants like his children

Renters call him “Uncle Bernie”

By Nilanjana Gupta (SYRACUSE) – Some landlords are out to just make money from their  tenants. But there’s one landlord in Syracuse who treats his renters as part of his family.

Landlord sees Tenants as part of his family

76-year-old Bernard Gerthoffer rents out eight apartments on the SU campus © 2011

76-year-old Bernard Gerthoffer owns a house on the SU campus and rents out eight apartments in it. But his tenants never call him Bernard, or Bernie for that matter. They call him Uncle Bernie.

“Maybe they should call me father Bernie.. but

I don’t have a collar.. so I am just an uncle,” Gerthoffer said.

He said he sees his tenants as his own children.

“I have had children of my own.. who went to college.. they would call and talk about disappointing problems…So I know that all the students here are trying to get a good education. And if I can relieve them of any small problems… that’s our intent,” Gerthoffer said.

Gerthoffer said besides maintaining his rental apartments all on his own, he will take his tenants to the airport, pick them up from the airport or train station. Sometimes he even takes them for groceries in the winter. He also sometimes gives them a ride to campus.

Gerthoffer said he thinks giving is more important than receiving.

“At this point of time in my life. I would rather give back to the younger generation and maybe I can rely on them when I get a little older,” Gerthoffer said.

Tenants value him as someone More than a Landlord

One of his renters said Gerthoffer is different from other landlords as he doesn’t see tenants as just “resources” for collecting money.

“I have lived here for seven years.. I have had one rent increase… He said that “Donovan I am sorry I have to raise your rent – It’s going up from $385 to $400″ He was raising the rent by $15 a month and he felt terrible about it,” Donovan Schaefer, a teacher at Le Moyne college said.

Another tenant said the fact Gerthoffer personally comes and fixes things in her apartment, instead of just sending a handy man, makes her feel really cared for.

“I had got a package and he had brought it in for me and wrote on the package that “Your refrigerator has been fixed”. And then attached to the package outside he had put this piece of the refrigerator that he had replaced just to show me that he had replaced it. I felt that’s a very grandpa thing to do,” Andrea Hall, an SU student, said.

Raunak Kumar is an international student who stayed in one of the apartments for a year.

“The rent is very cheap and for us international students.. the rent is a big concern,” Kumar said.

“Uncle Bernie is not like other landlords who come once a month to collect the rent.. He comes regularly and chats with us,” Kumar said.

For others, he is a good friend.

“He is there when we need him with a smile and a positive attitude,” In Chin, an SU student said. “I actually didn’t know his first name for a while. Because I had to send him the rent. I think I wrote Uncle Bernie on the envelope.”

Watch the story here:


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2 Comments on “Feature: A landlord who treats tenants like his children”

  1. Ashish SHUKLA December 23, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    This is a nice story, not sure why you added his phone number…:)

    • Nilanjana Gupta July 29, 2013 at 2:07 am #

      Thanks for pointing that out. I removed his number 🙂

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