Author Topic: Holding the line on demanding tenants  (Read 7263 times)

umterp1999

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Holding the line on demanding tenants
« on: January 14, 2014, 12:20:28 PM »
Ok so I have tenants in my rental property.  The Good:  They are an older couple, have been renting from me for about 9 years now.  I know they take good care of the property.  The outside of the house looks good, and the inside looks good other than usual wear and tear.  The bad is that I can usually count on them calling me once every month or two with some issue.  Sometimes there are legit concerns, such a minor leak in the roof, or a toilet needing repair.  Often though they are mundane things that they want "upgraded" or things that my tenant just plain worries about.  For example, a neigbors house caught on fire because of a faulty electrical panel, and she was convinced hers needed to be replaced (I did have a friend come look at for free of charge, and he assured her it was fine).  She wants me to replace the roof because the neighbor replaced the roof.  She now wants to replace the three year old washer machine because a hose broke.  Wanted me to seal up the fireplace and all new windows because the house is drafty.  How do you handle stuff like that?  I have probably given them more than I should have over the years. 


ritchie70

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 02:31:55 PM »
It sounds like she's trying to keep up with the neighbors and generally a worrier.

If they're otherwise good tenants, you need to walk that fine line to keep her happy without doing a bunch of expensive stuff. But it's OK to say "no, I'm not doing that." Don't let her be spending your money.

In the case of something like the washing machine, if she wants a new one, I assume you would be OK with her buying one, and you could put yours in storage or Craigslist it.

umterp1999

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 04:04:15 PM »
Thanks Ritchie.  Yes I would be ok with that scenario regarding the washing machine.  I didn't really answer that question when she asked.  I have just been game planning my response when she asks again.  So I would be willing to let her buy a new machine, provided I am able to sell the old one.  I'm not letting sears just take it away.

GrayGhost

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 07:45:39 PM »
One thing I have done is set up a Google Voice account for my parents, that our tenants will have. I told my parents to always let calls go to voicemail, and review them immediately to get a gauge on how serious the issue is. If it's a roof leak or something, an immediate callback is the way to go, but if the tenant is just complaining about a three year old washing machine, we might text them back hours later, or just talk to them about it when it's time to go and collect rent.

What is needed is a balance between being responsive to actual issues, but making it clear that we're not going to be on-call for when tenants want to keep up with the Joneses.

Nords

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 08:38:36 PM »
Ok so I have tenants in my rental property.  The Good:  They are an older couple, have been renting from me for about 9 years now.  I know they take good care of the property.  The outside of the house looks good, and the inside looks good other than usual wear and tear.  The bad is that I can usually count on them calling me once every month or two with some issue.  Sometimes there are legit concerns, such a minor leak in the roof, or a toilet needing repair.  Often though they are mundane things that they want "upgraded" or things that my tenant just plain worries about.  For example, a neigbors house caught on fire because of a faulty electrical panel, and she was convinced hers needed to be replaced (I did have a friend come look at for free of charge, and he assured her it was fine).  She wants me to replace the roof because the neighbor replaced the roof.  She now wants to replace the three year old washer machine because a hose broke.  Wanted me to seal up the fireplace and all new windows because the house is drafty.  How do you handle stuff like that?  I have probably given them more than I should have over the years.
You've put up with this for nine years, and suddenly it's unbearable?  What changed?

It's reasonable to assuage fears about the infrastructure, although it can be annoying if it happens every month.  There are much more severe consequences if you ignore one of their concerns and it later causes damage, but a new roof "because the neighbor got one" is over the line.

It's also reasonable to replace washing-machine water supply hoses with stainless-steel braided hoses every 5-10 years, but if she wants a new washing machine then it sounds like her expense.  A drafty house?  Again, sounds like her problem although you could hypothetically get tax credits (and maybe better tenants) for insulating and other energy-efficient improvements.

I handle high-maintenance tenants with a cheery smile, and every year I raise the rent in hopes of driving them out.

umterp1999

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2014, 07:33:43 AM »
Nords, thanks for the tip.  Frankly what has changed is that in those 9 years, I have gotten married, had a daughter, and as a result view any money spent as "our" money, whether or not it's technically covered by the rents.  Money put out on things that aren't necessary, or things that don't help the overall value of the home, don't help us reach our financial goals.  That's all that has really changed.  I still strive to provide them good service, but am starting to realize that I'm not being a slumlord if I say no to certain things.  Also, the house in a great neighborhood in the DC suburbs, with good schools, walking distance to employers, shopping, bus service and a major hospital so it should be easy to rent when they leave. 

jba302

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2014, 07:48:50 AM »
We have a lady right now that's kind of like that, but in the opposite direction. Wants me to change light bulbs for her (as in pay for them and change them), refill the water softener, etc. We went back and forth on this a lot, and now it's down to me doing these things (not paying for the inputs, performing the labor) if there's an actual problem and I have to be there anyway. Suddenly she's learned to do all this stuff since lights in the bathroom aren't waiting for the fridge to die :).

Those big requests are crazy though. How does a tenant think that they are in a position to demand a new roof or new washing machine when the current one is working fine?

arebelspy

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2014, 09:06:15 AM »
To avoid the light bulb problem I have (in my leases) that tenants pay for problems < 100, I pay for anything over that.  I specifically give them the "change a lightbulb" example as to why that clause is there when going over the lease when renting to them.
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escolegrove

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2014, 10:14:55 AM »
We try really hard to not give in to demanding tenants. Unless they are your only option than I would tell her no and just rerent it.

AlmostIndependent

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 11:25:12 AM »
I handle high-maintenance tenants with a cheery smile, and every year I raise the rent in hopes of driving them out.

This is exactly the right response.

Also say "no" to ridiculous requests. If the hose on the washer breaks, by all means fix it. But a new washer? Not a chance. If you have a place to store the old ones for free (ie. a shed or garage) then tell them they are welcome to purchase and install their own. Even that is more accommodating than I would be unless they were great tenants.

Learning to say "no" to tenants is a VERY important lesson if you want to make money in the rental business.

jba302

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 12:17:39 PM »
To avoid the light bulb problem I have (in my leases) that tenants pay for problems < 100, I pay for anything over that.  I specifically give them the "change a lightbulb" example as to why that clause is there when going over the lease when renting to them.

This one would probably find a $200 light bulb lol. We just made it clear that "normal maintenance" is a tenant responsibility and it turned out fine, but I'll keep that in mind for future leases. Thanks for the tip!

GoCubsGo

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2014, 08:35:26 AM »
I too include the clause of anything under $50 is tenants.  I've generally found you need to set the tone early in rental period and learning to say no (respectfully of course and with your logic explained) is a definite must as a landlord.  After nine years it's a different story in your cirmcumstance. 

It can go the other way too though.  I had a tenant who didn't call me for close to two years and always paid on time.  I stopped in once and noticed a stain on the living room ceiling which the tenant said had been getting larger for awhile and didn't want to bother me (toilet leaking from above, had to tear out ceiling).  I definitely added that story to my "groundrules" conversation I have with each new tenant.

arebelspy

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 08:38:26 AM »
I too include the clause of anything under $50 is tenants.  I've generally found you need to set the tone early in rental period and learning to say no (respectfully of course and with your logic explained) is a definite must as a landlord.  After nine years it's a different story in your cirmcumstance. 

It can go the other way too though.  I had a tenant who didn't call me for close to two years and always paid on time.  I stopped in once and noticed a stain on the living room ceiling which the tenant said had been getting larger for awhile and didn't want to bother me (toilet leaking from above, had to tear out ceiling).  I definitely added that story to my "groundrules" conversation I have with each new tenant.

Ditto, I didn't have that happen, but I always mention plumbing issues (leaks, not just like a clogged drain) as one they should call me on right away.
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yahui168

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2014, 01:40:28 PM »
Ditto, I didn't have that happen, but I always mention plumbing issues (leaks, not just like a clogged drain) as one they should call me on right away.

A long time ago I was a landlord for a short time and I used a stock rental contract from my state's realtor association. Good thing there was a clause that specifies that the tenant is responsible for damages caused by not notifying the landlord of issues. The unit was a 2bd/2ba shared by two guys. During the tenant moveout walkthrough with one of the two guys, I noticed that the bathroom linoleum floor was swollen to the point the bathroom door would not close. I found a leak under the bathroom sink and under the leak was a wet towel. The guy that lives in that room was not at the walkthrough but apparently instead of calling me he decided to just put a towel under the leak and call it a day. The leak must have been going on for months to cause that amount of damage. It would've taken 15 mins to fix the leak but I had to take $700 out of their security deposit and spend half a day with the floor installer. I still don't know what that guy was thinking.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 01:45:11 PM by yahui168 »

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2014, 02:04:24 PM »
Haha, I wish my landlord were as responsive as any of you. There's a roof leak somewhere over the outside wall of our bedroom. You can actually see it from outside, and the super thick layers of paint on our wall are rippling/bulging from water running down the inside. That's gotta be great for the house. Guess how many times I've contacted my landlord about it over the last 6 months... :(

Seriously, we are the "super annoying tenants" in that we contact them all the time, but only about things that are important (roof leak, crack in tub fiberglass that I was told would be fixed before I moved in) that we just have to tell them about over and over again until they get fixed! It's weird, because when the water heater started to go out he got us a new one ASAP.

MrMoneyPinch

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2014, 03:08:52 PM »
I have an explanation for the quick water heater change: insurance co. are now very touchy when a flooding is heater-related, and water damage is quite costly.

MooseOutFront

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Re: Holding the line on demanding tenants
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2014, 03:44:37 PM »
This conversation reminds me of a house I was aware of that was rented by husband, wife, and small child.  The roof was leaking quite obviously, but he didn't call the landlord because he was growing a couple pot plants in his closet and didn't want to have that process discovered.