Log In Sign Up

Dealing with the Nitpicker Tenant

2 min read
Kevin Perk

Kevin Perk is a full-time buy and hold and fix and flip real estate investor with over 15 years of experience. He and...

View profile

As a Guest you have free article(s) left

Join BiggerPockets (for free!) and get access to real estate investing tips, market updates, and exclusive email content.

Sign in Already a member?

We all know the nitpicker type.  The nitpicker is someone who never seems satisfied and is always finding something wrong.  Nitpickers can drive you crazy.  With most situations in life you can avoid them.  But what if one wants to or becomes your tenant?

You are most likely in for an unpleasant experience.  Once in your property, the nitpicker will immediately start finding things wrong and insisting that you fix them.  The first list of problems is followed by another list, and then another until you do not even want to look at your phone out of fear of another request from the nitpicker.

Do not get me wrong.  We make repairs all the time.  If your heat is not working, if your sink is dripping or the roof is leaking, we will fix it quick.  We may even accommodate some special requests upon move in.  But the small scuff mark on the wood floor?  The barely perceptible crack above the doorway or asking to replace mini-blinds because they are not all the same shade of white is carrying things a bit far.  So what to do?

Sometimes these nitpicking qualities will show themselves early.  If they nitpick during a showing make a note and beware, they are going to nitpick even more once they get in.  Remember nitpickers are not a protected class.

Nitpicking Tenants

But what if they do not show their true colors until after you give them the keys?  What then?  Here are three things to do.

  1. Use a move in/move out check list.  Such a check list will allow your tenant to check off and note everything they find “wrong” with the property.  Let them know they will not be charged for anything on the list when they move out.  Sometimes this works.  Of course if they find something that truly needs to be repaired, like a broken light fixture, fix it.  But otherwise sometimes just allowing them to check things off the list solves the problem.
  2. Tell them to get with the program.  Sometimes the nitpicker will not stop.  This is the time for you to be professional and firm.  Let them know that you take care of your properties.  That you will fix things that break, and what a true emergency is.  But also let them know that you will not be at their beck and call.  Remind them that they viewed the unit in its current condition and they choose to rent it in that condition.  Sometimes it just takes a firm stand.
  3. If all else fails, let them go.  Let them know you will be happy to let them out of their lease so they can find a place that better meets their needs.  It is just not going to be worth it to keep them.  Give them the talk above and tell them they are welcome to stay under your terms and conditions.  If they cannot live with that then they are free to go.  Hopefully they will go, if not, you may just have to wait until the end of their lease.

We work hard to provide quality rental properties and a quality living experience.  But, some people are just never satisfied.  Don’t let the nitpicker in your property in the first place.  But if one slips through, try the above techniques.  After all, we have enough to deal with as landlords without getting nitpicked at all the time.

BP landlords, have you ever had a nitpicker in one of your properties?  How did you deal with them?  Share your stories with a comment.

Photo: Rafael Anderson Gonzales