Tenant Expectations Upon Arrival

16 Replies

Just had my first tenant move into my first rental property.  They moved from out of state without seeing the property in person first.  I gave them a video tour.  They are not satisfied with the paint on the baseboards (because we advertised new interior paint since we had the walls painted), the fact there were not lines in the carpet from recently having it cleaned, and concern that the bathrooms and the refrigerator were not completely spotless.  They actually said they spent a night in a hotel last night because they couldn't shower in the dirty bathroom. I would disagree with their assessment.  The home is in far better condition than our own home.  

They did have a couple of concerns that are reasonable (washer was not draining properly and the shower head was loose).  I do need to address those issues.


How do you manage tenants expectations of moving in?  What would you do to help resolve the difference of opinions on what "move in ready" means?  

Some of their requests seem a bit over the top.  The bathroom might be a concern but the rest seems pretty trivial unless the paint job is severely bad or the appliances look like they haven't been cleaned in months.

Thanks for the feedback, Aaron.  The refrigerator had a small ring on one of the glass shelves that was the size of a ketchup bottle.  It was pretty miniscule, in my opinion.

The baseboards are in reasonable shape.  They just said that in their opinion, since we said there was fresh paint that everything should have been painted.  Some spots on shelves and doors were present.  But, not filthy by any means.  Quite the introduction to landlordship.  

I had a tenant like that once it is better to offer them there deposit back and move on to the next tenant.It will not end for them to request unreasonable repairs.  No matter how hard you try you just can not make everyone happy. 

I would NEVER rent to someone without them viewing and accepting the property.  Frankly I'm amazed you actually have a tenant at all.  This is usually a scam.  "Hi, I'm a doctor from the UK moving to the US with my daughter.  My company will send you a check for the deposit and first months rent.  Oh no!  They also sent you my moving money and I need it right away.  Please wire me the excess ASAP."  A week later your bank backs out the forged check.   You're out the money you wired.

I agree with the others.  If they're dissatisfied with the place offer to let them out after one month, with a full return of their deposit provided they leave it in good condition.  Otherwise the place is in the condition its in when they move it.  The fact they didn't take time to look in person is their problem.

@Jon Holdman , lesson learned.  I had actually vetted them pretty well with their employment, past rentals, etc.  My problem is I picked someone I felt I could help.  Crossed from thinking good business to thinking good will.  First time landlord--first big lesson learned.

@Aaron K. , I've been thinking a similar thought--this could be really good or really bad.

@Justin Bauer , I've wondered about that.  Not sure what to do with it yet.

Thanks for all the feedback.  More to learn.

@Ryan Nelson I would fix the shower head and washer problem ASAP. I would let them know that is all that you will be fixing and that if the property does not meet their expectations you are willing to let them sign a lease termination and return their money today. Then quickly find a new tenant. It is better to get rid of them then to deal with more complaints. If they decide to live in do not respond quickly to their requests unless they are safer issues. Turn down other cleaning and non essential requests.
Originally posted by @Justin Bauer :

I had a tenant like that once it is better to offer them there deposit back and move on to the next tenant.It will not end for them to request unreasonable repairs.  No matter how hard you try you just can not make everyone happy. 

 I agree with Justin.  And with Amy regarding fixing only the washer and shower head.

Offer to let them out of the lease and do nothing except the washer and shower head. Not sure what is wrong with the shower head but if they are too useless to fix that themselves then you are in for a very rough ride ahead with these tenants.

Going forward do not respond to any of their trivial complaints. I would ignore them. Your response should always be "I will take a look next time I am at the property". Do not cater to them, make no effort to appease their wining and make it clear the place was rented as is and they need to adjust.

They sound like overly entitled millennials that need to grow up. You will need to concentrate on training them how to be good tenants so they understand the real world. Otherwise get rid of them.

In the future never rent to anyone that is not available to view the unit in person. Modern day video tours are not appropriate business practice. They are a terrible way to view a property.

Remember no good deed ever goes unpunished. In the future always reject any applicant you "feel you can help". You never want to be "that" landlord.

I've been putting together a "welcome to our community" booklet (about the size of the lead paint disclosure) that outlines what we do, what constitutes an emergency, our expectations, HOW to contact us.... All the things that we have learned over the last few years growing out business. There is a point that this really does seem to become overwhelming (and to think that I THOUGHT I had things automated - I've got a ton more to do), but don't fear - your growing! (remember, no pain - no gain).

I agree that you should set the expectation straight immediately - if there is ANY hint that there will be a problem Id let them go immediately (assuming the new resident wants to go, otherwise lay down the law now). Then spend a little time "training the tenant" as you grow your business and acquire more doors. It does become easier (to a point, then scale starts to creep in - but don't worry, by then you'll have the tenant training under your belt).

@Ryan Nelson cleanliness is non negotiable in my properties and it is hardly subjective. It is completely disgusting to have a dirty refrigerator or bathroom. Either it is dirty or it is not. If you don't know how or want to do a thorough job cleaning, then hire a cleaning company. Ketchup bottle stain in the fridge means it wasn't cleaned. Sorry that is not acceptable.

Find the dirty surface and use a clean rag on it. If dirt comes off, then it is dirty. Not subjective. It can take up to two hours to clean a really dirty fridge or bathroom. Plus you need to use the right cleaners. 

As far as carpet, I always have carpet professionally steam cleaned between tenants and I have a receipt available in case someone asks for it. Professional steam cleaners get to a higher temperature and sanitize the carpet. I charge the old tenant.

My guess is that the tenant is right. Everything minus the baseboard should be addressed. Be thankful you have a tenant that cares if the property is clean. Most people live like animals.

I have a five page move in checklist and I spend an hour going through the list making sure everything is clean. 

@Joe Splitrock it sound like you have a terrific system. That's what makes a good business. I have a lot to learn. Thanks for that feedback.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock:

@Ryan Nelson cleanliness is non negotiable in my properties and it is hardly subjective. It is completely disgusting to have a dirty refrigerator or bathroom. Either it is dirty or it is not. If you don't know how or want to do a thorough job cleaning, then hire a cleaning company. Ketchup bottle stain in the fridge means it wasn't cleaned. Sorry that is not acceptable.

Find the dirty surface and use a clean rag on it. If dirt comes off, then it is dirty. Not subjective. It can take up to two hours to clean a really dirty fridge or bathroom. Plus you need to use the right cleaners. 

As far as carpet, I always have carpet professionally steam cleaned between tenants and I have a receipt available in case someone asks for it. Professional steam cleaners get to a higher temperature and sanitize the carpet. I charge the old tenant.

My guess is that the tenant is right. Everything minus the baseboard should be addressed. Be thankful you have a tenant that cares if the property is clean. Most people live like animals.

I have a five page move in checklist and I spend an hour going through the list making sure everything is clean. 

Originally posted by @Ryan Nelson :
@Joe Splitrock it sound like you have a terrific system. That's what makes a good business. I have a lot to learn. Thanks for that feedback.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock:

@Ryan Nelson cleanliness is non negotiable in my properties and it is hardly subjective. It is completely disgusting to have a dirty refrigerator or bathroom. Either it is dirty or it is not. If you don't know how or want to do a thorough job cleaning, then hire a cleaning company. Ketchup bottle stain in the fridge means it wasn't cleaned. Sorry that is not acceptable.

Find the dirty surface and use a clean rag on it. If dirt comes off, then it is dirty. Not subjective. It can take up to two hours to clean a really dirty fridge or bathroom. Plus you need to use the right cleaners. 

As far as carpet, I always have carpet professionally steam cleaned between tenants and I have a receipt available in case someone asks for it. Professional steam cleaners get to a higher temperature and sanitize the carpet. I charge the old tenant.

My guess is that the tenant is right. Everything minus the baseboard should be addressed. Be thankful you have a tenant that cares if the property is clean. Most people live like animals.

I have a five page move in checklist and I spend an hour going through the list making sure everything is clean. 

 I put it in place after getting sick of tenants complaining about my properties being dirty when they moved in. 

Unfortunately, none of the people on here have seen your property, so we don't know what they are describing is accurate.  No offense...just looking at it from a different perspective.

Offer to correct deficiencies ASAP and continue to rent to them.  If they do turn out to be PITA's, then invoke the "happy clause."  If they continue to be a pain, it is my theory that they realized that they don't want the place after seeing it in person and are trying to get out of the lease.