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Is it normal to continuously get tenants to requests things

Steve Tse
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Posted Nov 17 2022, 13:31

Hi Guys,

I am fairly new at this and was wondering, on average, how many times does your tenant asks for things to be replaced of fixed ? I've had a new tenant for the last 3 months and I keep getting requested to take care of many things such as an icemaker repair, a garage door rail repair, stove light bulb replacement, light switch repair and etc. Tenant lives in a fairly new SFH that has been thoroughly cleaned and everything broken repaired prior to tenant moving in.

What is your strategy to politely let the tenant know that this is not a luxury hotel or all inclusive resort ? How would you deal with this if you manage your own property vs having PM ?

Thank you

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Replied Nov 17 2022, 13:59

Your experience is not my norm - and my clients and I self-manage our own properties.  A couple of recommendations:

1.  Do a pre-move-in walk of the property with the tenant and take photos of every room - and make note of condition.  Have the tenant initial/sign a checklist showing the condition at move-in and explain both verbally and within your lease that the property is to be returned to you in that condition (less ordinary wear and tear).  Give the tenant a copy of the checklist signed by both of you and provide the photos.  Gets pretty tangible then.

2. Note in your lease and then verbally with your tenant as to what they are responsible for repairing and what you will be.  If they break the garbage disposal by over-filling it or the like, they are responsible for its repair/replacement.

3.  Require Renter's Insurance with Landlord As Additionally Insured.  It's a cheap date and it should be used along with the tenants' personal funds to make any needed repairs.  

4. When requests are made, have the tenant (and this is part of the lease as well noting exception of emergencies like a broken pipe) email you with the photo of the item and an explanation as to what happened to cause it to break/stop working.  You would be surprised what comes your way:  "my kid flushed something down the toilet" (that's on them)/"I have no idea how the door came off the hinges" (that's on them) / "The sink is clogged" (they used it, they clogged it - you know the drill by now).  Things like a window/roof leaks, termites, AC/Heat not working - that's landlord stuff. 

5.  Don't rent any property until everything is in good working order and make all repairs thoroughly (versus a make it do for now approach).  

6. And, do an exit walk-through at termination end - using the move-in checklist and photos.

Tenants need to know before moving in that you maintain your properties, value them, and that you expect the same from them.  Be sure to do property checks (quarterly or so) which you can explain as your check of the property to determine any upcoming upgrades.  

Hope this helps...what you do before they move-in sets the tone for what happens while they're there.  

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Replied Nov 17 2022, 18:01

If things are broken such as an icemaker, garage door, and light switch, that would be normal for the resident to submit a repair request and for the owner to fix it.  Light bulbs are on the resident.

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Replied Nov 17 2022, 19:34

In Killeen it's very common. You are going to want to draw a hard line on communication, I used to give in to all my tenants requests in Killeen till I realized they are going to walk all over you. Use a property manager, I use Colonial 

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Replied Nov 17 2022, 19:47

No this is not normal and you need to stop doing a lot of those.  Changing a light bulb is their job.  Go through and do an inspection to see if there are things that are broken and fix them. When you get a call for a repair, determine if it is normal wear and tear or if it is something the tenant broke. If the latter, charge them for the repair.

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Replied Nov 18 2022, 05:44

@Eliott Elias  I already use a property manager who takes care of every tenant request. What would you do in this situation ?

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Replied Nov 18 2022, 05:51

@Theresa Harris  Prior to tenant moving in, the walk through inspection was completed all out of place things found were fixed. Pictures were taken for future references. I find myself in a different situation, the things that tenant finds broken are always minuscule, not previously discovered or would not have even been discovered until normal usage. I just find this tenant to be excessive in submitting tickets for every little thing. Can you suggest any techniques to at least slow them down, and I am using a PM ? 

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Replied Nov 18 2022, 06:08
Quote from @Steve Tse:

@Theresa Harris  Prior to tenant moving in, the walk through inspection was completed all out of place things found were fixed. Pictures were taken for future references. I find myself in a different situation, the things that tenant finds broken are always minuscule, not previously discovered or would not have even been discovered until normal usage. I just find this tenant to be excessive in submitting tickets for every little thing. Can you suggest any techniques to at least slow them down, and I am using a PM ? 


 Your PM should be used to handling this and learning to say no to things that are not critical.  Talk to your PM.  If your PM sends someone every time a light bulb needs to be changed, then they should be billing the tenant, not you.  With my PM I find when a new tenant moves in, there are usually a few small things; but they do them in one trip.

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Replied Nov 18 2022, 06:25

@Theresa Harris Thank you, just out of curiosity, what is your agreed maintenance limit amount with your PM ? In my case, PM only notifies me if the repairs going to be over $500.

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Replied Nov 18 2022, 06:39
Quote from @Steve Tse:

@Theresa Harris Thank you, just out of curiosity, what is your agreed maintenance limit amount with your PM ? In my case, PM only notifies me if the repairs going to be over $500.


 I think it is $500.  Of course in one month you may have two items that are more than $500 when combined. The only time I've had this was at turnover.  My current PM is having problems getting good staff (some are good, but at least one is a flake).  I know the PM, so I just email him directly if there is something of concern (n=2 times in 5+ years).

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Replied Nov 18 2022, 07:05
Quote from @Steve Tse:

@Eliott Elias  I already use a property manager who takes care of every tenant request. What would you do in this situation ?

 Let your PM handle it 

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 10:29

@Eliott Elias You are missing my point here, my PM will deal with any tenant request but at my expense. I am looking for an advise on how seasonal landlords deal with an infinite stream of miscellanies requests coming from a tenant on monthly basis. I want to learn your techniques for being a responsible landlord, but at the same time draw a hard line. I need my tenant to understand that she is NOT leaving in a hotel where she can call concierge service every five minutes for room service. Don't get me wrong, I take a good care of my investment property and do want my tenants to have a nice place to live in, but there is a limit to everything ! 

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 10:53
What is your strategy to politely let the tenant know that this is not a luxury hotel or all inclusive resort ? How 

1. Require them to submit a repair request form and that is the only way they will get a response.
2. Always wait 48 hours before responding to their repair requests unless it is an emergency. If it’s an inconvenience for the tenant to make a request, they will likely be more selective on what they think actually needs to be fixed.

3. Don’t allow this to happen again. It’s your responsibility to train your tenants, and catering to their every little annoying request is training them that is ok and how they should continue handling things.

4. If you have a PM and they are allowing this and charging you for every little unnecessary repair, fire your PM. 

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 11:08

@Dominick Johnson

1. Every request is properly submitted through the PM ticketing system

2. Every request is dealt with within a week or two unless there is an emergency

3. Tenant is aware of their tenant rights and uses them at their advantage every way possible.

4. I can't be upset with my PM because they are doing their job and properly respond to incoming requests. Things that the tenant asks are always new and seems to be unrelated to the previous requests. For example: an icemaker repair, a garage door rail repair, stove light bulb replacement, light switch repair...

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 11:11

The first few weeks they will call stuff out. Maybe first few months. If addressed often they are quiet later. Sometimes I feel like they just want to make a point because they are salty after that large move in deposit + first month rent lol. My opinion is grant their wishes if legit but be clear that if they break it you might charge a fee etc.

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 11:14

@Nate Sanow, I hope you are right man, this is driving me crazy

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 11:22
For example: an icemaker repair, a garage door rail repair, stove light bulb replacement, light switch repair...

Those all sound like legit repair requests (except for changing a light bulb) that you should fix. Sounds like this is a conversation you need to have with your PM, not the tenants. Let the PM know that if it’s not a safety concern or preventing something from working properly (ice maker stopped working), it doesn’t require a repair. If they are experienced, they should be able to use good judgement and not fix every little problem if it’s not necessary. 

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 17:55

@Steve Tse not so normal. The question I would have is are these things really broken and how? Some tenants are demanding others are less so.  your ice maker may have just frozen up, the light switch do they know how it works? (I once had tenants tell me a fan was broken because they didn't know how to turn on a light switch) to make it work.  I have other tenant not understand a 2 or 3 way switch. As for light bulbs it really is on them for normal bulbs and a stove or fridge bulb is on them. 

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Replied Nov 19 2022, 18:28
Quote from @Steve Tse:

@Eliott Elias You are missing my point here, my PM will deal with any tenant request but at my expense. I am looking for an advise on how seasonal landlords deal with an infinite stream of miscellanies requests coming from a tenant on monthly basis. I want to learn your techniques for being a responsible landlord, but at the same time draw a hard line. I need my tenant to understand that she is NOT leaving in a hotel where she can call concierge service every five minutes for room service. Don't get me wrong, I take a good care of my investment property and do want my tenants to have a nice place to live in, but there is a limit to everything ! 


 Your property manager should run every request by you. All you need to do is approve or deny. If your question is how to say no I can't help

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Replied Nov 20 2022, 05:06

Thanks everyone for your valuable feedback. I am going to give it another month to see if tenant requests slow down, otherwise I will speak with my PM to push back on some. 

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Replied Dec 8 2022, 07:30

Just wanted to update everyone and get your point of view on this situation. Unfortunately, the tenant continues to log new requests and after a discussion with my PM about this, it seems to me like there is a potential conflict of interests. Besides a monthly maintenance fee, my PM charges a visit fee every time a tenant sends a request in. This is just a visit fee, and from what I hear, the PM encourages tenants to put tickets in when they see something is broken. The PM justifies their policy by saying that it is in landlords best interest to keep tenants happy and fix things as soon as possible to avoid vacancy.

I am all for it, and want to keep the property in good living condition, but wouldn't this be a conflict of interests when incentivizing tenants to put more tickets will only benefit the PM ?

In summary, do you agree with the PM policy ?

Does your PM charges a visit fee and how much ?

Does your maintenance contract allow you to adjust the maintenance limit amount as you see fit (my limit is $500) ?

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Replied Dec 8 2022, 09:19

definitely sounds like your property manager couldnt care less about this.  A very good property manager would attempt to smooth things over with the tenant on your behalf to help them temper their expectations without you even requesting you to do so.

I dont currently use a property manager but when I did there were trip charges in the contract but the property manager wasnt looking to nickle and dime me by charging a trip charge for every single request that came in.  

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Replied Dec 8 2022, 09:29

I have sfh's and a PM, and this is how my repair requests are handled. When a tenant submits a repair request to to the management company it goes onto the portal, and I am sent an e-mail notifying me. I review the request and I am able to approve or deny that request and I am able to make comments about the request. Also I can have the PM handle the approved order or I can tell them I will handle it. (Several of our properties have been completely remodeled and I have many items under warranty, therefore I might choose to call whoever did the work, and it is covered). If a repair is approved, the order is left open until the repair is completed, and then notes are made on the order and it is closed out. I have had this set up for many years and it works very well for us.

Yes the PM charges us a fee if they take care of the repair. Yes we have 500.00 held back in our account with them for repairs. But the key thing here is that we have to approve the repair. We take very good care of our properties, and everything is checked before a tenant moves in, but things do come up. As Colleen mentioned, many times tenants don't know how to use something correctly, or it might be in our lease that if it breaks (like an ice maker) that we don't have to repair it, or they might be told yes someone will come and change your light bulb if you want, but you are being charged for it. 

One last thing, our PM does an inspection every 6 months, most times the tenants are there which is a good thing, and repair requests are a part of the discussion, and any questions answered.

Good Luck !!

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Replied Dec 8 2022, 09:48

Steven, I will make it simple.

 Number 1 - Go on your search engine and find tenant/landlord guidelines(laws) in your state.

Number 2 - Go over it and find WHAT specifically is landlord's responsibility when it breaks. I am going to guess that everything that is hazard/ life threat is your responsibility. Everything else is tenant's responsibility. Before you put a tenant in there, make sure that everything is fixed, I MEAN EVERYTHING, bulbs, switches, pipes, water tanks everything you can turn on n off or it has a valve. When the new tenant comes in and start being like the one now, point them back to the lease. Looks like the current ones are expecting Four Seasons quality of service. They can find a service like that by renting a brand new apartment.

Number 3 - You don't need a Property Manager if you do everything above right. I feel like you don't have more than 3 properties, so you don't need a PM yet. Learn the game yourself first to know what to expect from a Property Manager. 

 The current PM is a scam. Short and sweet, no need of explanations why. 

After your fire this guy and send him back to work at Walmart, please hire a close to reliable individual who is going to fix all these issues for you and start over. With the new tenant, point to them 15 times that the home has been inspected and everything being fixed prior their move. Give them a check list unless you have missed something. If everything is good with the check list point to them 15 more times that the home is rented AS IS and your ONLY responsibility is for life threating circumstances.

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Replied Dec 8 2022, 11:06

@Galen Ikonomov, since I am OOS investor, I have no choice but to hire a PM for all property related needs. Number two, before the tenant moved in, my property was already fully inspected and I repaired everything, EVERYTHING that was presented to me on the list. I didn't say no to any items since I figured I would rather have them fixed now then later.

Number three, I don't think that the current PM is a scam, I am posting my situation on BP so I better understand how others are dealing in  similar satiation where a volume of tickets could potentially benefit the PM rather than the landlord who pays the PM too oversee the property. 

I am curios to hear directly from other property management folks since I never consider a possibility of a conflict of interests between a PM and a landlord...

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Replied Dec 8 2022, 11:24

@Steve Tse

You don't need to get defensive buddy. I am trying to help you out.

 I treat my business like I am out of state. If something that needs to be checked on the property, I have someone that I know personally who would go there for a nominal fee. The realtor you have worked with, you could reach out and ask if she/he is ok with helping you out with situations like that for nominal fee and also business in the future.

 I never said you said NO to the list that was presented to you or anything like that. I told you how I work it out in my business and I have never had problems with extremely needy tenants like yours.

 Yes, your PM is scam like some people mentioned above. This PM should have handled this Tenant promptly long time ago in order to minimize your expenses. Instead, he encourages them to submit tickets so he can go and see and charge you for it.