Success with giving tenants a little homework??

6 Replies

Lately Ive been reading "Landlording on Autopilot" by Mike Butler: in it, he describes giving tenants "homework." So here's the scenario: tenant complains of dirty old carpets. Normally, my first inclination would be to inspect the carpet, although in my mind, I already know the carpet is dirty (time waster). Then the next step would be to go out and try to find the best price on carpet, by going out 3-4 stores and checking prices. I might get a good price, but alot of my precious time has been wasted...

Mike Butler suggests a different strategy. Instead of inspecting the carpet, which I know I'd confirm with the tenant as being dirty, he suggests agreeing with the tenant on the phone and then "tasking" the tenant with the job of finding carpet (thus making the tenant happy with being able to choose the carpet they want and saving the landlord the time of doing each step themselves). Of course, a criteria must be given to the tenant.

Has anyone had success or experience with this or other types of tenant "homework"?

What's to stop the tenant from finding the most expensive carpet around?  Then you tell them no, you can't have that, and now they're not happy with you?

If you gave them a per square foot price ceiling, it could work. Probably depends on how much you trust current tenant. Remember if they move out, you're stuck with the carpet. 

There is an old saying in this Landlord Biz and that is never rent to family and/or friends!  So why try to make your tenants your friends or treat them like family!

Being a landlord is a business.  Our rental properties cost us a "mint".  It is a business of profit and loss.  It is a business of people management.  

We want to make our tenants happy and we want to have a good landlord/tenant relationship which will entail long term tenants.  

But we are not the tenants friend, family, or bank! Once you cross that line and establish that relationship, they will think it's okay to pay rent late, to tell you what they want in the rental, and expect you to do what they ask.  After all, you're buddies!!

A tenant should never be allowed to have the say so on anything that has to do with the Landlords investment.  That means, the color of paint, choosing the carpeting, etc. 

When a landlord purchases a rental home, they look for the best possible deals.  Then they calculate how much it would cost to fix the place up.  Yet, at the same time, getting products that not only look good, but last a long time.  That can weather years of wear and tear.  That might mean berber carpeting, painting the walls white or off white or eggshell.  

You can't treat this business as a friendship.  Our business has rules and regulations that tenants must follow.  Just like we have rules that we must follow when it comes to landlord/tenant laws. 

We don't want to go overboard and overstep the boundaries of the Contract, by trying to be pals with our tenants.  Not to say we want to be unapproachable, but we must draw that line of who is in charge in order maintain the proper Landlord/Tenant relationship and the responsibilities of each party.

It's a bad move. Treat this as a business.  Tenants should have no say so over what you, as the landlord, decides to do with his or her rental unit.  

Nancy Neville

In this case if you know the carpet is dirty (and can't just be cleaned ),  it is better to do the change out on the turnover. If you know it was borderline or the tenant is long time and your judgment is to replace it in an occupied apartment then it makes sense that you have a source. Someone you normally get carpets from, that will save you some time. 

I have been know to say to tenants I was thinking about these two choices what do you think but not doing them on their own. I might wind up with green carpet and I don't want green carpet.  The homework I give tenants is normally meeting their repair or maintenance people or install people, now that saves me time. shopping for me doesn't make sense.

I think Mike Butler was referring a bit to SFH properties, where a tenant might have a bit more responsibility, e.g. paying the water themselves or shoveling snow/cutting grass. @Dawn A.   @Matt Lake  In the book, he gave a specific price/ color criteria (any greys/creams/whites under $3 per sq ft, for example). The last caveat for the tenant is that THEY pay installation. @Nancy Neville  , yeah those are good examples of possible homework to give a tenant.

I'm going to agree with Nancy and Colleen.  This is your property, not the tenants, and they may pick something to suit their tastes, but may not help get the property rented in the future.

As far as installation, they may want to hire their cousin "Jim Bob" who staples carpet directly into the floor and doesn't know what tack strips are.

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