How do you deal with passive aggressive demanding tenants?

16 Replies

I've given my tenants a direct line to call me in the event of an emergency. For all other issues and concerns, I have an answering service to answer tenants calls. The call is toll free so there's no cost to the tenant. Lately, one of my tenants isn't using the service at all. I asked why. The answer made so pissed that I stood in silence for a good 20 seconds.

"I didn't think they would contact you directly."

I don't know if it was the answer or the attitude that pissed me off. Once I gathered my emotions into a little ball. I explained the importance of using the number that I highlighted on both the lease and the tenant handbook when they moved in. In the event I'm out of town or sick, the message is relayed to the people I hired to handle the different issues.

The tenant walks away and then comes back with a list of demands. One of which is turn the water heater down, when the complaint the month before was turn it up. There's literally 2 notches difference on the tank from the month before. I pride myself in being a responsible landlord. I check fire extinguishers. I test smoke/co2 alarms. I make updates that exceed the market standard. Something about this exchange of words unnerved me. I mean this is  a C- neighborhood while my property has B+ finishings. I understand wanting a washer and dryer. Really I do. But at $475 a month, you can walk 100 yards to the corner Laundromat. But I digress...

I'm kind of stuck on this one. If my tenant is not using the proper means of notification that is spelled out in the lease, technically it's a violation of lease terms, correct? I hate to sound petty, but my time is just as valuable as the money I spend to have people answer phones. How would this notice look? Should I just run with the verbal explanation I gave her in hopes that it made an impact?

How have you dealt with passive aggressive demanding tenants?

Stay calm and professional, but when reviewing the list with the Tenant (list must be in writing BTW), do not hesitate to triage the "wishes" from the "necessary" and inform the tenants which you will be address and which you will not (again in writing).

Is this a fairly new tenant?  I find once the tenant has pushed a few times, they come to the realization the wall is immovable and they will not get their own way. Most frequently, they then square themselves away and start to be realistic and civil.   The ones who do continue to fester over things will usually give you notice they are leaving.  In those cases where the unacceptable behaviour continues, we will serve notice (3-months from the end of an annual lease) that we are not renewing.

Raise your intensity to the same level as theirs when discussing these types of issues so that they can hear you.  Then bring them back to a calm level.

I never give out my phone number.  We have a service called toktumi that gives us multiple phone numbers and options.  I have several apartment buildings and like to know which one is calling for certain ads.  So, each apartment is assigned a different number while advertising.  I also have an emergency line and a main office line.  The emergency line is setup to ring my manager and the tech on call.  You can call them back using the service number so they will not capture your phone number.  It works very well.

I had a number to call, I also gave them my maintenance guy, plumber and HVAC company. They had written instructions when to call, calling me was no short cut.

If they got short with me, or wanted to deal grief I'd  deal with them less passively, "call the manager or call the number set up to take your calls (in my case it was call the office)" then I'd  say "have a nice day" and hang up!

I didn't have many bad tenants, I have rules I have to follow, they have rules to follow. If we don't follow the rules we can't play this game together! :)

@Marie S.  I use Google Voice. It lets you pick the times you're available (no late calls about a burned out light bulb). You can screen calls, and you can add numerous numbers to your google voice number, and only give out your google voice number to the tenants so they never have your personal number. Its quite awesome. 

Plus, people can text the number, and if they leave a message for voicemail, google types it into an email so you can read the voicemail without having to log into your messages.

Originally posted by @Marie S. :

@Steve Olafson 

Do you know if Toktumi will port a toll free number?

I'm not sure what you mean by port.  They do have toll free numbers but you have to pick from their list.  If you mean keep your same number, that is not an option.

I say no ;) I am a great landlord and I know it! Depending on when you ask my tenants they might or might no agree ;) since I am the evil landlord who treats it like a business and says no! I repair but do not update or upgrade on demand! I usually will say they are welcome too on their dime and it must be left with the house.

If I had two numbers I would (if allowed, or check local laws) put a "penalty" for calling the emergency line when it's not a emergency. I have a lot of penaltys. I have found skin in the makes all the difference in the world ;)

a clear lease detailing your obligations as well as the tenant's, good tenant training and then it's just strong boundries....

@Angelo Behar  

Burned out light bulb...How did you know?!  I actually use my Google Voice number to give to tenants. Apparently I'm not using it right! I set up the app on my iPhone and have never logged in since. The whole premise behind giving the direct line is in case of an emergency. I guess I foolishly didn't expect someone to abuse it.

@Elizabeth Colegrove 

We are definitely cut from the same cloth. I charge the tenant when they call a plumber out at 10 pm to remove their sock shoved in the kitchen drain (-which is unnecessary because every tenant is issued hard and soft drain stoppers). I've never charged when I was called unnecessarily. Do you charge a flat fee for the emergency call or do you charge by the time?

I haven't charged a tenant yet for calling me but I only have one number.

Review the lease with the tenant in person, explain to them the situation, and then after the conversation send a follow up email to reiterate your position.

You have to ask yourself, if I was to rent out my unit right now, would I rent it to this person? If not, then you need to consider letting the lease expire and look for a new tenant.

I manage my 18 units and the only time I have gotten a late night phone call (2 am) was when I had a porch fire at a property and was there in 15 minutes. I expect my tenants to follow the rules and guidelines that I set but I would be interested how many calls your answering service takes and the times. When I work with contractors or any other business, I absolutely loath getting picked up by an answering service. I would much rather leave a voicemail. My tenants all text me and will call in emergency and their are very emergencies. 

@Kyle Hipp  They're not getting any calls at night because the tenant called me. This was the third late call. I get an email and text letting me know that a tenant has called. I made test calls from my husband's phone just to be sure that the answering service answers. The services works without fail, even at 2 am. While my tenant may hate an answering service, they are in place to facilitate the processes I have in place when I'm not available. Not to mention, I use Rentec Direct. She could just as easily log in and submit a work order.

Id guess at the end of the day i would reiterate your policy on contact for tenant requests and emergencies. Inform them of your rational on the decisions that you make on their requests. I would do all his in person. At this meeting I would also inform them if there is another blatant violation of your policy you will be issuing a 5 day notice to cure or quit. Explain that this is not because you want them gone but you Want to provide the best service possible which is why you put the processes that  have in place so you can effectively operate and balance your and available time and resources.

Tell her that you understand she is frustrated. Ask her about her frustrations?

Originally posted by @Marie S. :

I've given my tenants a direct line to call me in the event of an emergency. For all other issues and concerns, I have an answering service to answer tenants calls. The call is toll free so there's no cost to the tenant. Lately, one of my tenants isn't using the service at all. I asked why. The answer made so pissed that I stood in silence for a good 20 seconds.

Train your tenant. 

When he calls your direct line and proceeds to tell you about the non-emergency topic, simply stop him, cut him of and simply ask him plain as day "Is this an emergency?" when he says no, ask him why he is calling the emergency number. Then tell him to call the other number and say good bye. Not really a big deal. Don't let this stuff get personal, tenants are going to always do stupid things, the key is not letting their stupidity effect you by buying into it and more importantly rewarding it.

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