Maintenance Every Other Day

17 Replies

BP Family,

Have you ever had a tenant that always calling you to do a maintenance? Or consistently finds a problem for minor repairs? 

What have you done differently to reduce the numbers of complaints that something that always need maintenance?

Tony

Hey @Tony Tran I have a friend who owns an apartment comunity of about 300 nice high end units.  Building less than 10yrs old and rents around $1500-$3000.  He tells me there are a handful of folks who call the instant the office opens about everything from road noise, parking, heat feels weird, etc.  He handled this by hiring very customer focused handymen.  The handymen make sure they always ask if anything else is going on while they are there.  This makes it VERY tough to call the next day/week and find something new that is going on.

AND, keep records of calls and asks.

I forget who it is... Jon maybe out in Colorado?  He'd tell you this is the reason you go month to month leases.  If a tenant is more work then they are worth, okay... here's your 30 day notice, enjoy your next new place.

If they are locked into a year lease, offer to let them out of the lease early as obviously they aren't happy with their unit or the level of care they are getting.

@Sean T.  

Thanks Troy! The units are handled by the PM. I'll have to see if they can have their vendor do this for any upcoming maintenance issues.

Any other suggestions?

@Nathan Emmert  

They are on year leases. The cash flow is still good, but it is just consistency higher maintenance cost than the rest of the units.

Are they legitimate repair issues?  What kind of things are they reporting?  One thing I do to minimize calls is go through the entire place at turnover and make sure everything is working and in good order.  That seems to help. 

Art Allen 

For every turnover, I have a team make to make sure the unit is rent ready. They confirm and take pictures of the work performed. It just seems like the tenant is finding a way to get the contractor to go there for maintenance. 

For example, the electric outlet was recessed in from the wall. This was not the case during the turnover. There were several times worth of toilet clogging and unable to flush (the plumber found a toy in the P-Trap and newspaper the other time). Another is a hole in the wall. To me, it sounds like tenant induced maintenance?

My dilemma is, it is a 1 year lease, the tenant pays relatively on time, but high maintenance orders in comparison to the others. 

Tony

I had an amazing response and than the site was "busy" and it was lost. So I will try it again. ;)

I am a big believe in "training" ones tenant. I will always "repair" but I do not "upgrade" or "improve" unless it got into my "plans". On the other hand I try to be the good guy and no say no by providing choices. The choices are always fitting my situation and desires. That being said I "will" and have no problem saying "no".

The way I I've choices is by allowing the tenant to pay for the improvement at their cost and t must be left in the place (of course only if it fits my desire). Ie no I don't allow them to paint he whole house black but yes to putting fans in all the rooms. In my lease I have a clause that says all improvements/repairs: etc must be in a approve in writing done in a professional manner and the tenant assumes liability. Plus any work done not to the standards will be at their expenses.

I also have started a new practice of implementing a scribble of $100 for all repairs. I have found that we have a lot of garbage deposits and dishwasher clogs than normal. I am all about ownership on te tenants part. Skin in the game is to keeping down expenses and installing an equal goal between tenant and landlord. Therefore while I will repair the roof with no expense 

The goal is to reduce the other repairs. I have only been doing it for a couple of months so far so good but not enough to really report back!

As a landlord with really small margins te goal has been balancing customer services with my margins. Human nature is to push and push, therefore it very important to be able to establish boundaries.

I had a couple of tenant  like this.  I change the tenant to month-to-month to get their attention and also go in fix everything.  Take pictures.  State in the rental agreement that if repairs because of negligence on their part or anything beyond normal wear and tear may be charge to them or grounds for eviction or non-renewal of lease.  Some tenants is just not worth the headache.   

@Tony Tran  some of those do sound 'tenant induced'. Maybe if you start charging her for those, she'll stop. :)

Thanks everyone! @Joe Moore  Art Allen 

This was very helpful. Some key points I took from this are:

  • Negligence equates to charging tenant
  • Possible month to month leases
  • Customer service driven handy people
  • Add clause for minor or negligence to lease
  • Keep visual records

Tony

Originally posted by @Tony Tran :

There were several times worth of toilet clogging and unable to flush (the plumber found a toy in the P-Trap and newspaper the other time). Another is a hole in the wall. To me, it sounds like tenant induced maintenance?

Most tenants need to be trained in these matters.  The things you described are clearly tenant-caused problems, which I would make the tenant responsible to have fixed (at their expense).  If you fix these types of things and pay for it, your tenant has no incentive NOT to call you - even when it's something that they caused and should be their responsibility to have fixed. 

@Kyle J.  

What are some ways to "train" the tenants? I don't want to be babysitting the tenants during the "training".

Much appreciated!

Tony

Training is setting expectations. I find three main issues with high maintenance tenants, tenant caused damages, non-emergencies treated as an emergency,  and issues I can do nothing about.  After you unclog the toilet once it is there issue if there is a future blockage that turns out to a toy or paper towels etc. make that clear. This is a tenant caused damage. Let them know nicely but firmly.

 If there is a small item like an outlet cover etc, it is not an emergency. Two or three of these things they should tell you periodically, that is what the handyman asking about other issues on their call is for.

The last one, things you can do nothing about sometimes is the hardest. I cannot fix your neighbor issue, or change the traffic noise. If you keep telling me there is an issue and I don't find it when I come well I can't fix it. (e.g. the tenant hearing noises that you never hear).  These are the toughest tenants and I have had a couple you have to be a broken record with these tenants and eventually they are retrained or they go. If someone has an answer for this last group I am all ears but I have not found one.

I tried training my problem tenant and he fought me every step of the way.  When the lease expired I simply did not renew his lease.  During turnover there were some minor things that legitimately needed fixing, the rest was cosmetic because the tenant was not a clean person and was rough on the unit.  I raised the rent by $125 a month and got a new, trouble free tenant.  Life is sweet and the lesson learned was that some tenants simply aren't worth the hassle.

@Colleen F.  @Heidi M.  

After the year, I will consider a turnover if things do not settle. For future reference, how do you avoid these "types" of tenants? It has been difficult to tell until they have settled in.

Tony

Originally posted by @Tony Tran :

@Kyle J. 

What are some ways to "train" the tenants? I don't want to be babysitting the tenants during the "training".

Much appreciated!

Tony

To me, training tenants is about clearly establishing your expectations/policies early on, and then sticking to them.  For instance, I do a thorough walk-thru with my new tenants and show them that everything works.  I also explain to them that I expect them to keep it that way, but also explain that if things naturally break (which they will) then I will be happy to fix them because I want to keep the house nice and functioning properly.  On the other hand, if they break something due to their negligence, that is on them to fix at their expense.

So if they call me with a leaky roof, I'll send a roofer out and I'll pay for it.  But if they call me because they shoved a toy or newspaper in their toilet and now it won't flush, I'll explain to them that they'll need to call a plumber and pay for it because that is not normal wear-and-tear. 

If you do that consistently from the beginning, the tenants will slowly be "trained" with what they can/should call you about, and what they shouldn't bother you with because it's their responsibility and you're not going to do anything about it.

 

@Tony Tran   references, as many as they can reasonably give you.  Other landlords will be happy to tell you they are high maintenance!

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