Tenants and toilets - real life story

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Yesterday night I got a text: "Marcus, I've had toilt issues for a couple months now. My BF has changed the ring on it, snaked it several times and again tonight it overflowed. I think its too small and needs to be replaced, or the hardware, but I am no expert. When would you be able to get someone out to look at it?"

I am not overly concerned: a.) she is a great tenant, takes fantastic care of the house and naturally particular and b.) it's late and I am on my second glass of Malbec.

So I text her back: "Hope to get my plumber to you right away tomorrow. If you want to contact him directly here is his number (XXX). If something is wrong with the toilet or the plumbing we will take care of it, but just so you know if it is only clogged, it is your responsibility". Bang, there you go.

She was not happy with my reply. "Hi Marcus, I have to say this is kind of disappointing considering I have rented before and wasn't responsible for maintenance. I will give it some thought before contacting him." She's a great tenant and was a prefect match for the nice little ranch which is in great shape and got fully updated when we bought it. The only problem is (and I did not consider this at the time) there is just one bathroom. So no plan B if the toilet is clogged.

This morning we text some more. She still feels its unreasonable to ask her to pay for the plumber. I think it's very reasonable: pleople flush all kinds of things down the toilet and then expect me to pay a plumber to fix it. But she is a really great tenant and I have made my point, so I confirm I will pay for the plumber. I take a break from my meeting, step outside, call the plumber and make arrangements for them to go there right after noon. Grandma is at home, watching the kids, perfect.

Two hours later another text: "These repairman are redicolous and basically told my mother that we should continue to plunge the toilet after we use the restroom each time and they could show her how much tissue to use. They showed up without tools when they first came in as well." Ok, my plumber comes with a truck full of tools and a trailer full of material, he would even have a new toilet ready if need be. She does not know that, because she is at work - I assume she goes of what her mother is telling her over the phone and gets increasingly frustrated. Another text:

"My expectation is that regardless what the issue is this needs to be fixed today or we have to discuss my lease. I have always been respectful, so I expect to deal with professionals, not individuals who are unprepared and condesending." wow. ok. I start to realize that texting is really not the method of choice when dealing with an emotional situation. Note to self: next time dealing with an issue like this just call and don't text.

So I reply that I will be over there in 15 minutes and leave from the office. When I get there I am prepared to buy a new toilet and if need be update the pluming. One bathroom house with a toilet that does not flush is a problem, she is right, no question about it. 

I know that I will probably walk into a loaded situation, so I put my friendly face on, remind myself to listen more than speak and ring the doorbell. The guys are still there and they look a little beaten, the toilet is fine, just a year old and a name brand. The wax ring was on a little crooked, but not likely to cause an issue. Pluming is perfectly fine, everything got snaked no problem. They just had to plunge really hard and all the sudden it drained. Eureka. 

So I spend the next 15 minutes listening to the full story. They had issues with slow drainage for several months. For some reason they had never told me, but rather tried to fix it themselves. Even replaced the wax ring. I have no idea why she did not tell me, we text every now and then. We look at everything, walk down in the basement to look at pipes and the plumber explains that there is really nothing he could repair. The tenant's mother ensures me that there was nothing in the toilet that was not supposed to be in there. Finally she seems satisfied and we leave. I will stop by on the weekend for a follow up inspection.

Later outside I had to cheer up my plumber and thank him for being so patient dealing with the situation. Sometimes it seems like being able to deal with people is one of the most important skills of a landlord. I am glad that my properties are close to home and work. I dont know how out-of-state landlording can possibly work, at least without a REALLY good property manager. 

I thought I'd share the story for anyone who is considering to getting into landlording and is wondering what is up with tenants and toilets. 

Time for a Malbec.

So much to look forward to. :). Thanks for sharing!

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