Handling pesky maintenance requests

7 Replies

I have a tenant who pays on time, keeps her place clean, and plans to rent for several years. However, she asks for the most annoying things to be fixed and it's taking more time than I want to spend. 

Examples: mailbox door wont always stay shut, crickets and other insects (basement apartment), door to furnace doesnt stay shut, screen door wont lock, etc.

I have a hard time saying no to her requests, because in reality I guess these things should actually be handled, but it's stuff most of tenants would handle themselves or just shrug it off.

Any suggestions on how to combat something like this?

They do sound like things that should be fixed by the landlord, so try telling her that you'll do quarterly maintenance and for her to keep a list of items that you'll fix on that schedule. 

@Jeremy Fields

I like Aly's idea, but I solve it by putting in my lease that the tenant pays the first $75 of any repair, and this includes items like you have listed.  My time is worth something and if they want me to fix all these small issues, I need to be compensated.   At the same time, I would not be opposed to them making a list and I could go by quarterly and do these repairs, with out charging for them.  I look at it as the tenant is trying to take care of my place.

If it were me - I would fix all those things immediately.  Except for the bugs as I am not an exterminator and the bugs arrived on the tenant's watch - not mine.  The door to the furnace needs to work, the mailbox needs to work or be replaced.  A repair fee will stop the complaints but I don't want that little drip to go un-reported so the tenant can save $50. until I have a $2000. water damage repair to handle.  

stephen
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 Originally posted by @Jeremy Fields :

I have a tenant who pays on time, keeps her place clean, and plans to rent for several years. However, she asks for the most annoying things to be fixed and it's taking more time than I want to spend. 

Examples: mailbox door wont always stay shut, crickets and other insects (basement apartment), door to furnace doesnt stay shut, screen door wont lock, etc.

I have a hard time saying no to her requests, because in reality I guess these things should actually be handled, but it's stuff most of tenants would handle themselves or just shrug it off.

Any suggestions on how to combat something like this?

Thanks for the advice. I do believe I'll begin instituting a quarterly visit whereby I can address any maintenance issues and look for new ones. 

That seems reasonable, right?

Yes, one of my long-term tenants actually leaves post-it-notes all over the house when we schedule our visit.  Also, I now leave a bottle of that indoor/outdoor safe-for-kids-and-pets insect spray that's supposed to stop bugs for months but usually needs more frequent applications, and tell them they can spray around the perimeter if they want to when it starts getting warm outside and the bugs start showing up and that it should last them all season.  It's less than $15, but it stops the bugs and the phone calls asking me to stop the bugs.  

My husband and I always joke that we put up with so many things our tenants would not, and we should treat our own house more like our rentals.  

I don't think quarterly is often enough, if you otherwise want to keep this tenant.  Once a month seems fair, to me.

The owner I worked for (26 unit building, including my onsite apartment) came every Saturday between around 11am - 2pm.  Tenants knew this.  So, if they called with some issue, I'd put them on his Saturday list (unless it was obviously something that couldn't wait).

So, you might try that - only once a month.  Say, I can come do non-emergency repairs once a month, let's work out a mutually acceptable time.

Just a thought - if you make it not fun for her to have you coming around, she may think twice about calling you.  For instance, if every time you come, you say, "While I'm here, I'd like to check all the faucets and toilets and outlets again, just to be thorough... and I might as well also test the smoke detector battieries while I'm here...and can you turn on the stove for me to be sure it's heating, and all the burners, and are all the windows opening?????

Be nice and smile while you take up half of her Saturday....every. single. time.

If it turns out she enjoys the company, well, you'll have to try something else :-)