How do you guys deal with annoying tenants?

26 Replies

Hi everyone, 
I am having an issue with an annoying tenant that complains about everything. He pays his rent on time every month but complains about every little thing.  For instance before he moved in he complained that there was a lot of dust all over the house and asked me to hire a cleaner.  Shortly after he complained about the gap between the floor and his door and how cold air escapes from his air conditioned room through that gap. He even complains about things like using a little extra force to slide the shower door.  
I have been more than cooperative with resolving all these issues since they are minor.  This time he's complaining about the insulation in the house  and how he has to set his thermostat to 75 to get it to heat up to 70. From my understanding replacing the insulation in his apartment would cost a lot of money.  It's not that the heat isn't working so I'm not sure how to deal with him. 

Has anyone had a similar experience and how did you guys deal with it?  Thank you

Get rid of him or ignore his whining, your choice.

When he complains about something you tell him you will look into it but don't bother. Eventually if you do not terminate his lease he will either stop complaining or move out.

@Bin Chen So far we have been blessed with great appreciative tenants but if we had a tenant that makes unreasonable demands, we would give them the option to let them out of the lease. Now, note that we are in Portland where the rental market is very hot and our properties rent out really fast.  Letting a tenant out of the lease in a slow rental market may not be a good idea.

Consider sending out a hvac technician to check the heating system. Sometimes a little tune-up may improve the efficiency of the unit. 

And, your lease should have a provision that tenant agrees to accept the property in its' current condition. Note that tenant accepting the property in its current condition does not excuse the landlord from making repairs especially if the repair is a habitability issue. I however do not think that the energy efficiency of a dwelling is a habitability issue, but I may be wrong. Check your local landlord/tenant laws.

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to tell you the truth i would think your tenants are spoiled, they are used to getting what they want and you are part of the problem atm ! i believe this is part of that training your tenant brandon was talking about in a podcast lol

Next time just let him know that you appreciate him letting you know that the slider is harder to open and will make a note in his file, but won't be repairing that at this time. 

If something has to do with emergency situations or safety, it will be handled in an appropriate time frame

Time for the happy clause - "you do not seem to be happy living in the unit" and offer to allow them to break the lease with some agreed period of notice. There are tenants who do not whine, moan and complain about every feature in their units and they will not drive you nuts as this one is going to. You should go and find a decent tenant as a replacement for this troublemaker. Do not indulge any more petty complaints in the mean time but do attend to real issues, e.g. heat is out, water leak, significant appliance problem. Get rid of the tenant and move on to the next.

Hey @Bin Chen

I had the exact same thing. Take the advise of many on here. Learn to say No and ignore. I had a tenant who was complaining about the toilet seat falling too fast, the door having the wrong pushing force to close, etc. I spoiled them rotten for a few months, but it is way too draining on time and money. Learn to say No. 


If you are in a good market, offer to let Mr. Complainy Pants  out of the lease. If he says he wants to leave, good riddance. If he says he wants to stay, make it clear that he is agreeing, again, to the property as is. If there is a legitimate repair or an issue of health / safety, it will be addressed. Otherwise, the "suggestion box" is closed. 

@Thomas S. Yeah I will definitely reiterate the fact that the agreement will be for the property as is unless there is a legitimate repair or an issue with health and safety. I cannot keep wasting so much time and effort.

If the insulation isn't up to code, fix it. Also, as someone else suggested, check the HVAC/heater. These could be real issues even though they sound trivial. Here's what I mean:

It's really cold in the house, I'm not sure the heater is working correctly.

"I'm a know it all and I've determined the attic insulation to be insufficient." (Fast forward, an expert witness has declared your unit substandard and you have to return 100% of the rent, because there actually was a problem with the heater and it wasn't for whatever reason providing sufficient heat.)

The gap under an EXTERIOR door would be a problem in CA, especially if there was water intrusion (probably not on it's own, but combined w/ other problems, it would be a point against you). 

If the tenant is complaining about a interior door, just write a formal written response suggesting he use a rolled up towel to block the gap. 

I'm a fan of spending money on preventive maintenance so I would rather address the issue with the glass door now, rather than replace it when the tenant moves out. This is something I would appreciate.

Raise the rent when/if you can.

This is my ideal tenant by the way. They will take better care of the place, as you said they pay on time, they usually make a good salary and are lower risk of real problems, and they are loyal if you can keep them happy (meaning long term renter, lower turnover costs, higher return if you charge enough rent). 

But... they have higher expectations, some will be unreasonable. You can politely reason with the tenant to deny an unreasonable request and you may need to set boundaries. When done skillfully, you won't upset the tenant or damage your relationship.

Keep people happy and they will keep handing you money. You should really try to understand your tenant. If you approach him with a real concern for HIM, then you'll get to the root of the issue. 

"Hey, guy, I'm really interested in keeping you as a tenant, and it's important to me that my renters are happy. If you aren't happy here, I'll let you out of your lease with just a thirty day notice. 

But if fixing these issues is all I need to do to keep you happy, then let's talk about them. Let's make a list of everything you would change if you could. 

Any health and safety issues will be dealt with promptly. 

Any preventative maintenance or superficial repairs will be considered, but we will need to agree to an annual rent increase so I can afford these expenses." 

Something like that anyway. 

My advice would be a lot different if your tenant was a troublemaker.

@Bin Chen I have to disagree with many advice given above. Every market is different and NYC has its own kind of market when it comes to tenants.

First: NYC is a tenant friendly city and as a landlord myself in queens NY the number one rule is never ever say the word eviction or notice to a tenant. New Yorkers will go from having an IQ of 0 to 900 when you say those words because now your putting them and thier family at risk and then you will find yourself with tenants milking the system by living rent free for almost a year. The court takes 6 months, the Marshall takes 2 months and add additional months for other delays or adjourned.

Second: service your tenants needs by trying your best, don't ever ignore or say no to a tenant in this NYC market. That tactic might work in other market but not with New Yorkers because everybody is paying high rent here and NYC has the highest rent in the country so these tenants feel that they are obligated to be treated like kings. Just go with the flow and get a contractor to professional explain why you can't put any insulation, have him make up the best lie and trust me the tenant will be satisfied that you had tried.

Last: once the least is up, that is the only opportunity you have to notified the tenant that you no longer want him. Don't ever try to end the lease early, a New Yorker tenant will not leave early to find another high rent apartment, he will take it personal and start a war with more whining, late rent, 311 complaints, department of building complaints, and since he knows that you don't want him anymore, that tenant will ensure you don't sleep good at night.

I have been a landlord in the NYC for 3 years and a property manager for 6 years, I know how tenants think here. NYC hates landlords and that is a fact when you get a $300 fine for having a dirty sidewalk or $5000 violation for being falsely reported by the DoB.

Stick with those 3 rules i mention and you will be ok, NYC is its own market and there's no market like it.

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@Steve Shaw I did a gut renovation on the house so everything on the inside is new. The doors were the interior door and the I did send someone to adjust the shower door so it slides better. I deemed those fixes as minor so I did not mind  fixing those. In hindsight since i tore down everything on the inside I should have asked the contractor to redo in insulation. From my understanding, he wants me to redo the insulation which would require me to tear down all the exterior walls. The heater is brand new and installed according to the architects design. None of the other tenants mentioned anything so unless the contractor messed up the piping I'm not sure what can be wrong other can the insulation. What type of specialist would you recommend to take a look at this?

@Account Closed I completely understand that the tenants need a good place to live. I keep everything in a working order. What he seems to be complaining about is his fear of his gas bill since he needs to turn the heat up higher to keep his apartment warm. I am opposed to ripping all the exterior walls down to install insulation to save him $100 a month on his gas bills. I wanted to see if there was any alternate methods to solve this issue without having to redo all the walls.

@Bin Chen I was lucky enough to get a new unit that they were more interested in. I moved him into the new unit and very specifically outlined what is covered by Tenant and what is covered by Landlord on the new lease. This got rid of 95% of the issues.

Honestly, if he is asking for you to redo insulation then get him out of there. Sounds like a nightmare. Next he will ask you to redo the roof because it is not at a pitch he likes. Or ask you to redo the bathroom because the shower is too close to the sink. 



@Bin Chen get a contractor or HVAC guy to tell the tenant it can't be done with a good story. We both know it can't be done but those tenants believe landlords much thinking we are cheap, that's NYC for you.

@Bin Chen , I don't yet own a rental but can offer some insight as a building performance professional. If you choose to have someone take another look at the insulation now or in the future, the most important feature of an install is making sure the surface is air sealed properly and thoroughly prior to putting insulation in. Also, be sure that all heat producing devices are baffled with heat rated materials to avoid potential fire hazards. Without sealing the air penetrations from conditioned to unconditioned space, the insulation R value will be strongly diminished and the dust, draftiness, high utility bills, etc will continue. 

Insulation is like a fleece sweater - if you wear outside and it's windy, you'll be cold. However, if you wear a wind breaker on top of that (to stop the air), you'll be much warmer. Good luck with everything! 

Account Closed ahh that makes a lot of sense. The analogy makes it so much easier to understand. Before this issue I never really considered insulation and and air penetration. Would you recommend hiring a building performance professional to look at a small multi family house before buying it or do they work mainly with large buildings?

@Bin Chen there are many folks out there who do energy assessments/audits for single family and small multi. Look for BPI (building performance institute) or RESNET certified individuals or companies. A BPI audit will also inspect the safety of all combustion appliances in the home.

@Steve Shaw got it exactly right, in my opinion. Based on the way you worded the question you're bound to get mostly sympathetic answers, but in reality the best tenants are those who have high standards for their living spaces. They'll replace filters, fix minor maintenance issues, care for your yard, and let you know when there are real problems, rather than let them fester until they become very expensive for you.

If you have met the rare Neverhappyian and they really have nothing valid to complain about, follow the advice above and give them the option to get out of their lease. However, should the insulation really not be that good, and the shower door really not have been installed properly, go ahead and fix it for him. The whole process should cost you less than $1,000 and improves your property's value, saves him money (which makes his payment to you slightly easier), and allows you to keep a tenant for longer who is likely to treat your property better than you would treat it yourself.