Tenant withholding necessary repairs

10 Replies

I have a tenant (2 adults, 2 children, 1 dog and 1 car). So they have been living in this 3 bedroom 1 bath home for exactly one year. 2 weeks ago the tenant texted me saying they want to renew the lease for another year, so I renewed with a slight increase in rent. As soon as I and renewed the lease the tenant wrote me this long message with all these things wronge, including drain smells bad(she’s been putting bleach down the drain to kill the odor, the lights in the kitchen and bedroom are flickering(this ones easily fixable) & the bathroom floor is in-caving because of water damage(she suggested a new shower door). I feel like they withheld that information when they signed the lease and now Im in this situation where the floor needs to be possibly replaced in their only bathroom while they are living there. I don’t know why the drain pipes smell, the flickering lights are easily fixable, but this bathroom floor situation has me thinking about what I should I do. Any suggestions on how I should approach this?
I am reading this and was surprised to see it was posted hours ago. i could swear I read the same situation a year ago. I would have a conversation with them on real time reporting of issues. If the issues are not things you can fix Point out that they should have considered them prior to renewal. Do the simple fixes. For the floor you need to determine how bad it is, if it can wait do it when they are away on vacation. Also if the floor is caused by negligence you will need to address that. Replacement of a shower curtian with a shower door is an upgrade, not sure if I would do it but it may save you further repairs.

It sounds like it's time for you to do a thorough walkthrough inspection of the property.  If these issues actually exist then you should absolutely fix them.  It may seem annoying, but it'll be a hell of a lot less annoying then getting sued because your tenants fat father in law fell through the floor.

Before doing a renewal, you should always review the tenant's payment history and inspect the rental to ensure they're maintaining it properly. This would have been the appropriate time for them to bring up the maintenance issues.

The floor damage is a long-term issue yet they failed to report it until after you renewed. The tenant claims water is leaking from the shower door and it's happened so long that it's now ruining the floor and creating a major maintenance issue. That's considered "neglect" or "abuse" and I would seriously consider charging the tenant for at least a portion of the repair.

In the future, you should only renew after a complete review of the tenant's payment history, communication, care of the home, etc. A detailed walk-through inspection should take place to verify they are caring for it properly and to see if there are any minor maintenance issues to deal with. It's not uncommon for tenants to ignore minor maintenance issues and they accumulate into a large punch list or they create larger, more expensive issues.

I would get my contractors in there to come up with a plan and let the tenants know what will be happening. They will have to deal with it, life happens and we all have to live with it.

You should do an inspection prior to signing a contract. In fact you are supposed to do it every 6 month taking photo of each room from two directions.....  Deferred inspection.....

How's that phrase go??

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

This is where I say that if you're managing your own properties, you have to do more than just cash the cheques. I'm in each of my units every 3 months. I have a check list of items that I go over. And at least once a year usually during the summer months I make sure I'm doing maintenance on the units. If you're getting a property manager to do this then you need PROOF that they're looking in on the units as well... otherwise they're just taking money for doing nothing while tenants are in the unit.

Personally I think it's GREAT if a tenant is willing to let me know if there's issues with the place. I'd rather get them addressed immediately than deal with the consequences.

Drain smells... this can because water in the pea trap has evaporated or is leaking out. Generally the pea trap holds the water and prevents sewage gas from coming back in the drain. Check your lines. could also be the vent line somehow is clogged or blocked and the gasses are coming back up through the drain line....  Pouring a liquid down the drain line doesn't really do much especially if the lines are clogged or blocked.. after snaking the lines try to use a product that will foam up and fill up the lines.... there's home remedies and store products that you can buy that will work.

Lights flickering could be as simple as tightening the light in the socket. It could also mean there's a loose wire connection at one of the boxes. Check the light bulb first... if that doesn't remedy the issue check to see if all the flickering is on the same circuit if it is, you only need to fix one loose connection... if they're not chances are you're going to be tightening the wires in a LOT of junction boxes.

A bathroom floor that's caving in does NOT sound like a simple fix in my opinion. This is the result of a LOT of water damage and a lot of neglect. If you have access to inspecting the floor from the bottom either by basement or crawl space do so. My guess here is that the subfloor which would be 3/4 inch plywood has taken in so much water that it's rotten. That would need to be replaced..... that can be a mid sized job already. What's worse if the joists are also starting to show signs of rot or mold. If that's the case you're looking at a hefty bill... 

Someone mentioned that with this type of water damage you can get your tenant to pay for the repair bills. I would say you need to do your research and find at least three court cases in your county or area that are very similar where the judgement has been in favour of the landlord. Otherwise you're going to be dumping more than just bleach down the drain with the lawyer fees.

Best of luck @Chris A.

@Chris A. Just fix the issues. Your tenant wants to stay, agreed to pay more rent and has notified you of some issues that you are legally required to fix. Sounds like a pretty good tenant to me. What is the problem here?

After completion of their term lease you should have put your tenants on M2M lease. It sounds like you are possibly not on top of your property inspections and have allowed situations to exist without your knowledge. You should be doing regular thorough inspections so that you catch issues like water leaks before they do damage.

Do your inspection now and determine what needs immediate attention and what does not. Charge them for all tenant caused damage.