Newbie Mistake? Repairmen and Damage

5 Replies

I own 2 single family homes and have had great tenants for two years. Just replaced my first tenants with a three-generation family. Walked the house before they moved in and after, everything great. They were having issues with a breaker so I sent out an electrician to check it. Next day I go over there and the vinyl floor in the kitchen has three huge gouges in it. One actually tore a quarter-sized hole out of the vinyl. Tenant says the electrician moved a trash compacter and tore up the floor. Service company says one of the tenants, a 90-year-old man, insisted on trying to move it himself and was shoving it and gouged the floor. So it's a he-said, he-said deal. I tend to believe the service company - sounds like something the old man would do. Here's my question: what should I have done differently? And what do I do now?

Who reported it to you?  If the tenant did not report the damage to you immediately, I would say they are as much at fault as "whoever" may have done it. 

That may vary by state law, but that's at least my line of thought. 

Seems sketchy that neither reported it to you immediately. Really easy to just play the blame game at this point.

You might just have to eat it. I guess that's why we include repair costs in our monthly expenses...... :(

I agree. We use this electrician all the time, so I tend to believe him, although he could be trying to cover his posterior. I talked to him twice yesterday, wish he had told me what happened then. He did mention that the tenant wanted a plug placed for his trash compacter. Oh well. 

Is there something I could/should have done differently? Do those of you who own just a handful of SFHs try to be present for repairs? I never anticipated that they would do anything other than look at the breaker box. 

Vinyl floors in a kitchen is almost like asking for trouble.  Those floors are generally durable, but one flaw is they can be torn easily when moving appliances, or even large tables.  And patching vinyl floors is not really possible.  

I was upset at a tenant the first time a vinyl kitchen floor was torn, but over time I've learned that it's not necessarily a tenant's "fault".  I had a tenant drop a cell phone beside the stove and the only way to retrieve it was to pull the stove out of it's spot.  Wham, the vinyl floor was ripped.  To me, that's not tenant negligence -- it's almost like landlord negligence for have vinyl in a rental property in the first place.  Service people usually know about this flaw because they have encountered it during their work experience -- most tenants (in my experience) have no clue how easily vinyl flooring can be damaged in this manner.

I would be tempted to leave the floor as is, then at tenant turnover, remove the vinyl and install tile.  Vinyl lasts better in bathrooms, because there are no heavy objects that might be moved over it.  In rental kitchens, it simply doesn't make sense.  My plan now is to replace every vinyl floor the next time a unit with a kitchen vinyl floor is empty.