How to reply to tenant if you don’t want to fix certain things?

22 Replies

Hi BP! We just got new tenants that moved in. They are two college students but the mother is a co-signer. She was not there during the initial walkthrough because she’s from out of state but she sent a list of things today that were not on the walkthrough. There are some things we are aware of that we just don’t plan on fixing at the moment, for example, some windows have trouble opening. It’s an old house and it’s Florida where people barely open their windows anyway. Or other things like some windows don’t have screens. How can we reply stating we don’t plan on fixing these things at the moment but that we are aware and they won’t be charged for this when they move out? Thanks in advance!

Updated over 2 years ago

Updating this. The windows DO open, the problem was one of the window locks is broken. Some other issues are a gate that the lock does not close, window screens missing, and garbage in the recycling bin. Thanks!

I would just respond with a kind note stating that you will add these to the walk through inspection to ensure that it can not affect their damage deposit. I would not mention anything about repairs in the reply just that it has been added and I would send them a copy of the updated walk through.

At least this will challenge them to ask specifically for it to be repaired. They may not respond.

On another note, as a property owner I would be very diligent about windows sticking. If there was a fire and someone could not open a window and they died.......well you get it from a life standpoint as well as a lawyer licking hos/her chops for that one.

@Elenis C.

I am assuming that you are using some sort of move-in/move-out inspection report. If that is the case, this should be fairly straightforward, thank her for her feedback and send her a copy of the pre-move inspection that outlines the items that both parties agreed to.   You can also amend the form to include her feedback, initial/date it and send it back to all.  Explain that the form establishes the baseline condition of the property and the same form will be used during move out to compare the overall condition.   

@Elenis C. many areas that have inspections, require that window must stay up on their own. A section 8 inspection for example this is always check and will fail it the windows don't stay up.

I do not know about others but I have never, not ever put profits over human health and well being. It's up to you what kind of a landlord you plan on being over your real estate investing career but you do have an unwritten covenant with the society at large to serve, and protect, In other words to be responsible. Decide whatever you decide but try to think of tenants as people and treat others as you would they treat you.

Real estate ownership and investing is not just about money and profits. It is providing society with a much needed service, providing safe, clean,  and adequate housing, emphasis on ," SAFE".

I would also check with your local building department for what might be considered code violations. Get caught behind some of those and you could be looking at losing a substantial amount of money. (liability)

Okay thanks for everyone's input. I was just giving an example of the windows because I did not remember exactly what she wrote on the email. I went back to check and the windows having trouble opening was NOT a problem. One of the problems was the window screens missing and another one where one window has a broken lock (which is the one I misunderstood for not opening). Sorry to get everyone all worked up about the windows not staying open. I know tenant safety is #1 and that's why I went through an entire rehab fixing many things I did not have to fix to make it livable. There are many windows throughout the house and I did not think one being stuck would be an issue but I see everyone's point now. Some other things on her email were: broken blind, garbage in the recycling bin, and the gate has a broken lock. Thanks again for all your help. @Ned Carey @Michael Gefvert @Max T. @Gilbert Dominguez

@Elenis C. The windows should function when rented. So get that done asap. Now believe it or not I don't put screens in my homes. In my area it's not required by the city. And honestly they ALWAYS break them. Its $50 a window here to rescreen. No no no. The answer, I tell them upon taking the unit. If they want screens go to Home Depot and buy the expandable window screens. They are 5 bucks each and they beautifully fit right in. Call me cheap but hey it's a big saver

Sometimes things are missed during the initial walk through/inspection and if they involve the safety of the tenant (locks on doors or windows), then we fix them as soon as possible. Otherwise if the tenant finds things after move-in that we know are not caused by them we just put them on a running list and work through them as quickly as we can. I just tell the tenant we will work on them but they won't get done over night. If it's something ridiculous like "our closet door won't latch well"... we don't really rush to it. 

@Elenis C. I’d fix all those items, they seem very easy. Best to keep tenants happy and paying your mortgage.
@Elenis C. Check local law, i believe we are required here to have screens but some states dont require them. For non functioning windows it can be an easy fix if it is just a crank so I would fix that. Other things just say you made a note of it.

Back on topic. Fix only what you want to fix and inform the mother that the other items are included on the initial inspection. I would also inform the mother that you will not be working with her and that you require the actual tenants to contact you with any issues.

You need to make it clear to mommy dearest that she is not your tennat. Hopefully you have her down as a guarantor and not a actual tenant.

When tenants give me a laundry list of little non essential things they want repaired or replaced . I simply listen intently then when they are done ramblIng on I say . Okay I understand or I see and then tell them you’ll make a note of that and you wIll be doing improvements to the property over the coarse of time in the future . Be very vague . Dont promise them anything . Sometimes people just want to be heard and know your listening to their concerns .
@Michael Jones agreed. We’ve had tenants point out a couple minor chips in the kitchen tile floor months after moving in. My husband remembered one from when we lived there and we just took it on good faith that the other one was also there. We just told them we would add it to the inspection list and not to worry about it.
Oh we also removed all of the wIndow screens and the screened slIdIng door (the lanai is screened in) for less maintenance and because one was already damaged. As you said, here in Florida we don’t open the windows often so it was easiest to just remove the screens all together.

These are such small items to remedy. Home Depot sells adjustable replacement screens about $10 each, a window sash lock is $5. I don’t think they are asking for anything crazy

@Elenis C. I agree with others about fixing windows with issues. As a landlord, you would want the property to be in good shape.

@Thomas S. The mom is the cosigner on the lease since her son and the friend are both 18 years old. The two boys have never replied to any of my emails but she's been on top of replying and set up the account to pay the monthly rent automatically. I'm sure once she leaves this weekend back up north I'll get less calls but I do want to make sure she's on top of payments!