What happens when you get lazy with inspections...

9 Replies

I have a tenant who just re-signed for their 3rd year. They have been great, paying on time and never had any issues other than some small HOA compliance (letting weeds grow). I had visited their parents house when signing the lease (younger couple) in an A+ neighborhood and very clean.

I felt there had been trust built up between us. I contacted them every 4 months or so to make sure there were no issues and they are enjoying the home. We also send out cards on Christmas, when they got married, etc. The feeling of trust caused me to talk myself into justifying only drive by inspections, which appeared to pass, aside from a piece of garbage in the lawn here and there. 

I knew I needed to start inspecting my properties on a regular basis (~6 months). I had always done this in the past but got out of the habit. I am working to get an ELOC on this property to finance my next couple of deals. Today was the appraisal.

I've never been embarrassed to show one of my properties to someone else, whether occupied or not. Today was a different story. There were clothes and random trash/belongings strung all throughout the house. There was food on plates left around the living room, fly strips hanging from the kitchen light, fruit snacks on the carpet, and the toilets/showers looked like they had not been cleaned in 6+ months. 

There were other concerning items like a hardwired smoke alarm taken down, the new fridge handle that I had purchased ($60) was not on the fridge, and there was fallen paint and a large water stain on the kitchen ceiling (2 baths and wash/dryer above that area). These will be addressed without any "gray lines".

It is stated in my lease that "Tenant is responsible for keeping all interior and exterior of property clean and free of clutter and dirt/grime". I plan to give them 2 weeks to cure their default for all violations including their dirty place and start doing regular inspections. 

What would you/have you done in situations like this? They could definitely be much dirtier and they have been great tenants despite these items. I will work to "train" them and avoid this moving forward. I don't deem this eviction worthy and want to keep them. FYI- they are below market rent by $100-150/mo to entice long term tenancy. I appreciate all input!

Most of the issues you list are frivolous, tenants can be pigs, yours are simply dirty. I would raise there rent to full market (they are not good enough tenants to deserve a reduced rent) and mention the filth being unacceptable and liable to attract insect/rodent infestations. Your tenants are not "great tenants" they are at best average. Nothing special.

If you do not want to evict never make ultimatums that will need to be enforced.

You need to do quarterly inspections to keep them in line.

I would have contractors do all repairs and bill the tenants for the costs.

@Chris Virgil-Stone Try doing that in a c or d class neighborhood and you’d be shocked to see your property is now a crack house without windows .you just do regular inspections because tenants don’t consider it their home to them it’s just a rental to use and abuse

@Chris Virgil-Stone Thanks for sharing your mistake with the community, to help us learn from it.

So the main takeaways are:

1. Never let up on inspections.

2. Never have an appraiser look at a property that you haven't inspected very recently.

3. Never trust that a tenant is keeping up your property.

@Thomas S. Great point on not making an ultimatum. Unfortunately they just re-signed for another year so they will be below market but it will be adjusted accordingly.

@Jim K. Good point, as soon as I stepped in I knew I should have inspected it before the appraisal and will going forward. 

1. Many tenants will pay rent on time and act nice because they don't want you looking too closely. Treat all your tenants the same, regardless of how they behave, and inspect regularly. It needn't be intrusive but at least once a year.

2. There is a difference between living like a slob and destroying a rental. If they are creating a health hazard, damaging the property, or interfering with the neighbor's right of quiet enjoyment, deal with it. Otherwise, just keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn't get out of hand.

3. Most tenants do not appreciate kindness or reciprocate by caring for your property. Discounting their rent may encourage them to stay longer, but it may also encourage them to take advantage or you or treat your $1,500 rental like a $1,300 rental. Charge them market rate. Only offer discounts to tenants that have proven their worthiness.

I would give them written notice of the issues and a deadline to have them handled. I would also strongly suggest that if they don't take care of things, I won't be renewing their lease.

@Chris Virgil-Stone I agree with @Thomas S. , these are not great tenants.... they dont care for your place, dont tell you when repairs need to be done, and pay reduced rent. Paying on time does not make a tenant great. When the lease is up, raise rent to market, and if they leave, charge them for the repairs needed due to their negligence.
@Chris Virgil-Stone The water stain and removed smoke detector are most concerning. I would not renew their lease when it is up for renewal even if they offer you more money. These are not tenants that you want to keep. It is unfortunate that you offered them a new lease recently so all that you can do is frequently inspect the property since you can’t trust them to notify you of needed repairs. A small repair job could turn into a very expensive job because of their failure to notify you of any problems.

Thank you everyone! A lot of good advice in here. I'll make them aware of the violations (smoke alarm/not notifying me of a leak) and provide a deadline for them to fix the issues.