Needy Tenant With Incessant Requests

69 Replies

Looking for advice from some experienced landlords!

In short, we have a tenant whose lease started July 1,2019. Since she moved in her requests and complaints have been incessant. From the initial walkthrough, lease was already signed, my husband sensed that things would be very different from our previous tenats. She sent a follow up email complaining about the following, to name a few:

Small scratch on stainless steel fridge

slight discoloration in grout about sink

penny size chip in tub

screen doors don't slide smoothly

Additionally, she asked us to come spray the house because she saw centipedes and has a bug allergy. When I told her that those are from the age of the building, she called the next morning and said that she saw a roach. I scheduled Terminex to come spray and assess the property and set up a contract for them to come spray quarterly. I am trying to keep her out of my hair. Terminex said the place is immaculate; it is newly renovated and well maintained.

Two weeks later she asked me to have them come again and set up the appointment because Terminex put her on hold for twenty minutes. Then she asked if we can buy her magnetic screens for the sliders since the screens  doors that we need for the balconies are on back order. Please note, I am summarizing her requests.

I understand that being a landlord is a business and I am doing my best to address her concerns accordingly, but there seems to be a disconnect somewhere. I am happy to address issues, but I'm not willing to incur additional costs for her requests that are superficial.

My question is: how would you handle this tenant? In a few months would you let her know that you will not be renewing the lease? Would you keep her since she is paying?

I welcome all advice. 

Thanks, BP!

@Jessica M. Does she call you or just email? If it’s email I would just tell her that you won’t be fixing those things as they are non-essential to the property. Continue the quarterly pest control and probably leave it at that.

If it continues or she makes a bigger scene I would let her out of her lease if she wished, while keeping the deposit as a lease termination fee (assuming that’s in the lease)

I would not renew her lease. Find a tenant that pays that is not a PITA. As for pest control, I have that done when a tenant moves in and after that it is their responsibility (with the exception of WDO). 

This is a common problem. You need to deny these requests, or they'll never end. Also, the longer you keep bending over backwards, the angrier some people will get when you finally stop..

Personally, I'd probably text her a link to an Amazon search for bug spray, followed by a laugh emoji 😄

If they're gonna go bad on you, they'll do it whether or not you spend a few hundred bucks on spraying a couple centipedes. 

put your foot down and say no.

at best, I would give her a can of Raid and lubricant, and tell her to deal with it.

everything else is cosmetic or does not affect habitability, and she needs to know that those are not sufficient reasons to stop paying rent, if she's thinking about it.

and to end the conversation, I would tell her she is welcome to move out at the end of the lease term.

If she is expecting you to fix these items the answer is flat out NO..... cosmetic items and do not relate to habitability or safety. I would tell her I will make note of the issues, so she is not held responsible for them on move out, but they will not be fixed at this time. NOT OPEN FOR DISCUSSION. If I get more text with these BS issues, I will ignore them.

Insects...... I will spray within the first 30 days of tenancy and then its on the tenant after that.... its in the lease. END OF DISCUSSION.

If being stern with her doesn't change, then offer her the "happy clause".... if you are not happy in the unit I will gladly let you out of the lease...please submit your notice in writing for the mutual cancellation of the lease in 30 days.

@Jessica M.

Set up a google form for submission of maintenance requests. Inform tenants that your phone number is for emergency contacts only and that the following is a comprehensive list of emergencies:

1. Fire

2. Flood

Ignore non-essential requests or, if you do respond to them, make it 2 business days later with a simple “this request for non-essential work has been denied”.

Do not renew this person. And if it escalates, let them out of thenlease early.

Agree with Russ B. on this one.  Its going to be like pulling off a band aid so get it over with.  These type of tenants will never stop until you put your foot down and clearly state no.

Take it as a learning experience.  Automate your requests to avoid the texting issue.  Revise your lease as needed regarding the bug spray.  In my opinion if its clean and you spray before move in anything after that should be on the tenants.  The biggest thing is to recognize this behavior and put it to bed right away.  If you don't train your tenants on your expectations they'll run all over you.

Thank you all so much for the advice! I'm going to continue to be firm and try to train her over the next month. If she doesn't adjust, we will not be renewing her lease or will allow her to break her lease early.

@nedj. I love the "happy clause". :)

... I wish there was a better way to vet these kind of tenants before they sign. There's more to a good tenant than just having good credit!

@Jessica M. what in the terms of your lease. I will advise next time to specify in the lease tenant will handle pest control. You may choose to handle the outside of the property but the inside is her responsibility.

Not sure if you do, but having a very detail lease will help with that.

I would not resign with her unless you draw up a new lease. And the next time she text you direct her go to page 7 section 3a of her lease for her answer.

@Jessica M. - Sounds like your tenant has already trained you. I’ve implemented various suggestions by others into my leases like any pests and drain clogs after the first week are your responsibility. I haven’t gone so far as to put a maintenance deductible in for service calls but I’m considering it. When you allow her to text you at all hours and cater to her and offer to let her out of the lease early, you set her up as a disaster for the next landlord. (At best, day if she’s miserable you can start reshowing the property and let her out of her lease when someone signs a new lease.) Set up texts for emergencies only. Create a list of concerns to be addressed every quarter or whatever by your handyman. Now, I will say that there are some very meticulous people who hear you say “let me know if you have any issues, I want to keep my house nice” to mean “tell me everything that’s wrong and fix it for me ASAP.” When I moved into an apartment or even when I rented an Airbnb I cataloged everything pre-existing wrong and told the landlord. I didn’t expect it to be fixed, just not held against me at the end. The good thing is your most meticulous people will probably not trash the place. I’ve come back to too many deteriorated situations (leaks going on too long, etc.) because the people didn’t care to report the issue promptly.

@Jessica M.   Give her the one time offer to get out of her lease and do it now as it will be harder to find a tenant in the winter.   When you do this, explain to her that she doesn't seem happy with the home even though it is in good condition and was exactly the same as when she viewed it.  You need to say no to some of these requests and explain to her what is her responsibility and what is yours.

For small things like the fridge, tub, etc; tell her to take a photo and you will add it to her move-in file so she isn't charged for those damages when she moves out.  Tell her that the condition of the unit when she viewed it, was the condition it was going to be in when she moved in-no surprises.

I agree with the other person who said that you've sprayed for bugs once and the rest is on her.  The odd bug is going to get into the house, it is inevitable. 

@Natalie Schanne yes, you are right! We used the standard NJ lease from our realtor. Moving forward, we are going to implement all suggestions:

After 15 days pest control is on tenant

Requests should be made through Google forum

Only contact for emergency etc

As I tenant, I never complained and I think I expected someone like me and my working professional friends; people who don't complain about silly stuff because we know it isn't our forever home. No matter how nice, It's just a rental. Clearly, I was wrong. :)

Thanks for you input!

Originally posted by @Jessica M. :

@Caleb Heimsoth she uses my number to pay electronically. Also, I thought it was necessary for emergency purposes.

Any suggestions how to get around this? Provide a Google number?

Google voice of get a property manager 

@Theresa Harris Thank you for the advice! In regards to her cosmetic complaints, that is exactly what I did. I agree with the others that I think she doesn't want to be held liable for those, which is fine. The other complaints, well, now I know how to deal with them, on the front-end in the lease.

You all are so helpful!

Originally posted by @Jessica M. :

@Ray Johnson No, this is a class B property, but you are correct she does want conceige service. I feel like we are her parents. I cannot bear ten more months of this.

 It would have been over in 30 days for us. We had an older woman recommended to us by mutual friends. Within a week she wanted 6 names on her mail box, including that of her dead mother. Then complained to the USPS that we had the incorrect mailbox design as these were old home made barn look classics made by the original farmer/owner, so we made it a bird house & got her the USPS compliant cheap grey metal one. Then she wanted her Apartment # changed to #1. She got a 30 day notice & we rented it immediately for $225/month more. Admittedly she did pay on time & left the place spotless but when their middle name is 'whine' it's time to move on.