Refund to renter for inconvenience of repairs never being fixed?

31 Replies

The Situation: We have been renting a full furnished home as a STR for the past 3 1/2 months. It's an expensive home and that we pay a steep monthly rent for. Since move-in we've had numerous issues with the home and some have lingered on for quite some time. I estimate I have had at least 12+ repair appointments, all things that did not work before we got here, not things that broke while here. The property management company and owners have been good about getting someone out to fix things BUT the repairs linger or don't get fully fixed. They are often working through their home warranty.

All things not working on move-in:

  • A/C unit for upstairs broke in 115 degree Vegas heat, fixed in 2-3 days
  • Could not change temperature of thermostat, it was pre-programmed and controlled remotely, months to fix
  • No internet, after we spoke numerous times about us working remotely from the home via the internet, added next day
  • No garage door opener, 2 weeks to get
  • No heat (yes we need heat in Vegas), took weeks to fix
  • Shower in 4th bath did not work, months to fix but wasn't urgent as we were not using it
  • No dishwasher, still not fixed

While everyone has tried it has been a huge inconvenience with all the repairs and the dishwasher has never worked and still doesn't. We work remotely from the home and I cook 1-2 times a day. I've never appreciated something like a dishwasher working as much as I do now. We are frustrated that we have been paying for a luxury home without basic working features. We've never been in this position before and as future landlords I want to learn from this as well. We are getting ready to move out and have asked for some type of refund or compensation since we were under the impression we were renting a fully functional house and the time to fix things has taken months. The homeowners don't necessarily agree with us asking for this as their position is they did everything they could and it is not their fault with parts, etc being on backorder through the home warranty company. I understand that briefly but there has to be a time period where you just replace it, right?


The Question:
As a landlord... 

  1. Would you give a refund in this situation? If so, what do you think is fair?
  2. Do you think this is a reasonable type of request?
  3. How long is acceptable to let repairs like this linger before you just have to replace them vs repair? Please keep in mind this is a furnished STR.

This is the biggest article for why home warranties are a ripoff I’ve ever seen. The warranty company hasn’t fixed a dishwasher in months?

Ac 2-3 days? If they needed a part, that’s pretty fast, especially if any of those days were Saturday/Sunday. 

garage remote? This would bother me and was an oversight on their part, coulda credited you $20 to buy your own.

Thermostat, same answer garage remote, replace it for $20 with “dumb thermostat” or give you name/password fo the app  should all been fixed in a day  

Internet not working? Fixed next day? This is golden example fo best repair possible right?

heat not working? Can’t say much, haven’t had to turn mine on yet, still too hot but another strike against warranty company. 

I guess $100 wouldn’t be out of line? Maybe have them cancel the home warranty and give you whatever that costs since it’s obviously a waste. 

If you’re willing to move you pry have a little leverage. “I hate to move but I’ve found a home for the same price or a little less that has a working dishwasher and I really need one...” but don’t bluff/lie. If you say it, mean it. 

@Brandi Scharrer   Some of those things are minor (garage door opener, 4th bathroom).  Heat or A/C is a bigger problem. For internet, my tenants have to sort that out themselves as it isn't included in the rent. Have a talk with the manager and ask them when the items will be fixed.  If you aren't happy, then give them notice and move.

@Bill Brandt @Theresa Harris , this is a short term fully furnished rental. So expectations are AirBnB/hospitality vs a long term rental. We roll in, unpack and don't deal with things like utilities or getting these things set up as we only stay 30-90 days max. Plus we are charged more for this type of short term stay vs a longer term tenant. Although some things seem minor when your window to stay at a property is short you except these things to work. We are set to leave anyway in 2 weeks so negotiating to stay/leave isn't an option. 

Also, our monthly rent was $5600 a month all inclusive. I can't believe for a short term rental and at that rate they wouldn't just buy a new dishwasher vs waiting for an imported part. Does any of the above change your original opinion/comment?

To me it reenforces the idea they shouldn’t have a home warranty. When an appliance breaks at one of my properties a repair guy goes out within 24 hours (probably faster than 90% of people who have to pay for their own repairs including homeowners.). Then it’s either fixed (under $250) or replaced. A repair would be within another 24 hours, replacement depends on tenants availability. 

At 4 months you’re probably the longest stay they’ll ever have. Leave an appropriate review and you’ll help future guests. 

I think $100 for a nice dinner would be a nice gesture. if you got $300 you should party like the money fell out of the sky. 

If they are even considering offering you something make them specify an amount first. It sounds like they don’t really know what they’re doing and are new to this. They might accidentally offer you way more than they should. 

Originally posted by @Bill Brandt :

I think $100 for a nice dinner would be a nice gesture. if you got $300 you should party like the money fell out of the sky. 

If they are even considering offering you something make them specify an amount first. It sounds like they don’t really know what they’re doing and are new to this. They might accidentally offer you way more than they should. 

Ha! The property management company is asking but it is still up to the homeowners so I doubt they will offer up anything. We'll definitely skip this house next year.  

 

I just got the heater fixed in the house I live in with my family.  It went out Wednesday and they just got the part in to fix it.  So we have had a week without heat and its freezing at night.  My son was sleeping with 4 blankets on his bed.  

Sometimes it does take a while to get this fixed if they need to order parts.

BUT to take months on a dishwasher that could have a replacement put in for less than a thousand dollars is not ok.  I would think that some sort of compensation for the dishwasher would be decent.   But did you consistently tell them you wanted it fixed, or did you let it drop?  Granted, you should not have to whine, complain, but if you let it drop, likely they thought you adjusted to the situation.

The air, heater may very well be a control that the owner has so that the renters do not blast the air/heat and increase the bill.  That is common in units when the owner is paying for the utilities.  That you stayed so long, they likely decided to give you control.

Same idea with the garage door opener. The owner likely had it go missing too many times from the STR so they just do not leave it at the house. Since you were staying for a while they decided to let you have it.

Shower in the 4th bath, I would not gripe about.  You did have 3 other baths to choose from, unless it was the master bath.  And then, you should have whined many times the first month.  The results may have been different had you whined then.

@Brandi Scharrer For the quantity and quality of issues you've described, a $100 refund is a joke.  I've refunded guests more than that for less crucial issues on stays of three days, never mind three months.  $1000 is more like it, and they're still getting off easy.  

I learned a long time ago - and quickly - that home warranties are not worth the paper they're written on, at least not for an STR. These owners would do well to do the same - though since they've got a PM, there's probably too much separation for either party to care as much as they should.

Ultimately, it's true that the refund - if any - is up to the owners, nobody is going to force it (though if you've clearly documented these issues as they've unfolded with whichever platform you booked through, you might be able to kick up enough fuss to get something from them).  Regardless, an honest review is essential.

@Lynnette E. Totally understand things taking time to fix and we were trying to be patient. It was the compounding things that needed fixed that was surprising, especially at move-in. It wasn't like they broke while we stayed, they were broke on move-in. And the house was vacant prior so there was time to inspect and fix. In theory these should have been caught by the property management company, right? Would you expect a PM to know these things prior to a move-in?

Like the A/C. It was 98 degrees in the house, set at 72 when we arrived. It was 115 outside. We were responsible for paying for utilities.

No internet was surprising too. As a remote worker good internet is a deal breaker so we talked several times about this prior to us evening completing the booking. If the internet isn't fast enough we often offer to pay to upgrade as it is crucial for our jobs.

They didn't have a garage door opener and had to locate then buy a new one. Understand how these go missing.

Agreed on the 4th bath. We just alerted them it was broke and told them no rush to fix since we weren't using.  

The dishwasher has been waiting for a backorder part since September, after 4 visits from the repair people. It's a Miele and I guess only certain companies/people work on those. We kept checking in but there wasn't much for us to do as it was ordered and everyone was waiting. Still on backorder so they decided to replace it. We leave in 2 weeks and won't see it before we go, but thankfully for the next person it will be fixed.

I always try to look at a situation from both sides. I've been an owner/landlord, a long term and short term renter. As the short term renter I am frustrated. As the owner/PM I a trying to think how I would handle this if this happened at one of my properties. Since STR are really in the hospitality business I think I would have handled this differently.

Thanks for yours and everyone's input here. 

Originally posted by @Julie McCoy :

@Brandi Scharrer For the quantity and quality of issues you've described, a $100 refund is a joke.  I've refunded guests more than that for less crucial issues on stays of three days, never mind three months.  $1000 is more like it, and they're still getting off easy.  

I learned a long time ago - and quickly - that home warranties are not worth the paper they're written on, at least not for an STR. These owners would do well to do the same - though since they've got a PM, there's probably too much separation for either party to care as much as they should.

Ultimately, it's true that the refund - if any - is up to the owners, nobody is going to force it (though if you've clearly documented these issues as they've unfolded with whichever platform you booked through, you might be able to kick up enough fuss to get something from them).  Regardless, an honest review is essential.

Thank you Julie for this! I was starting to wonder if I was being an annoying renter. But STR are a totally different ballgame with different expectations. It is a hospitality business. We were happier in the 3/1 $100k, 1000 sq foot home in Indiana 5 mos ago then this 5/4, $800k 3500 sq foot home in Vegas. All because of these issues, it has dampened the experience of this home.

I can suggest the $1000 but I'm not expecting anything. And TBH, I am also a bit fearful that fighting this would cause them to find an issue and not give us our deposit back.

Another pattern in this thread has been how useless home warranties are. I'll definitely keep that in mind for my own properties. Thanks!  

 

@Brandi Scharrer There's two sides to every story, and while some of the things you described aren't that big a deal and/or were fixed promptly, many of them are. (I have some empathy for the thermostat situation, I've encountered that with mine before and it's SUPER annoying to find a workaround) Taking weeks to fix the heat is inexcusable, ditto for the dishwasher. Considering the price you're paying and the quality of house it (supposedly) is, these shouldn't have been issues at all, or if they are, fixed within 48 hours. As an STR owner/operator, I can't necessarily help it when stuff happens, but I CAN help how I respond to it, and I view it as my responsibility to resolve any issues as quickly as possible for my guests.

As for home warranties, if it's your own home and you have some flexibility to work on the warranty provider's timeframe, that may be different. For an STR, they're useless - it takes too long to get a sub out, and by the time you pay the deductible and refund your guest for their inconvenience, you may as well have hired someone independently. (I once tried for months to get my warranty to come resolve an electrical issue - they couldn't even find an electrician who serviced my area. I finally went on Yelp and found an awesome one myself who fell in love with my house and traded his work for a stay!)

First of all, as a property manager, I would have had things fixed within a week, minimum, and the owner I worked for would have made sure that happened.  So, any excuses about parts and this and that excuse is a bunch of garbage, in my opinion.  When someone rents a place, it's expected to have everything in working order, end of story.

Now, as a tenant, if I was you, I'd figure out an amount you are owed by the owner/management company. And then, I'd send them a demand letter.  I wouldn't expect them to pay up.  Then, what you do next is, you sue them in small claims court.  In small claims court, you first have to ask for the money you think you're owed.  And you give a deadline of when they need to pay you - give them maybe a week.

When I haven't been sure of how much I was owed, I simply asked for the max allowed by the courts, and then let the judge figure it out.  So, for instance, I think the max allowed to sue for in small claims court in CA now is $10,000.  So, I'd write the landlord that I think he should have to pay me $10,000 or I'll sue him/her in small claims court for all of your claims of things not working, etc.

What usually happens then, since the request is so outrageous, is you usually get a response.  Maybe you can work something out at this point.  Odds are you won't, though, because people who don't fix showers or dishwashers are usually not reasonable people, and they hope to get away with murder.

So, then, you go ahead and file a lawsuit in small claims court for the maximum, and just put on the form for the reason that it's for breach of contract plus punitive damages as allowed by state law.

Odds are then, the landlord will try to work out a deal with you, once they are served with a notice from the court that you are suing them in small claims court.

I use small claims court as a way to settle out of court.  In small claims court, they can't send a lawyer.  Lawyers aren't allowed in small claims court.  So, for a big company to deal with a small claims court action, they have to find a manager to go, and for their lawyer to prep the manager and pay that manager's salary and travel, etc., etc., to deal with the court hearing, and then hope the judge doesn't rule against them.  So, they will most likely try to settle with you out of court.  They'll try to make you think they're doing you a favor - don't fall for it.  You hold the power once it gets to this point.

I have sued large companies using small claims court and gotten them to settle with me out of court using these tactics successfully.  As long as you are only suing them for the max small claims amount, it's a great way to go up against Goliath and win - without a lawyer.

$100 is a joke, I'd want at least $500.  Totally disagree with the small claims court idea for something like this.  When people make reasonable requests of me as a landlord, I'll be reasonable with them.  When people make unreasonable or petty requests, I'm not going to be very accommodating. 

A bad review for a STR is going to cost them a whole lot more long term then reimbursing you for your trouble. Leave the review now while you are still there and see if they change their tune before you leave.

it seems a few people are missing the big idea that it's a STR. There is an expectation that everything should be in working order. This is not like a normal tenant.

You are paying a crap ton of money to live a comfortable life.

I find it it usually simplest to just be straight forward and express your concerns and see what the owner does.

@Brandi Scharrer the fact that they had these issues is not uncommon. Most everything was dealt with in a reasonable time frame. The dishwasher is the only issue that seems unreasonable. It is fine for them to blame the home warranty, but it was their poor decision to get a home warranty. If I owned the home, I would be on the warranty people aggressively to deal with the problems. If something like the dishwasher was not addressed within a couple weeks, I would just pay to replace it and go after the warranty company. 

It seems reasonable to ask for a concession, but I don't have both sides of the story. Did you rent through a STR company and if so, it may be best to go to them for resolution.

For a short term rental at $5600 a month   I would frame it to them a percentage of your stay so asking for $1000 isn't out of the question mainly hinging on failing to fix a dishwasher/shower for 3 months  that is unacceptable at the price you are paying and I would put it in the review.  Also heat/thermostat issue.  At $1000 you are asking what about 4-6 % of the cost be refunded? The heat and thermostat issues could be significant depending on the details.  If it was advertised to include internet and you had it the next day what was the down time for you?  Vegas, no heat I am assuming it would depend on when.  I think the main thing is to say we paid x rent and want x % back for the inconvenience of 12 repair visits, lack of property use (dishwasher/shower),  lack of heat, and failure to respond in a timely manner.  That said I am not the great negotiater so maybe people who are good at that have some suggestions. 

Originally posted by @Erik Baumer :

A bad review for a STR is going to cost them a whole lot more long term then reimbursing you for your trouble. Leave the review now while you are still there and see if they change their tune before you leave.

 You cannot leave a review prior to departing, and the review process is blind and designed so that reviews cannot be leveraged against guests or hosts.  

It should never be implied that a bad review would be avoided if a refund is issued; that is not only extortion, it is against the TOS of all major platforms and would result in the removal of any review under those circumstances.

So dont "imply" it then.

Just tell them you are not happy and you are leaving a review after all of this is over so noone else has to endure what you are going through. Plain and simple.  Or you can just sit and wait for 100 bucks 

Id actually say for a normal long term tenant, a small credit would be in order....but not for a short term rental.  

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