Do you have to respond to that needy tenant that calls everyday?!

10 Replies

I have a conversion four plex in Wisconsin which has some great long term tenants.  I am finding it difficult to respond to a particular tenants needs every day.  They call daily with questions like; do you think the other tenant's dog will hurt mine? I am missing a package..do you think someone stole it?  The heat is too high.  The heat isn't high enough.  I have a hard time balancing between responding to this tenants needs and just being a sounding board.  What is my responsibility to answer these calls?  I've started letting them go to voicemail but they never leave a voicemail so I feel compelled to answer.  I do feel responsible for the heat.  The 4 unit is heated by one furnace, controlled by one thermostat in one apartment.  I don't want them to freeze of course but I also don't feel it's right to text the other tenant daily to ask them to turn it up a notch or down a notch.

Any suggestions on how to handle this problem that only seems to be getting more consistent?

Thanks!

Make some copies of a "repair request" and leave them for this tenant with the notification that repair requests will be addressed as time allows.  Emergency issues (think fire, flood, blood) are immediate but it sounds like most of these calls are for fairly useless concerns.

At some point you are likely to get fed up with this nonsense and either offer this tenant "the Happy Clause" or simply decide not to renew their lease when the time comes to do so.

If it goes to voicemail and they don't leave a message even your tenant does not think it is important and she has already trained you to respond. Time to start training her back. All the best!

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You have been trained. Stop taking phone calls, instead ask to communicate via text and email. Respond "Please text me." and then ignore stuff that is not your responsibility.

As far as the heat, you are right that is a problem, I would look into options to control heat in each unit.

Originally posted by @Troy Froistad :

I have a conversion four plex in Wisconsin which has some great long term tenants.  I am finding it difficult to respond to a particular tenants needs every day.  They call daily with questions like; do you think the other tenant's dog will hurt mine? I am missing a package..do you think someone stole it?  The heat is too high.  The heat isn't high enough.  I have a hard time balancing between responding to this tenants needs and just being a sounding board.  What is my responsibility to answer these calls?  I've started letting them go to voicemail but they never leave a voicemail so I feel compelled to answer.  I do feel responsible for the heat.  The 4 unit is heated by one furnace, controlled by one thermostat in one apartment.  I don't want them to freeze of course but I also don't feel it's right to text the other tenant daily to ask them to turn it up a notch or down a notch.

You need to be very clear about appropriate methods of communication. First and foremost, you should consider getting a Google Voice number. It's completely free and you can set it to go directly to voicemail where they are instructed to leave a message. Once the message is received, Google Voice will notify you by text and send you an email with a copy of the message. You look/listen, then decide if it's worth responding.

For this particular tenant, I would send them a written notice instructing them about when it's appropriate to call and when they should email. Unless it's an emergency that puts  a person or property at risk without a fast response, everything should be emailed to you so you can respond when time is available. If they insist on calling you, let it go to voicemail, listen when able, then respond by email so you train them on how you prefer to communicate. If they can't get it, just start ignoring them and they'll eventually learn or move away.

I communicate via text.

I had one tenant move in earlier this year who demonstrated "neediness" in the first week. I told them that I did not believe that the unit was the right fit and I would be happy to let them out of the lease and return their deposit. Crickets.

I had a similar scenario where a new tenant complained about items that no one else had ever done (such as other building residents using dryer sheets in the shared laundry room).  We too  just mutually agreed it wasn't the right fit and worked to coordinate lining up a new tenant with her relocating.  

That's what voicemail is for. Emergencies and serious concerns will be left by voicemail. As for the heat, as mentioned above you should have addressed the heating situation on the front end; it's unreasonable to expect one tenant to control the heating/cooling for 3 other tenants in separate units. 

There are very few instances where I advise ignoring a tenant. The described situation is not one. She does need to be trained now that she trained you. 

It will be hard to retrain her but it can be done. I agree to send her an email which outlines the concerns you can handle in general terms. When she emails you an item you cant control and shouldn't be, just copy and paste that language as a reminder. NEVER LET THE EMAIL GO UNANSWERED. 

You can also train her in response time. I train my tenants that most items will be responded to and start addressing within 48 hours (including a response to them). My acknowledgement is usually within 24-36 business hours.. This prevents them dropping last minute items in your lap (i.e. copy of lease for school registration). Obviously this doesn't apply for emergencies. 

If she continues to be a pain in your side play your ultimate Trump card which is a 28-day non-renewal (when she is month to month).