Things Tenants Ask of Landlords That Are Not a Landlord’s Job

by | BiggerPockets.com

Hey there, BiggerPockets! So many of you are landlords. Most of you have rented in the past and some of you currently rent your own home, so you can relate to the tenant’s situation.

Some tenants who have been around for a bit understand what their roles are and what they should expect their landlord to do for them. Others, especially those who are new to renting, don’t have clarity on what their landlord should do verse what the tenant should be handling on their own. In today’s video, I talk about what a landlord should not be doing for his or her tenants.

Related: 4 Types of Horrible Tenants (& How to Deal With Their Shenanigans)

Some tenants will expect the landlord to perform maintenance tasks that are typically on the tenant’s list of responsibilities. I remember a tenant who called me about the light in her kitchen, which had stopped working. I went to the property and found that the lightbulb had burned out. Tenants also expect landlords to change out the batteries in their smoke detectors, which is really a job the tenant should have. (Some of my tenants take the batteries out of the smoke detectors and put them in their remote controls for their TVs, but that’s another story).

Related: 5 Legitimate Reasons to Allow a Tenant to Break Their Lease

In this video, I talk about other roles that landlords should not step into with their tenants. Be sure to watch it and leave a comment here on the BiggerPockets blog.

How have you drawn a line in the sand with your tenants on what you will and won’t do?

Have you inadvertently crossed out of the landlord role in the past? I want to hear from you so please leave a reply below!

About Author

Matt Faircloth

In 2005, Matt founded The DeRosa Group along with his wife, Elizabeth. At the time, the two person company owned and managed two assets – a single family home and a duplex. Over the last nine years, they have grown the company to a 12 person team owning and managing over five million dollars in residential and commercial assets throughout the central NJ and Philadelphia area.

One of DeRosa’s mantras is “to make money while making a difference.”

17 Comments

  1. John Murray

    Most tenants are like teens, you have to have the upper hand. Some are actually squared away troops but these are far and few between. Their priorities should be water, food and shelter. Sometimes their priorities are water, food, entertainment then shelter. This is where the rub is.

    • Matt Faircloth

      We put a clause in our lease about dealing with clogs. If they are caused by the tenant, we charge them for clearing them. You can determine the cause of the clog pretty easily which leads you to who pays. If the clog is due to a GI Joe that got flushed (we have had toys, perfume bottles, diapers, you name it) it’s on the tenant. If it’s because of roots from the tree in the yard growing into the sewer line, it’s on us.

    • John Teachout

      Short answer is no. If this is a really long term tenant, at contract renewal, it may be “nice” to reward them for their faithfulness.

      What do you mean by “outdated”? They’re not stainless? or something like a gas range that has to be lit with a match?

      In almost every case, I personally would not replace a working appliance.

      • Matt Faircloth

        Good question Earl,
        I agree with John, usually don’t replace appliances unless they stop working. I will replace them for 2 reasons – one, they are unsafe. Any stove you have to light with a match is unsafe LOL! I also replace any stove that still has a “gas pilot” light as they can be very unsafe. The second reason is that we are looking to raise rents for a new tenant and can get a rent bump for new matching (and yes sometimes stainless steel) appliances.

  2. Daniel Sisto

    How about bedbugs or any bug infestation.

    If the property was clear of this prior to the tenant moving in.

    We do have a stipulation in our leases that states this but have a hard time relaying that message to the tenants.

    Thoughts?

    • Matt Faircloth

      Any bug or pest issue is a difficult conversation to have with tenants. Our lease states that we gave them the space pest free and it’s their job to keep it that way. The problem is that some tenants get pets because of their neighbors (consider a tenant in a townhome where their neighbors are pigs and end up with mice or roaches from the neighbors). We’ve had this happen in our units. It’s hard to charge your tenant for these kinds of issues. Another issue is that some tenants just learn to live with bugs and don’t call you about them. Many animal owners we have don’t realize that their pet has fleas. We find out about it when they move out, and it’s too late. For that reason, we try and do regular walkthroughs to judge unit condition.

  3. Brian R.

    The smoke detector battery replacement for me is a tricky one. I have my tenants sign that they are responsible for replacing the batteries, (and I replace them before someone moves in) but their have been a couple cases of landlords being charged criminally, and loosing, because the tenant didn’t change the batteries, and a fire occurred in the property. I have chosen, even though I state in the lease, and a separate form, the tenant is responsible for the smoke detectors, I change them once a year.

    The city is coming for my yearly license inspection this week at one of my properties, and the first thing they will do in every room with a smoke detector is check and make sure it is working. If it isn’t, I will fail the inspection. I will be given, in the case of a smoke detector, one week to get it working, and they will come back out to reinspect, and charge me $100.00 to do so. I can charge the $100.00 to the tenant, but as history has shown around here, if the smoke detector does not go off if their is a fire, I will be looking at more than a $100.00 charge.

  4. Lamont Booth

    I add to my leases that the tenant is responsible for up to $25 in repairs while living in the rental. This eliminates the calls for burned out light bulbs, light toilet repairs(flappers are one of the main causes of running toilets!) and other light repairs such as weather stripping for doors and windows.Batteries for CO and smoke detectors I provide to make sure they are operational due to liabilities and Twp.inspections. In addition I also provide HVAC (90 day filters) for preventive maintenance.Replacing an HVAC due to lack of care would be costly.

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