Almost every landlord will be faced with a tenant who needs a lot of extra hand-holding at some point. You’ll know them when you see them: this attention-starved tenant always needs help with their dead light bulbs, faulty ceiling fans, clogged drain pipes, squeaky doors, and leaking faucets. It seems as though every day brings a new complaint. Here are a few tips to keep those needy tenants at bay, so you have a little more time for R&R at the end of the day.
Prioritize requests into emergency and non-emergency categories. If a tenant comes to you with a non-emergency request, like needing a light bulb changed, this should be placed near the bottom of your to-do list, where all your non-emergency requests should be placed. Your time is valuable, and you need to have the capacity to handle the real emergencies when they arise, like a heater breaking down or an apartment flooding. If necessary, explain to the tenant that you have urgent priority items to complete and that you’ll attend to the light bulb as quickly as you can.
2. Create a Formal Process for Requests
Allowing tenants to call at all hours for any type of request is the quickest way to get a headache. Instead, throw the ball back in their court. Create an online request system, which requires tenants to fill out a comprehensive, in-depth form outlining the issue at hand every time they have a request. If a tenant calls you, refer them to this form and say that everything must be in writing, and you will only work on requests put in through the online system. Making them do some legwork should help eliminate the less necessary requests and keep you organized at the same time. You can specify on the form that all non-emergency maintenance requests will be looked at within 30 days.
3. Show them the Costs
Needy tenants often come up with repair requests that they themselves have caused, so don’t be afraid to charge them for your time when doing maintenance repairs. Before any new tenant moves in, do a walk-through together, so they have the opportunity to point out all the items that need fixing. Once those are completed, new issues are assumed to be caused by the current tenants and will be billed accordingly. Be sure to provide them with an estimate for the work, because they may not be so eager to have you fix their loose doorknob when they face the costs.
4. Deny Unnecessary Repairs
You are not legally required to repair everything that is requested of you. For example, if a tenant comes to you because the garage door opener is slow, you aren’t required to get them a faster garage door opener. Use your veto power and don’t be afraid to say “no.” Be clear about what items you are and are not responsible for. You are a landlord, not a doormat.
5. Give Them an Easy Out
If all else fails and your tenant is costing you more than they’re worth, give them an easy exit! Have an honest chat and say something to the effect of, “You don’t seem very happy here. I am happy to agree to an early termination of your lease, and you’re free to find a place that is better suited to your needs.” At the end of the day, sometimes it’s better in the long-run to simply find a new tenant rather than spend 80% of your time trying to please an impossible tenant!
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