Being a landlord is great, right? You have perfect tenants who give you money every month, on time, and there’s never a problem.
Here’s the thing – it can be great, but it’s only going to work out well if you know how to properly screen your tenants and market your properties. If you’re not careful or you don’t do a thorough assessment of each tenant, you could easily find yourself dealing with a problem tenant.
I don’t even necessarily mean a tenant who doesn’t pay, but a tenant who makes absolutely unreasonable demands and complaints that drive landlords foolish. Here are some of the ones I’ve heard:
1. “Fix this in the next hour or else!”
You pick up the phone and that’s what you hear: “Fix it now!” Because, you know, you don’t have anything else going on in your life. You don’t have a kid’s baseball game or a dinner date with your husband or wife and you definitely don’t have another job.
Oh, wait. Yes, you do.
Some tenants believe that their problem needs to be fixed immediately. Granted, some problems are emergencies, but most aren’t. A common mistake made by first time landlords is to rush to fix everything, but that shows the tenant that – no matter the problem – you’ll be there in the drop of a hat.
Make sure you know the regulations in your area, set expectations with your tenants, and you can help avoid this problem.
2. “The guy across the street has a dog who won’t stop barking.”
Though it’s nice your tenant thinks you can control anything and everything – you can’t. Try and remember that complaints about neighbours aren’t your responsibility and the best thing to do is to point a tenant to the proper local authority to deal with problems like this.
Sometimes complaints like this arise from a personal dispute between your tenant and the person next door – it’s best to stay out of it and let the tenant and the authorities deal with it.
3. “My toilet is plugged.”
I’ve heard of tenants without plungers assuming that a landlord should be the one responsible for unplugging their gross toilet. And a backed up toilet is just one example. Tenants make all sorts of nasty requests to landlords – plugged toilets and backed up garbage disposals are just the beginning.
These complaints – that at best could be classified as minor maintenance – can be a bit more mundane. Some tenants will blow fuses or snap handles off cupboard doors and think you are the one who should come and fix them.
Most of these complaints aren’t your responsibility to deal with, but I think they complain just to see if you’ll actually deal with it.
4. “The person below me is cooking something that smells nasty.”
When people first move into an apartment, sometimes they have a hard time adjusting. They aren’t used to the lives of strangers being able to impact them so easily.
A really common complaint that landlords get comes from a cultural or culinary clash of the senses – “Something from the other apartment smells nasty.” The thing is – unless they’re cooking meth or doing something else illegal to produce the odor, you, as a landlord, can’t really do much about it.
In fact, a landlord intervening can often make this problem worse. It’s best to encourage your tenant to politely talk to the other tenant and, if possible, have them work something out. This is a people problem, not a legal one.
5. “You’re violating our lease.”
If you’re a new landlord, you might have accidentally strayed. If you’re a seasoned landlord, you probably haven’t. If you have actually violated your lease you need to correct the problem, but be certain to double check everything before you act.
Tenants use this line a lot because they think it will give them more power when negotiating with you when, in fact, all it does is annoy you.
This problem can get worse because some tenants will take this a step further and say they’re withholding rent because you’ve violated the lease. What they don’t know is that there are either very few (or even no) instances where they are allowed to withhold rent because they are in a dispute with you. If they’re living in the space, they have to pay.
6. “We didn’t clean the stove, but I still don’t know how the fire started.”
Too often tenant neglect can cause serious damage to your property. The quote about about a fire on the stove is one I’ve heard before.
“Sure, we’ve lived here for three years and sure we’ve never cleaned the stove – there’s no way the fire was our fault,” says the tenant. I really hope you don’t ever buy that logic.
It doesn’t have to be as serious as a fire, but I’ve heard of tenant neglect causing mold or infestations. These are problems that need to be addressed and you need to be able to prove the tenant was at fault.
Tenants like these can be very hard to deal with. It can really make the extra money you earn from your property not seem worth the work.
As a landlord, what complaints drive you crazy? Leave a comment below and let us know.