Needy Tenants: A Look at How to Handle Them

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Let’s take a look at some ways to handle overly needy tenants..

All properties require maintenance and repairs to meet acceptable living standards. Factors like the age of the property and the number of units and needy tenants will affect your maintenance schedule. Most tenants are mature adults and have read and understood their lease.

If you manage enough rental units and/or manage rentals for any extended period of time, you’ll eventually run into a tenant that appears to think they’re actually staying in a hotel. They’ll contact you and expect you to immediately address every little complaint they have about their home.

Since many small fixes fall on the tenant to repair, landlords should only be answering calls for legitimate repair requests. As this surely is not always the case, let’s take a look at some ways to handle overly needy tenants.

What Does Your Lease State About Repairs?

Needy tenants can feel entitled, as if they’re still living in their parent’s basements, and may try to take advantage of your hospitality and good nature. However, saying “yes” to all of their requests and bending over backward to keep them happy gets tiresome. At some point, you have to learn to say “no,” otherwise they will continue monopolizing your time.

It’s in your best interest to set the tone for tenancy as early as possible into the lease. If you feel you’re receiving unnecessary maintenance requests, walk the tenant through their lease, focusing on small repairs and maintenance issues the tenant is responsible for. 

How Serious is the Maintenance Issue?

No matter what a needy tenant seems to think, not all problems are going to require your immediate attention. Problems like no hot water or no heat in the winter will take precedence over a clogged drain or leaky faucet. It would be best if you had a protocol for prioritizing repairs based on severity and urgency. If a legitimate complaint requires attention, provide a realistic timeframe in which the repairs will be made. For non-urgent repairs, making yourself available on a scheduled, but limited basis may help curb unnecessary requests. 

Repairs as Excuse to Delay Rent Payments

Many tenants will threaten to withhold their rent payment(s) as a ploy to get faster response to their maintenance issues. If their maintenance Issue Is a valid health & safety concern, then you have little choice. Also, if they’ve been waiting several weeks or months, it may be valid. On the other hand, when this ploy Is used In regards to a minor Issue that they just reported, you should Immediately address It and make sure they understand It will not be tolerated.

Check your state and municipal laws and make sure your lease covers this issue.

Make Tenants Put Forth Some Effort

Needy tenants will continue to pester you with maintenance requests if you let them. If they can simply call you, leave you a voicemail or shoot you a text any time of day to get you to come out, you’re making it too easy for them. To avoid being badgered by non-urgent repair calls, implement a system for filing maintenance requests. Often, a little extra work on the part of a lazy tenant is enough to at least minimize nuisance calls. Requiring tenants to fill out an online form, email their requests or send a letter may deter tenants from abusing the system.

Hire a Property Management Company

 One very effective way of reducing the number of maintenance requests you receive is to hire a property management company. These trained professionals are used to handling all sorts of tenant issues, and because they don’t have a personal interest, they can act more objectively. Though a property manager will cost you a bit of money, they allow you to sleep easier at night and may end up saving you time and money in the long run. If nothing else, they provide a buffer between you and the tenant, making them have to play the bad guy when a tenant is demanding too many repairs or is expecting service for a constant stream of non-emergency requests that can’t be attended to immediately.  

Leasing a properly maintained property is vital for a successful rental business, but when it becomes a time-suck, it doesn’t allow you to attend to more pressing issues. Though you want to provide the best service and tenant experience possible, a needy tenant may try using your commitment to your business to their advantage. Having systems and rigid guidelines in place for managing maintenance requests will help you from feeling the effects of landlord burnout. 

Posted in: 1. Property Owner Blog Posts, Managing Rentals, Screening Tenants

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