Have you ever had a repair-needy tenant where it feels like every other day they want you to do a repair? And it’s always silly repairs like the cold sink water is not being cold when it is 117 degree outside or that the AC isn’t keeping the house at 65 degrees when it is 117 outside. Or my favorite, complaining that there is a one palmetto bug (flying cock roach) in the house (they confess the windows were left open) and wanting you to call out an exterminator.
We have learned the hard way that keeping control of our expenses is vital in order to make these houses profitable. The key to doing that is minimizing these expenses. We have done that by creating a very detailed 16 page lease where we have a pest control and $100 deductible clause. This “skin in the game” has reduced all those issues that are hard to prove are wear and tear OR for when you just don’t want those repeated questions.
This brings up a good question: What do you do when you don’t have those in your lease? While I am nothing other than an experienced (aka jaded) landlord, I have found that even my earlier leases have it written that anything that is not wear and tear is the tenant’s expense. The key I have found is to address it before the repair. This way expectations are started from the very beginning.
For the tenants that I have prior to the deductible clauses (because, yes, I do have some tenants that were installed before these clauses), I have found over the years that sending them a kind letter but professional letter, making them responsible for the expenses if nothing broken is found, goes a long way.
Here is an example of one of those letters:
Dear ______ ,
I have received your text regarding the AC not keeping the house cool enough. Residential units are rated for keeping the house 20-30 degree cooler than the outside. One of the reasons we require monthly AC filter changes is to assist the AC unit to maintain the higher end of this spectrum. We are happy to call out the technician and have them evaluate the unit. If no issue is found wrong with the unit, the charge will be your responsibility. If the bill is not covered immediately, it will be taken out of the rent amount first, with rent second as described in the lease. Any leftover portion will be assessed as late fees as described in your lease. We appreciate you letting us know and we look forward to working with you.
Your Appreciative Landlords
I learned a long time ago that the key is to be friendly, professional, and to put the responsibility back on the tenant. I have also learned that the deductible does not prevent my tenants from calling the repair man due to the deductible if there is something really wrong. This simply prevents those calls that should never been called out. If there is a true issue they will still notify me that something needs to be repaired.
What has been your experience?16