01 Mar How Landlords Should Deal With The Complaining Tenant
One of the biggest responsibilities to being a landlord is having a full-time commitment to your rental. Emergencies might happen infrequently enough that it isn’t too much of a hassle to be called upon in the middle of the night for major malfunctions. However, if your tenant is the type who makes mountains of molehills, than being accessible 24/7 could be a burden.
So, how should landlords deal with a tenant who complains about everything? What if one day your tenant contacts you because they are having conflicts with the neighbor, and the next week they complain about shower water pressure, and the next month they claim the basement smells weird, and the week after that they complain street parking is too crowded?
First, make sure your lease agreement spells out what is the tenant’s responsibility and what is the landlord’s. Most property rental agreements will outline the tenant’s role in taking “reasonable care of property.” This charges them with taking care of light bulb replacement, trash removal, clogged toilets (caused by usage, not an underlying more severe plumping issue) overall cleanliness of rental, etc. This will clear you from having to personally address every little issue.
Secondly, you don’t always have to answer your phone. Let your calls go to voicemail and screen messages. Your responsibility is to address legitimate concerns affecting the overall living conditions promptly (example: broken appliances, or plumping issues). Then, make sure you always document any complaints and subsequent servicing you complete. It is helpful to take pictures or video of the completed repair, so there is never a question if the problem was resolved.
If you have a tenant who makes ridiculous complaints often, perhaps you might consider letting them out of their lease agreement early. Some landlord experts even suggest offering a $150-$200 “move-out credit” just to appease the situation, so you both can move on as quickly as possible. You might be surprised to find that just by offering an opt-out-of-lease early option is enough to call a tenant’s bluff. They might decide to stay after all, and ease up on the weekly complaints in lieu of having to move.