Feel like my tenants are exploiting me?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by scoop, 1st Jul, 2020.

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  1. scoop

    scoop Member

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    Hi all, I feel like my tenants are exploiting me for unnecessary and excessive maintenance. They're a very whiny, entitled and pushy couple, and always seem to have something new to complain about to my property manager, who then passes it onto me for review. I always act fast and always end up getting the problem checked out by someone recommended by the agency, and the cycle continues. I don't know how to draw the line, I guess I'm just spineless and I get anxious with an unhappy tenant. I'm trying to be a good landlord but I feel like I don't know how to say no (or WHEN to say no), and these tenants take advantage of me as a result. Granted, my IP is a fairly old house, but they are constantly nitpicking everything, more than any tenants I've had in the past.

    They've complained so much over the past year that I can't even remember all of the items. Like, I've had plumbers out there at least 3 times in the past 6 months alone to address minor things like a dripping tap. They refused a standard rent increase of $5/pw because they claimed the house "isn't worth it" and said they'd only accept it if the interior was repainted (the interior could use a repaint, yes, but who are they to bargain with me about this? And in the end, I decided to hold off on increasing the rent).

    They're complaining now the reverse cycle heater/cooler is "playing up" and isn't heating the room like it did before. This is the latest request for maintenance. So I've allowed the agent to arrange someone to go out to have a look at it, and they will probably tell me the unit is too old and needs replacing. I don't even think I can trust these tenants at their word, it feels like they're trying to get new items installed constantly. Seems like they now want a new heater/cooler. If it is true that it is no longer working correctly, I also have no way of knowing whether or not it's caused by tenant damage or if it's legit wear and tear. On top of this all, I live pretty far away so I rely entirely on the property manager for my info.

    Is this a common problem encountered by landlords and how do you handle it? I'm not sure if this is a problem with these particular tenants alone, or if this sort of thing is common and I need to learn to draw the line. And I'm worried that if I do draw a line, I can get dragged into VCAT for breaking some rule. These tenants apparently think that because I'm a landlord I'm wealthy and can replace the entire house for new. Any advice on how to handle these kinds of situations would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Tell your agent to grow some. They sound inexperienced or too junior to be able to use their own judgement or seek advice in-house.
     
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  3. spludgey

    spludgey Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but at least part of the problem is you.
    Why should they not be allowed to negotiate with you?
    You still had three options:
    • Don't increase rent
    • Repaint and increase rent
    • Don't repaint and increase rent
    Given that the tenants have been problematic for your, I would have probably gone with the last one. They are unlikely to move for $5/week.

    Also, should they not report dripping taps?
    But those aren't urgent issues and don't have to be actioned immediately.
    Also, I'd get a cheaper handyman to replace the washers.

    Drawing the line is fairly simple, is it something you or a reasonable person could live with? If so, tell them no.

    The air con for example. It probably doesn't "work like it used to" because it's colder now, so it struggles to heat to the same temperature. As long as it's still working, I would have said no for that one.
     
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  4. Michael Mitchell

    Michael Mitchell Well-Known Member Business Member

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    Never forget, just like a bus, there's always another tenant... get rid of them if your gut tells you to.
     
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  5. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm with the "get rid of them" camp. Obviously if the air-con isn't working properly, it needs to be fixed. Maybe ask the agent to get two opinions?

    But negotiating with tenants that they won't pay an extra $5 a week unless you repaint the house inside... that would have been an easy one. NO! Your agent shouldn't have even tolerated that one in my opinion.

    If they don't want to pay the increase, they can eave and I'd suggest if your agent passed on their request for an internal repaint in exchange for a $5 increase, then I'd say goodbye to that agent too.

    We had tenants like this and we did some things they requested that would increase the rentability of the house for the next tenants, and refused most of their requests to make the house "just right" for them. We did a happy dance when they bought their own place and they can spend their own money on making things "just right".

    But no matter that we'd said "no" to turning around the air-con outlet to blow a different direction outside, they kept asking, at least three times. I dubbed her "The Princess" and that's exactly what she was. I'd say she'd been totally indulged through her childhood and now thinking everyone else would indulge her. She was royal though... a royal PITA. :D:p
     
  6. willair

    willair Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I would just be looking at the positive side with all this maintenance it will help out tax time ,and sometimes you get a run where nothing happens then you get a grouping of maintenance just they way it goes,and it never pays to overthinking the problem just employ people who can fix the problem.good luck .
     
  7. Gen-Y

    Gen-Y Well-Known Member

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    In the current environment - I smell alot of entitlement drama queens and kings.
    They have the government support and think it is their rights.

    I am not saying they don't have the rights to fix broken things that impact them.
    Seriously you need to grow some courage and learn from it.
    Put your rent up $5 per week.
    Don't fix the aircon if it still working.
    Don't repaint

    If the tenants move out - look at it positively and fix the old house to a standard that can command less headache going forward.

    Come back and tell us you have fail or succeed.
     
  8. Phoenix Pete

    Phoenix Pete Well-Known Member

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    Scoop, can you tell us how old the property is?
     
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  9. Mat

    Mat Well-Known Member

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    Hang on, the agent isn't the landlord - it's literally their job to pass on anything that they don't have prior direction from the landlord not to. If OP had said "I don't want to hear any more improvement requests from this tenant" then the agent would be quite right to just say "no, that's not happening" but without such a direction, the tenant does have a legitimate expectation that their request, ridiculous as it is, will be passed on - they may genuinely (lol) believe it's a good offer.

    As to the repaint, hmm, seems to me it'd be easier to repaint while vacant. OP, maybe a repaint isn't such a bad idea!
     
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  10. Tom Rivera

    Tom Rivera Property Manager Business Member

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    Realistically we can't give you an informed opinion without having a whole lot more context- it's a complex issue.

    Perhaps the house genuinely keeps having things going wrong with it? The examples you described are all perfectly legitimate issues (assuming something is actually wrong with the heater).

    I recently took over a property where the Landlord said the tenant was very fussy and constantly complaining. I checked out the property yesterday and it's a disaster! NONE of the upstairs doors shut, there's Pigeons living in the floors, downstairs floods, no windows have coverings, all the windows are jammed, it goes on!
    It turns out the tenant keeps it immaculately and is frustrated out of her mind that people keep coming to deal with one small problem at a time when she just wants to be left alone in a safe and well maintained home.

    Your Property Manager should really be giving you feedback in this scenario- does the house really need work? Are these tenants particularly fussy, or perhaps just overlal unsuited to the home? Do they keep it meticulously and pay on time, or are they otherwise not ideal?
     
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  11. Phoenix Pete

    Phoenix Pete Well-Known Member

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    This is pretty much the same line of thinking as me.... hence why I asked the OP for more details as to how old the property is.
     
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  12. Mel Morgan

    Mel Morgan Sydney Property Manager Business Member

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    Older houses with older appliances/plumbing/electricals will generally have more ongoing maintenance and sometimes its just bad luck that they all occur within a small time period.

    Having said that, a good PM can add value eg by getting the plumber to check over all plumbing whilst they're there, or justifying the $5/wk increase based on the rental market.

    The PM should also have reliable trades or get multiple opinions so that you can be confident of their recommendations. They shouldn't just be passing the problem onto you, they should provide you with a solution (or multiple options) and/or recommendation.
     
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  13. Gen-Y

    Gen-Y Well-Known Member

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    Some trades are just a bunch of useless people. Even I could do a better job.
    I wouldn't even call them handy man. FFS! / rant.
    Where is the property report that gets done twice a year from an agent?
     
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  14. Shogun

    Shogun Well-Known Member

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    I am starting to think once a year buy a tub of washers for $30 and I go and change all the washers once a year.

    Depending on age many of your taps could need resetting.
     
  15. Phoenix Pete

    Phoenix Pete Well-Known Member

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    You mean 're-seating' yes?
     
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  16. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't disagree really. But if any agent didn't say to the tenant "a total internal repaint in exchange for a $5 rent increase probably won't fly" then I'd be disappointed. We have always maintained our properties, though they aren't million dollar houses. And we always fix things quickly and usually are probably more generous than many landlords. Many tenants have told us this, and many have stayed for years because we are good landlords.

    But to be held ransom on a piddly $5 per week increase and have a tenant say I'll pay the increase in exchange for a total repaint... well that would be a red flag for me.

    So, I'd add that anything that is broken needs to be fixed. Things that the tenant desires might be considered in exchange for an increase in rent. But play me for a fool, and the tenant loses any goodwill we had.
     
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  17. skater

    skater Well-Known Member

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    Ah, entitled tenants! I love those!

    So, first things first. Firstly, have a strong word with you PM and let them know that you've had enough. You won't be doing anything unnecessary to your property. General maintenance only, no upgrades. Also let her know to tell the tenant, each time they ask for maintenance, that if it is something that has been caused by the tenant, the tenant will be paying for it. No ifs! No buts! That will stop a lot of it straight away. Then get a handyman to check for all dripping taps & whatever minor stuff needs doing, fix it, and let them know, that there will be no more maintenance done unless it's an urgent repair. Check market rents for properties in the area that are of a similar standard and immediately give a rent increase to that amount. Don't be soft! If they don't like it, they can move. If they bring up the paint again, let them know you are happy to have the place repainted.....but that will be at a cost of another, say, $40-50pw.
     
  18. skater

    skater Well-Known Member

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    This is good advice.
     
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  19. scoop

    scoop Member

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    The house was built in the early 1980s, I used to live there 5 years ago. It's always been well taken care of and in good condition for an older home, and I always kept it well maintained and acted fast when a maintenance request was made when I became the landlord. Before these tenants moved in I had the entire place re-carpeted and a new oven installed. There aren't any problems like those that you mentioned, the place isn't falling apart or in disrepair. The most recent report shows the tenants are taking care of the property and the gardens, but like others mentioned, they think they're royalty. Yes, the agent says they're fussy and bossy people who push to get their way. I accept every communication from the agent because I like to remain on top of things and know how my investment is going, I haven't given them any particular instructions on how to handle maintenance requests, they just pass everything on to me
     
  20. Antoni0

    Antoni0 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it is for some tenants but not all. If you supply things like a reverse cycle aircon it's got to be in good functioning order and if you don't trust what the PM is telling you, you can organise your own Tradie to go out there and give you a report.
    .