When to Do Repairs
Throughout the year at various times your tenant(s) may give you a call about something that’s broken. Often they’ll ask for something reasonable, and sometimes they’ll ask for something ridiculous. All inquiries require a response and below I’ve listed some appropriate responses.
Send Someone Right Away
Things in this category either threaten the state of the property or the threaten to make the tenant(s) mad enough to not renew the lease.
- The furnace is broken.
- There’s a major plumbing leak.
- The sewer is backing up.
- An outlet or an electrical switch is making sparks.
- The neighbor (who is also you tenant) is being bothersome.
Send Someone The Next Day
- There’s a minor leak under the sink.
Don’t Send Anyone
- The cabinets are old.
- The kitchen floor is ugly.
- The neighbor (who is not your tenant) is being bothersome.
- There’s a minor leak and there’s water on the carpet.
You’ll probably want to get this fixed right away even though it’s minor – the tenants are unlikely to do an adequate job cleaning the carpet.
- The toilet is leaking.
This particular unlikely event is what one of my tenants called me about one day. She insisted that the toilet must be leaking because it smells like pee.
This was unlikely for a number of reasons, the main reason being that she had three small children, and the secondary reason being that she was on the dirtier side of being clean or dirty.
Still, I had to send someone of course, because you never know, there actually could be a leak. Since she described it as at most a minor leak, I scheduled someone to arrive the next day (as it was after 6pm that she called).
So the plumber gets there, looks around a fair amount (I assume), and gives me a call. He informs me that there is no leak, that the pee smell is because her kids pee on the floor, and he also also tries to sell me a new toilet. I politely decline the new toilet and just as politely ask him to convey the situation to the tenant. So what I got for my $50 dollar service call was piece of mind that the toilet was actually not leaking, the tenant was informed about her kids peeing on the floor, and also she didn’t call me about any other problems for the rest of her lease (which was about 6 months more).
- There are bugs in the basement!
This complaint gives you the opportunity to be the hero for the tenant(s) since many landlords ignore this complaint completely or do not adequately resolve the issue.
On the other hand, you may get this complaint even when the basement is unfinished, in which case whether there’s an issue or not is debatable.
This is actually a comparatively cheap thing to take care of, just be sure to NOT call one of the bug places that spends a lot on advertising (i.e. Orkin, Terminex). Looking in the yellow pages will yield bug places that charge $60 per trip, necessary once every three months, and it will still include the same guarantees as the other places.
If your tenant is voluntarily handy then you can reimburse them for the cost of a sprayer and the spray. For them, this has the advantage of allowing them to spray whenever they like. For you, this is cheaper than any other option.