Every time I get to a point where I think I have heard or seen everything, I am proven otherwise.
Recently I had a tenant that no longer wanted the hired pool company to service the pool where he lived. He didn't like the fact that they would stop by between 9-4 and instead wanted a 30 minute window. When dealing with big pool companies this is a tough request because they have so many pools they need to service daily on their route. If they have one or more delays it could cause a ripple effect which is why the give such a huge window.
I explained this answer to the tenants and then they offered a separate solution. They would like permission to maintain their own pool in exchange for the cost of monthly pool chemicals (usually 20-30 bucks max). After speaking with the owner we agreed to this but under the condition that they send us a copy of receipts monthly for our records.
After 5 months not receiving any receipts from the tenants, one of the tenants called our office and asked us where their money was. We again explained that we never received any receipts from them, and therefore, we never mailed them any reimbursement checks. Her response was that they lost all the receipts and we should just take their word for it. Obviously in this business we cannot do that because it is irresponsible for our clients.
A few days later I received a phone call from the other tenant saying that the he had the receipts and would send them over. 5 days later I finally received the receipts. The funny thing was that each of these receipts had a similar mark on them from the printing process. As I took a closer look they are were the same receipts with exactly the same info on them. The only difference was that it looked like someone just erased the days and wrote a new date in it.
This is where my detective skills came in. I immediately called the pool store and questioned them about the invoices. They asked that I send the copies over to them for review. When I called to get the result….SURPRISE.... they were indeed the same receipt that had just been altered by someone. They also said that the chemicals listed on the receipts should clear up the dirtiest pool in the world and that if one person was using these on a monthly basis it would be “scary”.
I called the tenants to report my findings in the most sensitive way possible. They vehemently denied everything I was saying and just kept saying that they wanted their money. I explained that after consulting the owner we would only pay for part of each bill. Only then did the tenant reveal the truth. The tenant finally admitted that basically he felt that I should give him the exact amount we paid the previous pool company which is why he altered the chemical bills. According to his bills I would be paying him $5 more per month than I was paying the professional company.
Needless to say, we declined to pay for anything more and insisted that a professional company be put back on schedule to service his pool.
I know this does not reflect every tenant, but it is a funny story of how people try to take advantage anytime you give them a chance. In this business your guard always has to be up, and it is a good idea to go through each bill you get with a fine tooth combs. Sometimes it may just be an innocent mistake, but other times it could be a similar situation to this where people have nothing but bad intentions..
Lately the thing that has become a bone of contention with almost every tenant is security deposits. Tenants are fighting harder to keep every last dollar even though they may NOT deserve to get that money back.
I have had two recent situations that I would like to discuss. I will give you the rundown of each scenario and then at the end I will explain how each situation was handled.
The first was a tenant who was in one of our properties for over 5 years. When the tenant moved into the property he marked everything on his move in report as in "GOOD" shape. Also during the last year of his tenancy we replaced the carpet for him because the others were just getting too worn out. Upon doing the move out inspection we noticed that he did not clean the property after leaving and also that the carpets were not cleaned. We had both of these things done and billed them too his deposits as it states in his lease.
After a few weeks he began writing nasty letters and stated that "he didn't need to clean anything because he did not have a cleaning deposit". This claim brings up a topic that I get asked a lot which is..."what can I charge the tenant for?" In our leases we are very specific that the property be left in the original condition less normal wear and tear or we can charge it to your deposit. We even go one step further by putting a clause which states the carpets have to be professionally cleaned or we will charge you for that as well.
The second issues that came up recently was when a tenant moved out of a property after 3 years. They were model tenants that always paid on time and if there was a repair they would just take care of it out of their pocket. When they move the property looked to be in immaculate condition, and the owner did not have to do any repairs (which is extremely rare). Our leases state that the tenants pay the 1st $25 of any repair. In this tenants case he did call in two repairs that were beyond what he could do, so he had an outstanding balance of $50 which he did not want to have to pay for.
In SCENARIO 1 you had a case where the tenant clearly did not feel accountable for anything. The owner was so disgusted by this that he wanted everything charged to the tenant and said that he would pay whatever costs it took to fight the tenant.
In SCENARIO 2 the owner took into account the quality of the tenant and the fact that the tenant saved the owner a lot of money over his three years by keeping up with the repairs.
This can be a learning lesson for both tenants and landlords.
For tenants, make sure you pay your rent on time and take care of the property. Making the $2 repair without calling and keeping the house in great shape goes along way. It is a lot easier to waive some costs to you when this is done properly.
For landlords, make sure you have a lease in place that spells out the tenant’s responsibilities. It is so easy for tenants to try and use the excuse that "no one ever told me that". Also ALWAYS make sure that you have plenty of photos should you have to fight about this in front of a judge.
Below is a slide-show of what the property looked like when the tenant moved out. Keep in mind that he felt that the property was left in good condition.
Realtor, Property Manager, New Blogger