A new tenant has just moved in, and suddenly the repair requests start rolling in. You just moved out of the office and you didn't have any problems. Or maybe you had another tenant in the house for several years who didn't report anything wrong. So what's the problem here? There are several reasons this happens:
- Many owner-occupants have just become used to certain issues and don't mind them. For example, maybe a guest bathroom toilet doesn't flush right, but you never have any guests, so you ignore it. Well, the tenant won't. They're paying rent, so they expect everything to be working.
- Sometimes a tenant, especially a long-term tenant, starts to view the property more like an owner-occupant does, so they don't report some issues that a new tenant would spot and report immediately.
- Some tenants are just more lenient than others overall. One tenant may allow something to go, while a new tenant is a stickler.
Is this a bad thing, though? Probably not. You want the property kept in the best possible condition in order to preserve your investment. A tenant who doesn't report legitimate issues may seem like a good tenant on first glance because they're saving you money now, but in the long run, they could be costing you a lot more money. For example, a dripping pipe under the sink could lead to mold and wood rot that will cost many thousands to repair if it's not addressed for a long time, but it would be a simple $150 repair if the tenant reported it right away.
Ultimately, the landlord has a legal obligation to get legitimate repair issues taken care of. However, there are things that you don't have a responsibility to fix:
- Cosmetic issues - when a tenant submits a service request for a cosmetic issue, such as paint being scratched or the siding being dirty, we will deny their request
- Pre-existing conditions - something that was already in that condition when the tenant moved in, and was obvious to a reasonable observer, is not something you're obligated to fix after they move in; the key to this is the "obvious to a reasonable observer" part; a plumbing issue would not apply, obviously, because the tenant could not see the plumbing defect during a walk-through
- Bogus issues - sometimes a tenant is unreasonable and just reporting straight up bogus issues; for example, a tenant may report that the oven isn't working, but when our vendor goes out they find that the oven is working just fine, it just heats up slower than the tenant likes; in this case, the tenant is responsible for the repair bill