When is it time to turn off the spigot to a great long time tenant?

 

When is it time to turn off the spigot to a great long time tenant? 

 

I have a great 5 year tenant who always pays on time, is very quiet and neat and seems to be taking pretty good care of my rental from what I can see. But here's my dilemma. When she moved in we had painted the entire home inside and out, replaced the washer and dryer, dish washer and water heater before she moved in. 

Subsequently we have replaced the stove, microwave, refrigerator and garbage disposal. We've always provided her with a Gardner because everyone knows that tenants have no incentive or vested interest in taking care of a property they merely rent and that's understandable (albeit when I was a renter while attending college and working to save for my first RE investment I always did the yard maintenance because I love working in the yard).

Now she comes to me with a repair bill for an issue she had with the refrigerator that wasn't covered under warranty. So now my question is this. Is there a time after so many years of being a tenant that she step up for some of these ongoing maintenance costs on appliances that only she and her significant other use? Or is it incumbent upon me to continue stepping up.

I rented the home unfurnished but told her I would leave the appliances. But I never told her I would maintain them. Additionally, the washer and dryer was a real perk as hardly any of these rental units provide them as the community has their own pay laundry room. 

Naturally I'm prepared and eagerly willing to step up for any plumbing, electrical, water heater and even broken commodes, misc fixtures, exterior and/or structural issues. But where does a landlord draw the line? 

I'm all ears.

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Comment balloon 11 commentsJohn DL Arendsen • November 14 2016 09:27AM

Comments

John - I haven't been a landlord for a number of years now.  However, there was a time when I rented out a duplex to tenants.  For a time when I first purchased the property, there was a refrigerator.  I put in the rental contract that the property was being rented as "Unfurnished" and any appliances in place would not be maintained and would be removed.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 1 year ago

If it is rented unfurnished, I would think it is on the tenant to maintain furnishings.  Who knows what the tenant is thinking though, as many people rent because they'd rather not deal with this type of thing.

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) over 1 year ago

It was rented month to month unfurnished but I allowed her to use the appliances because she couldn't afford to buy any John Meussner . However, now she's allowed her significant other to move in so there's double the ware and tear. 

I think to keep peace in the famly I'll just increase her rent modestly as I've only increased it very modestly twice during the past 5 years. But I will then inform her that the home was rented unfurnished and that due to her own ware and tear all future repairs and replacements will be on her.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 1 year ago

That's a great way to handle it Myrl Jeffcoat But I don't have a lease. It's just a m-m but I did rent it unfurnished, however, she didn't have the $$ to buy appliances so I've allowed her to use mine and even replace a few over the years. 

 

I've only increased her rent very modestly twice over the past 5 years. So I don't think it will be a deal breaker to raise it again and under separate cover agree to pay for her repair with the proviso that all forthcoming repairs and/or replacemts will be on her.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 1 year ago

Well, how is the contract written?  Does it state that you will furnish and maintain appliances?  You could take care of this at this time but put the tenant on notice that in the future they need to be responsible for the non-fixed appliances.  

It sounds like you have a fantastic tenant and you yourself are a wonderful landlord.  This appears to be  a win/win situation already. If your repairs over the years have been for things you would have to maintain on the house anyway regardless of who your tenant was, and not for any type of damage caused by the tenant, I wouldn't second guess the deal.  I have had one too many destructive tenants who were also not prompt on payments.  

Have you met your goals with the property as far as your overall investment is concerned in regards to making a profit and securing tax incentives?  If so, you may want to try and come up with a game plan that would work for both of you. After all, I'm certain that she doesn't want to lose a great landlord and you also would not want to lose a wonderful tenant.

Posted by Sherry McNabb, Local Roots | Global Reach (RE/MAX Grand) over 1 year ago

Hi Sherry McNabb and thanks for stopping by. There was and is not written agreement. It's a month to month and I rented it unfurnished but she didn't have the $$ to buy appliances so I allowed her to use mine.

Over time there were some replacements and repairs that I didn't mind stepping up for because the appliances had some years on them. However, since she's been the only one using the new applianced and because I let her use them and the home was rented unfurnished I feel I have a right to help her see thins a little differently.

Additionally, she has taken on a significant other so now the ware and tear has doubled. Under the circumstances I don't feel any sense of obligation unless it's normal plumbing, rental or fixture issue i.e. sink, toilet, etc.

I've only rasied her rent very modestly twice in 5 years so I think at this point the proper thing to do is raise it again modestly but tell her that she and her partner will have to assume responsibility for the appliances since they are the only ones using them. If they replace them they can keep them when they move.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 1 year ago

John I did read in your comment that it's a month to month situation.  Have you considered formalizing it and put a lease in place that states what is handled by you and what will  be handled by her? I know it's been 5 years and she appears to be a pretty good renter - so there is that side of the coin.  Here if appliances are left with a home it typically is the landlords obigation to take care of repairs unless it's put in writing otherwise. On occasion we have put a home warranty on a rental and the tenant is responsible for the service fee. For $500+ a year cost it can be a valuable tool.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) over 1 year ago

As a professional property manager, we state in our Lease that all appliances are courtesy items.  Should something fail, we will, at the Landlord's choice, do one of three things:

  1. We may repair it,
  2. We may replace it,
  3. We may haul it off.

This is a solid policy that has stood the test of time, and we have never had any issues with it.

Your challenge: you have established, through your actions, a level of expectations and practice that may counter anything you have in your current Lease.  If you desire to change your policy, then you should present her with a new Lease to be signed (make it for six months, if you desire), that includes not only the updated language, but I suspect there may be a law or two that has changed since the original Lease.

Posted by Jim Smith, Broker,CRS,GRI,RMP,CNE,TRLP (The Property Management Company) over 1 year ago

That's great advice Jim Smith and if it were a lease, even a short term lease, instead of a M2M I would definitely do that. However, I have also established this precident as well so the train has already left the station on this rental. All my other rentals are leases or VRBO's, however.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 1 year ago

Good afternoon John. Good tenats are a blessing. I think the tenent should have notified you before incurring any expense. That said, if you provided appliances you own them and your responsibility to maintain them seems right to me unless it was otherwise spelled out in the lease. When I was a landlord I included language about maintaining systems and provide a plumber up fron to instruct my tenants about draining the furnace.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 1 year ago

No prob with plumbers, electricians, contractors, gardners, handymen, etc. for ongoing maintenance issues Sheila Anderson . However, I rented her this home unfurnished on a M2M not a lease.

I then let her use the appliances because she was a young single lady and didn't have the money to purchase appliances so I let her use mine. Now she's hooked up with her significant other so I think in view of the fact that there are now two tenants using the same appliances that should change the equation. Just my thoughts anyway.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 1 year ago

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