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How do you handle the whining tenants?

February 25, 2012

I don’t mind a few maintenance issues each year – this is what I expect and plan for. This gives me a chance to show that I am a responsible landlord and will take care of issues when they arise. It’s a chance to build a relationship and expectations that you are providing the home and they are providing the rent at the first of each month.

However, it seems the more you do for tenants the more they expect. Lately it feels like some of my maintenance calls have started sounding more like whining than real maintenance issues. Below are some of the ‘issues’ that tenants have called me about: 

  • “my ceiling fan does not spin fast enough”
  • “the garage door is making a funny noise”
  • “Somebody knocked on my door last night at 1am”
  • “my utility bills are too high”
  • “Oh, there is a wasp in the kitchen”   [Ok, I made this one up]


The best way to handle this is to make it clear with them what you expect when you hand them the keys at move in. I tell them to call me right away if the roof starts leaking, but when a light bulb burns out I will leave that up to you. I leave it at that rather than define everything in between. Perhaps I should start being more deliberate.

How to respond?

If my tenant has a legitimate maintenance issue that could jeopardize their safety then I am down there in the same day. If it’s just the bathtub is draining a little slow, then I react accordingly. I find myself addressing complaints on an individual basis. The ones that pay good and are great tenants tend to get the quickest response.

At the end of the day my primary objective is to avoid lawsuits. Then my second objective is to keep the tenant in there as long as possible. They are your customer. I essentially treat them like I am trying to get a rabbit to eat out of my hand – I don’t want to make any sudden moves or gestures that might scare them away.  Vacancies just cost too much time, money, and energy. 

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From → Landlord

  1. I like your analogy of treating tenants like feeding a rabbit. For my good tenants, and thankfully, all of them are right now, I do almost anything I can to keep them contented. We don’t want to give them any reason to think about taking their rental payments elsewhere.

    Plus, I find that the good tenants usually don’t make unreasonable demands on our time and resources, don’t you?

  2. Terry,

    “Plus, I find that the good tenants usually don’t make unreasonable demands on our time and resources, don’t you?”

    Usually this is true. I think I just have a couple of tenants that need some educating on the landlord to tenant relationship. I have a family from another country that have never rented before. They are learning and they pay well. I can’t ask much more…

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