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Property Management Blog

Should Tenants Do Repairs

Mendell Gosnell - Thursday, December 21, 2017

Should Tenants Do Repairs

 The offer seems innocuous enough… the tenant calls, mentions a maintenance issue on your property, and offers to repair it. While it may sound like an excellent idea that will save you and the tenant money and time, it can lead to all sorts of ugly problems that you don’t want.

 First, determine why the tenant is offering to absorb the time and expense of the work. Some tenants are honest and capable, but often there are underlying motives that you should question.

  • A prospective tenant may want to entice you to accept their application
  • They may want a rent reduction due to financial problems
  • They don’t want anyone to inspect their upkeep of the property

 You must answer some key questions before accepting a tenant’s offer to do maintenance. Do you really know if the tenant is capable of the work? Is it a simple maintenance item or a job for a professional?

 The easiest way to approach tenant maintenance is to treat it entirely as a business matter, not a personal or emotional one. The questions to ask are:

  • Ask yourself if this will save money?
  • Might this create a landlord/tenant issue?
  • Does this have the potential to create any liability?

 At first, it may seem that you are getting a good deal. The tenant does the work for perhaps only the cost of the materials. If they are capable, this could work out well. But what if they don’t know how to do the repair? Different scenarios could develop and none of them are good.

 A Bad Situation

Here is one possible scenario: You pay for materials and possibly reduce the rent. But the tenant never finishes the job or causes new damage in the process. Now more money is required to hire a competent tradesman, and any potential savings has now turned into additional cost.

 Will this now lead to a landlord/tenant issue? The repair has gone sour, more repairs are necessary, you feel the tenant should reimburse you for the damage, and any goodwill in the relationship has now turned to animosity.

 It can get worse! The tenant moves out, you deduct the damages from the security deposit, and the tenant sues you.

 Or maybe an accident occurs in the process. The tenant is now claiming pain and injury suffered while doing the repair. The court looks very dimly on the fact that you hired an unlicensed person to perform work. Then the insurance company gets involved, and your policy may not cover this issue.

 Perhaps this entire scenario seems ridiculous to you, but this can and does happen. We hear it from self-managed owners, from our property manager peers, and in the news.

 Trying to save a few dollars can ultimately cost you more money, not to mention great stress. Therefore, as your property manager, we take the steps to Protect Your Investment by providing reasonable repairs with competent vendors and avoiding unnecessary problems.

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