Many times, tenants offer to perform maintenance on properties. While it may seem to be an excellent idea at the time, promoting visions of saving money, and an easy repair - it can lead to many problems.
Landlords need to ask themselves why the tenant is offering to absorb the time and expense of the work. There are tenants who are honest and capable, but often there are underlying motives that property owners should question.
- A prospective tenant wants to entice the owner to accept their application
- They are looking for a reduction in rent and have financial problems.
- They wish to avoid having someone check the property because of their upkeep.
As they say, “there is no free lunch,” and there are questions to ask and answer 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:
- Will this really save money?
- Will this create a landlord/tenant issue?
- Will this create any liability?
At first, it may seem that the landlord is getting the best of the bargain. The tenant does the work for perhaps only the cost of the materials. If they are capable, this could work out for the owner’s benefit. What if tenant does not know how to do the repair? Different scenarios could now develop and none of them attractive.
A Truly Sad Situation
The property owner paid for materials and possibly reduced the rent. The job is either incomplete or causes another problem. Now, to complicate matters, more money is required to hire a competent tradesman because the tenant has caused more damage.
Will this now lead to a landlord/tenant issue? The repair has gone sour, more repairs are necessary, the owner feels the tenant should reimburse him for the damage, and a bad owner/tenant relation develops.
It can get worse! The tenant moves out, the owner deducts the damages from the security deposit, and the tenant sues the owner.
Perhaps liability has occurred. The tenant is now claiming pain and injury suffered while doing the repair. The owner has paid a non-licensed person to perform work and the court looks very dimly on the situation. The insurance company is now involved, and the policy may not cover this issue.
Perhaps this entire scenario sounds ridiculous and you are having a good chuckle, but as Property Managers, we know this can happen. We hear it from self-managed owners, from our Property Manager peers, read it in the papers, and know that trying to save a few dollars can ultimately cost the property owner more money, not to mention great stress. Therefore, we take the steps to “Protect Your Investment,” by providing reasonable repairs with competent vendors and avoiding unnecessary problems.