Why I Don’t Allow my Tenants to do Repairs Around the Home

Why I Don’t Allow my Tenants to do Repairs Around the Home

You may hear from landlords that they pay their tenants to do repairs instead of hiring a professional. One may be truly able to see both sides.

There’s a story of a rented home in Texas. Where a roommate’s room flooded when a $2.00 seal broke in the toilet, and the property manager was just awful. The tenants called to let the property manager know what happened and she accused them of flushing their cell phones down the toilet!

Later, once the property manger believed the tenants, she hired a plumber who cost our landlord a couple hundred dollars. That was so ridiculous. Not only did it cost the landlord a small fortune, but the tenants had to take an entire day off work over something handy tenants could have easily fixed! It was that point that the tenants SWORE they would never be “that” landlord. Many years later, the tenants became “that” landlord, except if you them and report something broken they promise they won’t accuse you of flushing your cell phone down the toilet!

Unless the tenant is assuming the cost and liability of the repair, some landlords do not allow the tenant to do a repair. Instead, they hire the repair out to a vendor. While the typical liability comes into mind, there instances that a landlord might not consider at the time but could play out later in time.

Allowing tenants to help, puts you as the landlord in a difficult position. While tenants have the best of intentions, human nature comes into play way too often! For example, tenants could say that there is no need to hire a handyman to paint because they can do it themselves. But during move out inspection there is a HUGE white spot on a brown wall from where they didn’t finish the work.

As a landlord, there is nothing you can do in this situation. You can’t easily remove payment from the security deposit nor are you prepared to paint the wall. At the time it seemed like an easy thought. Allow the tenant to repair the home and save money!

Here’s another example of why not to pay tenants to do repairs…

One of our first few tenants was a couple that chose to do the repairs around the house. We split the cost with them and keep in my mind they were the perfect tenants. Later we ended up letting them out of their lease with only 10 days notice because they had bought a house. They had been AWESOME tenants so it seem to be the right thing to do at the time. They left the house in a disgusting state and lots of things were broken. They didn’t feel any responsibility because they said they had fixed up the house for us, even though we had paid them every time.

Sometimes when you cross the line between landlord and tenant it can come back to bite you, because now the landlord “owes” the tenant something even though they were paid for their time. This is a reason not to provide monetary rewards for tenants who complete repairs or services themselves. A time or two of being burned will be the catalyst as to why you become such strict landlords.

Now there are some tenants out there that do repairs themselves and never call their landlord. They are treating it like a home. The thing is, at least in some markets, those who want to be homeowners buy a home. Rent is WAY more expensive than a mortgage so those who don’t want to be homeowners are typically renters or are renters for a reason.

You could consider having a repair deductible. Landlords expect to repair things when they break, and it is just easier if you do not mix the two. There are days when a landlord might kill for a tenant to do repair work themselves. Times when they are paying what feels like $500 for a one hour, easy repair, but that is the cost of doing business. If a tenant does the repair themselves that’s great, but if they call the landlords you’re better off contracting a vendor for repair.

What has your experience been? Do you compensate tenants for repairs?

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