Strange Tenant Behaviour - Are you kidding me...

Pierre Hanekom on 2020-02-12

Knowing your tenants and I mean really knowing them can make a huge difference in your ability to be proactive in managing their sometimes unrealistic expectations and demands.

Over the years we have noticed a very interesting phenomenon… when someone becomes a Tenant, they seem to take on a whole new persona. Sometimes you can hardly believe that it is the same friendly person who attended the first viewing of the Property. Becoming a Tenant seems to be a “Personality Changing” event for some people.

Why am I saying this? Well, let’s take a closer look at some of these strange behaviours:

  • Tenants in general mistrust Landlords - why do tenants mistrust landlords? I guess it has to do with the fact that information gets lost because tenants very seldom communicate directly with their landlord. It’s like having a radio with bad reception and we all know how irritating that can be. If you cannot get accurate information, your brain fills in the blancs and all those assumptions add to inaccurate perceptions, that have a negative effect on the relationship.

  • Tenants know they have rights and it’s important that you know,  they know,  what their rights are. Have you noticed that they know about laws that you and I have not even heard of. They often also have a lawyer in the family who has a masters degree in rental law.

  • Tenants attribute everything that breaks or stops working to wear and tear. This is in contrast to the Landlord who believes that everything that breaks is as a result of the Tenant's use and abuse of the Property.

  • Tenants work 24 x 7 and are seldom available for any kind of visit by a Landlord, his appointed Agent or a Contractor who needs to do maintenance. Have you noticed how busy Tenants get when something needs to be done at the property that might cause some inconvenience.

  • Tenants believe that any form of mold build-up is the Landlord’s problem and the Landlord should install an extractor fan. Mold build-up is definitely not caused by lack of air flow, because their windows are open almost all the time.

  • Tenants do not know how to handle any tools. This includes how to use a screwdriver to fasten a cupboard door screw. I have seen that even the most competent people sometimes bluntly refuse to just do a very simple thing. They would rather have the Landlord pay a handyman to have the screws fastened.

  • Tenants belief that all drain blockages are caused by Tree Roots. Drain blockages are one of a few things that Tenants are normally responsible for except if it can be proven to be tree roots. Tenants tend to use this loophole whenever there is a tree within 100 yards of the drain.

  • Tenants believe that a leaking roof can and must be fixed immediately even while it is still raining. I have seen Tenants demand that a roof leak be repaired while it is raining and refuse to move furniture out of the way to prevent damage. When furniture sustain’s damage as a result of a natural disaster, they sometimes refuse to claim from their short term insurance and would rather claim from the Landlord because claiming from their short term insurance might affect their no claim track record with the insurance.

  • Tenants are masters at concealing defects during inspections. Their strategies range from making sure that the light bulb’s are not working to having furniture or curtains conveniently covering the problems to making sure that rooms with pet odours are well ventilated 24 hours before the inspection.

  • Tenants only receive e-mail and sms messages that they want to receive. The one’s that they would rather not receive, mysteriously vanish into thin air.

  • Tenants know how to play good cop bad cop. Have you noticed how the Tenant’s wife will be mentioned as the very unhappy person when the husband calls to report a problem and visa versa.  The other person is presented as the very difficult person whom you do not want to cross swords with.

  • Tenants know how to throw a tenant's tantrum. Most tenant tantrums are thrown via a strong worded e-mail message in which every man and his dog is cc’d. If the Tenant has the Principal and Landlord’s e-mail address, they will definitely also be in the cc list.

  • Tenants build rapport with the Landlord by making the agency look bad so that they can convince the Landlord to contract with them directly. This allows the Landlord to keep the rent the same for a year, but still retain a presumably good tenant. We have seen that there is a very good chance that this will happen where tenants rent for 3 years and longer from the same Landlord. If the Landlord does not understand your value, this can very easily happen.

  • Tenants belief that permission to keep one pet is equal to permission to keep any number of pets. We have seen that a Tenant asks for permission and moves in with one small dog. When he moves out the small dog has changed into 4 big dogs, a cat and a parrot.

  • Tenants belief that the maximum number of occupants clause in the lease does not apply to visiting family members who are on an extended, indefinite vacation.

  • Tenants are very seldom happy with the quality of work done by contractors and the maintenance domain is the one area that Tenants use to make agents look bad. They do this by making it difficult for contractors to get appointments whilst moaning and escalating the issue that they have logged. When it is repaired, they moan about the quality of the work.

  • Looking after a Garden is equal to looking at the garden, nothing more. It definitely does not involve tender loving care. In fact, the garden will require lots of tender loving care if it still exists when the tenant vacates and the landlord moves back. The agency will surely be held accountable by the Landlord if his "State of the garden" expectations was not managed.

If you are a tenant reading this and you are a model tenant with none of the above even remotely applicable to you, I salute you. Please help us with some guidance on how you managed to stay the great person whom you really are when you became a tenant.

We'd love to show you how you can level up maintenance and inspections in your business