You often hear tired landlords complaining of midnight calls from their tenants about leaky toilets. We’ve never experienced those calls. That’s because our tenants know that if they call after 5 p.m., they’ll get a response the next day- unless it’s an emergency of course. We’ve received a couple of those late-night calls for things like busted water mains, but they’ve been few and far between.
The issue I’m about to tell you about, though, will probably go down in the record books as wackiest toilet tale of the year.
We got a call about 10 a.m. from a tenant saying something was wrong with their toilet. It was a Monday, and they said the issue had started the previous Friday. They couldn’t get anything to go down when they flushed.
Over the weekend, the tenants had plunged the toilet and had done everything else they could think of to get it to flush. Finally, they pulled the toilet to see if the blockage was in toilet or the sewer line.
When they called that Monday about the issue, they said something was – I quote – “in there.” They have a six-year-old, so naturally my first question was, “Did he flush anything?”
Their answer was no. They really couldn’t describe what they were seeing, so they sent me a picture.
A Glacier Bay toilet combo is $88 at Home Depot. And from what I saw in the picture, I was willing to trade $88 for not having to touch whatever it was that was “in there.”
We got the toilet switched out with no problems and took the old one to a flip we were working on around the corner that had dumpster. Curiosity got the better of me, and once we had the toilet in the dumpster, we decided to break it open to reveal the blockage.
Ya’ll, it was the biggest gray squirrel I’d ever seen.
Somehow that poor thing had gotten into the drain line, possibly through a broken clean out in the yard or through the vent in the roof. Either way, it had been trying to get out. It had made it all the way to the toilet and gotten stuck in the P-trap with its head pointing towards the toilet bowl. It had gotten very close to freedom.
When I told the tenants what we’d found “in there,” the lady of the house let out a shrill yet guttural sound that I can’t replicate with words. Then she had a realization. With a wide-eyed expression, she said, “Could you imagine if I’d been sitting there and that squirrel had come out of the toilet… One of us wouldn’t have made it out of there alive.”
Could you imagine? That poor squirrel never had a chance.
This story has it all: it’s both peculiar, wacky, and is a great lesson in landlording.
First, did you notice how much effort the tenants put into to remedying the problem before they called? That’s because as part of our lease, we offer our tenants a discount on their rent for both paying on time as well as fixing the little things around the house that need doing each month. These tenants knew that, and didn’t hesitate to try and fix the toilet on their own.
Next, they didn’t call in the middle of the night. They called during normal business hours; both of these circumstances are a direct result of the proper training we gave them.
Lastly, we replaced that toilet within three hours of receiving the call. Our tenants do their part, and we make sure to give them great customer service in return.
Training your tenants well and rewarding them for doing the same is best way I know of to make the rental business go smoothly.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.