Train, train and retrain your tenants
I tend to be an open book, especially when I mess up, because it holds me accountable and helps me to learn from mistakes.
So, with that fact in mind, I’m going to tell you about something I messed up on with a rental, and then, I’ll tell you how we remedied it.
I got a little lax with doing inspections on our properties during 2020. I rationalized it in my head by saying COVID-19 was keeping me away. But in reality, I was just not putting in the effort to make sure our tenants were doing their four jobs.
And just to remind you, the four jobs are: 1. Take care of the house. 2. Pay on time. 3. Be comfortable to work with by staying in good communication and being respectful. 4. Be a good neighbor.
Last month, I began to realize that fact, and I started making a concerted effort to do better. One day, I was leaving one property to come back to the office, and my route took me past another. It was lunch time, and I wanted to get back to eat, but as I passed the property, that little voice inside me said, “You’d better go check on that house.”
So, I did.
Now, the last time I was at the house was in April of 2020 to do a repair. And as I pulled in, I could see the house was not the same as I left it.
The first thing I saw was a pop-up canopy hanging from the satellite dish that was attached to the roof. I have no idea how it even got up there.
I went to investigate and found that the backyard and back porch had been trashed. It put me in the mind of the foreclosures we would visit in 2012 where people had just left and left everything behind, food and all.
The appearance of the outside made me wonder if our tenants had left. I knocked on the door, but no one came. So I went back to the office to get a key because I needed to make sure we didn’t have any leaks in the roof due to that canopy.
When I returned, I knocked again, and the tenant opened. I let them know I was there to inspect and why, and what I found on the inside wasn’t great. The carpet had been ruined, there was an appliance out of order, and there was a Doberman in the house.
When I confronted the tenant about the issues, I got a long apology and promise to do better.
Truthfully, I was at a loss for words. We have never had anything like this happen before. So, I took the drive back to the office to think things over.
What we did was issue a letter of demand. In the letter, we itemized all the lease violations that we saw in detail, and we explained what the tenant must do in order to remedy them.
The first thing was that the Doberman, an unauthorized dog, needed to leave. We gave them the weekend to rehome the dog, and I went over on Monday to make sure it was gone.
Next, our lease says that if we ever see damage that caused by the tenant, we will give them seven days to fix it to our standard. We went through, line by line, and talked about each issue, such as the trash and the carpet, and how we expected them to be fixed within the seven days. Then, we gave a time and date that inspection would be made.
On the day of inspection, we scheduled a sit-down with the people. First off, they had the house looking great again and had even replaced the carpet. I was glad of that fact, but I needed to know what went wrong to let things get so bad.
When I asked the tenants what happened, they again apologized and talked about how they had been working long hours and that schooling from home had caused extra messes. But they wanted to iterate that the rent had always been on time.
At that, I asked them to repeat the four jobs of a tenant. They couldn’t remember them.
You see the jobs are listed in order. And the first job is to take care of the house, which is before paying on time. And since I hadn’t been doing inspections, where I continue to train the tenants, the tenants had forgotten the order and importance of the four jobs.
We went over the jobs again and again until they could repeat them word for word. Next, they got put on probation. What that means is I’ll be stopping by for surprise inspection periodically until I’m satisfied that they are doing the four jobs.
In the end, they understood how close they were to leaving the property and were glad for the second chance. But this whole scenario illustrates how important it is to train, train and retrain your tenants.
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.