As property managers, from time to time we have tenants that hold us to ransom because some repairs have not been completed in an expected time frame. Sometimes a landlord has promised to do the repairs themselves, but have not done them yet. Maybe we as property managers have failed to have these arranged in a reasonable time frame.
Their response is sometimes ‘I won’t pay my rent because this, this and this have not been repaired!’ However from my experience, it is usually with tenants that are regularly behind that I receive this type of response.
Yes, most states have legislation that prohibits the tenant to withhold rent under such circumstances, but telling them this usually does not change the situation!
Here is a response that should get you results with most tenants. It allows you to quickly disarm their ‘excuse’ and get back to the real issues at hand- the tenant is late with their rent payment!
Understand the Ingoing Inspection Concept
Firstly, to understand this response, consider an ingoing inspection report. For an average 3 bedroom house, if we count how many items are on an inspection form for every room/area like walls, ceilings, light fittings, windows- if we individually count every item we need to inspect in a property, we would be counting 180 items or more.
With this in mind- let us now consider a suitable response to our tenant. Let’s take a look at a typical conversation between a property manager and tenant.
“Jim, Darren here from My Property Manager Real Estate. I am calling about your late rent again. When can we expect payment?”
“Darren, I am not paying my rent because the landlord still has not fixed the lounge room door and the bathroom tiles. When the landlord fixes my requests then I will pay my rent!”
“Jim, I believe you are not being fair! I agree the delay is longer than expected. However, if we consider the amount of items in the rental property- walls, light fittings, carpets, curtains, etc.- they all add up to approx 180 or more items. However, because approx 1% of these items are not functioning properly- you are withholding 100% of your rent?! Perhaps pay 99% of your rent until these matters are resolved!”
Usually, the tenant uses this as an excuse because rent has been spent on ‘other things’. At least this response will attempt to ‘blow their cover’ on the real reason why rent has not been paid.
Give this response a try and see how you go. All the best!