for first-time realtors of
landlords supported by
Case study: The leaking dishwasher short-circuiting the condo.
You may be very busy in your business, but you have to spare some time to sort out the
problems of the new tenant. In this case, the Landlord said he
had handed over the apartment in good condition and that he had cleaned everything,
including the air conditioners and curtains. The Tenant thought otherwise. It
became very difficult to discuss the problems of the Tenant with the Landlord as his mind
was fixated in considering that the Tenant was demanding.
Cleaning the air conditioners and the kitchen hood and hob as well as changing the filters
may be overlooked by the busy Landlord who does not engage any cleaning services. Visual
inspection will confirm the presence of dirt and stains.
Old dish washer and dryer.
You reduce your costs considerably if you provide older units but you must ensure
that they are properly installed and in working condition. However, you must be
prompt in attending to complaints of malfunction. In this case, the Landlord did not
believe what the Tenant was saying. The dishwasher was installed below the kitchen
sink. The electric wire from the dishwasher was not clipped to the underside of the
kitchen cabinets but let loose all the way to the electric point above the kitchen
counter. The Tenant's child could pull the wire as if it was a toy and be
electrocuted. The Landlord insisted that the appliance had been properly installed.
A few days later, the dish washer leaked out water and cause the apartment's electrical
load to be shut down.
The Landlord sent a "plumber" to check the problem instead of getting the seller
of the dish washer to take it back.
There was no burst pipe, said the plumber who wanted to switch on the dish washer to
What if the whole kitchen gets flooded again and somebody gets electrocuted? A
electrocuted plumber? An electrically shocked Tenant? How about the safety of
the active toddler?
Obviously the Tenant got very mad and threw him out of the apartment! He couldn't
speak English and the Tenant couldn't speak Mandarin but the body language of the Tenant
The Landlord called me wondering why the Tenant was so furious. I asked her to send
the dish washer to the Seller to check it out.
1. Listen to the complaints of the Tenant carefully as your investment condo is
still your asset. You want the Tenant to protect your huge investment and therefore
attend to any faults as promptly as possible. Show the tenant you care and build up
an excellent Tenant-Landlord relationship..
2. Provide new dish washer and dryer unless you have a proper qualified firm to test
and check out the old ones. The Seller of second hand appliances may not be
trustworthy unless you have a long-term business relationship with him.
3. In this case, the Tenant was willing to foot up 50% of the cost of a new washing
machine and dryer and the Landlord gets to keep all. Therefore, the Tenant would not need
to "reduce" the rent to buy the new items. As to whether he was legally entitled
to do so, that's a separate matter.
4. There are solutions which your agent can provide.
5. However, every time your agent tries to convey the problems of the Tenant, you
stop him further and keep hammering the agent for "not being present" when the
Tenant moved in, like your other agents used to do and for not "stopping the tenant
You still have not resolved the Tenant's problem and in this case, the electrical shut
down was considered too risky even if you live there.
I hope this case study will help many first-time Landlords to provide a good
landlord-tenant relationship, even if they have no respect or liking for realtors.
Once in a while, there will be very demanding Tenants who want the newest and best
appliances at below market rent. They are hard to handle.
The 2 emails below showed the sequence of events. My comments are in italics.
Email No. 1.
As you know we moved into the apartment last weekend. Unfortunately there are
several issues which are not in line with the tenancy agreement.
I summarize for your convenience several
points which must be urgently discussed and cleared. I am not in a position to state the
completeness of this listing. If there are additional items, I will come back to
you, as soon as I am aware of them.
* There I no hot water in the kitchen. It is absolutely not acceptable to
have no hot water in a kitchen. This condo does not have a water heater supplying hot water to the
kitchen. Caucasians are used to having hot water in the kitchen to sterilise dishes.
* The dish washer is not big enough. We have bought plates in Singapore, but we cannot put
them into the dish washer because the dish washer is to small. A dish washer of this
size was not agreed.
4 stones or a rack would have been used to elevate the dryer.
Apartment is too small for a bigger dish washer.
* The electrical cable for the dish
washer in the kitchen is not professionally fixed. The installation is not in line with
electricity requirements. We have a small child. Please repair this urgently.
The long wire from the dishwasher
runs loose from the kitchen floor to the power point above the kitchen counter. The
wire should have been clipped to the underside of the kitchen cabinets so that nobody
trips over it.
*The washing machine is not working well. We tried several times to clean
our clothes, but with this washing machine it is not possible. It is a Japanese
type top loading washing machine. The Landlord may need to check it out. * It was
agreed that the dryer should be installed over or under the washing machine. This is not
the case yet. It is not acceptable that we have to go on our knees to fill the dryer. The
clothes also get dirty when putting them into the dryer because the entrance for the dryer
is close to the ground.
4 stones to elevate the dryer or get a steel rack to put it above the washing machine.
This is not practical as the Japanese washing machine is top loading instead of being
front loading like European ones.
* The desk for the computer work is too long. The desk is
installed in a wrong room. The desk must be shortened. A L-shaped desk with 2
components was bought taking up more of the space.
* Only 5 instead
of 6 chairs for the glass dining table are in the apartment.
* The safe is not in working conditions. It is true that the safe door would not
shut when the electronic combinations were keyed in.
* The hood is not cleaned and in working conditions.
* The air conditioners are not cleaned. I could see the oil or brown stains from at
least one blower.
* In several rooms the light bulbs are not working. The Landlord insisted that
all bulbs were working and that I should be at the moving in to check. I would pay for the
* The toilet handle in the master bathroom is damaged. It must be repaired immediately,
other wise no water will be available for the toilet. A loose W.C
lever needs to be sorted out.
* The curtains, the boards especially in the kitchen were not cleaned. It took us more
than 2 days to clean the boards before we were in a position to use them.
have no doubt about the Tenant cleaning up the apartment.
Please inform us lately at the evening
of July 11 how to proceed.
propose the following urgent steps:
The landlord must install the hot water in the kitchen and the cable for the dryer
as required. In addition the damaged toilet must be repaired.
We will buy a new washing machine and a
new dryer. The subsequent rents will be reduced on a monthly basis for a portion of the
purchase price of the washing machine and the dryer. Again we need a quick decision,
because we need washed clothes for our baby and ourselves.
Persuaded the Tenant to foot $650,
I pay $300. Dared not bring this proposal up to the Landlord.
All other items have to be
Please be aware that we want to have a good landlord tenant relationship. However,
we willingly pay the full amount of rent in case we are provided with services and
fittings in working and acceptable conditions.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Yesterday evening (10.30 p.m.) the dish washer in the kitchen leaked lots of water. The
water flooded the kitchen floor. The electricity was cut off in the apartment. The dish
washer is not functioning as there is still dirty water in it. This will cause
the management of the condominium, because I was not in a position to restart the
electricity by myself. The management did not allow me to use the dish washer
and they will review today the apartment once more.
inform the landlord. Something must happen immediately. As you know I have a small
child and such dangerous matters are absolutely not acceptable. I am no longer willing to
wait. If the landlord does not act, I will buy or repair everything by myself and reduce
the rent for the respective amounts.
Please inform me as latest. Friday July 14, 2000 at 2.00 p.m.
The "plumber" was thrown out when he wanted to restart the dish washer and
see if it "leaks" again. I advised returning the dishwasher to the Seller to
check as it had a "one-month" warranty.
There are professionals who test the older dishwasher, dryer and washing machine,
especially American types before sending to the expats and installing them. Fees are
around $200. However, you need to find a trustworthy one.
Rarely do you rent out your investment condo with no complaints. No rental agent
wants to create more administrative work or pester the Landlord. The agent
representing the Tenant does not take sides but is a messenger.
Some problems are urgent and you will have to get your contractors to resolve them fast.
You must have a team of reliable electrical and plumbing
contractors if you want to be in the investment property business.
"Minor repairs" of $100 per item per occurrence do not apply during the moving
in period. The Landlord must be reasonable.
For first-time rental realtors, try and resolve problems even if it means
you have to foot out from your pocket. The tremendous good will built up is hard to
quantify but one or two referrals from the expatriate Tenant are better than 100 newspaper
advertisements. And referrals are free of charge.