Having a house or building that you rent out to tenants is a terrific way to make money, but dealing with renters has its own set of difficulties. One of the most complicated aspects of being a landlord is dealing with needy, high-maintenance tenants or renters who constantly contact you for service, assistance, or hand-holding.
It’s important to add that being a renter has its own set of challenges as well. If you are a homeowner or work in property management and find yourself renting to needy renters, the following advice may be helpful.
Let’s look at the happiness clause, along with real-life tips that actually work! These techniques will keep the tenants happy and make renting to them a pleasant and uncomplicated experience for you.
What Is a Happiness Clause?
Also known as the “Happy Clause,” when a tenant complains too much or becomes more work than they may have let on, a landlord has the option to end the lease early. This clause lets needy tenants find a new home that’s more to their liking.
Here is an example Happy Clause letter:
“Home is where the heart is. We believe that everyone should absolutely love their home and that’s the standard we’ve sent for our company for the past x number of years. Unfortunately, sometimes things aren’t a great fit. We’ve noticed you’ve experienced a consistent pattern of dissatisfaction and our company’s service.Courtesy of Lady Landlords
We’d like to make that right. Effective immediately, you have the option to end your lease, for free, at any time, with a simple 30 day written notice and ending the lease at the end of the month. This offer will remain in effect until your final move-out date of ….. This also serves as your official notice that your lease will not be renewed at the end of the term.
We will continue to uphold all provisions of the lease on our end, including your ability to live in the home for the entire duration of your lease term, should you choose, and provide you with the same level of maintenance and service that we do for our entire portfolio. We hope that this option provides you with flexibility and peace of mind.”
It’s essential when offering the Happiness Clause to let high-maintenance tenants know that it’s an ongoing offer. They can happily move out early or start abiding by the rules and regulations you’ve set. If they continue to be disruptive, that’s when you’ll employ the eviction clause.
How to Handle Needy Tenants
While the Happiness Clause is a great option for both tenants and landlords, it’s something either party will want to avoid using. Finding somewhere you love to live as a renter with a great landlord is better than needing to invoke the clause in the first place.
Your landlord wants you to enjoy where you live and is happy to help with reasonable requests. As a landlord, here are some things you can do when you have high-maintenance tenants:
It’s Okay to Say No
If needy tenants start making ridiculous demands, do not be scared to refuse them. Ensure you can demonstrate to your renter how the formal lease agreement doesn’t address the request.
Refusing to perform needless repairs or comply with unreasonable demands from the start establishes a precedent that you will only deal with what is specified in the lease, and it prevents tenants from pushing your boundaries during their time as renters.
Have a Deductible in the Lease
One strategy to avoid frivolous maintenance requests from tenants is to put a small deductible in their lease, such as $200. This stipulation ensures that renters are responsible for the first $200 of repairs in the unit, after which you are responsible for the remainder.
By asking renters to spend $200 on maintenance, they will be limited to making the most essential demands — and will be more likely to take better care of the unit in order to avoid having to spend money of their own.
Make Maintenance Requests Clear
Create a structured request process to discourage frequent contacts and excessive repair requests. Set up an online form for renters to fill out to request a repair or maintenance, or have them write a description of what they want and send it to you.
This process will not only deter high-maintenance tenants from making bogus requests but will also provide you with a useful structure for organizing demands.
Create and Post a Schedule
Whether you’re old school and want to post a schedule in the unit’s entryway, or you use an online system, having one available for tenants to view is essential. Provide a timetable of your availability to address non-emergency inquiries from your renters.
This approach will deter them from contacting you at inconvenient times. You may also set up an auto-response for maintenance requests for your email that includes details on when and how you’ll reply.
Employ a Property Management Team
Hiring a professional property management business is one efficient strategy to separate yourself from the inconvenience of dealing with needy tenants. When you engage a qualified property manager, that individual becomes the point of contact for renters and handles all maintenance and repair requirements.
You can discuss using the Happiness Clause for high-maintenance tenants who still aren’t adhering to the property manager’s rules with the team that you hire.