AMA - Damaged Hub Cap
This is another AMA episode (Ask Me Anything). Today's question comes from Joseph.
Looking for another perspective. New tenant in SFH, I’m covering the lawn care. Tenant claims the hub cab on the car was broken by the gardener, pictures of location of vehicle and possibilities leave this situation extremely unlikely. The gardener tried to reason w/ the tenant and they are demanding he replace the hub cap. The cost of the hub cab on eBay is from $30 to $60 shipped.
I am cautious about honoring something that seems very unlikely and then opening up other situations.
Looking at it from the tenants perspective, and if they truly believe this happened, making good could go a long way.
I was considering crediting the money to the gardener and let him pay the amount as the “good cop” and then handle any more issues down the road, if any; taking previous concerns in to consideration.
What thoughts do you have?"
This is a great question. It falls into the category of how to handle any request from a tenant. This is encountered often in the world of property management. But the very name property management is a misnomer in my opinion. The property is an inanimate object and therefore can’t be managed. What you do influence is the tenant relationship.
I personally favour the approach you suggested in your question. By having the landscaping contractor pay for the damage, you are staying out of the dangerous waters of reimbursing the tenant for damage, even if you fund the landscaping contractor.
At the same time that you tell the tenant that you have contacted the landscaping contractor about the damage, take the opportunity to ask if everything is in working order at the property. That changes the posture from reactive landlord to proactive landlord. In the same conversation, let them know that you will be sending someone to change the air filters.
When tenants feel like they are getting ripped off by their landlord, they will often find hidden ways to get even with you. They may create artificial maintenance problems to see if you are responding to their complaints.
But if you are proactive and you demonstrate that you are proactive, it has a tendency to change the dynamic.