It’s important to address tenant damage immediately (whether it’s accidental or otherwise): after all, the tenant is going to be far more motivated during the tenancy, when they still want to reside at the property, than at the end, when they’re about to move elsewhere.
Here’s a case study of how to turn tenant damage into “great service”
A tenant recently contacted Bridgman Property Management to tell us about a small area of damage on the lounge wall.
Hint: your tenant application process gets a big gold star when your tenants contact you immediately when some damage has been done. This tells you that you now have an A1 tenant who takes full responsibility for the property.
The tenant had tripped in the lounge and lightly knocked the lounge wall. It was only a small knock, but from a repair point of view it needed a small amount of plaster applied to the knock; primer; and then 2 coats of paint to the whole wall (a partition wall 2.35m tall and 2m wide).
The painter’s quote for the repair was $161, and the quote was forwarded to the tenant. The tenant paid the $161 into our trust account, and the painter was given the go ahead.
Although small repairs like this have minimal material cost, the majority of the cost is due to labour and the contractor having to make 3 to 4 separate visits to the property; perhaps an hour return trip for each visit. The first visit is for surface preparation, i.e. cleaning the wall with sugar soap, and then applying plaster to the damaged gib board. Depending on the time of year, the plaster will either need a few days to dry, or may be assisted with a heat gun. The second visit by the painter is for sanding the plaster back for making a smooth painting surface, and then to apply the sealer. The third visit is for applying the first topcoat to the whole wall; and the fourth visit is for applying a second topcoat to the wall.
What did the tenant say about this repair process?
The tenant was very pleased with the above process, as the damage was fixed within a few days, and they didn’t need to be involved with arranging the repair work.
Indeed, the tenant viewed the repair as being “great service” from the Property Manager.
Why does this process benefit the landlord?
From the landlord/Property Manager’s point of view, it makes life a lot easier if tenant damage is turned into “great service” rather than a drawn-out dispute.
After all, many small problems such as this that are left until the end of the tenancy can end up in the Tenancy Tribunal, which is ridiculous.
It is far better that the repair process is deemed as great service by your tenant than a dispute!
Learnings from this case study
This case study is a good example of a small problem that was quickly resolved so it didn’t become a larger, drawn-out problem. Everything went smoothly, with the tenant being handed the painting quotation and simply transferring money into our trust account from their smart phone.
If the tenant processes and communications run smoothly, then tenants are less likely to resist the process.
Also, this case study demonstrates the pay-as-you-go principle: don’t let tenants’ damage become your cost.
- Encourage tenants to notify you of any damage as soon as it happens.
- Deal with tenant damage right away: arrange a quote from a trusted supplier, and forward it to your tenant.
- Make the process as easy as possible for your tenant; and once they’ve paid you for the damage, take full responsibility for the repair process.
- Use tenant damage as an opportunity to provide great service.
- Stick to the pay-as-you-go principle of property management, and don’t let tenants’ damage become your cost.
- This approach not only keeps the property in good condition, but it avoids small disputes ending up at the Tenancy Tribunal.
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