We Don’t Allow Tenants to Take Advantage of Landlords
As unfortunate as it is, there seems to be a growing number of tenants who go about their business as if their word is essentially meaningless. They apparently believe that the promises they make, and the obligations and responsibilities they freely and voluntarily assume can be ignored and broken without consequence. They act as if questioning their irresponsibility and holding them accountable to their word are unforgivable acts of injustice—another example of an oppressive world conspiring to keep them down.
Invariably, nothing is EVER their fault. Be it the economy, the casino, their boss, their boyfriend, their excessive drinking, or inevitably, “The evil and wicked property manager and landlord.” Their unique ability seems to be the concoction of a never-ending stream of excuses and justifications for why they should be allowed to ignore their legally contracted obligations without penalty. Of course, such an attitude is sheer and utter nonsense.
That type of behavior is unacceptable to us at Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee. Without question, the vast majority of our tenants are good and honest people who respect both themselves and others—truly honorable people. It is that small yet increasing minority of self-entitled and dishonorable tenants that give the others a bad name.
Tenant Tries to Pull a Fast One: A Case Study
We recently had a tenant come to the office to return their keys after move-out. The tenant was honest enough to tell us, “I was unable to rent a carpet cleaning machine, so the carpets have not been cleaned.” Our leases, which tenants must read, understand, and sign prior to move-in, state that tenants are responsible for returning their property in clean condition, including cleaned carpets. We also send them a move-out checklist 60-days prior to move-out that again reiterates the necessity of returning their property in cleaned condition, including carpets. In this case, the fact that the tenant brought up the issue of uncleaned carpets clearly shows they were aware that they should have been returned in clean condition.
We thanked the tenant for their honesty, and explained that we’d simply use a small portion of their security deposit to have the carpets cleaned, thus fulfilling their obligation under the lease—simple, easy, and EXACTLY what everyone had agreed to upfront. As you might imagine, that was not the end of it.
It’s Not My Fault! the “COVID” Made Me Do It!
The mood instantly shifted from cordiality to contention and animosity—clearly, the “evil” property manager was attempting to take advantage of these poor, innocent tenants and steal their money. Clearly, a great injustice was being perpetrated! And what, you may be asking, exactly was this great injustice? Why, it was attempting to hold the tenants accountable to the terms of the lease and their voluntarily assumed obligations thereunder—how diabolical of us!
The tenant proceeded, with an attitudinal tone of outrage, to try to make a case for being completely absolved of all responsibility for cleaning the carpets, and why the property owner should now take on the tenants’ contractual obligation and assume the cost of carpet cleaning. The gist of the argument was this, “Because of COVID-19, nobody would rent us a machine. We really wanted to clean the carpets but were unable to. We even considered buying a carpet cleaning machine, which proves to you how much we really wanted to clean the carpets.”
Apparently, to this tenant, the “mental act of wanting to clean the carpets,” was the key point of law upon which their obligations both ceased and transferred to the owner, thus leaving them completely absolved of responsibility, and putting the full onus of remediation on the owner. I may not have been the top student in my law school class (just top 10%), but I’m pretty sure that no such legal principle exists.
But Wait, There’s More
Needless to say, no headway was made—the tenant left feeling cheated and our staff was left feeling perplexed at the tenant’s attitude and disposition. They sincerely believed that the owner should pay for getting the carpets cleaned and that they were being “ripped off.”
It is normal for us to send an inspector over after every move-out. As expected, the carpets were not cleaned, but it was also found that the glass cook-top was heavily encrusted with cooking grime, and the oven was not clean—both would be need to be treated, scrubbed and cleaned.
So we hired a cleaning company to take care of the carpets and the oven stove-top—exactly what the tenant could have, and should have done. Total cost, $200. Here are some photos:
Now Comes the Vile and Abusive Tenant Onslaught
We did our job. We abided by the terms of the lease. We protected our owner. We DID NOT make one single penny for our company! The actual cost of the cleaning was passed on to the tenant and not a cent more. We DO NOT and never will cheat people. We understand the words HONOR, and HONESTY, and we always conduct ourselves in the spirit of fair dealing that we ourselves expect from others. Unfortunately, here is an exact reprint of one of several abusive and incoherent emails we received as a result:
“So let me get this straight, your pathetic company kept $200 from my daughters security deposit. Your company is a joke!!!! You will be blasted all over social media and all the review sites and not from my daughter. I will also be talking to our family attorney regarding letting her move in with non working smoke alarms and a unsecure railing on the steps. I suggest you get your shit together if you want to stay in business. And if you want to be successful in a job that requires dealing with the public, back up your ignorant attitude!!!!!”
Notwithstanding the lecture on “ignorant attitudes,” we responded cordially, with facts, and here is what we got back:
“That’s just bullshit!!!!! I was on the phone with her while she was cleaning the oven. She was asking me what cleaners to use. As far as carpet, Covid 19 did not allow steam cleaners to be rented!!! That place was a shit hole when she moved in!!! Keep an eye out for your company reviews that will include pictures of the place when she moved in. I sir, are not as nice as her!!! Hope you can sleep at night, keeping people’s money!!!!!!!!!”
What is one to do when faced with such irrationality? The pictures clearly show that the property was not cleaned by the tenant at move-out and that we had to have it properly cleaned. Was this woman being lied to? Did she actually believe that her daughter cleaned the place? A clue can be found in her mention of COVID-19, in which she too apparently believes that all responsibility was somehow erased and should now fall on the owner. For the record, here are some move-in photos of the property. These are representative of the way we hand over all of our rentals:
Protecting Rental Owners Is What We Do
Cleaning two rooms of carpet, a cook-top, and oven for $200 (the actual vendor charge) is clearly fair and justified under the circumstances. What was neither fair nor justified was this tenants’ cavalier attitude and aggressive/abusive approach.
Unfortunately, many property managers would have caved to such abuse and threats, leaving the owner to incur a $200.00 expense that was contractually the tenants’ obligation. We at Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee expect tenants to do what is right and fair given their obligations, and when they try to take advantage of our owners, we do what is right and fair to protect our owners’ interests.
About the Author
John Michailidis, JD, is the Broker/Managing-Member of Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee, a Sarasota, FL based residential property management company. Real Property Management of Sarasota & Manatee provides both Full-Service and Lease-Only services to Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, and North Port area landlords.
If you own residential investment real estate anywhere in Manatee or Sarasota counties, do feel free to reach out to our team at 941-225-8183, or through our website.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.