I Hate It When My Tenant Calls

Whenever I see my tenant’s name flashing on my mobile phone screen, I know it’s not good news. Granted, it rarely happens, but when it happens, I panic. When does a tenant ever call baring good news? “Oh, Hey Landlordy, just calling to thank you for providing this wonderful roof over my head at a bargain price.” It just doesn’t happen.

My tenant moved in just under 2 months ago, and I had yet to communicate with her. So when my phone started flashing the other night at 10pm, I knew it wasn’t to break the ice. So…PANIC, PANIC, PANIC!

I picked up and said, “hey, how are you..etc”, got the formalities out of the way. She had a real quiet voice, almost as if she was scared. But I don’t think she was; that was just her voice. She then said, “waters leaking from the loft, can you get a plumber out”, I was like “Shhhhi…has something burst? Do you know why it’s happening?”

She didn’t know why it was happening. There was no way I could get a plumber out at 10pm. Plumbing isn’t my forte, so I had no idea how to diagnose the problem. Surprisingly, she was perfectly calm, which made the whole situation easier to deal with. Some tenants can be such idiots, she could have stressed out and said, “WATER IS LEAKING, I’M NOT PAYING RENT, YOU SON OF A BITCH!! FIX IT!!”

I explained that there was no way I could get a plumber out at that time. I would call someone first thing in the morning. She seemed understanding. In the mean time, I told her to turn off the main water supply, the stop-cock, which was located under the sink in the kitchen. She turned it off- the leaking stopped after a few minutes. Thankfully we managed to stop the leaking before any damage was done. If the water had continued to overflow, the entire ceiling could have fallen through, and then I would have been in deep shit. However, while the main water supply was switched, she had no access to water, so having a shower or going to the toilet was out of the question. I knew I had to act quickly, because I knew it was unacceptable to leave a tenant without water.

Luckily, my accountant’s husband is a plumber, so he usually attends to my problems promptly, and I know he won’t rip me off. When I got into work the following morning, I told my accountant the problem. Later that evening her husband attended the problem and diagnosed it. He said it was nothing major, apparently the float/ball in the cistern water tank had broken. For the unaware, the float/ball controls the water level in the tank; without it, there’s no control of the water level.

Here’s a visual for your ease:

Cold Water Tank

Fortunately, it only cost me £50 to fix the problem, for both parts and labour. I feel lucky. Very lucky. When someone says that water is leaking through the roof, it sounds like an expensive problem. I feel lucky for these reasons:

a) my tenant called me up as soon as the problem started, so I was able to instruct her to turn off the mains.
b) I know a plumber that acted quickly and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg.

I think the important messages here is that you should always work with your tenant and get issues resolved promptly. If you don’t fix serious problems related to water, heat and electricity quickly, you’re really running the risk of pissing your tenant off. And rightly so. Once you have an unhappy tenant, being a landlord can be extremely difficult and expensive. Secondly, as a landlord, it’s ALWAYS good to build solid relationships with useful tradesman so you can get problems fixed quickly and at good rates. Tradesman aren’t exactly notorious for being the most honest of people when it comes to diagnosing problems, “Sorry Sir, it seems like your entire water tank has broken. £2000, minimum.”

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9 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Victoria 10th October, 2007 @ 16:08

That happened at the house my parents bought when I was a kid, between the vendor moving out and them moving in. The guy who lived next door was a plumber, and fortunately spotted the water running down the *drive* and was able to stop it. But not before it had taken out the ceiling in two rooms.

Lovely moving in present.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 10th October, 2007 @ 16:19

OUCH! That's got to be the worse- to move into such an unfortunate disaster.

I remember when I went on holiday once, and I came back to a flooded home. Where it was so cold over Christmas, the pipes had burst. The ceiling in the kitchen had completely collapsed.

Man, I was so fortunate this time!

Guest Avatar
marvin 13th May, 2008 @ 10:29

Ive stopped carrying my mobile since handing my portfolio over to letting agents.

As a landlord when a tenant rings 9 out of ten times its a problem. Oh the joys of been a landlord.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 13th May, 2008 @ 10:38

Hey Marvin,

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of letting agents. I feel they charge too much for little work. But then again, my portfolio isn't huge, so it's manageable for me right now :)

Guest Avatar
ELena 11th October, 2008 @ 22:00

That's nothing... I have a tenant right now, whose a freaky Pastor... but he's the worst tenant alive.

At first he made all these complaints about the carpet not being properly done, but when he came into the unit he already had a look at the place before he agreed to renting it.

We told him that we can't afford to change it ( and we weren't going to since he agreed to it) He than threatens to leave so we said ok...fine left and since we have his last months rent on hand we told him he could stay until the month, but he said no not until he finds a place he's not going to leave...Once again we said fine, but you'll have to continue paying the rent if you are going to stay - he says no he doesn't have to since it's dissatisfaction on his part. Now we have settled that, but when we need to contact him ... he never answers the phone and he calls us with a different # and withholds it...

Guest Avatar
Abby 16th September, 2011 @ 16:53

I hate it when my landlord, to whom I pay more than I would if I had a mortgage, leaves me without water for 24 hours because he won't shell out for an emergency plumber (try yellow pages if you don't know where to find one, they don't cost that much) and would rather wait for a mate to fix it on the cheap. Water is leaking through MY roof, that I pay top dollar for, onto MY stuff ruining perhaps 100's of pounds worth of bedding, computer etc (but that's not your concern is it?) I can't have a shower before work to earn the money I plough back into my rent because he wants to save a few pounds by using mate-rates? Yeah, tenant-landlord relationships are totally what you are about aren't they, dude.

Guest Avatar
Arnie arnold 2nd November, 2013 @ 11:40

Hello everybody. Just a quick question if anybody has time to respond we would greatly appreciate it.
We are Call4Help a team of semi retired gas engineers and plumbers that run a 24hr helpline for tenants nationwide. Our main objective is to reduce bogus and needless callouts at your expence.
We primarily run it for letting agents at £30 per year per property. We strive to resolve as many issues as we can over the phone, reduce emergencies and minimise damage to the landlords properties. If we can't resolve the matter, we then send your regular plumber a full report of what's required.
Would many self managing landlords be interested in this service?
Kind Regards

Guest Avatar
Bob@effinglandlord 12th June, 2014 @ 17:01

When I first got into the rental business I knew very little about plumbing, but over the years I've learned more than I ever cared to know. For a while the guys at Ace Hardware called me "The Guy Who Tries to Do His Own Plumbing." But what I learned from those guys and on the internet was worth the time spent and a bit of humiliation. I learned, for example, that replacing a float valve takes about fifteen minutes and the part costs less than $20. Invest some time on research and a few bucks on tools, and most plumbing repairs are pretty easy. Keep a big chunk of that £50 in your pocket. Over the long haul it really adds up.

Guest Avatar
paska 7th November, 2015 @ 17:01

I just had a phone call tonight!
Err... there is leak at neighbors ceiling (not straight underneath the flat, but first floor flat, my flat is third floor, why second floor is not complaining, how does it know its my fault) send plumber asap.
What does he think I have plumbers in my pocket and I can just send one when he wants.
What to do, send a plumber, and pay for call out charge or wait, its first floor neighbor complaining!!!


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