I Hate It When My Tenant Calls – It’s NEVER Good News

When Tenants Call

Whenever I see a tenant’s name flashing on my mobile, signalling an incoming call, my hearts pumps out of my chest and my stomach usually falls out of my ass! I literally have an anxiety attack, because I know for sure it’s not good news.

When does a tenant ever call out of the blue bearing good news? “Oh, Hey Landlordy, just calling to thank you for being awesome!”

Never, it just doesn’t happen. More likely is the case that my bank balance is about to take a battering.

My tenant moved in just under two months ago and since then we haven’t communicated, so when her name randomly flashed on my screen at 10pm a few nights ago… PANIC, PANIC, PANIC!

*Landlord passes out*

I picked up, “Hey, how are you? What you wearing? etc.“, I skipped through the usual formalities.

She responded very quietly, almost as if she was in fear. She eventually muttered the words, “waters leaking from the loft, can you get a plumber out”

*Landlord has a stroke*

I KNEW IT!!

I responded frantically, “SHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII… has something burst? Do you know why it’s happening? TALK TO ME, LADY!”

She explained that she didn’t know what the cause was, and there was no way I could get a plumber out at 10pm.

*Landlord has another stroke*

Surprisingly, and gratefully, she was perfectly calm, which made the whole situation entirely easy to deal with. I’ve been in similar situations before and the response from the tenant was starkly different, “WATER IS LEAKING, I’M NOT PAYING RENT, YOU SON OF A BITCH!! FIX IT!!”

Honestly, what would these people do if it happened in their own home? Who would they blame?

Shit breaks, it’s normal. RELAX!

Anyways…

I explained to my tenant there was no way I could get a plumber out at that time, but I would call someone first thing in the morning. Once again, with pure grace, she was understanding.

In the mean time, I told her to turn off the main water supply by the stop-cock, which was located under the kitchen sink. She followed my advice and shortly after the leaking stopped. Thankfully we managed to stop the leaking before any damage was caused.

If the water had continued to overflow, the entire bloody ceiling could have fallen through. Bullet and lawsuit dodged.

However, now the only problem was that while the main water supply was cut off, she had no access to water. Needless to say, I had to act quickly, because it’s never acceptable to leave tenants without water (or heat) for too long.

Luckily, my accountant’s husband is a plumber, so he attends to my problems promptly (and I know he won’t tear me a new one with cowboy prices, which is always wonderfully reassuring). When I arrived at work the following morning, I told my accountant the problem, and she was quick to assemble her husband.

Later that evening the plumber attended the property and took control of the situation. He said it was nothing major, apparently the float/ball in the cistern water tank had broken (it’s all gibberish to me). Apparently the float controls the water level in the tank, and without it, well, water, everywhere.

Here’s a visual:

Cold Water Tank

Fortunately, it only cost me £50 to fix the problem, for both parts and labour.

I feel lucky. Very lucky!

I think the important message here is that 1) you could do worse than end up with a landlord like me 2) you should always work with your tenant and get issues resolved promptly. If you don’t fix issues related to vital utilities quickly as possible, such as water, not only are you providing piss-poor service, but you’re also potentially creating a bitter tenant (and rightly so).

Right, so, if you have a dodgy leak in your rental property, go fix it! ASAP.

10 Join the Conversation...

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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.

1
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!

2
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.
Marvin

3
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 :)

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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...

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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.

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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
Arnie

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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.

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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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Herbish 24th June, 2021 @ 08:40

Hi I love your blogs and totally trust your advice which is very important. You are a light of humour when being a landlord is becoming increasingly harder. Just had to sell a property our third and last but one, it is so much hassle being a good landlord. I stress GOOD because being a bad landlord is easy breezy but its us good ones that follow all the rules that bend over backwards and treat tenants like the humans they are, that get blitzed by BAD tenants HORRID agents and the government- thank you for making a sad person smile

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