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Posts: 7
Reply with quote  #1 
I have been dealing with these PITA tenants for several months, they complain about everything, but their biggest complaint has been about how high their heating/electric bill has been this winter.  With most of their complaints, once I tell them no, they back off a bit, or find something else to complain about, but they won't let this one go.  

The property is in Maryland, and this has been the coldest winter we've had in a long time, not to mention the almost 4 feet of snow we got within a week.   My tenants are complaining that the windows are drafty and there isn't adequate insulation in the house, and this is why their heating/electric bill is extremely high.  I've told them over and over that I have no legal responsibility to replace drafty windows (they all work fine) or install new insulation, but they are now emailing and/or calling me several times a day to tell me that they want me to pay for half of their bill. 

I've told them that everyone's bills are double and even triple what they normally are and that no matter how many times they ask, I'm not going to change my mind but they just keep on calling/emailing. 

Any suggestions on how to get through to them and get them to leave me alone about this issue?  Since I've already responded to the request, I have been ignoring the repeats, but it's pretty annoying to get the same email/call over and over and over. 

Posts: 3,741
Reply with quote  #2 
First, don't answer their phone calls.  Let the machine pick them up and only return the call if they have an emergency.  Next, e-mail (and regular mail) them back that all requests for repairs must be submitted in writing, unless it is an emergency, and must be sent to you by US mail.  Let them put their request to you in writing.  (This slows down all requests from this type of tenant.)  Each time you get a verbal or e-mail request, repeat the same message.  If you pick up the call, simply state that you haven't received it in the mail yet and you will look at all requests as they arrive.  When you receive it, mark that it is not a repair request, it is a request for a rent credit.  State that it has been determined that the windows operate normally.  That you will not make improvements (more insulation) to the house during their tenancy.  That their energy usage is their own concern.  Encourage them to conserve if their bills are high (install plastic over windows, turn thermostats down when not home, turn off all appliances when  not in use, etc.)  Mark it, "Request denied."  Make a copy and send back to them.  I sometimes send a statement saying that all repair requests are considered.  They are prioritized per urgency.  Repairs are made per the prioritized list. Emergency requests are handled within 72 hours.  Necessary requests are handled within 30 days.  Unneeded repairs that are cosmetic in nature, that don't affect habitability, or those that are not actual repairs, are denied.  (you may need to adjust the time lines per your state laws.)

For a few days they will fill up the machine and e-mail box.  But soon they will realize you won't even look at it until it is in writing.  (Keep repeating yourself.  Copy and paste the same statement in the reply to their e-mails, and send them right back over and over.)  Then it will soon become apparent that you will refuse to grant these requests and they will give up.  Hopefully, they will only make requests then when it is actually a needed repair.

Posts: 764
Reply with quote  #3 
I would ignore them being you already responded. If they keep calling that much and you asked them to stop, file a harassment complaint with the police. Just because your a LL doesn't mean your open to abuse.

I am in NJ and this has been the worst winter and most snow in history for this area they said on the news. My PSE&G bill has been a lot more than past years. Its still 10-20o below normal temperature and will be for a couple more weeks they said.

Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #4 
you guys are having a freakish winter.  that is not your problem.  it just is.  they can be really mad about it, but it's not like you control the weather.

i'd send a stern letter reminding them, per the lease, they they are responsible for their heat/utilities.  i'd remind them that it's been an unusual winter with excessive cold temps and snow, and while it's unfortunate that it has raised their heating bill, you have no control over the weather and therefore have no reason to help them pay the bills that are their responsibility.  Let them know that they can install 3M stuff on the windows if they are unhappy with the draft (you can get that stuff at the hardware store, it's cheap and it works pretty well - just plastic that goes over the interior of the windows). 

Then ignore any future complaints about this issue.  Some tenants, and it sounds like this is your situation, will find things to complain about and will never be happy.  You just have to draw a line, decide what is reasonable and what is not, and fix and respond to reasonable requests and be firm and then ignore irrational requests.  Part of the fun of being a landlord.  PITAs.

Posts: 577
Reply with quote  #5 

I have a rental property that was vacant last winter & I thought the heating bills were too high & I only kept the heat on 55. Before someone moved in I had PSE&G come check the meter & house & also had a heating specialist come in & check the system out - had it cleaned & was told everything was working fine. When I rented the house I made sure the tenant was aware of the high heating bill tendency. Sure enough they approached me about their high bill, which was all discussed & checked out, they said they think the thermostadt most be broken, I was able to say not the problem because I had all these things checked for exactly this reason should they approach me I can answer with confidence. But out of curiousity is it propane heat ?? I once rented a house with propane heat & it was awful, the propane co, doubled sometimes tripled their price in the winter..would never do propane again.

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