Managing Tenant Expectations * DIY Landlords RARELY Get This RIGHT!

Property Manager with Gibson Management Group, Ltd.

This weekend, a 2 year tenant called me at 7:20A to say his AC had stopped working and he called my HVAC firm listed on the equipment in his unit and they needed my confirmation to allow OVERtime for the service call. I instructed the tenant to EMAIL me his repair request.  He did an hour later without his contact phone # which I asked for in a response email.  4 hours after his original phone call, I had his NEW cel phone number and had authorized the HVAC firm to make an OVERtime/Saturday service call.

2 hours later, the HVAC service firm owner e-mailed me the options for a repair * new fan or new system * and that he had delivered a portable AC unit to the tenant's townhouse.

Later Saturday afternoon, the tenant sent me a DEMANDING email about how and WHEN he wanted the work performed.  I advised him that his not reporting the NONoperating AC via email with his contact phone number delayed the service call and that I was working with the HVAC form on repair options.  His response e-mail was that we are in a 24/7 world and that it should be done immediately.

My response was that equipment warehouses are not open, available parts inventory can not be determined and shipping times can not be scheduled on the weekends. 

Early Monday morning, I had an email from the HVAC firm owner about the options and we arranged to get a replacement part in that day.

While I work 24/7, many parts suppliers and service personnel do not so my getting work done on residents' time schedules is often not possible. 

I'm not sure what this tenant expected when he called me at 7:20A on a Saturday morning; however, he had a portable AC unit within 6 hours and an operating AC system within 72 hours.

I am PROUD of my service resources and I thank them often for their service to me, my residents and my property owners.

Posted by

Wallace S. Gibson is a Certified Property Manager with over 50 years of property management experience and expertise.  She maintains a specialized property management business in Central Virginia serving Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and Louisa counties  


View our available Charlottesville, Albemarle and Lake Monticello rental homes online with photos and floor plans

" be a Virginian, either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one's Mother's side, is an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from the Almighty God...." Anonymous



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Mario Rea
Talmer Bank - Macomb, MI
VA Loans.FHA Loans. New Construction.Conventiona

You handled that situation much better than I would have.  I have had a couple of rental homes for several years and when something like an AC unit goes out on a weekend, we're waiting until Monday to get a service tech out there.  That's what I do for my personal home and unless temperatures are dangerously high, I would expect the tenants to wait too.

My response would depend on a few more things, but being without AC for a day or two seems reasonable.

Jul 12, 2011 01:13 AM #1
Michelle Francis
Tim Francis Realty LLC - Atlanta, GA
Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease


We do the exact same thing.  We actually have two portable units that we put into action when needed, as in HOTlanta, it's just too darn hot.  

Our service vendor - Marc Hull - Hull's services is amazing.  Since he does a majority of our work, he comes out on many Saturday's to work.   No issues.  While it's disappointing to be without air or heat, most folks realize that if the owned the house they couldn't get any faster/better service.

All the best, Michelle

Jul 12, 2011 01:59 AM #2
Daniel H. Fisher (704) 617-3544 - Charlotte, NC
MCRP - Charlotte Real Estate, NC or SC

It seems like you did a good job for the Landlord (technically, your client?), but ended up with a disgruntled Tenant.

Service delivery success involves setting and delivering on expectations. Service failure recovery offering an apology, some "perk" and a postive outcome. 

One of the best books on customer service that I recently read was

Jul 12, 2011 02:20 AM #3
Mercedes E. Santana
Santana Property Group - New York, NY
NYC Multifamily Properties

As a Property Manager myself, I too pride myself on responding to Tenant complaints as expeditiously as possible. You exceeded expectiations and the tenant should be appreciative of your efforts, instead of giving you a hard time.

Well done!

Jul 12, 2011 03:02 AM #4
Sussie Sutton
David Tracy Real Estate - Houston, TX
David Tracy Real Estate for Buyers & Sellers

Lets just call it what it was.... the tenant was a jack_ _ _.

Jul 12, 2011 04:43 AM #5
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

He was embarassed because he did not follow my procedures and I let him know the consequences * to him.

Jul 12, 2011 06:58 PM #6
Gary J. Muccio, Associate Broker
Keller Williams of Central PA - Camp Hill, PA
Exceptional Customer Service!

As always, your posts are great and informative. I have a completely renovated condo (to the tune of $22K) and it's beautiful and very inexpensive for the area. So far, the "potential" tenants have such a entitlement attitude as if they are doing me a favor by renting. They have expectations that I'll add even more amenities to the place for the same amount of rent. I'm fortunate not to have too much turnover in my units and overall not many issues to manage (thankfully). It's a new generation of tenants out there!

Jul 13, 2011 01:10 AM #7
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Funny and sad at the same time. People think just because they can jump on the Internet at all hours of the day that service people and stores are open all hours of the day, too. I guess….

Jul 13, 2011 05:25 AM #8
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