This article was posted on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023

From time to time, residents may want or need to notify you of maintenance requests. How, then, do landlords prefer that residents notify them when they have a request? That question and the responses were one of the hot topics on our Q&A Forum this week.

The landlords who responded indicated that there is not one way that landlords prefer to be notified. Below are examples of the different responses.

  • By text message, NOT VOICEMAIL. If they need to commit to a text message, it will be short. If by voice, they will talk their heads off for five minutes…”
  • “Because we want to show up prepared, we ask for an email with details. If there’s a leak, please tell me where. If it’s in the sink, which sink is it? Is the leak under the sink or is the faucet itself leaking? Is the leak a drip, stream, gush?…. “
  • “I tell my residents to fill out a service request on my website. A proper lease spells out in writing how you will and will not accept service requests. My lease is clear: fill out the simple form on our website. No other communication is valid. The problem is when you get to court, the evictee whines that ‘I told him five times and he never fixed it’. You cannot prove someone did not call. I CAN prove when they submitted a Service Request and how we fixed it within 24-48 hours. Residents don’t complain to a judge about unpaid rent, they complain about lack of repairs which makes YOU look bad in court. After the repair, follow up by text and get them to reply as evidence “Joe, the repairman says he got your furnace fixed. Is it running OK?” The reply is your evidence that your resident is satisfied.”
  • “I tell my residents to always call the office. Leave a message. Once the item is called in, we use a 3W’s form of my own making that lists WHO, WHAT, WHERE…”

How Do Applicants Pay You?

When collecting money for rental applications, most landlords do NOT want to be paid by cash or even personal checks. And more and more landlords are no longer collecting payment by money order. Do you offer payment options? Growing in popularity are other methods for receiving payment for rental applications. This includes: Zelle, Venmo, PayPal, Cash App, and Google Pay.

Once applicants become residents, my personal favorite rent collection method is by automatic draft. I like it when the payments are automatically drafted from the resident’s bank account and they (the residents) don’t have to even think about if and how they are going to pay their rent. This method of rent collection greatly increases the odds that not only will I get paid every month, but also that I will get paid on time every month.

Favorite Toilets

What is your favorite toilet for rental properties? That was another hot topic in a recent discussion on our MrLandlord Q&A Forum. One landlord who started the discussion was curious in getting feedback on whether there is a big difference in toilets that he sees for $100 toilets versus the $200 toilets. Several landlords nationwide shared their favorite types or brands and tips on buying toilets. Here were just a few of their toilet suggestions:

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  • My favorite is the KOHLER Wellworth Classic Complete Solution 2-Piece 1.28 GPF Single Flush Round Toilet in White, Seat Included – Model# K-11464-0, $179.95 around here. Very reliable, relatively reliable and clog free. The popular (but not all) replacement parts are readily available.
  • When we replace toilets we only use dual flush. Prospects LOVE the idea of saving water and water bills. It’s an amenity that helps promote the home. Also pick the toilet with a fully glazed trap. Unglazed catches a buildup which slows and finally inhibits flushing.
  • All of my places have American Standard Cadet 3 with an elongated bowl which costs me less than $200.00. Other than changing the occasional flapper, I’ve never had an issue with them.
  • For rentals, Niagara Flapperless toilet has the least amount of problems as there is a bucket that tilts then water is dumped. Low water consumption along with no sweating of the tank. Not the most with style, but functional. A cheap builders line toilet performance is low. Unless the toilet is cracked, then it is easy to replace parts.
  • If you do need to replace, then go with a name brand like American Standard. The $100 units are built cheaply, this includes: They don’t put glaze in the bends in the back. Unsealed ceramic is not slick like the glazed surface so it can cause more issues with things getting caught up in a flush. They use sub-standard bolts and rubber washers. This is particularly important in things like tank washers and bolts that can cause the tank to leak after a few years. Chlorine is really hard on parts that are submerged constantly.

There’s a reason the better brands make their bolts out of solid brass. The cheap ones use pot metal that melts away after a very few years. They have a smaller, lower seat, and thinner walls. The more expensive are elongated and chair height (this will be identified on the box) making them more comfortable to use. In addition, the sides (particularly where bolted to the floor) will be thinner material so more prone to breaking.

There are toilets that are cheaper that are glazed throughout and chair-height and elongated, generally built to a better standard. There are expensive toilets that have all the features of a cheap toilet. Spend a minute and read the box or online write-up to make sure you know what you are buying but generally you can count on a name brand (not the store brand) being a better product. Be warned though, some recognized names like Jacuzzi, known for quality hot-tubs, are being used to sell cheap Chinese toilets at higher prices.

  • I use the American Standard Edgemere because I have a large building with 10-inch rough-in toilets. I have been happy with them. My uncle has owned a lot of rental properties and he swears by the American Standard Cadet.
  • I always use TOTO TOILETS, they are rated as the best flushing toilets. I have never had a repair need or a complaint from a tenant. Some of them are 10 to 15 years old. Great product and worth the extra money.
  • I get my toilets at the local Habitat Restore for $25 each. Never had a problem with any I have gotten there. Take the rest of the money and invest it.

Final thought – Just because you don’t know much about toilet upkeep, maintenance and  parts DOES NOT MEAN it’s better to replace them when a problem arises. Take the time to learn about these items:

  • Filler Valve
  • Flush Valve
  • Float
  • Overflow
  • Supply line
  • Shut off valve
  • Stopper
  • Flush Lever

Or … your handyman or plumber should know. A common part, such as a diaphragm in a filler valve, or a rubber/silicone  stopper, costs around $5. And then you can keep your $200 toilet and not replace it with a $100 piece of junk!

The tips in this column are shared by regular contributors to the popular MrLandlord.com Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, [email protected]. To receive a free sample of the Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at LandlordingAdvice.com, where you can ask landlording questions and seek advice of other landlords 24 hours a day.