Plumbing Problems by Careless Tenants: How To Handle Them

Your tenant has hopelessly stopped up her only toliet. She insists it’s your bill. What’s next?

Plumbing problems caused by tenantsPlumbing problems by careless tenants who are irresponsible should no longer  be a major worry for you as you manage your own properties.   You can almost bet if you get the “toilet call” that your tenant has thrown or flushed something down the commode which wasn’t supposed to be there.   Heaven forbid, you get three calls like that from the same tenant, like I did.

After the third call from this woman, I said “enough”. 

That was after I got the call one night a week ago at 8:30 PM when it was bitter cold. 

“I don’t know what you expect me to to do,” she whined.  “I don’t have a toilet.  Do you expect me to go like this all night?”

She was getting hot.  She honestly thought  I would call a plumber that time of night and pay him probably over $100, but I had a surprise in store for her.

I told her I would be up there in fifteen minutes and be prepared to let me in.  I would handle it myself.

When I got there she had a friend in the living room  for protection, I guess.  They were expecting a fuss of some sort.

Instead, I handed her my coat.  “I’m not a professional plumber, but I’ll do my best.”

She seemed taken back.

Immediately, I knew what she had put in the toilet.  I won’t mention it here, but it is a personal item. Obviously, it was not my bill.  I plunged the toilet  twice and it flowed smoothly.

Now it was our turn.

We explained the blockage occurred in her unit and not in surrounding units.We know that from experience.  None of the other tenants had called with sewage damage.  We also let her know this was her  third and last toilet  call since she had moved in.    There would be not more calls, especially this time of night. 

I handed her the plunger.  “This is your plunger.  Don’t put anything in the toilet that isn’t supposed to be there, but just in case you ever have a problem in the future, you can plunge it yourself.”

Notice, I chose my words carefully.   I didn’t accuse, although we all knew what had really happened.  I took over the leadership and I told her how it would be from now on.  Funny, she was more than willing to cooperate.

After we left I knew one thing for sure.  We would not be getting any more calls from her. 

Had she learned her lesson?  Maybe, but she knew it would be a whole lot more trouble to call us next time, than to fix it herself.  

In cases like this, you almost have to help your tenants.  She’s right, you can’t leave her without a toilet all night.  However, when it is the tenant’s fault for the overflow, and most likely it will be, you have to train your tenant to stop the irresponsible toilet usage.

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