Ok to deny repairs
So here's my dilemma. The tenant has been complaining about little heat in one room. I had licensed heating company come check it and they stated that there is nothing wrong with the heating system and that all rooms are heated very well. When I was there, I noticed nothing wrong either. The tenant won't except that there's nothing wrong. She now wants to call the electricity company. I told her that the electric company has nothing to do with the heat in the house and that the company that came to check the system were recommended contractors of the electric company. Now my tenant is stating that I am unwilling to help with the situation and it should be ok to break the lease. She has been threatening to break the lease and keeps coming up with problems with the house that maintenance can't duplicate. If you visited the home, you would see that she has no chairs, or couches, decorations, etc. In a 3 bedroom, living room, den, and dining room home, only the living room has stuff in it...a futon. I've taken pictures and have phone records, text messages, maintenance logs, etc. to prove my case. Oh and she hasn't paid rent for the month and wants to be compensated for not having heat in one room in which it is absolutely heated, and wants to lower rent, and complained about electric bill. Am I still responsible for paying for ANOTHER heating company to come to the home and check out the heat AGAIN?
I think you have a problem tenant here. I'm not sure what state this is in but I know that in Texas it is illegal for a tenant to refuse to pay rent for undone repairs. Unless the repair is life threatening or poses a health threat. No heat falls in that category. However, your repair people have stated that there is not a problem. In my opinion, you have addressed her complaint satisfactorily.
I would do one of three things, I would call another contractor out to double check the issue. By doing this you are showing that you are committed to doing the right thing. Make sure to keep ALL your receipts.
Serve her with a pay or quit (check your contract to see if she is liable for moving out early). She could be liable for ending her lease early. The problem is that it sounds like she cannot afford the lease anyway. How would you collect future payments (even if they were ordered from a court?) Offering the pay or quit gets her out of the property and saving you future headaches. Lord knows what she is capable of.
The other option is to buy her an inexpensive heating unit for that room. By doing this, you must state to her in writing that even though the licensed repair people have deemed that there is no issue present, you are willing - in good faith, to make her stay more comfortable.
I would contact a good real estate lawyer just to be on the safe side. The fact that she's claiming "no heat" tells me that she may have pulled this in the past with other landlords. This is a lot different than a complaint of draftiness, a stuck window, etc.
One thing I've decided to look into is getting a warranty company. I'm not thrilled with the work some of them do but I've been told that they are effective in limiting erroneous service calls. It has to be written in your contract that there is a warranty company and every time the tenant calls for service, they are liable for each service call (which is about $50). The rest is taken care of by you monthly and can range anywhere from $50-$100 per month.
Good luck and keep us posted.
Oh yes the tenant is definitely a problem. I spoke with my lawyer and the lawyer stated that I don't need to have another contractor out for the heat. My lease and state bar states that I can server her papers to pay or quit 30 days after she's late, so I have 9 days til I have to go to court and file against the tenant. My tenant has demonstrated that she doesn't want to stay and has even sent me a notice of intent to vacate. My lawyer suggested that I responded and I did, saying that I wouldn't accept a breach in lease except in the case that her husband (which she's currently getting a divorce from) gets transfer orders from the military. Which he is. I asked her to furnish the orders and I would accept a breach in lease but that she's responsible for late rent and all the months leading up to the official leave date stated on the transfer orders. If I accept a breach in lease, I won't be able to collect from her in court.
No you are not responsible for paying another heating company! You did your part already. Let the tenant go away. He/she should pay you though. If he/she won't, I suggest you get an attorney. And have you done a walkthrough before their move in/move out day? Walkthroughs can really help prevent issues because it helps you keep a record of the original state of the apartment. You can try this link: http://goo.gl/wr4LlL. Hope it helps!