Keen tenants

Question from Chieu updated on 20th October 2015:

Our Christchurch tenants have indicated they want to make our house their home long term. This fits perfectly with my plans.

They are enthusiastic and are buying plants, putting in a BBQ area and replacing a rotten weather board (that the builder missed when I had him replace a number of them). They have bought paint for a new timber front fence (which may twist and warp if left unpainted) and strengthened the garage truss to hang a boxing bag. They have also replaced the broken toilet roll holder.

I have no issues with what they are doing as they have asked first (except for replacing the toilet roll holder), but they refuse to accept any reimbursement for the work being carried out. I said to my wife that we should do something in return because they are adding immense value to the property. But I'm not sure how to approach it as we want to keep the relationship professional. Any advice?

Our expert Bernard Parker responded:

There is a saying that “everything you get for nothing is worth what you pay for it”. Make sure that both you and the tenant all understand the basis on which the work is done, and who is to pay for it. Don’t leave this question unanswered, as there is a risk that a claim may be presented later in the tenancy.

You may like to recognise the work now with a gift or a cash payment, drawing a line under the expenditure and moving on. Alternatively, you can contribute a fair amount for the materials used, on the basis that the improvements benefit you as well as the tenant. Whatever you do, make sure that you and the tenant agree what the payment or recognition is for, and that nothing is left for a later dispute.

Bernard is principal of Quinovic – Kapiti-Mana. Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 30 years.

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