The tenant in this story had lived in the house for maybe three months when I got a call one day from them, demanding that we replace the stove. I asked what was wrong with it, and they said it was crooked and their pots wouldn’t stay on the burners. I had never heard of this problem before, so I started asking questions about what they meant when they said their pots were sliding off.
I guess they took my questions and skepticism the wrong way because the next thing I knew they were screaming at me about how the pots always slid off the stove and it almost splashed hot water on their foot and could have burned them and now they were going to sue if we did not replace the stove with a new one. Well, that escalated quickly.
There are a few things wrong with this demand approach they decided to take. The first is that they had apparently been living with this issue for three months but had not said anything about a problem before this dramatic phone call. If the problem was that serious, I should have been notified of it much sooner. Secondly, they demanded a brand new stove. If an appliance has to be replaced, I will replace it. However, if it is a simple repair then I will always try to do the repair first. Crooked burners sounded like an issue that fit in the repair category. The tenants aimed too high in their demand, making them sound unreasonable. And finally, they threatened a lawsuit. This is never a good tactic unless it is truly a last-resort option and all other communication has broken down. This was not the case here, as this phone call was literally the first time I had heard of any problem with the stove. Threats do one of two things – they make you seem unreasonable and overly dramatic, or if it appears legitimate, it will get your complaint forwarded to my lawyer and/or police to handle. Neither one gets the hoped for result.
I knew this tenant fell into the overly dramatic category, so I sent a repair person out to look at the stove. It turned out the burners were just put in crooked, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the stove at all. This cost me a $20 repair visit, which is much better than replacing the appliance with a new one. What made this story more fun was that the tenant regularly paid their rent late. Fun fact – if you are late on rent a landlord is not obligated to make any repairs. It is usually bad idea to call your landlord and threaten with lawsuits when you cannot even follow the basic procedures for paying rent on time and providing notice of repair requests.