Tenant’s Flea Makes them Want to Flee


A topic from a recent online discussion of property managers:

What is my next step? Tenant moved into the property and paid security deposit and 6 months of rent in advance. Prior to the tenant moving in we sprayed twice for fleas and other bugs. We inspected the property after spraying the second time and no noticeable trace of bugs. Tenant signed lease. Now tenant says his wife has a phobia of bugs and there are fleas present. He says we did not tell him we sprayed for fleas. We offer to send another pest control company out and tenant says he want all his money back including deposit. (Lease signed on the 12/1/2012)

My answer: Stand your ground and let the primary objective be “we will send a company to get rid of the fleas”. They didn’t tell you the wife has a phobia about bugs, did they? (Don’t use their line back on them. It’ll likely exacerbate the situation.) Be patient when you listen to them and don’t retaliate in your conversation. Be understanding and resolved to get rid of the fleas.

I often and kindly point them to the property code to find out their rights. I even give them chapter and verse. By the time they do all of that, you’ll have the fleas gone. Apologizing is always something good to do, whether you feel like it may help or not. You never know what will cause a change of heart.

Aside from the fleas, there could be other motivation you are not aware of. By example, I am working on one now. A tenant has been living in one of our properties for about a year. It’s now time for renewal. They were rightfully charged a double deposit. They want one of the security deposits back, citing they have always paid on time, etc. Well that is true, but they haven’t taken good care of the yard. The once-great yard is not so great anymore. Still, the owners agreed to give them ½ of 1 of the deposits back now and the other ½ in the spring after we know the yard is going to be okay.

The long and short of it is, ½ is not good enough for the tenants. Mrs. Tenant called first, then Mr. Tenant and now Mrs. Tenant is calling again at 3 o’clock to “discuss” the lease. Their motivation has has already surfaced. They want the full money so they can take a trip for the holidays.

We never know what the motivation is. We can only stand by the lease and what is right and fair to all parties. Giving the full deposit back makes the tenant the only winner. If it is not win/win, it’s not a good deal for anybody and shouldn’t be done.

Until next time,


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