Unfortunately, conflict is an unavoidable part of being a landlord. Furthermore, learning how to handle conflict professionally and successfully does not always come naturally to landlords.
The final objective of the professional world, including the rental sector, is to address the problem rather than ignore it. If you ignore the problem, it will only get worse. The truth is that happy tenants stay longer and renew their lease. As a result, owners should have certain procedures in place for dealing with tenant complaints.
Resolve a Dispute Before it Starts
The best method to handle a tenant disagreement is to establish a structure that reduces the risk of such conflicts happening in the first place. The lease conditions are the first step. Always ensure that the contract your renter accepts contains explicit regulations limiting the type of behavior that frequently leads to tenant/landlord quarrels. This entails enforcing laws such as those limiting noise, guests, smoking, pets, subletting, criminal activity disposal of garbage and respecting the quality of life of the other residents in the property.
Have an Internal Policy in Place
You must have a consistent and recorded policy in place for handling tenant complaints. This entails providing your tenants with an email address or phone number where they can file a formal complaint. It also entails having a well-defined response strategy in place, outlining the next actions.
You should also offer paperwork outlining the legal reasons for your objections so that your tenants know exactly what they can do if they have a problem. This will encourage them not to cause unneeded confrontation with their neighbors and you.
Listen to Your Tenants
No matter the nature of the complaint, it is important that you show that you are always listening to the concerns of your tenants. Even if you think that it is clear which tenant is in the wrong, you should show equal respect to both sides. Listen carefully and respond in a sympathetic manner. What’s more, tenant conflict can often be the result of deeper, underlying issues.
Keep Written Records of Everything
One of the best ways to avoid conflict with your tenants is to keep written records of everything. While doing this will increase your workload a bit, it will also decrease the chances of a bad tenant trying to dispute a charge or something else with you. So, it is worth the trouble. When inspecting the property, don’t just keep a written record of your findings – take pictures and videos that create a timestamp whenever possible. That way, no tenant can dispute necessary security deposit deductions.
Teach Tenants How They Should Treat You
The tenant-landlord relationship is much like any other relationship – your actions must reflect how you expect to be treated. Otherwise, you will find your tenants taking advantage of you. For example, if they do not pay rent on time, and you do not immediately enforce the terms of the lease, they will begin to think they can get away with it. So, if you stand firmly behind your rules, you’ll find yourself dealing with far fewer problems. In addition, every verbal conversation with a tenant should be memorialized in a writing, whether it be via email or letter. Clearly outlining what your understanding of the conversation was.
If you do act and still can’t get the desired results from your tenants, keep following up with them. Doing so will let the tenant know that you are not going to drop the issue and that they need to resolve it quickly or face negative consequences.
Try to Get Your Tenants on Your Side
Implement this strategy with your tenants by going out of your way to be kind to them, as a means of achieving a positive outcome. Examples include being extra patient, responding quickly to any emails/calls from them, or something else.
While this method is tough with difficult tenants, it can help you win them over and build a relationship. Once you have created a good relationship with your tenants, you will typically find that they’re more likely to comply with your rules.
Always be polite respectful but stern
Hire an Attorney
Some tenants are just hard to deal with, no matter how much you go out of your way to please them. When that happens, it is in your best interest to let someone else handle them for you. Distance yourself within the law, and have the tenant communicate with the attorney and start eviction proceeding as per what the law allows
Daniel Borrero, Jr.
Real Estate Investor since 1989