I find that working as a property manager is in a similar capacity to working as a police officer. Whenever your job description includes enforcing rules, you tend to find yourself in the hot seat whether or not you are following protocol-it’s just the name of the game. As property managers, we tend to land in this proverbial hot seat with tenants more often than we’d prefer. Whether it’s a situation where you have made a mistake or the tenant just doesn’t like the rules, there are ways to keep these issues from becoming an all-out tenant/landlord dispute.
1. Rental Rate Increases
Tenants do not like rent increases and some may even find it offensive if they are a long-time tenant. A lot of times, your tenants may view a $20 rental increase to be undoable. I have found that if you split the rent price with your current tenants 50/50, they tend to view it as a bonus as they are not paying the full increase. For example, if I have a tenant that is paying $600 on an apartment that is now renting at $620, I’ll meet them in the middle at $610. While they may not be thrilled with the increase, they tend to be more understanding and grateful for the break.
2. Unkept Common Areas
Having extra common areas for tenants to use can be a major incentive for tenants. A beautifully maintained clubhouse, pool or gym can help to attract new tenants and retain your current ones. On the flip side, dirty and unkept common areas can do just the opposite and be very detrimental to your bottom line if word spreads. Hiring someone to do regular maintenance and cleaning on these areas will keep this from being an issue. If you spot something out of place or broken, speak up! Get it taken care of as quickly as possible. A prospective tenant could walk through the door at any time and you want your property to look clean and well maintained.
3. Response to Maintenance Requests
A major tenant complaint that pops up on web forums quite frequently is the amount of time it takes for their maintenance requests to be addressed. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that maintenance requests are addressed and resolved within 3 business days. Obviously there will be some variation to that if you have something come up that is more urgent such as a water heater that is out. There will also be times when the 3 day period will need to be extended if parts or appliances need to be ordered, in which case most tenants will understand. I go through my emails and maintenance request list daily to ensure that I don’t miss anything and that tenant concerns are addressed as soon as possible.
4. Noisy Neighbors
“Why do they call them apartments and not togetherments?” One aspect of apartment living that can really make a tenant’s hackles rise is the noise that accompanies living 4 feet from their neighbors. While property managers can’t do much until a police report has been filed, there are ways to help tenants disputing over noise to become a bit more cordial and avoid either of them ultimately choosing to move out. One thing I learned from my supervisor is to encourage tenants involved in a noise war to resolve their issue peacefully. Suggest that they bake cookies and take them to the neighbor and ask them very nicely if anything can be worked out that will work for both tenants. I have found that noise complaints are resolved quickly and effectively almost every time I have suggested this. Of course there will be times when the police will need to get involved if the noise involves violence or wild parties raging into the devil’s hour, but most of the time this is not the case.
5. Issues with a Hired Contractor
This complaint can be a difficult one to handle as most contractors doing work for you are not your employees. The best practice is to make your tenant feel validated. Apologize and assure them that you will look into what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Prevention is also a great practice in this regard. Make sure that any third party contractor or handyman is aware of your rules regarding entering apartments and tenant interaction so that there is no confusion as to what they should or should not be doing.
Handling tenant complaints can be a difficult part of being a property manager. By following these 5 tips, you can alleviate most of the headache that comes with dealing with these complaints. By handling tenant complaints quickly and efficiently, you ultimately will create a more positive tenant/landlord relationship in the long run and avoid undue stress for both the tenant and landlord.