As a property manager, your success relies on the ability to manage several properties at once. Unfortunately, the more properties you manage, the more likely you’ll experience conflicts among tenants, property owners, or neighbors. Communication skills play a crucial role in resolving disputes and keeping the communities you manage peaceful. You need to be able to listen to the upset party, understand where they’re coming from, and find ways to work together to solve issues that arise. Here are some tips on how to minimize tenant disputes and keep your community harmonious.
Outline Community Guidelines in the Lease or Rental Agreement
If you’re involved in creating the lease or rental agreement for the property, you can include a section that outlines how tenants are expected to behave. Include provisions that cover maintaining a safe and peaceful environment for all residents. This could include strict intolerance of harassment, violence, or inappropriate behaviors.
You can also create a move-in package for new tenants to welcome them to property. Include a guide on living there, including how to interact with other tenants respectfully and good conduct practices in common areas. You can also include any additional information that may help prevent conflict, such as where visitors can park. By providing tenants with clearly defined guidelines, you may be able to avoid many disputes before they have a chance to start.
Become a Neutral Mediator
Small issues, however petty, have the potential to become intense arguments. Most of the time, the tenant simply wants their view to be heard. So, one of the first things you should do is listen. Allow the tenant to explain their point of view and acknowledge the issue. Avoid making personal comments or attacking anything the tenant is saying.
The most common disputes you’ll have to deal with will most likely involve noise, personality clashes, issues with parking spaces, or other mild annoyances. You can earn the tenant’s trust by showing them empathy and focusing on their complaints. Instead of arguing, work toward a solution that benefits all parties. Keep the conversation open and productive to ensure that things are successfully resolved before they have the chance to escalate.
Keep your tone polite but professional when having the conversation, whether it’s by phone or email. All communication should take place during business hours unless there’s an emergency. Treat problems like parking space disputes or noise complaints empathetically and handle it through effective communication. If it’s a serious issue, like harassment, threats, or violence, you’ll need to get the police involved or resort to legal action. Make sure that if serious offenses occur, you reassess the security at the property and to reassure the rest of your residents.
Ideally, it’s best to have the tenants sort out the issue between themselves, but this isn’t always possible. If you need to get involved, you have a couple of options. You can try to resolve the issue by finding a solution that works for everyone, such as asking a loud second-story tenant if they’d be willing to move to an available unit on the first floor. Or you can handle the situation more directly, by addressing the issues with the offending tenant and giving them suggestions on how to change their behavior. The method you choose comes down to your management style as well as the severity of the issue.
You should take the following steps if you need to confront the tenant directly:
- Listen to the first tenant’s complaint, empathetically. Let them know you understand the situation is upsetting to them.
- Contact the offending tenant by phone and let them know about the complaint. It’s generally not a good idea to name the tenant who complained, as this can cause further tension. However, the offender will often know who it is, especially if they’ve already tried to resolve the issue themselves. If they’re breaking terms of the lease, remind them of this. Often a warning is enough to stop any bad behavior.
- After your phone call, send a letter or email to the offending tenant, reminding them of what was discussed in your conversation. Mention any actions they need to take, as well as any lease violations. If the issues are particularly severe, you can also serve them with a Notice of Lease Violation, which threatens eviction if they don’t change their behavior.
- Document the conversations you’ve had with both tenants. If the situation progresses into a formal legal matter, you’ll have proof that you took action to try to resolve the conflict.
- Follow up with both tenants at a later date to see if there have been any positive or negative changes concerning the issue.
When handling any conflicts, make sure to keep records and documentation of the conflict and whether it was resolved. Tenants who make repeated complaints with no resolution are more likely to look for a new place to rent; good retention is essential for the reputation of the property and your business.
Conflicts between tenants can also cause stress among the other residents at the property, so it’s essential to try to resolve any issues as soon as possible. Preventative measures like tenant screening and guidelines in the lease can go a long way in finding the right tenants, but there’s no way to account for how people’s personalities or lifestyles might clash. Maintaining a peaceful community benefits everyone – from the property owner and tenants to your property management company.
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