Working in property management demonstrates time and again that no matter how well you maintain your properties, some problems are still bound to crop up. And often, it is the responsibility of the property manager or landlord to resolve the situation.
Handling resident complaints in the proper manner can go a long way in alleviating their concerns, upping Resident/tenant-retention rates, and helping establish your reputation as a person who cares about the well-being and safety of their clients. Here are some of the most common complaints residents usually have and the best ways to handle them.
1. Maintenance problems
With maintenance issues being the most common problem plaguing most residents, the first step to handling such complaints quickly and smoothly should be setting up an effective complaint resolution system.
A lease should include specific instructions on how to raise a maintenance request, the expected response time for different types of maintenance complaints, what to do in case of an emergency, and so on. For example, many property management companies now ask their resident/tenants to submit an online maintenance request to simplify the process and allow easy tracking. Whatever the chosen mode of notification, make sure to respond to all requests promptly, ideally providing a time frame when they can expect the issue to be fixed.
If the resolution time must be adjusted based on the nature or severity of the problem, or you must call in additional resources, inform the resident/tenants accordingly, so they are prepared. You can also follow up with the residents a few days later and confirm that the problem has been resolved to their satisfaction. Though this may seem like an unnecessary step, it shows you care about the resident/tenant’s comfort and well-being and are not simply checking items off a to-do list. While we are on this, remember to keep all tenant-landlord communication in writing and other paperwork and receipts for the maintenance work done. This will become critical if your resident/tenant decides to drag you to court or enter a legal dispute.
2. Lack of Proper Communication
Nothing irks a resident/tenant more than delayed or nonexistent communication. No one likes to deal with a property manager or landlord who is always unavailable, does not answer his phone calls, or never replies to any email. Maybe you did not respond to his first email because you felt his complaint was invalid or not your responsibility to address. But what the lack of response conveyed to the Resident/tenant was your unwillingness to listen to his problems.
Keep the residents informed with a newsletter and attach a new cheat sheet whenever policies change. Your resident should have all the necessary information available throughout the tenancy. Never forget that residents are the key to your success in the home rental industry. The strife for happy customers is as essential here as any other business.
Good Resident/Tenants are hard to find. If you don’t respond to their issues in a timely and effective manner, you’ll lose them to another landlord who values and respects them.
3. Pest Invasion
No one wants their home invaded by bugs, cockroaches, or rodents. And if it is an apartment or a problem, the problem can quickly spread and worsen. Take prompt action and call an exterminator immediately if your Resident/tenant reports pest issues. Don’t forget to schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure the problem is entirely resolved after a week or so. To prevent such problems from occurring in the first place, take preventive action and have your properties treated periodically.
4. Unreturned funds
Confusion can quickly arise around what residents are responsible for paying for and the conditions for deposits. This can lead to residents feeling like you’re cheating them or trying to steal their money. This can lead to a lot of complaints from lessees. All because of a simple and avoidable misunderstanding. See that your Resident/tenants know right away about the terms and requirements. This is another reason why a newsletter is such a powerful tool.
Remind the residents of their responsibilities and how to avoid deductions by keeping their rental space clean enough. When you need to make deductions, be sure to itemize the fees so, the residents understand precisely why the funds were taken and where they went. Be specific to avoid disputed charges. When a Resident/tenant is moving out, give them a checklist to let them understand just what they need to do and in what condition you require the property to be.
Some general guidelines for handling resident issues:
Anyone in the rental housing industry will admit it is impossible to avoid problems in a resident-landlord or resident-property manager relationship. It simply comes with the territory. However, you can reduce conflict and maintain a good working relationship by keeping your cool and behaving in a mature, responsible manner. Always let your resident know when or how they can contact you and what to do in case of an emergency or if they need to contact you outside regular working hours. Never lose your temper or let go of your professionalism. Do not resort to threats or screaming, even if the other person does so. If you feel that the situation is becoming dangerous or unsafe, withdraw and inform the authorities. Lastly, look at your renter as a customer, not just a Tenant. You’ll notice we refer to them as residents and customers, and when you make that shift, you will talk to them differently, they will appreciate it, and you WIN.