You have done everything you can to ensure that your property is respected, and the rent is paid on time. Meaning, you conducted your background checks, approved the credit scores, checked references, and received your security deposits. However, you couldn’t possibly know there would be drama among your tenants. I, Mark Roemer, will be providing you with a complete guide to take care of these issues. Join me on this journey as I help you to get your tenants to treat each other civilly.
What to Do
No matter if the complaint is about stomping around upstairs, excessive music, late-night parties, parking violations, or a disgusting smell permeating from an apartment, you are going to be shoved right into the middle of a domestic quarrel. It is your job as the landlord/property manager to make sure the problem gets solved.
For the most part, lifestyle problems can be sorted out using mediation, compromise, and lease enforcement. However, some issues are not that simple. In the case of more severe issues such as threat, harassment, or violence, you may have to pursue legal channels. This will be necessary for the safety and well-being of not only your property but, more importantly, your tenants.
Managing the Fight
The most important thing you can have for handling tenant disputes is a rock-solid lease which outlines what rules each tenant is expected to follow. This will promote a safe and peaceful environment. While you and I both know it should go without saying, you should make sure there is a clause stating that any threats, harassment, or threats will not be tolerated and will be grounds for eviction.
As I said above, you need to make sure you have a well-detailed lease that includes repercussions for bad behavior. Beyond that, you need to outline what is acceptable and not acceptable. It may seem like you are parenting all over again, but it is what it is. If you don’t want to spend the majority of your time handling disputes, it will behoove you to heed my warnings.
The most common complaint you are going to get is that of noise. While there is a limited amount of recourse, you need to make sure your complex has quiet hours. Sure, you don’t know the schedule of each of your clients, but the majority of workers are working 9 – 5 Monday through Friday. For this reason, you should set quiet time for around 10 pm Sunday through Thursday. It would be fine if you wanted to relax those hours on Friday and Saturday but be reasonable.
Resolution Policy and Procedure
Stop it before it starts. You need to provide your tenants with the ability to solve their problems. When they first move in, provide them with a pamphlet of common ways to deal with trouble neighbors. You could even include this in your welcome package. You are giving them a welcome package, right? When it comes to noise complaints, have the tenants approach the neighbor and tell them they are a little loud. In most cases, the neighbor is not aware they are making too much noise.
Be informative. Let your tenants know how to file a noise complaint properly. This will be up to you on how you want them to tell you. Some landlords prefer only to receive emails regarding noise. This will eliminate those late-night phone calls. However you choose to do this is up to you. Just give them the tools to make the complaint, and they will likely stick to that.
Acknowledge the complaint. Letting the tenant know that you have received their claim will go a long way. If they don’t know you received the complaint, they may resort to unconventional ways of getting in touch with you. For example, they may call you, and that is not something you want them to do. Other techniques include showing up at your house or locating you at your place of business. You must acknowledge the complaint, so they know you are taking the complaint seriously.
Make a call. The first step in resolving the problem is by calling the offending tenant. Sometimes they will not acknowledge a complaint by the neighbor. Knowing that you are aware of the issue might persuade them into cleaning up their act. With any luck, this will be as far as it goes.
Put it in writing. For the cases where the phone call did not adjust their attitude, you will want to put it in writing. That is, you need to draft a formal letter to the tenant and let them know their actions will no longer be tolerated. Make sure you send this letter certified mail so they cannot say they didn’t receive it.
Document everything. The reason I am telling you to do this is in the cases where phone calls and letters are not correcting the problem. Should you have to take them to court to get them evicted, you are going to need to provide proof of your actions. Make sure to write down the dates you received complaints and from which client. Likewise, you are going to want to note the dates and times you contacted them via phone and mail. These dates will be required in an eviction case.
Follow up. After you have made your phone call or sent your letter, make sure to keep in contact with the tenant to make sure that the problem has been corrected. It also shows that you genuinely care about the comfort of your tenants.
A disruptive tenant can be something of a hassle. If you take the advice I, Mark Romer, have given you, then you should have no problem sorting the problem out. Just remember to be methodical in your actions. Take each step as it comes. Don’t intervene when you don’t need to. Sometimes things can be sorted out without you having to do anything. This is the best-case scenario. Tenants that manage themselves are much easier to deal with than a tenant that calls you every day complaining about something.