If you are a landlord that is managing multi-family properties, at one pint of another you will be faced with a situation where tenants are fighting with each other. Even if you have been super diligent in your tenant screening process, and all your tenants have clean rental histories and even pay their rent on time each month, these tenants will sometimes end up in a conflict with their neighbors.
Of course, handling tenant conflicts will be your responsibility as the landlord. You will need to keep your tenants from escalating the conflict and prevent it from becoming an ongoing issue that may end up in you losing some good, rent paying tenants.
Normal Causes for Tenant Conflicts
Whenever you have people all living within a closed vicinity, such as in apartment buildings, or even in houses next to each other, a time will come when an argument will begin for one reason or another. Often, the tenant conflict will be due to one of the following:
- Loud noise from music or parties
- Kids being noisy and running around playing
- Loud barking from dogs
- Not respecting property boundaries
- Other rude and disrespectful activities
In a perfect world your tenants will be able to communicate with each other regarding the issue and resolve the conflict without getting you involved. However, in most instances what really happens is that they say nothing to each other, and the frustration builds and builds until finally one of your tenants explodes on the other. These situations will hopefully only escalate into a verbal confrontation and not a physical one.
Mediating Tenant Conflicts When They Happen
One of the best ways to ensure that a conflict doesn’t worsen is to address the matter as quickly as possible after it is reported. If you let the matter sit, the frustration will worsen over time and the issue will be more difficult to deal with. If you address the matter promptly, and follow the following steps in order, then you should be able to resolve the issue quickly.
- Listen and be sympathetic to the complaint. Even if the complaint seems petty or insignificant to you, your tenant feels strongly about it and if you are sympathetic, they will respect you for listing to them.
- Inform the offending tenant of the complaint and hear their side of the story. Just like when listening to the offending party, listening to the offender’s side of the story with empathy and understanding will defuse the situation greatly. At this point it’s likely best not to name the complaining party but try to focus on the issue itself. Without being combative, try to explain in a neutral way why the behavior is unacceptable and what the possible consequences could be if the behavior persists. If the behavior is in violation of the lease agreement, then you can serve them a Notice of Lease Violation.
- Schedule a meeting, if necessary. Sometimes these conflicts can be resolved by just listening to your tenants and offering a sympathetic ear. However, in some situations handling tenant conflicts will require a meeting between the parties, with you acting as a mediator. In this meeting it will be up to you to guide your tenants into both presenting their issues in a calm and respectful manner. A mediator’s job is to help guide the parties to come up with a resolution themselves. If you just hear them out and make a ruling like a judge, then one of them will still be upset and will likely cause more problems in the future.
- Document the meeting and follow up. After you have met with both tenants and have (hopefully) resolved the issue, you should send a letter to both tenants summarizing the meeting and solution. If the issue escalates into a legal matter this documentation will prove that you have covered your bases legally. After you have sent this documentation, give it some time then follow up to see if there have been any changes.
Handling tenant conflicts can become one of the most difficult issues that you will have to deal with if you are managing your property, or properties yourself. If not handled correctly, the issue can escalate to a point here you are losing one, or both tenants.
Hiring an experienced property management company, can make handling tenant conflicts a breeze. Property managers have been dealing with tenant conflicts as a full-time job and have policies and procedures in place that will deal with the issue quickly and easily.
Here at The Rental Lister, we offer top-of-the-line property management for affordable rates. If you are fed up dealing with tenants, call us today and we will take the burden off your hands.