As a landlord, you want to provide a quality property to people and make them feel safe and proud of where they live. You also want to generate a healthy cash flow and ROI. Sometimes, there can be some friction involved – particularly when you’re dealing with tenants from all walks of life. If you do run across frustrated or angry tenants, knowing how to successfully disarm them can be extremely important to your long-term success.
Factors That Cause Tenants to Be Angry
A tenant can get angry for any number of reasons. However, in most cases, it’s going to be directly or indirectly tied to one of the following:
- Poor Maintenance. Think back to a time when you rented an apartment or house. Do you remember how frustrating it was to have maintenance issues that weren’t dealt with right away? Whether it was something as simple as a smoke detector battery that was low or as serious as an AC unit not working in the summertime, it probably made you pretty frustrated with your landlord. Well, your tenants are thinking the same thing. A certain maintenance issue might not seem like a big deal to you, but you can bet it’s a pain in the rear to your tenant who has to live with it all day long.
- Lack of Communication. A tenant doesn’t expect you to be their best friend. However, if there’s poor communication – meaning you disappear for long periods of time without touching base or responding to requests – they’re going to be frustrated. People want to be understood. When they don’t feel like they are, things can go sideways in a hurry.
- Unjustified Rent Increases. Every tenant knows that rent increases happen. But if they feel that the rent increases are unjustified or excessive, they’re going to grow bitter. And if it happens frequently, they’re probably going to turn hostile and look for another place to live.
- Noise Issues. You can’t always do something about this, but renters will get frustrated if neighbors are noisy and disrupt their ability to relax during the day or sleep at night. This is an especially big issue for landlords who have multi-family properties.
- Security Concerns. Inadequate security measures or frequent security issues can make tenants feel unsafe and dissatisfied. Again, it’s not always up to the landlord to police a community; however tenants do expect to have basic security measures built into their properties (like working locks and secure doors).
- Breakdowns. Frequent breakdowns of key appliances and systems, such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, AC units, furnaces, and toilets will frustrate a tenant more than almost anything and leave them feeling bitter toward you, the landlord.
- Inconsistent Rules. Inconsistencies in enforcing rules or policies within the property can lead to confusion and frustration. For example, if you have a duplex and you constantly find one tenant for smoking on the property but don’t ever catch the neighbor next door, there’s going to be a sense of resentment. Nobody likes to feel like they’re the victim of a double standard, so you have to be consistent when enforcing the rules of the lease agreement.
- Invasive Behavior. As a Houston landlord, you have certain rights to enter your property. However, tenants have rights as well. You can’t just barge in whenever you want to. If a tenant feels like you’re invading their privacy, there’s going to be some frustration. (And justifiably so.)
Every tenant is going to have a different personality, expectations, and experience. However, most points of contention are going to stem from one of the issues highlighted above. The more you pay attention to these, the less likely it is that you’ll have to deal with angry tenants.
Tips and Techniques for Disarming Angry Tenants
While it’s best to prevent tenants from getting angry in the first place, you also need skills in your ‘landlord toolkit’ to disarm tenants when they do get frustrated. Here are several tips and techniques:
- Listen actively and empathize: The first step in addressing angry tenants is to listen actively and empathize with their concerns. When tenants feel heard and understood, it can defuse tension and create a sense of validation. Make sure to give them your full attention, nod to show you are listening, and use empathetic phrases like “I understand.” Avoid interrupting, and let them express their feelings and concerns. Sometimes just listening is enough to make them feel better.
- Communicate clearly and promptly: Effective communication is key to resolving conflicts. Be transparent about the steps you are taking to address their concerns and provide a timeline for resolving the issue at hand. Promptly respond to emails, messages, or calls to show tenants that their issues are a priority. Clear and open communication builds trust and can go a long way in disarming a tenant.
- Take responsibility and apologize: If the anger stems from a mistake on your part or a maintenance issue, take responsibility and apologize. Owning up to errors and showing that you’re committed to making things right demonstrates professionalism and can help rebuild trust. An honest apology is probably the most powerful tool you have when it comes to de-escalating tension and moving towards a resolution.
- Implement proactive maintenance: Preventing issues before they become problems is the best approach for cultivating high tenant satisfaction. Regularly conduct maintenance checks and timely repairs, which prevents small issues from escalating into bigger ones. Proactive maintenance not only keeps your property in good condition but also contributes to a positive living experience for your tenants.
- Provide clear lease information: Avoid misunderstandings by ensuring that your tenants fully understand their lease agreements. Provide clear, written information about rules, policies, and any potential changes, such as rent increases. When tenants have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities, it can minimize disputes and create a more harmonious living environment. They might not always agree with your decisions, but they can’t act like they didn’t see it coming.
- Establish a feedback system: Encourage open communication by establishing a feedback system where tenants can express their concerns, suggestions, or compliments. Knowing that their opinions are valued can make tenants feel more engaged and less likely to harbor resentment.
Green Residential: Houston Property Management
At Green Residential, our goal is to help local real estate investors manage their Houston property listings to the best of their ability and generate maximum ROI and cash flow. If you’d like to learn more about our property management services, or get a free property analysis, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!