Not all tenants complain. In fact, many of your best tenants will remain content indefinitely: continuing to pay rent and reaching out only when the house or apartment clearly needs routine maintenance or a small-scale repair.
But some tenants will complain on a semi-regular basis. If you’re unlucky, you might end up with a tenant who complains habitually.
What are the most common complaints you might face from a renter? And what are the best ways to handle these complaints?
General Strategies for Handling Tenant Complaints
First, let’s cover some of the general strategies you’ll need to use when handling tenant complaints.
- Document everything. Everything should be documented, from the initial conversation to your final resolution. If it is, and the situation has to escalate, you’ll have the appropriate evidence to show you did everything you could. If you’re finally compelled to evict the tenant, or take the person to small claims court, you’ll be glad you have this evidence at your fingertips.
- Have a conversation. Much of the time, tenant complaints can be resolved with a simple conversation. You can ask questions and listen carefully to understand fully what the issue is, and provide a counterpoint or differing perspective when appropriate. You may also be able to negotiate an agreement if you can reach a mutually acceptable solution. In any case, most tenants will appreciate the personal touch.
- Send a written notice. If you can, send the tenant a written notice about your proposed resolution, even if you’ve just discussed it. If you do this, you’ll have a documented interaction to which you can refer in the future.
- Address whatever is reasonable. Tenant complaints often go away if you’re able to resolve the source of the complaint. It’s a good idea to address whatever you can reasonably address as soon as possible. If you can complete a repair for less than $100 or spend a few minutes talking to a neighbor about his noise habits, you can make your tenant happy and possibly make the complaint all but disappear.
- Remain polite, yet firm. If the situation begins to escalate, you should remain polite, but firm. Your tenant may be asking for something unreasonable or continue to complain about a problem you’ve already corrected. Don’t cave to every whim, but also refrain from being rude or condescending in your responses.
The Most Common Tenant Complaints
These are some of the most common tenant complaints you are likely to encounter as a landlord:
- Rent is too high. Rent prices are rising all over the country. Even in regions that retain reasonable rates, rent is one of the biggest expenses for most Americans. It should be no surprise that at least some of your tenants will complain about their rent being too high – especially if you’ve recently increased it. If you’re making a decent profit and your tenant has been paying consistently on time, you might consider renegotiating their rent or giving them a break. Otherwise, point out examples of comparable properties that have similar rents to show you’re offering them a fair deal.
- There’s an infestation. Your tenant may complain about an infestation if they see evidence of unwanted creatures in the house, such as mice in the kitchen or bedbugs in the bedroom. This could pose a major health hazard and it’s certainly an annoyance, so it’s worthwhile to investigate and address such complaints as soon as possible. Visit the property to study the evidence yourself, and if the situation appears to warrant it, hire an exterminator or use a DIY approach to fix it.
- The house needs a repair. If tenants live at a property long enough, they’re eventually going to encounter a maintenance or repair issue that requires attention. You should think about this less in terms of a complaint and more as a notification. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may have to respond right away – or you might choose to schedule maintenance in the future. Either way, this is typically worth investigating and/or addressing.
- There’s too much noise. Too much noise can make it difficult to concentrate and all but impossible to sleep. Unfortunately, you probably won’t have direct control over every source of noise that generates complaints. If a tenant is irritated by a neighbor who’s too loud or noisy at inappropriate hours, you should seek a conversation with the noisemaker to try and reduce the occurrences. If the tenant complains about traffic noise or other environmental elements, you may have to adjust their expectations.
- Privacy is being violated. Tenants have a right to privacy, and they may fear their privacy is being violated by someone or something. These complaints may occasionally be reasonable; other times, not so much. If you need access to the apartment or house to handle repairs, you should provide the tenant(s) with advanced notice. If they protest your entry, and the repair is urgent or you have other important business at the property, you may be legally entitled to enter anyway. Be sure to consult with a lawyer before you attempt to resolve this type of complaint, though.
- The lease agreement has been breached. Your tenant will likely complain or demand a resolution if you’ve breached the lease agreement in any way. The details will make the difference here. Make sure you review the agreement and compare your actions carefully to determine whether you might have committed the breach.
- The security deposit shouldn’t be withheld. There are many good reasons to withhold a tenant’s security deposit, such as having to pay for damage to the property. But most tenants will fight to get their security deposit back. If you’re confident about your decision to withhold the deposit, stick to your guns and explain your reasons directly and assertively.
One of the best ways to manage tenant complaints proactively is to hire a property management company like Green Residential. With the right management team on your side, you’ll never have to interact with tenants directly – and we’ll take care of processing and resolving tenant complaints on your behalf.
Contact us today to learn more about our services!