Even the kindest landlords will eventually encounter a problem tenant. Or, despite both the landlord and tenant acting in good faith, there are simply some issues that cannot be resolved without outside intervention. In these cases, it is important to know how to deal with landlord vs tenant issues in a way that is respectful, fair, and within the law.
It may be tempting to simply confront the tenant about the problem behavior, but this is often not the most effective approach. It can also leave you vulnerable to accusations of harassment. This is why the best rental companies in Chattanooga have systems in place to handle tenant issues, including an easy way for tenants to submit complaints.
Requesting the tenant to submit a formal complaint allows you to maintain a paper trail of the issue and can help de-escalate the situation. This also offers the tenants an avenue to outline their side of the story and provides an opportunity for you to learn more about the issue from their perspective.
Ultimately, renting out your property is a business, so approach it as such. This means being calm and rational regardless of how the other party is behaving. And in the age of mobile phones and social media, you don’t want to give the tenant any ammunition by acting in a way that could be construed as unprofessional.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be a pushover. If the tenant is behaving inappropriately, you have every right to set boundaries and take appropriate measures to protect your property. But always remember to remain calm, professional, and polite throughout the process.
You may be surprised at how much progress you can make simply by listening to the tenant’s concerns. Active listening is a communication technique that involves tactics like:
- Restating or paraphrasing what the other person has said
- Asking questions to clarify understanding
- Avoiding interruptions
- Listening for feelings as well as words
- Reframing the problem using neutral language
In many cases, tenants become more open to dialogue when they feel heard and seen. Active listening is also a valuable skill in general and can help you to avoid or resolve conflict in all aspects of managing property, such as dealing with problem contractors, unhappy neighbors, or difficult HOA meetings.
In order to resolve an issue, both parties need to be able to easily communicate with one another. This means being accessible by phone, email, or in person. If you are not available, make sure you have someone who can act on your behalf, such as a property manager.
It is also important to be clear about your expectations for communication. For example, you might request that the tenant only contact you during business hours or give you a 24-hour notice before coming to the property. By establishing these boundaries from the start, you can avoid miscommunication and frustration down the road.
Again, it also helps to have formal complaints processes in place. This can cover things such as scheduling meetings, deadlines for responses, and what will happen if the tenant does not follow through.
Whenever possible, put everything in writing. This includes both formal complaints and any other communications between you and the tenant. This way, there is a record of what was said or agreed to, which can be valuable if the issue ends up going to court.
Email is often the best format for written communication, as it provides a timestamp and a record that cannot be altered. If you do communicate by phone or in person, be sure to follow up with an email summarizing the conversation.
If you are struggling to resolve the issue on your own, you might want to consider hiring a professional mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who can help facilitate communication and guide both parties towards a resolution. This can be an effective way to avoid going to court, which can be costly and time-consuming.
In some cases, tenant-landlord disputes cannot be resolved through mediation or other informal means. If this is the case, you may have to take the tenant to court. This is usually a last resort, but it is important to be prepared for the possibility.
If you do end up going to court, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success. First, make sure you have all the necessary documentation, such as the lease agreement, rental history, and communications between you and the tenant. Second, consult with a lawyer to understand the applicable laws and your rights as a landlord. Finally, be prepared to present your case in a clear and concise manner.
While going to court is never ideal, it is important to remember that you have the right to protect your property and your interests. By following the tips above, you can hopefully avoid conflict with your tenants and resolve any issues that do arise in a constructive and professional manner.