Dealing with people is the hardest part of running a business and this is going to be one of your major challenges as a landlord. Tenants come to your rental property with all kinds of beliefs and expectations, many of which will not coincide with the way you run the property.
People tend to become entitled when they pay for something, so you will often have trouble getting tenants to respect the terms of the lease. This is apart from the conflicts that often flare up between the tenants in the different units of your rental.
As a landlord, how can you keep these issues from ruining your relationship with tenants? How do you prevent the rental from deteriorating into a war zone? How do you create a community where tenants are on good terms with one another?
The importance of tenant screening
Some people are troublesome by nature and there is nothing you can do to change them. But changing a tenant’s behavior is not your responsibility. To reduce the possibility of renting to a problem tenant, your tenant screening must be airtight, advises Upkeep Media, a marketing agency for property managers.
Tenants who cause trouble for landlords often have a history of that kind of behavior. If you are diligent in doing your background check you will uncover things that reveal their true character. Never be in a hurry to rent to a tenant or you may regret it.
Avoiding and handling conflict with tenants
● Know the law
The law helps to establish the basic framework for your relationship with tenants. Knowing where your landlord rights begin and the end is vital. Most conflicts between landlords and tenants come from two sources: lack of clarity in the allocation of responsibilities or failure to define and respect boundaries.
● Determine the rules beforehand
The landlord-tenant regulations of your city merely provide a guideline for how to relate to tenants. You still have to work out how you actually want to operate the property.
How will you handle the various issues? Every conceivable situation must be anticipated and dealt with before it actually happens.
● Make the lease comprehensive and explicit
Once you have reviewed the potential issues in a rental (preferably, with the aid of a lawyer or an experienced person), you can now create your lease agreement. The document should contain clauses that explain the procedure for every situation. The language must be simple to understand.
● Educate and orient tenants
Do not assume that tenants will be able to interpret the lease. Explain all sections of the lease with clarity. It is your responsibility to show each new tenant how to handle the various features of the rental. This is an opportunity for tenants to ask questions. This step is important for establishing mutual trust and respect.
● Communication is vital
Most landlord-tenant disputes come from inadequate or poor communication. As a first step, you should create systems that help tenants report issues quickly and easily. More importantly, be quick to respond to those issues. Communicate, even if the problem is the tenant’s responsibility.
● Always listen first
This is hard to do, but it is literally impossible to keep the peace when you are combative. If you are aggressive in your communications, you will get the same from people. Listen to your tenants; most people are actually not trying to cheat you. The majority of big issues come from minor misunderstandings.
● Talk face to face
Tenants are less likely to have issues with a landlord who treats them like human beings. Before the problems arise, talk to your tenants. It helps to remember birthdays or call once in a while to check on them. When you eventually have disputes – as you will – they will be a lot easier to resolve.
● Get a mediator or go to arbitration
If all else fails, let a third party resolve the issue. You don’t want disputes to get to this point. But if you and the tenant cannot reach an amicable settlement, you have no choice but to ask for the help of a professional mediator. If that also fails, the issue will then have to go to arbitration.
Resolving disputes between tenants
Tenant-to-tenants disputes can be even worse than landlord-tenant disputes because you have less control over the outcome and the whole affair can divide the entire rental property. With such issues, you must tread carefully by doing the following:
● Be neutral
In this case, you are the mediator. If one side views you as being partial to the other side, you will lose credibility. Staying neutral is vital for resolving the problem.
● Listen to both sides
Each side will narrate the events in a way that absolves them but casts the other side in a bad light. Listen to both sides carefully and ask a lot of questions.
● Be firm
In these situations, both parties usually have their faults. Without getting personal or appearing to favor any side, point out each party’s mistake. You will lose their respect if you are not firm.
● Follow up with rules
If you need to make new rules to prevent future problems, do so.