Four Things to Remember When Handling Tenant Conflicts
We’re all familiar with conflicts between tenants and landlords, and you no doubt have quite a few stories under your belt, but what should you do when there’s one between your tenants? Tenant conflicts of this sort can be difficult – perhaps the most common being noise complaints. You must tread carefully when determining if it’s appropriate for you to get involved in the first place, but if a dispute looks like it might take on illegal elements or will hurt your business, you should be ready to take action.
Don’t get involved unless absolutely necessary.
Although you might prefer your property to be a happy one, there’s only so much you can and should do when there are personal conflicts brewing. Getting involved or jumping to conclusions can leave you in danger of a lawsuit if it turns out you treated one tenant unfairly after all the facts come to light. As we’ve discussed before at Innago, maintaining communication with your tenants is a great habit to have, but aware as you might be of bad blood between tenants in one of your properties, don’t get involved unless someone is violating the lease or the tenant conflict is of such a magnitude and nature that it’ll hurt your ability to do business.
Respond to inquiries and questions from your tenants quickly and fully.
If a tenant approaches you about an issue with another tenant, you need to take their concerns seriously and make clear you’re willing to handle conflicts that arise. If the tenants get the sense that you don’t care about the dispute (or don’t care in general), they’ll take matters in to their own hands. The last thing any landlord wants is their tenants doing just that. Treat tenant-to-tenant conflicts – even seemingly benign ones – just as seriously as an appliance repair. The longer you wait, the worse it’s going to get. Be sure to document every correspondence you send and receive in regards to the dispute, and if a tenant approaches you in person about a conflict, discuss the matter but ask them to send a follow-up email detailing everything. Moving forward, send your tenants a text or email inquiring if the conflict has been resolved or not.
Step in if there’s any illegal activity or violation of the lease.
Although you shouldn’t step in if the issue is a strictly personal one between tenants, keep an ear to the ground to see if it develops into anything that requires your action. Even typically mild-mannered people can go to extremes to resolve an issue within their own home, which means you must be ready to act if you find out that the situation has escalated. If a tenant were to engage in illegal activity or violate the lease agreement, you are within your rights to take action to handle the tenant conflict. Before you do, get full statements from the tenants in dispute, and, if there are other tenants on the property, from them as well. Gaining a more objective perspective of a tenant conflict can make handling it much easier.
Include in the lease clauses that can prevent disputes from spiraling out of control.
Maintaining a safe and peaceful property is essential in building up a good reputation and running a smooth business. Your lease should reflect that necessity. Otherwise, you’ll have far less freedom to handle conflicts when they arise. Talk with other landlords or ask your local landlord’s association about what kind of clause and language is sufficient to place in a lease that will give you sufficient room to operate when a tenant dispute arises. Writing up and implementing a standard procedure for handling tenant conflicts isn’t a bad idea, either.
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