In the property management world a thriving tenant-landlord relationship can mean the difference between success and stress when it comes to managing your rental properties.
That’s not to say success and stress are mutually exclusive in this industry, but a positive relationship with your tenants means higher tenant retention, less vacancies, more rental income and greater success.
Along with a happy tenant comes less complaints and less tenant related stress for you.
How to Manage Tenant Complaints
Positively managing tenant related complaints will help you succeed as a property manager or landlord and help you retain your best renters. As an added bonus, building a solid relationship with your current tenants will boost your reputation in the community for future renters that will want to work with you.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the top complaints tenants have about their property management company or landlord.
Knowing a tenant’s top concerns and how to handle them will help you deal with these issues in the future.
1. Poor Communication
- Complaint: Tenants feel like landlords and property managers do not communicate their expectations and rules about the property.
- Fix it: Read through the lease with your tenant and address all the terms and conditions. Send seasonal reminders of expectations regarding yard work and routine weather maintenance. Do quarterly or semi-annual inspections to check in with your tenant and talk about what they are doing right and wrong. Give them an opportunity to ask questions or address concerns and explain anything they need to improve.
2. Maintenance/Work Orders
- Complaint: Lack of response or timely fix of maintenance issues.
- Fix it: Give your tenants appropriate means of contacting you and ways to submit work orders. Property management software offers a tenant portal where tenants can submit work orders online and property managers have the means of managing maintenance requests and coordinating vendors online.Renters can take a photo on their smart phone and attach the photo to their maintenance request directly from the mobile friendly Tenant Portal. Explain in your lease how and who to contact about maintenance requests and work orders.
3. Lack of Privacy
- Complaint: Tenants can feel like they don’t have any privacy because their landlord has access to their home and enters it too often.
- Fix it: Property managers and landlords are required to provide tenants with at least 24 hr notice before entering a rental for maintenance or routine site inspections. Make sure your tenant actually receives your notice of your intent to enter the premises, a great way to do this is with a read receipt via email.Landlords and managers should be conducting regular inspections at least once a quarter to check on the condition of the property. Give your tenants the inspection schedule at the beginning of each year, so they know when to expect you and avoid feeling like you always just drop by.
4. Poor Customer Service
- Complaint: Tenants receive a rude response (or lack of response) about questions or issues regarding their property.
- Fix it: Remember your tenants are your customer, and excellent service is the best way to retain your current customers.Return calls quickly. Address maintenance issues promptly. Talk nicely to them, not down to them. Make them feel good about choosing to do business with you.
- Check out these tips for Great Customer Service to Improve Tenant Relations.
5. Security Deposit Refund
- Complaint: Tenants feel like landlords and property managers keep too much of their security deposit.
- Fix it: Provide your tenant with a move-out checklist, including the criteria in your move-out inspection report and the condition you expect to find your property after they vacate. After they move out, return their deposit with an explanation of charges to their forwarding address.If you are deducting charges, be clear about them and break down the work. For example, instead of saying $100 for patching and painting the walls, break it down further, $10 for each 5 spots in the living room, $20 for the spot over the fireplace and $30 for paint and supplies.
The more specific you are, the less likely they will be able to dispute the charges. And always use pictures to illustrate the damage. Try using a property inspection ap, that lets you take photos on your smartphone during your walk through.
6. Anxiety and cost of the rental application process
- Complaint: Tenants don’t want to pay application fees and feel anxious during whole rental process while they are waiting for approval.
- Fix it: Clearly explain the purpose of the fees and deposits in a way that benefits the tenant. For example, an application fee covers the cost of a background check so they know you are only renting to quality tenants and providing them with a safe home.To ease anxiety, provide answers to applicants within 24 hrs. Most tenant screening services, can generate credit and background checks instantly.
Having the means of dealing with tenant complaints will ensure proper management of your properties. Handling tenant complaints appropriately will create a positive landlord-tenant relationship and build your reputation as a great property manager or landlord.
What are your experiences with dealing with complaints from tenants? Do you have advice for fellow property managers and landlords for how to deal with complaints? Let us know in the comments!
My husband and I gave a potential landlord $2,000 for security deposit and first month’s rent until the background check was approved. After two weeks of getting the runaround of the background check we decided not to rent the apartment. No lease had been signed. After giving notice the background check finally appeared and now they want to charge us for it. What recourse do we have?
Was there any language in the terms of the application for keeping the background screening fee even if either party decided not to sign the lease?
My building has eighteen apartments and one water heater,the new owner has decided to break the water bill down by a system he calls the RUBS formula for each apartment to pay water sewer trash,is this legal,even though the original lease states that the landlord is responsible to pay,,we received a NOTICE OF CHANGE OF TERMS OF TENANCY,
Hi Eve, if you are on a fixed-term lease, the terms cannot change without agreement from both parties; generally speaking, this lease transfers over during a change of ownership. However, if you are on a month-to-month lease the terms of your tenancy can change as long as your landlord has provided notice. Check your local laws to find out how long that notice period may be in your area.
Since I moved into my apartment in Beaumont, the water in the tub has been running full stream! I have notified the leasing office, and they have failed to do ANYTHING about it. This is unbelievable! It is STILL running!!!
Wow, that sounds frustrating. I suggest contacting the management company directly if you are not getting help from your leasing office. Secondly, check with your local housing authority about the rules around hiring a plumber yourself and deducting the cost from your rent. If you are allowed that option, inform both the leasing office and management company beforehand to give them another opportunity to make it right. In the meantime, try finding the shut-off valve when not in use. Wishing you all the best!
I forgot to add that I moved into the apartment in Beaumont mid-October.