Working with tenants isn’t always fun. In fact, many owners hire a Roanoke property management company just to avoid the unpleasant confrontations that can often arise between tenants and landlords.
A good relationship is important. You should do everything you can to establish and develop a partnership based on trust, transparency, and open communication.
But even your best intentions can run up against difficult tenants.
You have to prepare for tenant complaints. Some of them will be justified, but others will simply be annoying.
How do you handle those tenants and their displeasure?
While not every tenant complaint deserves your immediate time and attention, some of them are valid and worthy of a response and a commitment to making things right. If it’s below zero outside and the heat has been out for three days, you can expect to hear complaints – and rightfully so. But, if you have a tenant calling every day because their neighbor’s dog made a mess in the yard or because the dishwasher is too loud – a different response is necessary.
Tenant complaints always require a professional response, no matter how petty or irritating you may find them.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common tenant complaints you can expect to run into. If you know how to anticipate them, you will be better equipped to respond to them professionally and without escalating the situation.
Immediate Complaints at Move-In
Tenants who move into your property and immediately have a laundry list of complaints can give you a nervous feeling about how the tenancy will go. But, remember that moving is stressful. It’s possible your tenants are simply trying to manage the process of change. Let them settle in, and then address any complaints as quickly as you can.
If there are maintenance issues, take care of these things one at a time. If the tenant has complaints about cosmetics, explain that it might take some time to address those. Sometimes, tenants who are stressed out or frustrated just want to be heard. Show them that you’re willing to listen.
Providing a good move-in experience can cut down on the likelihood that you’ll have complaints. Make sure you share all of your expectations before they sign the lease and get the keys. Provide a clean, functional home and leave instructions for any systems or functions that may be unfamiliar to them. Explain how to manage the thermostat, for example, or where the moving truck should park to unload.
Roanoke Tenants and Maintenance Complaints
Maintenance complaints can be difficult to manage, depending on the tenant.
As the owner, you are legally responsible for providing a safe and habitable home for the tenants who rent your property. Certain complaints will have to be addressed immediately, regardless of the circumstances or your feelings for the tenant. For example, if there’s a sewer issue, a problem with running water or heat, or a safety hazard due to faulty wiring, plumbing, or roofing, or a leak that’s flooding the property, you’re going to have to fix them right away.
You can’t really see these as complaints. You have to consider them emergency maintenance requests. They may sound like complaints if the tenant is emotional about the problem. But you don’t get the choice of whether you want to engage. You must.
When there’s a sound process in place for receiving and responding to maintenance issues, you likely won’t have tenants complaining about repairs. They’ll be taken care of in a timely manner, and everyone will be happy. Your tenants will be comfortable, you will have fulfilled the responsibilities of a landlord, and your property’s condition will be intact.
Sometimes, tenants become rude and demanding and hostile – even if you’re responding to the best of your ability.
Prevent complaints from escalating by responding to maintenance in a consistent, professional manner. We have some ideas that may help with your process:
- Ask tenants to call if there’s an emergency.
- Ask tenants to put routine, non-urgent requests in writing.
- Respond right away, even if all you can do at the moment is confirm you’ve received their message.
- Be available. Tenants should have phone numbers for you in case there is an emergency.
- Put together a great list of vendors who will respond quickly to your needs.
- Communicate with your tenants during and after the repairs are made.
- Follow up with tenants to ensure that everything was taken care of professionally.
If a tenant still has a complaint, schedule a phone call or a meeting so you can listen to their problems. After the conversation, send a brief email or letter that summarizes what was said and decided. This will protect you and document how you responded to your tenant’s complaint.
Complaints about Communication and How to Avoid Them
Good relationships start with good communication. You know this. But, communicating with tenants can be difficult, especially if there are other things taking up your time.
But, a common complaint tenants have about landlords is that they cannot get their attention when they need it.
Take an honest look at your process for responding to tenants. We know you’re busy. We know you are probably very good at avoiding the unpleasant conversations you don’t want to have. Maybe you suspect the tenant is going to complain and you just don’t want to deal with it.
It’s better to face the conversation than to run from it.
We understand not wanting to take those calls or engage in that dialogue. However, ignoring your residents will only damage your relationship with them and probably make them even more upset. You don’t have to pick up the phone every time they call. You do have to respond when there’s a concern or they need help. Even if you can’t solve the problem yourself, direct them towards other resources or support networks that can help.
There are a few ways you can improve your communication with tenants. Sometimes, just being available to them will minimize their complaints. Especially if their chief complaint is that they can’t get in touch with you.
- Be willing to communicate in a variety of ways. Some tenants prefer phone calls or emails but others want to text or send instant messages.
- Invest in good technology. Plenty of platforms will alert you when you receive a message.
- Provide your contact information to tenants and establish how and when you’re willing to be contacted. Emergencies are obviously going to require 24/7 availability, but you can set boundaries about when you’ll answer the phone for non-essential issues.
- Make sure your tenants understand the difference between an emergency maintenance issue and a routine repair.
You don’t want to be best friends with your Roanoke tenants. In fact, that would only lead to new problems you don’t need. Forget the personal relationship. Instead, establish a respectful and professional relationship and a responsive style of communication. You’ll have fewer complaints.
Money Complaints: Rental Increases and Fees
Everything is getting more expensive, and that includes the cost of renting your property.
Tenants are going to react.
You don’t like paying more for things either. And, like you, tenants are sensitive about their money. If you raise the rent dramatically from year to year, you can expect complaints. You can also expect to lose tenants. You should also expect complaints when you’re coming up with new charges and sending separate bills for everything from parking to correspondence.
Rent increases are to be expected, and most of your tenants will likely expect them when it’s lease renewal time. But, you don’t want to be unreasonable. Don’t inspire complaints from your tenants by making huge rental increases.
We also recommend that you help them stay on track by making rental payments easy. Tenants will complain less when things are easier for them. With online rental payments, they can stay on top of rent with the click of a button. Allow them to pay everything in full each month instead of paying different bills for rent, water, pets, trash, and other costs.
Always, always be transparent. Don’t try to slip a new charge past your tenants. They’ll notice it, and they’ll be angry they weren’t told about it ahead of time. Explain why rent is going up. Provide market data that supports the new rent.
Professional Roanoke Property Management Reduces Complaints
If you hate the idea of confrontation and you don’t want to entertain the complaints of your tenants, we recommend working with a professional Roanoke property management company.
Leave the leasing, management, and maintenance to property managers who have experienced every tenant complaint you can imagine. You won’t have to worry about phone calls, emails, and requests for help. Your property managers will be your buffer, and a good management company will make sure your tenants are well-served and having an excellent rental experience.
Please contact us at Lawson Realty Group when you’re worried about tenant issues in Roanoke. We manage properties in Southwest Virginia throughout the Roanoke Valley, including Salem, Cave Spring, Hollins, Vinton, Glenvar, and Southwest Roanoke County.