Managing properties often involves managing people to some degree – at least when it comes to keeping the peace. Conflict is a part of life and when people with different values, lifestyles and personalities reside in close proximity of one another, there are bound to be occasional issues. Here’s how to handle these situations in an objective, professional and positive manner.
First and foremost, it’s important that you acknowledge a tenant’s complaint, regardless of how minor you may feel it is. Oftentimes, a person who is frustrated just needs to vent and feel heard. Let them know you recognize their concern.
Your tenants may appeal to you to help them resolve issues, but in many cases, it might actually be healthier for them to try and work things out on their own. If you feel an issue is minor enough that it won’t escalate, then provide advice on a solution and encourage them to find a compromise. If they prefer you to be present as a neutral third party, that’s fine, but they should still work through the issue on their own.
If the situation has surpassed the point where it can be amicably resolved without your involvement, it’s time for you to step in. Contact the tenant about which the complaint was made to let them know what’s going on. Try to be as diplomatic as possible and offer them the opportunity to share their side of the story. If there’s a way to resolve the issue right then and there, do so. If not, move on to the next step.
Arrange a meeting.
Invite both parties to sit down together in a neutral setting and allow them each to present their points. Make it clear right from the start that they should remain calm and respectful. Weigh in where necessary. For instance, if the complaint is about loud music, remind the offending party of the noise policy in the lease they signed. Whenever possible, try to encourage both parties to reach a compromise that they’re both comfortable with.
Send a letter or email to both parties summarizing the situation and confirming what the agreed upon resolution was. This serves as a good reminder and will also provide documentation should the situation arise again or deteriorate to the point where it becomes a legal matter.
Once some time has passed, it’s good practice to follow up with each tenant to see how things are going. If the problem is still ongoing, it may be time to consider issuing a violation or, in extreme cases, an eviction notice. (This is where the documentation will come in handy.)
One final note: if at any point either party is threatening, becoming physical or placing you or any other residents in danger, you should call the police right away. Your safety and that of your tenants supersedes any attempt at conflict resolution. In other words, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
What did we miss? Do you have some tried-and-true methods for managing conflict amongst your tenants? We’d love to hear about it! Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.