In an ideal world, your tenants get along without any problems. In reality, minor and major problems occur as a result of differing lifestyles, lack of communication, or inconsiderate behavior. Your tenants should handle most minor disputes among themselves, without requiring your input, as solving every issue that comes up between tenants could take a significant amount of your time. Some of your tenants may expect meditation with all of their disputes, though, and some situations require your direct attention.
Setting Mediation Expectations
Let your tenants know mediation expectations upfront so they know when you will step in and when you will allow tenants to figure it out for themselves. Write these expectations into the lease or include it in the tenant's resources. Give examples of appropriate landlord mediation situations, the process for involving you in the dispute and the resolution methods available. You also want to make it clear that tenants are expected to work out minor disputes among themselves, if possible, to cut down on the hands-on time you spend engaged in mediation.
Lease Clause Complaints
Tenant disputes related to lease clauses are the type of situation most likely to require your attention. These complaints revolve around tenants who are breaking a lease clause of some sort, such as denying another tenant's quiet enjoyment of her home, keeping animals in a pet-free house, or conducting a business out of the home. Remind tenants about their legal responsibility to follow the terms of the lease contract if they want to remain in your property.
In the event of noise complaints, find out when the noise problems are and how loud the noise level actually is. Use a decibel recorder, if necessary. Some tenants are more sensitive and complain even when sound levels are reasonable. Additional soundproofing measures or even a white noise machine may quell this issue before it becomes a major problem.
Tenants may have minor complaints about where another tenant parked or perhaps what items are left on the tenant's patio or strewn across a common area. Encourage tenants to work out these minor issues by directly communicating with each other. Try to avoid stepping in before the tenants have time to work the situation out themselves. Don't let a lot of minor annoyances pile up without being addressed, though, as you don't want high tenant turnover due to passive-aggressive behavior. In the event of an ongoing issue, request that tenants document the situation and the steps taken to resolve the complaint before involving you.
Step in as soon as possible if a tenant has concerns of a criminal nature. These concerns may be about direct threats or violence from another tenant, allegations of drug use or production, or other concerns best addressed by the appropriate authorities. If you suspect a potentially dangerous situation with a tenant, contact the police for assistance while finding out more about the situation. If criminal activity is occurring on your property, most states have landlord-tenant laws facilitating eviction within a few days to minimize the potential for harm.
Knowing the appropriate time to step in to solve tenant problems helps you promote a healthy environment at your properties. Some situations, such as criminal complaints, need your direct intervention, while others benefit from some tenant-to-tenant time.
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