13 Feb 2018 | Property Managment, Landlord Tips

Top Tips for Handling Tenant Complaints like a Seasoned Professional

Have a Plan in Place

Even with the most careful management of your rental properties, you are bound to get some complaints from your tenants now and then. Whether it is a leaky faucet, a noisy neighbour or a pest infestation, the way you handle the complaint will impact how satisfied your residents feel living in your property. Here's how to manage complaints like a pro.

Have a Plan in Place

The first step is to create a plan for how you'll handle incoming complaints. Follow these tips to get started on the right foot:

  • How will your tenants submit complaints? You can have them call you directly, send an email or submit a request through your property's website or mobile app, for example.
  • Determine who will address the issue. Will you handle it personally, or will your property manager take care of the details? You don't want any issues falling through the cracks.
  • Outline an expected timeframe for common complaints. Let the tenants know how long they can expect it to take to resolve the issue. For example, a leaky faucet might take only a day to fix, while a burst pipe could take up to a week.
  • Create a system for documenting complaints. For each complaint, you should provide updates regarding the steps taken to address the issue and any correspondence with the tenant relating to the complaint. This way, you'll have documentation to back up your claims for insurance or legal purposes.

Identify the Type of Complaint

Not all complaints are created equal. You'll need to determine which type of complaint you are dealing with, such as:

  • Maintenance Issues: These will likely be the most common complaints you receive, including things like broken or jammed locks, missing window screens and burnt-out light fixtures. Typically, these issues are relatively easy to address, but there are occasions when a task might require more work, like issues relating to water damage or mould.
  • Neighbour Complaints: Problems with neighbours are quite common as well, but they require a bit more care to handle appropriately. In many cases, the neighbour who is the source of the complaint may not realise how noisy they are, or that their dog barks all day while they are at work. A simple note or a polite conversation can often do the trick. If the complaints continue or they won't cooperate, you may have to take some aggressive measures, including eviction, if necessary.
  • Property-Wide Problems: This category includes things like pest control, external security, swimming pool maintenance and other issues that affect all residents in your property. These types of issues can often take some time to address, so do your best to keep your tenants informed throughout the process so that they know you are working on the problem.
  • Suggestions for Improvement: Items in this category are not necessarily complaints, but rather ideas for how to make life at your property better for your tenants. They include updates like new washers in the communal laundry room, adding a swimming pool or doing some landscaping. These are great options for when you have extra room in the budget, but legitimate complaints should always take priority over suggested improvements.

Respond in a Professional Manner

To keep your tenants happy, you need to take care of their complaints like a professional. Here's what to how to respond to your tenants:

  • Have someone available, either you or your property manager, to answer any tenant questions throughout the process.
  • Be honest and straightforward about how long the process will take.
  • Always respond to questions and complaints as quickly as possible.
  • If a complaint will take more than a day or two, update your tenants regularly, so they know things are progressing.

In a perfect world, you'd never receive any tenant complaints at all, but that is virtually impossible in the real world. If you follow the tips outlined here, though, you'll be well on your way to keeping your tenants happy and their complaints to a minimum.

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