5 Steps for Successfully Handling Tenant Complaints
There are endless things that tenants can complain about. Regardless of what the complaint is about, you should not change the manner in which you, as the landlord, respond to the complaint. Being understanding, calm and professional will have a huge effect on and your ability to successfully resolve the issue. While you may have to adjust your response slightly depending on the type of complaint, there are certain steps you should always take.
Step 1: Listen to the Complaint
One way to come to a successful resolution is to actually listen to what your tenant is telling you. Being respectful and understanding of the tenant's issue may help to keep the tenant calm and will help you be more receptive to their problem. However, if you do not ask questions as to the exact location of the leak and the strength of the water flow, you will fail to realize that this is not the leak you are already aware of, it is actually a burst pipe that needs to be fixed immediately. So, you should always listen carefully to the tenant’s exact complaint and ask follow up questions so you know exactly what is going on.
Step 2: Be Available
If a tenant feels as though you are never available, they will be easily frustrated. This isn't to say that a tenant should be able to reach you 24 hours a day, every day of the week. You should have normal business hours when a tenant can contact you, for example from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. on weekdays. During these hours, you should readily respond to tenant phone calls or emails. You should make it known that tenants should not contact you outside of these hours unless it is an emergency. Be sure to have an emergency plan in place at your property so your tenants know what is considered a real emergency and what can wait until normal business hours.
Step 3: Address Complaints in a Timely Manner
Another important factor is how quickly you respond to a tenant’s issue. Depending on the severity of their complaint, you do not necessarily have to drop everything to remedy it, but you do need to fix the issue within a reasonable amount of time. A leak or broken front door lock need to be fixed immediately, while things like a broken kitchen cabinet handle or cracked tile can wait a couple of days.
Step 4: Show Genuine Concern
Dismissing a tenant’s concern is a quick way to create hostility. Regardless of how you feel about how valid their complaint is, you must always make them feel that their complaint is important and that you will do everything in your power to fix it as soon as possible. You want the tenant to feel that you are on their side, rather than being their evil landlord nemesis.
Step 5: Be Professional
You must always conduct yourself in a professional manner. This is your business and you cannot allow emotions to cloud your judgment. If a tenant is screaming, never scream back. Do not curse. Do not put yourself in legal jeopardy by threatening or resorting to tactics like ignoring maintenance requests or fiddling with a tenant’s utilities. It is your responsibility to keep your cool at all times.