In the Business of Rentals? Conflict Management Tips For Landlords
When you manage rental properties, tenant relations are smooth and stress-free most of the time. Especially if you use a thorough rental application and interview all prospective renters, your tenants will likely pay their rent on time, be respectful, and stick to their lease.
However, this is not always the case. You will likely deal with tenants who violate lease terms, are disruptive to neighbors, and are late with payments. While tenant-landlord conflict management can be challenging, you can preserve your integrity as a landlord and commit to your lease terms by staying calm and sticking to a protocol.
This guide will provide some basic tips to help you rationally handle the issues in front of you.
Have clear policies in place.
The most important step in tenant-landlord conflict resolution is to have clear written policies. Be sure that the lease is thorough, outlining the property rules and the consequences of breaking them. For example, the lease might state that rent is due on the fifth of every month. It would then outline actions you will take, such as sending written reminders and making phone calls. Be clear about when you will take legal action.
You should also have a lawyer look over the lease to ensure that you are in compliance with state and federal laws. Review this document regularly to ensure that it is up to date with your rental business. By taking the lease language seriously and ensuring that all tenants understand the parameters, you can minimize tenant conflict from the start.
Talk in person.
As with any type of serious discussion, landlord-tenant issues should be handled face-to-face. You might send a written reminder or email when the incident or missed payment occurs, but schedule an in-person meeting if the issue isn’t resolved right away.
During this meeting, speak calmly and outline the issue logically. When it is the tenant’s turn to speak, be sure to listen carefully and avoid interrupting. As the landlord, you should be controlling the situation.
When handling any type of dispute with a tenant, you need to have as many supporting documents as possible. This includes the lease, letters you wrote to them, email correspondence, and text messages. If you have a tenant who was late on rent or had multiple noise violations, keep all of their offenses on record. These will be essential in supporting your case if you need to take legal action.
Hire a mediation service.
If you are unable to speak with the client without escalating the situation, consider hiring a professional mediator. Having a third party involved can help find common ground and understanding between you and the tenant. Inform your client that the mediator is simply there to guide the conversation. They are not there to create an agreement or have legal control.
Know when to take legal action.
Even if you do everything you can to settle a disagreement with your tenant, you might need to take legal action. For missing rent payments, this can mean going to small claims court. Remember that legal help is essential for all types of cases. Find a lawyer who specializes in tenant-landlord law. They will help you build a case and take the most appropriate course of legal action.
From unauthorized pets to late rent, you will have to handle various conflicts as a landlord. Fortunately, with the right lease language and legal help, you can take appropriate action and prevent these incidents in the future. By properly vetting tenants from the time they fill out the rental application, you can ensure that you rent to responsible individuals. And over time, you will learn to manage the few issues that arise like a pro.
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