10 tips to avoid ten­ant com­plaints

The Progress-Index - At Home - - DEAR MONTY - By Richard Mont­gomery

Reader ques­tion: We own 75 units in 20 build­ings. My hus­band has a good day job, and I man­age the apart­ments. It is not easy work. We have had ten­ants oc­ca­sion­ally com­plain, but we have shrugged it off as sour grapes, or “It goes with the turf.” Yes­ter­day, we got a com­plaint let­ter that sev­eral ten­ants signed, which is up­set­ting. What makes a good land­lord? — Sue and Vic S.

Monty’s an­swer: Own­ing and man­ag­ing apart­ments are hard work. Man­age­ment prac­tices must be tai­lored to the en­vi­ron­ment, the clien­tele and work­ing con­di­tions. That said, there are prin­ci­ples to uti­lize any­where that can re­duce or elim­i­nate com­plaints. The re­sult is less turnover, less man­age­ment in­ter­ven­tion and hap­pier em­ploy­ees and oc­cu­pants.

1. Treat ten­ants re­spect­fully. We all know high-main­te­nance peo­ple. Whether late with the rent, a sharp tongue or un­rea­son­able re­quests, be­ing re­spect­ful can be dif­fi­cult. There are re­sources to learn about tech­niques to em­ploy deal­ing with dif­fi­cult peo­ple. Books that teach read­ers how to get along, a lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion with classes in deal­ing with dif­fi­cult peo­ple and even YouTube has videos on the sub­ject.

2. Be true to your word. If you say you will fix the fur­nace on Tues­day, fix it on Tues­day. You can ne­go­ti­ate to iden­tify a per­son, or com­pany to fix prob­lems on de­mand and is or­ga­nized and tal­ented enough to stay on sched­ule. Cre­ate a mind­set within the or­ga­ni­za­tion where ev­ery per­son in­volved in the “be­ing true to your word” process un­der­stands it and has been trained and su­per­vised to carry it out.

3. Keep your prop­erty in top shape. Pre­ven­tive main­te­nance, timely re­pairs by qual­i­fied peo­ple and uti­liz­ing prod­ucts best de­signed for the job will pay div­i­dends. If paint peels, paint it. When an air con­di­tioner breaks down, fix it or re­place it. Some­thing is wrong If you have no re­pair fund. Es­tab­lish a monthly re­place­ment re­pair fund.

4. Be picky about ac­cept­ing ten­ants. It is tempt­ing to “take a chance” on a prospec­tive ten­ant. On the other hand, if they be­come a col­lec­tion prob­lem you have gone back­ward. Re­view your rent up pro­ce­dures and credit re­port ser­vice.

5. Get or­ga­nized to min­i­mize com­mon is­sues. An ex­am­ple is a move-in/move-out re­port. In­sti­tute this sim­ple piece of pa­per. A visit on the move-out day can of­ten re­duce prob­lems be­fore they hap­pen. Be there to deal with is­sues help­ing them get their se­cu­rity de­posit back; most will ap­pre­ci­ate it. In­clude your house rules as a part of the lease and in­form them be­fore they sign a lease how the move out will oc­cur.

6. Train and man­age em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors closely. A spe­cific

em­ployee is of­ten the source of ten­ant com­plaints. When bring­ing a new em­ployee or new ven­dor into a re­la­tion­ship with you and your com­pany, an ori­en­ta­tion book­let, and spe­cific train­ing to set the de­sired ex­pec­ta­tion is vi­tal. Even bet­ter if that con­ver­sa­tion takes place as part of the in­ter­view process.

7. Pay your ven­dors on time. “Fast pay makes for good friends” is an im­por­tant part of hold­ing a good team to­gether. What kind of a mes­sage does a con­trac­tor or em­ployee re­ceives with slow pay when you re­ally need them?

8. Stay close to the busi­ness. It is your re­spon­si­bil­ity to know how your build­ings are be­ing man­aged. Be­ing on the premises reg­u­larly and talk­ing to em­ploy­ees, con­trac­tor and ten­ants al­lows you to keep a pulse on the hap­pen­ings. Are the neigh­bors get­ting along? Did the con­trac­tor fin­ish paint­ing the floor as agreed? Did the Jones move-in go as planned?

9. Be fair, con­sis­tent and fol­low-through. When this prin­ci­ple is in place, the ten­ants, em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors know they can ex­pect this level of treat­ment in a re­la­tion­ship with you and your com­pany; it is nat­u­ral that they will re­cip­ro­cate in kind. While the ten­ant does not have the same mo­ti­va­tion as the oth­ers, it is your job as the leader to men­tor and teach your em­ploy­ees to live the prin­ci­ple.

10. Think like a stew­ard. A stew­ard is some­one who man­ages an­other’s prop­erty. See your­self as a tem­po­rary cus­to­dian who will dili­gently care for the prop­erty un­til you pass it to the next “stew­ard,” only a bet­ter prop­erty than when you found it.

Think of other ex­am­ples that could ap­ply to spe­cific tips. It is not easy, but if a prop­erty owner prac­ticed each and ev­ery one of th­ese prin­ci­ples, it would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for a ten­ant or ten­ants to find a rea­son to com­plain.

DEAR MONTY

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