Landlords are used to hearing complaints from tenants –everything from heating or air
conditioning issues to concerns about neighbors playing music too loud. How you handle such
complaints can make the difference between a successful rental situation and serious tenant
issues that might even land you in court.
Of course, some tenants complain a great deal about even minor issues. Dealing with such
tenants can take a lot of patience. But your patience will pay off with happier tenants and a lot
Here are some tips about handling common tenant complaints:
Listening: The first tip is very simple: listen. No matter how trivial or annoying the
complaint, pay close attention to your tenant and treat them with respect. Once you fully
understand their complaint, repeat it back to them to ensure that you have correctly
understood the issue.
Determining urgency: Next, determine the urgency of the issue and possible solutions.
For example, if the tenant has no heat on a winter day, you obviously need to get the
situation resolved immediately. A minor leak in the kitchen sink has lower priority but
still must be addressed as soon as possible. If appropriate, you can ask the tenant to send
a short video or photos of the issue.
Cooperating: It’s always a good idea to work with the tenant to get them vested in the
solution and not just the problem. Make sure to engage with the tenant in a cooperative
and not adversarial way.
Identifying solutions: Sometimes the tenant’s problem is not an obvious maintenance
issue like a leaky faucet. In such cases, ask them how they believe that you as the
landlord can help. For instance, a tenant recovering from back surgery may have trouble
lifting their garage door. An effective landlord will find an alternative solution – which
might be anything from opening the door for the tenant to providing temporary street
parking to installing an automatic garage door opener.
Obtaining access: If the solution involves a third party such as an electrician or plumber
gaining access to the property, ask your tenants when would be a good time for that party
to stop in and have a look. Also, find out if the tenant is comfortable with the third party
coming when they are not home since that can head off any scheduling issues.
Following up: Once you’ve resolved the situation, be sure to check back with your
tenants to make sure they’re satisfied with the resolution.
Obviously, effective communication with the tenant is essential throughout the notification and
handling of any complaint. An experienced property manager has the management,
communication, and diplomatic skills to make sure that the property is well maintained and the
tenants are satisfied with their living arrangements.