Being a landlord comes with a slew of responsibilities. Chief among these responsibilities is managing tenant complaints. It goes without saying that how you manage tenant complaints can make or break your rental investment.
If you're able to handle them efficiently, you may be able to enjoy long-term tenancies. But if you’re not, the opposite may be true. Tenants who feel that their concerns haven’t been resolved will often look for another place to stay.
Generally, tenant complaints are categorized into four issues: maintenance, noise, pets, and pest infestations.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to do to resolve tenant complaints.
This is by far the most common kind of tenant complaint. Tenants get frustrated when they feel their maintenance requests aren’t been taken seriously.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure your rental property is up to standard. Ignoring a serious maintenance will impact the rental habitability, which can cause you legal trouble.
Texas has specific health and safety codes that provide the minimum standards for rental units.
If you fail to meet those standards, especially after multiple requests from your tenant, a court could consider such tenants “constructively evicted", and they can legally break their lease.
So, once your tenant notifies you of a maintenance issue, respond immediately. Let your tenant know that you're working to find a solution as quickly as possible.
Besides responding to maintenance issues, you should also carry out routine inspections. That’s because some tenants may not tell you about certain issues or notice them at all, and they can turn out to be potentially serious later on.
Noise complaints are also common in the life of a landlord. It can be difficult to control the noise level in a unit, since chances are, you aren’t actually living there. That said, you have certain legal rights when dealing with noisy tenants.
Some of the most common sources of noise in a rental include neighbors yelling, crying children, barking dogs, and large, noisy parties.
If a tenant in one unit is disrupting tenants in another, you have an obligation to investigate the situation and take the necessary action. Of course, the first step is talking to the tenant to get details. Find out when the noise occurred, how long it lasted, whether it’s recurring or a one-off thing, and so on.
If it occurred just once, a warning might suffice. But if the problem is persistent, then it may be in your best interest to evict the tenant by serving them a cure or quit notice.
This will give them two options: to stop further violations or move out. If the noise still continues, you may be left with no other option than to evict the tenant. At that point, it may be better to rid the property of the problem than risk losing your good tenants.
What if the source of the problem is outside your control? Well, in such a case, you can ask your tenant to speak directly to the person causing the noise. It’s possible that the neighbor may not even realize that their actions are disruptive to other people.
If the individual is also a tenant, try speaking to their landlord. The neighbor might become more responsive, as they might not want to get into bad terms with their landlord. And if all the aforementioned options don’t work, have law enforcement involved.
As a landlord, you’ll also have to deal with issues revolving around pets. The issue could be strong odors, excessive noise or an aggressive animal.
To address such an issue, you’ll need to gauge the seriousness of the complaint. While some complaints are just nuisances, others may require immediate action. Examples of low priority complaints include:
• Dog barks once a day at the mailman.
• Pet had a one-time accident in the building that the owner cleaned up.
These may lack actual merit to them or make no difference whether they're addressed immediately or after a week.
Examples of high priority complaints include:
• An illegal or unauthorized animal in the unit.
• Animal is a threat to the residents’ safety.
In situations where a tenant feels unsafe, you’ll need to act fast in order to keep your tenant happy.
Next, you’ll need to investigate the complaint further. Talk to the tenant who made the complaint, as well as the tenant whom the complaint was made against. This will help you get both sides of the story. Also, try speaking to other tenants in order to hear their experience with the animal.
Once you're done, determine whether the tenant and their pet have violated the terms of your lease. If it did, then act accordingly.
If you have a no-pets policy, then the tenant would be in violation of the terms of the lease by keeping a pet. You have multiple options to pursue, including requesting the tenant to remove their pet or fining them and allowing them to keep the pet.
Nothing can turn a renter off more than the existence of pests. Common pests include cockroaches, termites and bedbugs. These are upsetting and can make a place no longer habitable.
Now, the responsibility for pest control depends on the source of the issue. As a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure the property is pest-free before a new tenant moves in. You must also deal with issues that might leave the home open to pest infestation. For example, torn screens, openings in doors and windows, broken seals and cracks in walls.
A pest infestation may also become your tenant’s responsibility under certain situations. That is, if the infestation can be linked to your tenant’s behavior. For instance, creating conditions of excess moisture that provide an environment for pest proliferation.
Tenants want reassurance from their landlords that their issues will be dealt with promptly and efficiently. If you're able to do that, you may be able to retain your tenants for the long haul.
Preventing Tenant Complaints
If you don't have time to tend to every aspect of managing your property, we understand. Every landlord has a lot of responsiblities, and a few mistakes can lead to complaints.
If you don't have the time or energy to deal with tenant complaints, consider a professional property management company like Limestone Country. We'll find great tenants for your rental units, and keep them happy with consistent maintenance and attention to their needs. Get in touch today to learn more!