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Houston Property Management Tips

February 2012: Handling Tenant Issues

In a perfect world of landlord/tenant relations, the rent is never late; there are never maintenance problems, emergencies, or any other difficulties; tenants are never angry. However, this delightful scenario is generally not the case and difficult situations take serious consideration and action. However, as your Property Management Company, we normally serve as a buffer between owner and tenant during unpleasant events.

When facing an angry tenant, it is not wise to point out that you have not caused their problems and they are being unreasonable. Ignoring tenant demands, maintenance issues, or emergencies will only escalate matters at hand. As professional Property Managers, we know there are key steps to take when facing difficult issues.

Determine the Problem
First, you need to define the problem as clearly as possible. Taking the time to listen patiently to the angry tenant can reveal there may be more happening than the immediate issue. Example: a tenant is unreasonably angry and threatening non-payment of rent because the dishwasher quit working. Of course, this is unreasonable for a non-emergency repair. Then they reveal they are worried about a very bad performance review at work; the dishwasher was simply the catalyst for their outrage because they fear losing their job and the ability to meet their rental obligations.

Implement a Plan of Action
Next, taking steps to resolve the issue as soon as possible is vital when faced with an angry resident. Delays or avoidance of the situation will increase the tenants' aggravation and could possibly give them grounds for future legal action.

Keep the Tenants Informed
During any difficult situation, it is important to keep the residents informed, by written or verbal communication until you achieve resolution. If they feel no one is responding to their problems, they will only become more antagonistic. Example: a scheduled dishwasher repair can help diffuse the tenant's anger; then, discussing their financial concerns and options on what to do if they lose their job may reduce their anxieties and hostility.

Always Follow Up
Showing the tenant that you have enough concern to verify that a repair was successful, an emergency resolved, or to inquire about their welfare can make a big difference in the landlord/manager/tenant relationship. In addition, finding out in advance there are still more problems to solve could prevent more conflicts with the tenant.

Most tenant issues work out peaceably. However, there are times when problems can escalate and the services of an experienced attorney in landlord/tenant law are required for resolution and expediency.

Document the Events
If another issue arises with the same tenant, or the same problem reoccurs, it is important to show what action items took place. Keeping an orderly and complete record of everything, such as work orders, paid bills, written correspondence, verbal conversations, and more, is a necessity.

The way to resolve tenant issues is to listen, plan a course of action, communicate, follow up, and document all actions. This is part of our commitment to provide "professional property management" for your investment.