Are you having a challenging time dealing with feuding tenants? This landlord’s guide to managing tenants’ disputes might be the solution you need. Not everyone gets along with their neighbors, and that’s fine. Unfortunately, when you have two renters at war, they could become a threat to your property or each other. Sometimes, a landlord’s responsibility is to intervene or get your property manager involved.
This article tackles how to decide the right time to intervene and discusses helpful tips to guide you when you do.
When Should You Get Involved in a Tenants’ Dispute
1. When it Involves the Property
During the virtual tour or house viewing of your property, tenants were ecstatic to learn their new home would have a yard or a pool. However, since it’s a shared property, they now clash with their neighbors on how to use and care for the space. Shared spaces are common grounds for dispute amongst tenants, and when one party feels slighted, it could be cause for argument. Under such circumstances, as the landlord, you have to step in and mediate the issue.
2. If it Involves the Infringement of a Tenant’s Rights
After spending a lot of time and money on generating real estate leads, the last thing you want is to have trouble with tenant retention. If one of your renters feels their rights aren’t fully observed on the property, it might be a cause for them to look elsewhere. For instance, if your policy states that you provide parking but one resident has two cars and takes up another resident’s space, frustration could boil over. In that case, you have to step in and enforce the offending party’s lease terms.
3. If You’re Asked to Mediate
Finally, you might have no choice but to get involved when a tenant complains. Since one of your responsibilities is to tend to tenant complaints, you cannot ignore the issue when a renter seeks your intervention.
Tips for Resolving Tenant Disputes
1. Lay Down the Law
The best way to resolve a conflict is to avoid it altogether. Thus, it would be in your best interest to lay down the law early in the tenancy. It’s common for leases to contain clauses that outline what renters have access to and how to treat the property. You can take it further by modifying your agreement to include mutual respect for other tenants. For example, you can specify that loud music and smoking in public spaces are strictly prohibited. This tip will make it easier to enforce law and order.
2. Listen to Both Parties
Next, don’t be too hasty to condemn the offender when a tenant complains. Remember that there are two sides to every story, so you have to take the time to source the facts from both parties. Listen attentively to the complaining party first, then cross-check the information with the offending party. Some experts discourage naming the complainant to avoid brewing more contempt.
If the offending party is wrong, set the record straight and admonish their behavior. However, if they have a defense or a rebuttal, it’s only fair you listen as well.
3. Set up a Meeting
In some cases, it might be necessary to have a sit-down meeting with both parties so they can resolve their differences. Such discussions can be beneficial as they allow everyone to air out their grievances, apologize, and reach a resolution. However, remember that since your job is to act as a mediator. If one of your tenants feels you’re biased, it could worsen the situation. If you’re unsure of your ability to remain impartial, you may recommend calling in a third party or a professional to oversee the meeting.
4. Document All Communication
Another advisable tip is to document all communications between you and the tenants in conflict. Keep a running record of all texts, emails, phone calls, and photos applicable for documentation’s sake. If the conflict escalates to a lawsuit, you might need your records as a witness or in your defense. Also, having a written description of whatever resolution both parties agree on makes it easier to enforce.
5. Follow up
Finally, you need to follow up on whatever resolution your tenants agree to. After all, how else would you know if the matter is genuinely fixed? If the offending party is still proving difficult to live with, you may issue them an eviction notice depending on the type of offense. You can attach relevant documentation from the failed conflict resolution to support your actions in that scenario. Also, if the offender verbally or physically threatens you or the other party, you may need to involve the police. Calling law enforcement can help de-escalate the situation and protect you from further harassment.
When you have two renters that get on each others’ nerves, it could negatively impact their tenancy and other residents on the property. While it might be tempting to sit it out and hope they resolve it on their own, sometimes landlords have to get into the mix. Laying down the law is a helpful preventive tactic, but you have to act as the unbiased mediator when that doesn’t work. Listen to both sides of the story, set up a meeting if necessary, and follow up on any devised resolution. Understandably, this process can be tedious. So it might be worthwhile for you to hire a property manager who can help keep the peace on your property and protect your investment.