As a landlord or facility manager, you will always have to deal with complaints. Your top priority is keeping your residents happy because happy residents STAY. An empty unit or apartment is not making you any money. How quickly you remedy the complaint is important but it’s also important how quickly you respond to it. Communication is key and oftentimes can smooth over a tense situation. It’s also important to be ready for the most common complaints you may hear so you are ready to tackle them.
Five Common Resident Complaints
Rent is too high. Everything is expensive right now! Even in areas that are able to remain flat, rent is one of the biggest expenses for most Americans. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that at least some of your residents will complain about their rent being too high – especially if you’ve recently raised it. If you’re making a decent profit and your resident has been paying consistently on time, you might consider renegotiating their rent or giving them a break. If you’re unable, point out examples of comparable properties that have similar rents to show you’re offering them a fair deal.
My neighbors are noisy. Living in an apartment usually means a neighbor above, below, and to both the left and right! Too much noise can make it difficult to concentrate and all but impossible to sleep. Unfortunately, you probably won’t have direct control over every source of noise that generates complaints. If a resident is irritated by a neighbor who’s too loud or noisy at inappropriate hours, you should have a conversation with the noisemaker. There should be rules posted in common areas about what is expected from the people living in your building and how to be a “good neighbor.” If you have a rule that 11:00 p.m. is quiet time, you have something to point to when someone is playing loud music at midnight.
There are pests. Nobody wants to live with pests. As a renter, your residents aren’t able to just call in a pest control company to handle unwanted guests in their apartment. The only recourse they have is to complain to you about it. This is one you need to respond to quickly and aggressively with a pest control company you trust. Cockroaches in the kitchen can be extremely upsetting and bed bugs in any apartment can mean them spreading to the whole building in record time. So, not only do you want to take care of your residents and their comfort, but you want to get in front of pests so you can deal with them before they become a full-blown infestation. The last thing you want is your residents trying out DIY pest control. That only pushes pests into neighboring units and will exacerbate the problem rather than deal with it. Having a local exterminator on speed dial is good but having them come in to do routine inspections inside apartments (some can even offer bed bug sniffing dogs for ultimate proactive control), around the building, and in trash/dumpster areas is better.
The security deposit shouldn’t be withheld. There are many good reasons to withhold a resident’s security deposit. If repairs need to be made or a carpet replaced as a result of damage done by the resident, it’s perfectly reasonable to withhold the security deposit. That’s what it’s for, after all. Be ready, though, because most residents will fight to get their security deposit back. If you’re confident about your decision to withhold the deposit, stick to your guns and explain your reasons directly and assertively.
The lease agreement has been breached. Your resident will likely complain or demand a resolution if you’ve breached the lease agreement. (Keep that in mind if they have breached the agreement as well.) The devil is in the details on this complaint. Make sure you review the agreement (possibly with a lawyer) and compare your actions carefully to determine whether you might have committed the breach. Let the residents know you are looking into it and give them an estimated time when you will get back to them on it. Just keeping them in the loop can help diffuse the situation.
These are just 5 of the more common complaints you will hear from residents at your building. If you’re ready with a response to them, you can get ahead of it. Here are a few general strategies you can use when handling resident complaints.
How to Handle Resident Complaints
- Hire a property management company to take care of complaints for you.
- Have a conversation. Much of the time, resident complaints can be resolved with a simple conversation to fully understand their needs.
- Remain polite. There’s no need to be defensive. Often, residents just want to be heard and making them feel like they are will go a long way.
- Document everything from the initial conversation to your final resolution and share it with the resident.
- Keep them in the loop. We’ve said that a few times here – that’s because it’s so important. You can avoid additional calls from the resident if they are kept up to date on the resolution of the complaint.
Complaints happen in every business – your multifamily building is certainly no exception. But it does seem like apartment buildings are more susceptible to complaining. It could be because there are so many people with differing opinions and ideas. It could be because these are people’s homes, and their home should be their safe space. No matter the reason why, if you’re ready for the more common ones and you know how to handle them, you will be ahead of the game.