You could be the fairest and most flexible property owner imaginable, but that doesn't mean you're not going to encounter difficult residents. No matter what you do, it seems impossible to make one of these renters delighted—or even just satisfied! Not only is it challenging to deal with difficult residents, but it's also a stressor that can impact the returns from your home rentals, Seattle investors.
Thankfully, you're not alone: an expert Seattle property manager knows exactly how to approach communication and encourage cooperation with such residents. At Real Property Associates, we have years of experience serving renters and property owners across Seattle! This gives us some unique insight into what might be causing your problems.
Today, we're discussing best practices for dealing with difficult residents to try and make the rental experience more enjoyable for everyone!
Please note: The information available in this article is not a substitute for legal advice. Reach out to your attorney or the experts at Real Property Associates for real-time assistance!
Manage Your Attitude First
When a resident comes at you with a combative tone, it's natural to react negatively. However, it isn't in your best interest to match their behavior. Instead, it would be best if you assessed your reaction and managed your attitude before dealing with how they're acting. Start by remaining as calm and patient as possible no matter how a resident is behaving.
- When they calm down, they'll appreciate that you took the time to listen to their grievances.
- When you're trying to diffuse a hostile situation, listening and remaining calm goes a long way.
- Always be willing to compromise: this doesn't mean you're bending the rules or allowing them to violate lease conditions. Instead, you're looking at things from your resident's point of view.
You might encounter a situation where you don't understand the renter's reasoning. However, there are ways to work with the resident despite that.
For example, if they're consistently late on payments, sit down and figure out a different due date. There are several professions that are scheduled and paid irregularly, making rent payments for this group a challenge.
Maintain Professional Boundaries
Some residents want to be friends with everyone, including property owners. That's where things can become complicated—especially if renters have complaints or are voicing issues regularly. An expert Seattle property management partner helps keep things professional by acting as the middleman between you and your renters.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't be cordial and friendly with those living in your home rentals, Seattle investors! Instead, it's important to delineate that you're not developing friendships. Keeping relationships professional helps prevent things from 'getting personal' or allowing emotions to become part of the equation. Maintaining professional boundaries also includes not renting to friends and family.
Renting to friends and family could backfire for the following reasons:
- They might take advantage of their relationship with you by being late on rent consistently
- They might not take care of your property as well as a typical renter
- Rental agreements might cause issues with your relationship if disagreements occur
- It isn't easy to resolve violated lease terms if the offender happens to be a friend or family member
- Friends or family members might expect preferential treatment for repairs or requests.
Document Everything Thoroughly
When you receive work orders, make sure you use a ticketed system. That way, when a work order ticket is complete, you can mark the task, it's completion, who or what company completed it, and when. If you don't have time for managing this documentation, it's a mistake to let it go. Instead, trust an expert Seattle property manager to handle such crucial documentation for each of your rental properties.
It would be best if you also logged every communication. This strategy includes keeping a call log when phone inquiries come in, as well as saving email messages. If the resident communicates a complaint or issue to you over the phone, follow it up with a formal letter outlining how you addressed or intend to address the issue.
Keep a record of:
- Complaints you receive and how you received them (on the phone, through email, or in-person)
- Every interaction you have with the resident, especially those that are volatile
- Interactions the resident has with property managers
- All payments you receive and when.
Be Aware of Serial Squatters
By nature, some residents are always going to be difficult. However, some purposely look for trouble once they find a way into your home rentals, Seattle investors. Some refer to these individuals as 'Serial Squatters' or 'Professional Tenants.' Thankfully, it's usually possible to screen these trouble-makers out before they move into your rental property.
Best practices for screening future applicants include:
- Conducting a criminal background check
- Verifying rental history, including evictions
- Requesting income verification, including an employment history
- Running a credit report
- Following up with all references
- Documenting employee performance and behavior with previous rentals
- Researching their previous address to prove their stay was real.
High-quality screening not only ensures you rent to the highest quality renters, but it also helps weed out those that could cause problems. Working with Seattle property management as well ensures this best practice is a priority during the leasing process.
Hire a Property Manager to Get Distance From Difficult Renters
Seattle property managers not only know how to diffuse challenging situations, but they can also prevent them by using a variety of strategies that come from years of experience. However, to put this kind of expertise to work for your portfolio, you need to ensure that you have the right property manager first!
That's why we put together a guide to help investors learn more about finding the best property manager. Get started by downloading your copy of our Guide to Finding the Best Property Management Company in Seattle!