Common Tenant Complaints and How to Handle Them Professionally - Article Banner

One of the best reasons to hire a Baltimore property management company is to avoid the discomfort of having to manage tenant relationships. If you don’t like conflict, or you find it difficult to resolve problems professionally – you don’t want to be dealing with tenants on a daily basis. 

A lot of the tenants we’ve had the pleasure of working with are delightful. They’re communicative, responsible, fair, and willing to work with us to protect the properties they’re renting. Once in a while, however, we run into those difficult tenants who spend all of their time complaining. 

Tenant complaints can be annoying, especially if you’re trying your best to be responsive and provide a positive rental experience in your Baltimore investment property. 

There are different levels of complaining. Sometimes, the complaints are justified. If the heat isn’t working on a particularly cold night, of course there will be a complaint. If something that was just fixed breaks down again, we don’t blame tenants for being upset. 

Especially unpleasant tenants will escalate things quickly, and that’s when it’s a challenge to stay professional. Property managers have experience with difficult tenants. We know how to diffuse situations and listen to what tenants really need. We also know when we’re working with someone who won’t be happy to matter how much service we provide. 

While not every tenant complaint deserves your immediate time and attention, some of them are valid and worthy of a response and a commitment to making things right. 

Tenant complaints always require a professional response, no matter how petty or irritating you may find them. 

In our professional property management blog today, we want to address some of the most common complaints we hear from tenants and how to respond to them without losing your cool. 

Tenant Complaints about Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance complaints are tricky. You are legally responsible for providing a safe and habitable home for the tenants who rent your property. If there’s a sewer issue, a problem with running water or heat, or a safety hazard due to faulty wiring, plumbing, or roofing – these are not tenant complaints, necessarily. They are habitability issues and they need to be addressed by you as soon as possible. 

If your Baltimore tenant calls in the middle of a hot August night because the air conditioning isn’t working or a tree falls through a window during a fierce winter storm, these are not complaints. These are emergency maintenance requests. 

When there’s a sound process in place for receiving and responding to maintenance issues, you likely won’t have tenants complaining about repairs. They’ll be taken care of in a timely manner, and everyone will be happy. Your tenants will be comfortable, you will have fulfilled the responsibilities of a landlord, and your property’s condition will be intact. 

Complaints are different. Something becomes a complaint instead of a maintenance request when tenants are rude, threatening, or hostile. 

If a request is made and not responded to, you can surely understand why your tenants might complain. They don’t like to pay rent month after month when there are things in their home that are broken or failing. The level of frustration will escalate quickly if they’re ignored, talked down to, or treated with a lack of respect. Your tenants want to be heard, and they want their problems to be rectified.

Here are some good ways to avoid maintenance complaints and to handle any issues professionally:

    • Establish a process. Maybe you want tenants to call if there’s an emergency but put a routine request in writing.
    • Respond right away, even if it’s only to confirm you’ve received their message.
    • Be available. Provide your phone number in case there is an emergency.
    • Put together a great list of vendors who will respond quickly to your needs. 
    • Communicate with your tenants during and after the repairs are made.
    • Follow up with tenants to ensure that everything was taken care of professionally. 
    • If a tenant still has a complaint, schedule a phone call or a meeting so you can listen to their problems. After the conversation, send a brief email or letter that summarizes what was said and decided.   

We have studied tenant retention and turnover data. We know that one of the main reasons tenants leave their Baltimore rental property at the end of a lease term is a failure of their landlords to respond to maintenance. This is a terrible way to lose a good tenant. Take care of things that are broken or aging at the property. Not only does it prevent future complaints from tenants, it also preserves the condition of your investment. 

Baltimore Tenants and Communication Complaints

Are you responsive as a rental property owner? 

Are you available and accessible to your tenants?

Another major complaint that tenants will typically have about their landlords is that they cannot get their attention when they need it. Sometimes, property owners aren’t great about responding to the messages or phone calls that come in from tenants. 

We know you’re busy. We know you probably don’t want to hear about yet another minor issue. Maybe you suspect the tenant is going to complain about a neighbor or lack of parking or traffic or something over which you have no control. 

We understand not wanting to take those calls or engage in that dialogue.  

However, if you ignore your tenants, you run the risk of damaging your relationship. You don’t have to pick up the phone every time they call. You do have to respond when there’s a concern or they need help. Even if you can’t solve the problem yourself, direct them towards other resources or support networks that can help. Don’t leave them hanging. It will only add to their frustration and desperation.

Here are some good ways to improve your communication with tenants:

    • Be willing to communicate in a variety of ways. Some tenants prefer phone calls or emails but others want to text or send instant messages.
    • Invest in good technology. Plenty of platforms will alert you when you receive a message.
    • Provide your contact information to tenants and establish how and when you’re willing to be contacted. Emergencies are obviously going to require 24/7 availability, but you can set boundaries about when you’ll answer the phone for non-essential issues. 
    • Make sure your tenants understand the difference between an emergency maintenance issue and a routine repair.

There’s no need to become overly friendly with your Baltimore tenants. In fact, that will lead to new problems you don’t need. Instead, establish a respectful and professional relationship and style of communication.

Managing Complaints about Rental Increases and Fees

No one likes to be told that things are getting more expensive. You may have noticed that the cost of materials and labor have gone up over the last year or so. Maintenance and repairs are not cheap. You have probably complained once or twice about expenses, even though there’s little that can be done in a competitive market that’s facing supply issues. 

Like you, tenants are sensitive about their money. They don’t want to may more than they have to for anything, including the home they’re renting from you. When you raise the rent dramatically every year, you’re going to lose tenants. If you’re nickel and diming them and charging a separate fee for things like parking, online payments, and correspondence, you can expect complaints. 

Rent increases are to be expected, and most good tenants are going to expect them when it’s lease renewal time. But, you don’t want to be unreasonable. Don’t inspire complaints from your tenants by making huge rental increases. 

Make rental payments easy. Tenants will complain less when they have the ease of online rental payments. Allow them to pay everything in full each month instead of paying different bills for rent, water, pets, trash, and other costs. 

Always, always be transparent. Don’t try to slip a new charge past your tenants. They’ll notice it, and they’ll be angry they weren’t told about it ahead of time. Explain why rent is going up. Provide market data that supports the new rent.

Professional Baltimore Property Management and Tenant Relationships

The best way to manage your tenant relationships and to avoid complaints and disputes is to work with a professional Baltimore property management company. 

When you have property managers taking care of the leasing, maintenance, and tenant relations, you won’t have to worry about phone calls, emails, and requests for help. Your property managers will be your buffer, and a good management company will make sure your tenants are well-served and have an excellent rental experience. 

communicationTenant complaints are stressful, and you don’t need to be worrying about your renters and their opinion of you and your property. Hand it over to a management company like ours. We’d be happy to tell you more about how we minimize tenant complaints and maximize tenant satisfaction. Contact us at Stripe Management. We work with owners, investors, and properties in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County, Washington, D.C., Capitol Heights, District Heights, Baltimore, and anywhere in the DC metro area.