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How to Avoid Conflict with Tenants

How to Avoid Conflict with Tenants

From making repairs to making payments, there are a number of conflict sources in the tenant-landlord relationship. It can be a mutually beneficial and even wonderful thing when all is right, but when it no longer is, the relationship can take a hit.

Conflict avoidance is the best approach, and we’ve put together the following five actions that any property management can employ.

  1. Communicate—The best way to avoid conflict is to be clear, thorough, and consistent in all communications from the very beginning. This means having a lease that is well defined, ongoing conversations and reminders with tenants about their responsibilities, and ease of access to digital or print versions of property policies and guidelines. You also want to keep in mind that it’s always best to deal with any issues in writing – either via email or print – so there is a written record for everyone.
  2. Listen actively—It’s easy to only halfway listen to someone who has a differing view from your own (or not at all). But, it’s imperative to not only listen, but do so actively. Listen not only for words, but for what’s behind the words, including body language. Repeat back what is said to you so the other person can confirm understanding. This not only demonstrates caring and sensitivity (important to most), but may help you see things in a different way as well.
  3. Be open—Every interaction needs to be approached with an open, teachable spirit. You may feel very abused or taken advantage of when it comes to tenant relations (there are plenty of managers who do), but caring that around only taints the situation and creates further animosity between you. Let everything go and approach conversations with a mind that is willing to at least hear what the other person has to say. For this to work, they have to be open as well, but your actions can set the tone.
  4. Use reinforcements—You have a lease and property policies there for a reason. Don’t ever be afraid to use them. If a situation begins to turn toward conflict, identify the source (e.g., on-time payment, damages and repairs), and reiterate the terms of the agreement. This is best done in writing as well.
  5. Stand your ground—In the end, there is always the possibility of either a very difficult tenant or a very difficult situation in which you simply must be firm in order to avoid conflict. Inform the tenant that you’ve done what you can to address the situation and will not be dealing with it any more. Time may be what is needed to help diffuse the situation; but also be ready in case you need to bring in help (local law enforcement, etc).

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. “ - Ronald Reagan

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