Handling Disputes

How to Handle Disputes Between Tenants

As a landlord, a tenant may turn to you if they have a dispute with their neighbor. Such disputes can turn into ugly fights and accusations if you don’t handle them properly. The following are some helpful tips you can use to handle tenant disputes.

Understand and Acknowledge the Report

The first thing you should do is to acknowledge the complaint even if it seems trivial. Most people want others to take them seriously, and you are likely to aggravate matters if you don’t take the complainant seriously. If a tenant reports noises from the floor above them, first tell them that you understand the inconvenience that noise can be.

Besides, if you dismiss a tenant with a minor complaint, the tenant might take matters into their hands the next time they have a serious issue. Listen to your tenants, and you are likely to know everything that goes on in your premises.

Encourage the Tenants to Talk

In many cases, tenants need a little encouragement to find a solution on their own. Some tenants will even come to you before they even talk to the subjects of their complaints. Encourage such tenants to approach their neighbors and try to solve the matter amicably.

For example, a tenant who thinks their neighbor’s music is too loud may come to you before they even tell their noisy neighbor to turn down the music. Acknowledge the report and then request the tenant to talk to their neighbor about the noise.

Encourage Mediation

You can also suggest to the warring tenants the option of mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method where aggrieved parties sit down to negotiate in the presence of a mediator. The mediator doesn’t judge the issue but rather facilitates the process so that each party airs their views.

The mediator can be a respected member of the community such as a senior member, a member who has lived in the community for a long time, a local religious leader, or just another neighbor both parties respect. The important thing is that both parties agree on the mediator.

Refer to the Lease

If the dispute involves something that is in the lease agreement or the HOA (homeowners’ association) rules and regulations, then refer to those documents. You should preempt tenant disputes and include potential bones of contentions in your lease agreements.

If the subject has breached a rule, warn them or take the relevant actions as the lease demands. Ensure that you only act on irrefutable evidence and not hearsay or innuendos. Otherwise, a tenant may use you to settle a personal score with another tenant.

Document Everything

As you take care of the above issues, make sure you document everything from the report to its resolution, if the parties manage to get one. The documentary evidence will be handy if the tenants don’t solve their problem and one of them seeks legal redress. The documentary evidence will also help you against accusations of bias in the future.

Know the Limits of Your Authority

Lastly, you should know what you can handle on your own and what you should leave to the authorities. For example, physical fights between tenants are not your purview; let the police handle such matters.

Also, resist the temptation to be the judge or jury. You can act on a clear case of violation. For example, a tenant who erects a wall that obstructs the view of other tenants is guilty, particularly if the lease has a regulation against such constructions. However, don’t try to reach judgments on nonfactual matters since you can easily make a mistake.

Many people don’t like to deal with warring tenants, but such issues are inevitable for those who own rental properties. Luckily, you don’t have to deal with warring tenants on your own. Let MacPherson’s Property Management manage your properties, and we will handle such issues on your behalf.