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Most Common Tenant Complaints and How To Resolve Them

Most Common Tenant Complaints and How To Resolve Them

For facility and property managers, tenant relationships can often be tricky to navigate, and this is never truer than when dealing with tenant complaints. Laws regulating landlord and tenant rights can be complicated, and not something either party wants to find themselves on the wrong side of. Fortunately, the most common tenant complaints are fairly simple to resolve, with a little effort.

1. HVAC

Whether it's the biting cold of winter or the dog days of summer, temperature control is a top priority for tenants. This can be tough to manage in older buildings, where aging heating and air conditioning systems may create challenges in keeping buildings within a safe temperature, let alone comfortable.

Property managers should have strategies in place to make sure HVAC systems are cleaned, serviced, and, if necessary, tested for flammable gas or carbon monoxide leaks every year. Have the contact information for an HVAC professional and relevant utility services. If a building relies on window units for air conditioning, keep a couple of spare units to allow maintenance workers to quickly switch broken units out for working ones.

2. Pest infestations

Nothing is worse than turning on the light and seeing a cockroach or rat scurrying across the floor. Unfortunately, no matter how clean a tenant keeps their space, multi-unit buildings are virtually magnets for pests. Remember: it only takes one tenant with poor housekeeping habits to attract pests to everyone.

The simplest solution is to call an exterminator immediately. Many facility managers have a standing appointment with an extermination company to keep pests away. In addition to regular spraying, encourage tenants to keep food stored in insect- and rodent-proof packaging, and have maintenance workers seal up gaps around pipes and beneath walls. These are the most common means of ingress for pests, and cutting off their way in will help avoid infestations in the future.

3. Poor communication

Many tenants complain that they don't feel listened to by their property managers or maintenance workers. This can set both landlords and tenants up for problems down the road -- unsatisfied tenants are likely to leave negative reviews of the property, warn others away from renting there, and may even resort to temporary "fixes" for problems rather than call facility management to report them. Landlords who don't communicate effectively with their tenants may find that their tenants don't follow the rules. The best fix for this is to initiate communication whenever necessary. Go over rules and expectations for the use of the property before the lease is signed, and send periodic reminders to tenants regarding property upkeep. Conduct regular inspections. Make sure that tenants are aware of how to contact facility management, and have a hotline for emergency maintenance needs.

4. Privacy

Few things are as nerve-wracking for a tenant as the idea that a landlord can enter their property at any time, and rightly so. Even good tenants generally don't like feeling barged in on for surprise inspections.

The best way to ease tenants' minds here is to follow the law -- property managers are required to provide at least 24 hours advance notice before entering a unit. A phone message or notice posted on the door may not cut it, either. Send an email with a read receipt or a certified letter, and make sure all tenants have a list of yearly inspection dates so they can feel prepared.

5. Mold

Black mold isn't just unsightly, it's toxic. For tenants with respiratory issues like asthma or COPD, it can even be deadly.

Facility managers shouldn't hesitate when it comes to dealing with black mold. When it shows up, it's often a sign of an underlying issue, like a leaking pipe or poor humidity control. Regular maintenance workers generally don't have the equipment or expertise to thoroughly and safely eradicate it, so it's best to call a mold remediation specialist to make sure that it's completely taken care of.

6. Rent and Security Deposit Disputes

Even with a good landlord-tenant relationship, problems with money can arise. Tenants may withhold rent for neglected repairs or unlivable conditions, landlords may choose to keep security deposits to cover cleaning and repair costs, and both parties may disagree about why and how much of the money was withheld.

Property management generally isn't equipped to handle this on their own. It's a good idea to have a lawyer on retainer who's well versed in landlord-tenant law, to make sure that the landlord's interests are protected and everything is dealt with fairly.

7. Eviction

Nobody likes it, but eviction is sometimes necessary. It can be a real problem with tenants who refuse to move, abandon all of their possessions, or even try to become violent.

This is another case where a little legal counsel can go a long way. There are laws governing how to go about the eviction process, as well as what a landlord is and isn't allowed to do with abandoned possessions. It might even be necessary to have the police or building security help escort a belligerent tenant from the property.

Any time money changes hands, it complicates relationships. As long as landlords are able to thoroughly communicate their expectations to tenants, tenants feel secure in reporting problems to the property manager, and complaints are dealt with quickly, they can have an easy, mutually respectful relationship.

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