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How to Address Tenant Complaints as a Landlord

Many landlords want to give their tenants the best experience on their property. That said, there may be occasional hiccups. Whether it’s a noise issue or a comment on the interior design of the space, residents are bound to give you a piece of their mind on different matters.


As a landlord, you must learn to recognize and address tenant complaints. Learn about the criticism you’ll receive, what you should do about it and your overall approach towards your residents.


man sitting at a table and addressing tenant complaints

Tenant Complaints to Expect


Every landlord has to deal with tenant complaints, some more serious than others. It’s important to anticipate these different issues and resolve them immediately. That way, you give your residents a smoother experience while keeping your property intact.


1. Communication and Rent


Tenants sometimes need help to contact their landlords for a discussion. This issue even affects their payment schedule. About 11.5% of American renters are behind on rent, with people ages 40-54 most likely to be late with their payments.


To combat this, inform your tenants about how they can reach you. Have an email address or cellphone number for messages and calls. You can even go the extra mile and automate a notification system. Be proactive and give a digital notice on when rent is due. 


2. Soundproofing Issue


One of the most pressing tenant complaints is noise. After all, rowdy sounds can make it hard to focus on tasks, relax or sleep. Utilize a sound pressure level meter to measure noise intensity in a unit to pinpoint where the sound is coming from.


If the culprit is another resident on the premises, sit them down and provide some ground rules on making noise. External noise sources like rain or construction outdoors will require acoustic insulation panels and other soundproofing materials on the unit.


3. Questionable Odors


Aside from sounds, smells can also be quite distracting. Weird scents can originate from various sources, from unwashed carpets to old furniture. Landlords should track down the cause and deodorize the area. Baking soda can neutralize most odor particles to eliminate them.


If your tenant complains their unit smells like sulfur or sewage, stay alert for a gas leak. Request all residents to evacuate and call a utility specialist for an inspection. Allow them to identify the problem and safely fix it. 


4. Air Conditioning Complaints


It’s no secret that Miami can get hot. To address the heat waves, Miami-Dade County recently installed 1,700 air conditioning units in public housing. If you receive comments regarding temperature problems, look into thermal insulation.


Weatherstripping can prevent drafts from the doors and windows. You can also inspect the air conditioning units installed on the property. Replacing ACs that are over a decade old saves up to 40% on cooling energy costs while being more efficient.


5. Interior Suggestions


Property managers want rental units to be as functional as possible. Tenants may point out some interior flaws and make a couple of suggestions. While you don’t have to sign off on all requests, check out their proposal and see whether its application would improve every unit. 


Here are some suggestions:


  • Lighting: Some renters may feel they don’t get enough daylight in their part of the property. If resources permit, consider adding more windows. Artificial lighting can also illuminate the space to make it more visible.

  • Storage: Residents will have a flurry of possessions, from clothes to cleaning supplies to kitchen utensils. Landlords can invest in storage options like closets or under-sink organizers to make smaller spaces accommodating for those belongings.

  • Design: Every tenant will have their own preference for how their unit should look. Keep things fresh and inspire them by adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls and switching out the flooring. Neutral colors like white and tan on the walls can give renters a fresh slate, whereas sustainable materials like cork and bamboo add a modern twist to your flooring.


6. Pest Infestation


No one likes bugs on the premises. They are detrimental to the property's sanitation and bring diseases. For instance, cockroaches can trigger asthma and allergies while rodents carry rabies. If you receive tenant complaints about a bug infestation, act quickly and call pest control. 


Once pest control takes care of the swarm, schedule checkups periodically. You should also seal any cracks or crevices to stop insects from entering. Preventative maintenance is the best solution to keeping the wild critters out. 


7. Maintenance Requests


Some tenant complaints come in the form of maintenance requests. For example, they may ask for a quick plumbing checkup or have cleanliness concerns about the property's common areas. 


The best way to address these work orders is to run their requested repairs. These operations should be standard practice to improve the tenant experience. Take the reminders as they are and schedule what’s needed. 


8. Privacy and Safety Concerns


Every tenant has a right to privacy and safety. If a person raises concerns about these areas, it’s important to treat the issue as your own. Install different window coverings to keep the units secure. You can also install door locks to restrict access.


Practice an authorization system in a condo, too. Non-residents will need identification and permission before entering the space. That way, unwanted visitors or strangers won’t get into your residents’ dwelling spaces.


Other Tips for Handling Tenant Complaints


Communicate with your tenants while resolving your grievances. Their gripes can negatively affect your relationship with them, so be mindful of your approach. 


1. Provide Updates


When solving an issue, be responsive and timely with your tenants. Landlords should reply to requests within 30 days but try to address complaints sooner rather than later. You may also provide updates to let them know how their request is being handled. Giving a step-by-step overview feels reassuring. 


2. Express Sincerity


Being cold and dismissive of your tenants’ experience makes them feel uncomfortable and unheard. Practice expressing sincerity when responding to them. If a disruption comes up, be apologetic. Having a genuine acknowledgment can validate their concerns and increase their patience in the long run. 


3. Practice Calmness and Rationality


Some people are annoyed but calm when sending a complaint. Others get angry more intensely than the average person because they have a low tolerance for frustration and inconveniences. In these cases, avoid matching their aggressive energy. Be calm and rational as you digest and resolve the situation. 


4. Streamline and Document the Procedure


Have a clear procedure for receiving complaints and addressing them. For instance, have a digital template where tenants can fill in different details on their concerns. Keep a copy while coordinating with them. Be sure to have proof you’re actively notifying them and working on their requests in case they escalate the problem. 


Clear The Air With Your Tenants


Landlords should strive to address tenant complaints and safeguard their property. Take the tips above to solve common issues you and your renters face. Remember to project a calm and reliable personality throughout the ordeal.


Evelyn Long is a writer that specializes in housing market trends. She is also the founder of Renovated Magazine, where she writes essential resources for renters and homeowners. She has contributed to several other sites like National Association of Realtors and Realty Executives. Subscribe to renovated.com/subscribe for more posts by Evelyn.


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