Among the many matters that landlords have to handle are tenant disputes with another neighbor — especially when the investment property is an apartment or condominium. Living in multi-family properties means being part of a larger community, and this includes learning how to get along with all kinds of neighbors. Unfortunately, not all tenants understand the concept of co-existing, and landlords will have to deal with renters who pick fights, make too much noise, etc.
As the landlord, you will have to become the mediator. This role requires you to act fairly but also firm. Coming to a compromise between conflicting tenants is never easy, but with the steps below, tenant disputes will be much easier to manage when the time comes for you to become a referee.
One of the most common complaints that landlords receive involves noise. From loud televisions to screaming children, there are many ways that tenants can make noise. If a tenant is disturbing other residents on the property, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take action.
However, if it’s the other way around (neighbors are disturbing the tenant), you can suggest to your tenant that they speak with their neighbor. In most cases, the one making noise isn’t aware that they’re causing such a disruption.
If the “noise maker” still doesn’t change his behavior after being confronted, you may have to intervene. If the neighbor making the noise is also a tenant, consider contacting their landlord. Landlords are more likely to take matters seriously as they don’t want to damage their reputation.
If your rental property is along a public road, your tenants will be forced to fight for a parking spot on the street. Since no one can legally claim exclusive rights to park in that area, they will have to get there first, come to a compromise, or loathe quietly. However, as the landlord, it is still your job to keep your tenants happy, so you must come up with solutions.
One way to address this is by ensuring that your rental property’s parking area has visible parking signs. This includes signs such as “Resident Permit Parking” for spots reserved for residents with parking stickers, and “Two-Hour Parking” to indicate that tenants can park there for a maximum of two hours.
If there are no parking spots on your rental property, you must state this in the lease agreement. Otherwise, your tenant may make a case that a parking spot was promised under the lease.
In rental properties such as duplexes, tenants often have to share facilities and property such as a front yard, storage shed, pool area, and so on. Even if the lease agreement specifically states that tenants are responsible for minor property upkeep (e.g. mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool) of shared property, oftentimes, neighbors aren’t willing to do their part. As a result, the tenant who is maintaining the property will feel like they’re doing all of the work.
If this isn’t resolved, tenants will begin to feel that their landlord is being too lenient with the terms of the lease. What’s more, is that tenants may assume that their landlord is favoring one tenant over the other.
To avoid disputes in the first place, you must set clear rules for your renters. While courtesy and respect are expected, you can’t count on your tenants to act that way all the time. Lay down your rules in writing in your lease agreement, and make sure that your tenants understand them. For example, if a neighbor complains that your tenant often holds noisy parties, you can remind your tenant that he/she agreed not to hold such parties in the agreement.
Don’t knock on your tenant’s door, ready for battle, the moment that you receive a complaint. When a neighbor or property manager contacts you with concerns about your lessee, wait around 24 hours before confronting the tenant. This way, you can avoid heated arguments where matters rarely get resolved. Confront the concerned parties when both of you are calm.
Since the problem is between your tenant and the neighbor, allow them to settle on their own. Intervening immediately is not always the best way to solve tenant disputes with neighbors. This is because you don’t have a complete understanding of the cause of their dispute. Before stepping in, suggest that your tenant and the neighbor attempt to fix their problem by themselves. However, if the tenant and the neighbor aren’t willing to act cordially toward each other, that is when you should intervene.
Whether it’s emails, text messages, phone calls, etc., it’s important to keep documentation of all communication taken to solve the problem. This is useful should you find yourself in court, and it also shows that the landlord took the tenant or neighbor’s complaint seriously. Keep a written record of the times and dates of phone calls, save copies of emails, and note down the important points discussed during face-to-face conversations.
After resolving the dispute, follow up with both parties to see if the matter truly has been fixed. If the tenant is causing the problems and they refuse to change their behavior, you can serve them an eviction notice. Attach proper documentation to show that you allowed the tenant to change his/her behavior. If the tenant is getting physical or threatening his/her neighbors, it’s time to get law enforcement involved.
Having a successful rental property means managing tenants. By enforcing positive relationships among tenants and residents, you can effectively manage disputes and discourage tenant turnover.
The professional property managers at Luxury Property Care are trained to handle tenant-related conflicts including disputes with residents. If you own a multi-family unit, duplex, apartment, condominium, and other similar properties, we can help mediate when things go sour between tenants and neighbors.