7 Most Common Tenant Complaints and How to Handle Them
Being a landlord can be a great way to earn passive income. That being said, dealing with empty rental units, tenant complaints, and other issues can be challenging. You may quickly learn that you must take a hands-on approach - or hire a property management company - to make money as a landlord.
Tenant complaints can be particularly vexing, as they may arise at any time - and may even result in your tenant withholding rent or taking legal action. The best way to deal with common tenant complaints - like maintenance issues or pest problems - is by taking a proactive approach. When you anticipate issues that may arise, you can keep your tenants happy and avoid headaches.
Eaton Realty is a full-service real estate company working throughout Hillsborough County, Florida. We offer a full range of real estate services, including assistance with purchasing an investment property and property management. If you’d like to know more, give us a call to talk to a member of our team.
Even new properties can have maintenance issues. An appliance might break, a faucet might be leaky, or lights might be out in the common areas. In these situations, tenants will ask you to make repairs.
Most tenants understand that things happen and may also accept that you may not be able to get a repair person out to fix something immediately. They will typically get frustrated and may even withhold rent if you ignore their request or refuse to correct the problem.
The easiest way to handle this type of complaint is to have a clear-cut system for submitting maintenance requests and responding promptly. If you own many rental properties, this may mean setting up a portal for tenants to submit requests online. Otherwise, you can create a process - such as texting or emailing you - for issues that may arise. Having a system in place can help to avoid problems like maintenance requests are lost or are not acknowledged.
It is also important to communicate clearly with your tenants to set expectations. For example, supply chain issues may mean that an air conditioning unit can only get fixed once a part arrives in a few weeks. Be sure to talk to your tenants so that they know what is happening.
A property management company can handle maintenance requests for you, which may reduce the potential for unhappy tenants. They typically have contacts with repair workers throughout the region who can respond properly to requests. They also tend to have a system in place for processing maintenance requests so that nothing is overlooked.
Lack of Privacy
In Florida, landlords generally have the right to enter a rental property to inspect it, perform repairs, or show the unit to prospective buyers or tenants. However, landlords must provide reasonable notice - of at least 24 hours - to the tenant unless there is an emergency. They must also enter at a reasonable time, between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Many tenants dislike this and feel their landlords should not have the right to enter the unit at will. This typically only becomes a problem when tenants believe their landlord is abusing their right to enter the premises. They may think that the landlord is only doing this to harass or annoy them - even if the landlord provided notice and gave the reason for entering.
The best way to avoid this becoming an issue is to limit entries to when it is truly necessary. You should also provide ample notice to the tenant in writing.You should also communicate your intentions to the tenant at the outset of the lease: that you may enter the property to conduct repairs, to inspect it, or in other limited situations.
In landlord-tenant situations - as in life - many problems are caused by a lack of communication. Tenants may quickly become frustrated by a landlord who doesn’t communicate their expectations to them clearly. They also may get angry at landlords who fail to respond promptly to their communications.
While there is such a thing as over-communication, landlords should err on the side of communicating more than they think is necessary. This can be by phone, mail, email, or text. For example, if your rental units have outdoor space, you could send a seasonal reminder of what work they need to perform outside. Similarly, if you plan to work on the building, you should advise your tenants beforehand of what is happening.
A property management company can help you handle communications with tenants, including responding to complaints and maintenance requests. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your tenants are getting the information they need.
Failure to Return Full Security Deposit
In Florida, landlords have the right to withhold all or part of a security deposit for things like unpaid rent or property damage. Tenants may respond poorly when they are expecting a much larger check than they receive.
While you often cannot avoid taking money out of a tenant’s security deposit, you should set expectations about what condition you expect the unit to be in when they vacate the premises. A move-out checklist is a great way to do this so that the tenants can go through the list and do everything you ask of them. If you deduct money from their security deposit, explain exactly what you are withholding and why, such as $150 for repainting the bathroom because the tenants chose to paint the room without permission.
Most people have dealt with a noisy neighbor at some point. Renters dealing with loud parties or revving engines late at night might complain to their landlord about the issue.
As a landlord, there may not be much you can do about noise levels if the disturbance is coming from someone who doesn’t rent from you. However, you can still encourage the tenant to resolve the issue peacefully by approaching the neighbor. If that doesn’t work, you can try talking to the neighbor or property owner yourself.
If the noisy neighbor rents from you, however, you have a greater responsibility to resolve the issue. After getting a complaint, investigate the problem by talking to other tenants or even checking out the property whenever the noise usually occurs. If you confirm that it is a problem - and not just a case of one tenant being overly sensitive - then you can issue a noise complaint to the problematic tenant. If they refuse to improve, you may have grounds to evict them.
In Florida, pests are a year-round problem, and the potential for an infestation is high without cold winters to kill off bugs. If your tenants are being besieged by insects, rodents, or other pests, they will rightfully be upset.
The best course of action here is to be proactive. You should schedule regular pest treatments to reduce the likelihood of an infestation. If one occurs, however, you should take prompt action. Call an exterminator to come to treat the issue, and ask them to come back a second time to make sure that the infestation is gone.
Difficult Rental Application
Many prospective tenants find multi-page rental applications - complete with fees - to be overwhelming. They may need help understanding why they have to pay you to apply to live in an apartment or why you need all of this information.
Again, the best way to handle this is to communicate. Explain the purpose of the fees (to cover the cost of a background check) and why you are asking for this information. You may also explain why screening tenants is so important - after all, your prospective tenants probably don’t want to live next door to someone who hasn’t gone through a screening process to ensure they are safe.
How Eaton Realty Can Help
Being a landlord can be a tough job, especially when it seems like your tenants are full of complaints and unreasonable demands. While it may not prevent all problems, clearly communicating your expectations to your tenants and responding promptly can help you avoid many issues. A property management company can handle these communications and any problems that arise on your behalf.
Based in Lithia, Eaton Realty helps investors throughout the greater Tampa Bay region manage their rental properties. For each client, our goal is to make being a landlord as profitable and stress-free as possible. We can help you with all aspects of investing, from finding and purchasing a rental property to screening for tenants to handling maintenance requests and ongoing maintenance.
If you’d like to learn more, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 813-672-8022 to talk to a team member.