It's so easy for a situation to go south: in a perfect world, the relationship between landlords and tenants would always be smooth sailing. Sadly, every investor who has built up a portfolio of properties knows that's not always the case.
For any number of reasons, tensions may spring up that put a strain on the landlord-tenant relationship. When that happens, it's important for Charleston investors to take steps to smooth things over. After all, the profitability of your Charleston investment properties depends on it!
Of course, it's always better to prevent conflict than it is to deal with conflict after it has escalated. Steps taken ahead of time, like performing thorough screening on potential tenants, can be of significant help. It's also important to make sure both you and your tenants keep up your respective ends of the leasing agreement.
However, if it's already too late—and things between you and your tenant have already become tense—here's how to recover the relationship before it completely goes off the rails.
A quick note: While this blog post is designed to give you some tips to de-escalate situations before they become full-blown legal problems, this post is not intended as legal advice! When in doubt, work through such situations with your legal counsel.
1. Stay Calm—and Be Professional
It can be hard to stay calm and collected when your tenant is anything but! Still, as the investor, you're a business owner—and it's in the best interest of your business to keep a level head in tense situations.
- If your tenant yells, don't yell back.
- Listen and offer feedback with as little emotion as possible.
- You may need to adjust your response somewhat depending on the nature of the conflict, but keeping your cool always improves your chances of resolving a tense situation.
- If you have trouble staying calm in tense situations, take steps to learn how or reach out to a trusted Charleston property management company.
An experienced property manager has dealt with every kind of tenant—and they are experts in the art of putting out fires while preventing new ones. If handling the "human element" of owning investment properties isn't for you, property management services in Charleston can be a huge asset.
2. Offer Genuine Empathy—but Stay Firm
It's important that your tenant not think of you as their enemy. One of the biggest mistakes a Charleston property investor could make is approaching a tense situation as if they and the tenant are on opposing sides.
In most cases, you both want the same thing: for the conflict to be resolved and for your Charleston investment properties to remain occupied. The best way to do that is to genuinely listen and care about what the tenant has to say while sticking firmly to your lease. Make it clear that you care about the tenant, but don't allow the situation to cross the boundaries you established in your lease agreement.
- Listen calmly to the tenant's complaint.
- Make it clear that you understand where the tenant is coming from.
- Ask follow-up questions, so they know you're actively engaged in helping them solve the issue.
Follow the Letter of the Law
The solutions to conflicts presented to investors by tenants are often found in state laws, federal laws, or local ordinances. In cases where they aren't, they should be spelled out in the leasing agreement between you and the tenant.
Remember to always stick to what the law says, and what your lease says: your tenants are not your enemies—but they aren't your friends, either. This ensures that every tenant will be treated the same—so if a conflict does arise, you'll at least know that it didn't come from you treating a tenant unfairly.
If you're finding it challenging to navigate rental law, bring in your legal counsel or consult a trusted Charleston property management company. To run a successful business, each of these experts has to be well-versed in local, state, and federal law concerning investment property.
3. Learn Conflict De-escalation Techniques
Conflict de-escalation is an art. It's also a science—and it's important to the future of your portfolio to learn it. There are even classes you can take to learn the principles of "talking down" a tense situation.
Many of these techniques are the same ones law enforcement officers use to diffuse a stand-off with a potentially dangerous suspect. Your situation probably isn't quite that tense—at least, we hope not—but you can still put these same tools to good use.
- Reinforce that you respect the other person, and value their point of view. Try not to be judgmental—even if you strongly disagree.
- Keep control of your body language, so you don't come across as overly aggressive or dismissive. Avoid gestures like shrugging your shoulders or pointing directly at the other person.
- Know the other person's name and use it. Studies show that hearing one's own name usually has a calming effect.
- Find a point that the other person has made, which you agree with, and focus on it as a way of establishing common ground.
4. A Charleston Property Management Company Helps!
If you feel like you've done all you can—or you simply don't want to deal with difficult tenants anymore—there's another option: hire a property management company! There are countless reasons why a property management company in Charleston helps support your Charleston investment properties—but the biggest is peace of mind.
Professional property managers handle everything from marketing your property and screening tenants to collecting rent, handling complaints, and tackling ongoing maintenance tasks.
Skilled property managers also have expertise in fielding tense situations, whether it's between two tenants, or between a tenant and an investor. If your property manager is doing their job right, you never even have to interact with tenants! The company you choose should act as a shield between you and such volatile situations.
At Charleston Property Company, we handle the grit that can crop up in the course of growing your investment property portfolio—so that you don't have to! If you're ready to learn more about how we can help ease tenant relations, contact us today—we'll be happy to put our services to work for you!