The list of quandaries property managers and landlords face when dealing with difficult residents is long. The good news is that solutions exist and having them can make all the difference in the world.
Property managers and landlords need to know their rights, the laws of the state they live in, as should residents. When a rental or lease application is filled out give applicants a list of your property’s rules.
After you’ve done a careful background check, credit check and thoroughly screened the applicants, you may want to have them sign an agreement saying they’ve read the rules and agree to comply with them. Make certain this agreement is within the scope of your state’s laws.
Compile a list of possible problems that may arise with difficult residents. Think back to situations you’ve faced that may come up again in the future.
Consider a legal question-and-answer opinion on every question you can think of such like this onefrom a law firm addressing California tenant and landlord laws. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Have rules in writing regarding pets and be specific! Problems like barking dogs or pets roaming the property without leashes can ruin the peace and solemnity of an otherwise well managed property.
What if a complex problem arises with one of your residents and a mutually agreeable solution doesn’t seem to exist? This may be the time to find a mediator who specializes in conflict resolution.
Communication is the key to avoiding and resolving problems. If you have a problem with a resident in many states it is required that the property manager or owner communicate directly to seek a solution.
The state of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs offers online information for resolving problems as part of its “Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities”.
Most states publish this kind of information and property managers are encouraged to know which department has that responsibility. There are other free information resources you’ll find available.
If a problem appears to be insoluble the last ditch remedies include mediation and arbitration. The Department of Consumer Affairs in California discusses these as follows:
“Some local housing agencies refer landlord-tenant disputes to a local dispute resolution center or mediation service. The goal of these services is to resolve disputes without the burden and expense of going to court.
“Mediation involves assistance from an impartial third person, called a mediator, who helps the tenant and landlord reach a voluntary agreement on how to settle the dispute. The mediator normally does not make a binding decision in the case.
“Arbitration involves referral of the dispute to an impartial third person, called an arbitrator, who decides the case. If the landlord and tenant agree to submit their dispute to arbitration, they will be bound by the decision of the arbitrator, unless they agree to nonbinding arbitration.”
Residents and property owners usually consider resolving their disputes by mediation or arbitration instead of a lawsuit. Mediation is almost always faster, cheaper, and less stressful than going to court.
While arbitration is more formal and complex than mediation, arbitration is usually faster, and less burdensome than a court action.
It is almost always better to begin with mediation. Mediation services are listed in the yellow pages of the telephone book under Mediation Services.
The best way to solve problems with residents is to prevent them from the beginning. If you haven’t reviewed your rules, policies and procedures let this article serve as a reminder to do this soon.