There are many roles landlords must play before and during an individual’s tenancy. Landlords are interviewers, groundskeepers, problem-solvers, and more. Sometimes they also have to add mediator to their list of job titles. Acting as a mediator might come up when a landlord’s tenants are at odds with each other.
Regardless of how well you may screen tenants, some people are destined to argue. Even if you clearly outline the expectations of your tenants in a Lease Agreement, arguments are sometimes inevitable.
In this post, we’ll discuss some tactics you can use to help prevent conflict between tenants. We will also offer some steps you can take to help diffuse confrontations between the warring renters.
Preventing Tenant Conflict Before It Occurs
The most common issues that arise between tenants are related to noise and clashing personalities. Sometimes these issues erupt between neighbors in close proximity. Tenants who are next door neighbors, or directly above, below, or next to one another often encounter issues.
Theoretically, prevention can be quite simple. It starts with outlining clear expectations of your tenants in your Residential Lease Agreement.
For example, in a lease, you can specify how you expect tenants to maintain a safe and peaceful environment for all residents. You can include provisions about inappropriate behaviors. For example, you can ask tenants to refrain from being overly loud in common areas, threatening other tenants, or engaging in physical altercations.
You can also remind tenants that they have the right to peaceful or quiet enjoyment in accordance with state law. This means they can expect to live in their home free of unreasonable or recurring disturbances from other tenants and the landlord.
Some sources recommend creating a move-in package for new tenants to welcome them to a building. In a package, it’s not uncommon for landlords to include a guide to living on the property. A guide may include tips on how to interact with other tenants and good conduct practices in common areas. Expectations related to sharing a laundry room or foyer can be helpful for new tenants. You can also include any other helpful information, like where visitors can park, in a move-in package.
You could also use this guide to notify new tenants of your low tolerance for disruptive behaviors. Doing so could prevent future confrontations between residents.
How to Mediate Conflict Between Tenants
In the event of a conflict between your tenants, the ideal scenario is to have them sort out their issues themselves. But if they do not attempt to resolve an issue, or they insist on involving you, you can follow these steps:
1. Listen to the complaint and try to show genuine concern. A tenant with a problem wants to be heard and taken seriously.
2. Contact the offending party, and inform them of the complaint filed against them. It’s often discouraged that you name the tenant who filed the complaint, but odds are the offender will know who it was (especially if the tenants have already tried to resolve the issue themselves).
3. If the offending party has a defense, hear them out. You can also take this time to discuss having a potential meeting between both tenants where you’ll act as a mediator.
4. Should a meeting become necessary, let both parties air their grievances. Encourage them to present their points calmly and respectfully, and, together, you should offer each other solutions.
For example, if the issue is related to noise, you can remind the offending tenant about the terms of the Lease Agreement they signed. You can also request they keep louder noise to weekends within reasonable hours.
If you feel it is necessary, you can also serve them with a Notice of Lease Violation (which threatens eviction if they don’t change their behavior).
5. Document your meetings. It’s wise to send a letter or email to both parties confirming the conversations you’ve all had together. Documentation is important, especially if the situation later escalates into a formal legal matter.
6. Follow up with your tenants. Check in with both parties at a later date to see if there have been any changes (positive or negative).
If the issue continues, you can serve the offending tenant with an official Eviction Notice. If they try to dispute the eviction, the documentation of your meetings will be especially useful. Documentation shows that a tenant has been given fair warning and were provided with the opportunity to change their behavior.
It should be noted that if a tenant is threatening other residents, getting physical with them, or you feel like they are putting you or the residents in danger, you should contact the police.
Actively Working on Resolutions Is Key
When your tenants aren’t getting along, it can negatively impact the other residents on your property. Therefore, resolving the conflict quickly and proactively is essential.
Prevention doesn’t always work. You can’t always predict how personalities and lifestyles might clash. However, once tenants are having a conflict, it’s important for you to find a solution in a timely manner.
By hearing your tenants’ complaints and following a resolution process, you can help ease the conflict between them.
It’s also important to keep in mind that, as a landlord, you have obligations to your tenants to help keep them safe, and you have specific rights that allow you to end someone’s tenancy for the betterment of all residents.