Being a landlord isn’t an easy task; but if you wish to secure long and happy tenancies then it helps to take preventative measures wherever possible so that you can avoid complaints being made about your properties.
Tenant complaints can range from the small and subtle, to the more serious and urgent. It can be helpful for landlords to view their tenants as customers – just as businesses try to keep their customers happy, so landlords should do everything they can to maintain their tenants’ satisfaction levels. With that in mind, read on for some of the most common complaints made by tenants, along with a simple solution for each.
1. Complaint: Poor presentation
Tenants can complain from the outset about properties that are poorly presented or not adequately cleaned, setting a negative tone for the tenancy from the start.
Today’s tenants have certain expectations about the homes they rent. Rooms should be clean, tidy and well presented, with all amenities and appliances working as they should. Some tenants may overlook poor presentation upon viewing if you promise to rectify certain issues or get it professionally cleaned before they move in; however, you must ensure you follow-up on these promises.
2. Complaint: Damage and/or deterioration
Complaints about unresolved maintenance issues are very common and, left unsolved, they can lead to more serious issues and concerns, such as damp.
When you receive a complaint regarding a maintenance issue, the first step is to acknowledge the complaint and inform the tenant that you will look into it. You must then determine whether the problem is due to wear and tear or if it’s happened because of the tenant’s negligence; your agent should be able to advise you where to draw the line and ensure that you only pay for repairs that are your responsibility. Give realistic timeframes for when the work will be completed and perhaps offer a goodwill gesture if the problem was your fault.
3. Complaint: Communication breakdowns
Some tenants become unhappy with the amount of communication they receive from their landlord or agent – this could be either too little or too much.
Getting the balance of communication right can be more difficult than it sounds. What’s more, if you aren’t clear in your communications then your tenant may not have heard or understood what you said, and misunderstandings can occur. Provide tenants with as much information as you can – including maintenance timescales and specific dates for inspections, for example – but respect their privacy too. Even though it’s your property, while they are renting it’s their home.
4. Complaint: Not taking complaints seriously
A complaint about a complaint may sound odd, but it’s very common for tenants to complain that their concerns aren’t being listened to or addressed.
The current generation of tenants have high expectations from landlords, partly because more people than ever are renting but also because rent prices are going up all the time. When you receive a complaint, tell them that you’ve listened, that you understand and that you’ll act on it accordingly. Explain what will happen next and when they’re likely to receive a resolution – be honest and remember not to make promises you can’t keep.
5. Complaint: Rent increases
It’s understandable that landlords may need to increase their rents occasionally, but are you being fair about what you’re charging?
As previously mentioned, rent prices seem to be increasing all the time. Many tenants have come to expect this, so it’s not always the increase itself that’s the problem, but the way it’s delivered or handled. As well as ensuring that your increases are fair and realistic, try to explain your reasons behind the increase and show that you’ve done your research – for example, if you’re simply bringing it in line with other houses in the area. In some cases where you discover that the tenant is paying well below the market value, you can come to an agreement together about what would be a fair price to pay – after all, retaining good tenants can be just as valuable as an extra £50 per month.
As well as the solutions above, it’s also advisable to make sure that you have adequate landlord and property insurance in place. This means that you and your tenants will be protected should the worst happen.