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The most common tenant complaints and how to address them

As a landlord, you know it's crucial to know how to deal with tenant complaints. You’re responsible for the quality of their tenants' living space, so you need to be ready and willing to address any problems that arise. 

A good landlord will respond quickly to any issues that come up and will usually do whatever they can (within reason) to resolve them. If you're not familiar with all the different types of tenant complaints, though, it can be difficult to know what steps you should take in order to keep your tenants happy—and maintain a positive relationship between yourselves. That's why we've put together this list of common tenant concerns: so you can learn about them and figure out how best handle each one..

Often, landlords and tenants get into conflicts over each other's actions or non-actions (or lack of attentiveness). 

And while tenant complaints are not always legitimate, it should be a landlord's goal to address them all in a timely manner.

Landlords and tenants can have a very healthy relationship, but it is important that both parties are attentive to each other's needs. For example: it may be unrealistic for a tenant to expect their landlord to pick up the phone everytime they call. However, if you notice that your renters are consistently waiting days or even weeks for responses (and this is especially true during the evening or weekends), then something may need to change in order to ensure your tenants’ needs are being addressed. The good news is there are solutions available!

One way to address this situation is by maintaining open lines of communication with all members of your team—everyone from handymen to gardeners—to ensure that everyone knows how long it takes for them normally respond and what type of information they need when responding back to tenants' requests/questions/etc., (this will also help prevent misunderstandings). Hiring a virtual assistant to answer the phone every time a tenant calls or texts is another way to ensure a better tenant experience.

Another way would be setting up a scheduling system so everyone knows exactly who needs what work done when; this will help improve efficiency among coworkers as well as help organize responsibilities better across multiple teams working together toward one goal: keeping your tenants (e.g. the customer in this transaction) happy.

To do this, you need to understand what type of complaints your tenants will have, so you can learn how to prevent them. 

We've put together this list of the 8 most common tenant complaints and tips for dealing with each one.

Remember, if you don’t want to fix these things yourself, it comes down to knowing who to call with most of these issues. 

  1. A/C is broken
    • The fix will depend on the type of unit you have. Here are 6 air conditioner problems and how to fix them.
    • Is the filter dirty?
    • Is warm air leaking in?
    • Is the thermostat on the right setting?
    • Are the registers dirty or blocked?
    • Is there anything crowding the compressor?
    • Did you remember the annual checkup?
  2. The hot water turns off unexpectedly when too many people use it at once.
    • If the tenant lives alone, check the water heater to see if it's functioning properly. Some water heaters might need regular inspections or maintenance. Also, the water heater might not be large enough for multiple people to use showers at once if you have 2+ bathrooms in your unit.
  3. The toilet does not flush properly
    • Here are six ways to fix a toilet that’s not flushing properly.
    • Check the water level in the toilet tank. 
    • Fix the toilet flapper. 
    • Unclog the toilet.
    • Inspect the inlet holes of the toilet bowl.
    • Ensure the toilet is installed properly. 
    • Not sure? Don’t be afraid to contact a plumber for help.
  4. There is a leak in one of the bathroom or kitchen faucets.
    • If you’re not savvy with plumbing-related repairs, do not fret. You might be able to fix a leaky faucet yourself. If not, that’s ok. A plumber can solve it.
  5. Drain flies (also known as fruit flies)
    • The good news is most drain fly issues can be fixed within about a week with regular cleaning and careful attention. Here are five ways to do so:
    • Start with cleaning your sink and drain with your usual cleaning solution. Use a pipe brush to scrub around and inside the drain.
    • A super simple fix is to pour boiling water down the drain to eliminate drain flies. Boil a medium-size pot of water once or twice per week, and pour down and around the drain.
    • Another easy option uses baking soda: Combine 1/2 cup salt with 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar, and pour down the drain. Leave overnight, and finish by pouring boiling water down the drain in the morning.
    • If you need a heavier-duty way to get rid of drain flies, try a store-bought drain cleaner like Drano or Bio-Clean. These chemical unclogging solutions will clear out the drain and pipes and help eliminate any materials or debris that may be creating a breeding ground for drain flies, thus preventing new eggs from hatching.
    • If you're still seeing adult drain flies around, create an apple cider vinegar trap using a small dish covered in plastic wrap. Poking holes in the plastic wrap will lure flies in but prevent their escape.
  6. The refrigerator is not cooling properly
    • There are usually 7 reasons why a fridge might not be cooling properly
      1. The location of where the fridge is installed. This is usually obvious from the moment it’s installed, but if a tenant moves the fridge for some reason to an area with poor ventilation, then it can disrupt the fridge’s air circulation.
      2. Refrigerators that are overpacked or cluttered may have trouble regulating cool temperatures. 
      3. Condenser coils help your refrigerator cool properly, but they can’t function if they are covered in dust, pet dander, grease or spiderwebs
      4. The air vents may be blocked. Blocked air vents can prevent cool air from filtering inside the appliance.
      5. If the fridge is not level, you may need to install shims to keep it level. 
      6. The door gasket seals help to lock cold air inside your refrigerator. They may not seal properly if they are dirty, damaged or worn which can cause your refrigerator to leak cool air.
      7. Ideally, your refrigerator should be kept between 32ºF–40ºF for optimal performance. Your fridge may not be cooling if the temperature controls are on the wrong setting. 
  7. Bugs and other insects are around the house or apartment
    • It’s time for pest control! As a landlord, you can either DIY or hire. 
  8. Noisy neighbors 
    • Check to see if there are any noise ordinances in place for your area. You’ll need to verify complaints, in some cases e.g. someone might be complaining just to complain.

As a landlord, it's important to stay ahead of issues your tenants may have with your property or the management team so that you can maintain a good relationship with them. The best way to do this is by being proactive and listening to your tenants. Listen carefully—if they're describing an issue, don't interrupt them by launching into how it's not your fault or how you've already fixed it! You'll need to hear what they have to say before getting defensive or jumping in with solutions.

When you listen well, two things happen: First off, you learn how best to fix the problem (which might be different from what you expected). Second, if there are any other issues that come up later down the road because of this one initial problem (e.g., mold growth because of leaks), then those will become easier for everyone involved because there was already communication between landlord and tenant about the original issue!

If you're not sure how to handle a particular situation, we recommend getting in touch with an industry professional who can help guide you through the process.

Comfortly's 24/7 tenant phone support and virtual assistants can help make managing these issues a breeze.