Updated on the 9th of April 2020
Tenant disputes may not happen often, but they are an ongoing part of property management and are simply part of the job. No matter how good you are at handling disagreements, managing a tenant dispute will always be a challenge. It is important to have skills in tenant dispute resolution because it means that you will be better equipped to manage problems before they become bigger than they need to.
The reason why a tenancy dispute can get so heated is because you are helping people with something that concerns their home. As a result it is natural that people will get emotional, even with the most minor owner tenant dispute. Ultimately, the better you handle a tenancy dispute, the more likely you’ll reach a solution that satisfies everyone.
At Beyond Property Management we are dedicated to helping people with their property management matters and are here to assist you with your investment property management.
You have a tenancy dispute. Now what?
In many cases a dispute will be over something minor like repairs or maintenance; or it may be something bigger like an issue with security or a problem with rent. No matter the situation it is important to get as much information as possible to help with your tenancy dispute resolution process.
For example: Linda and her partner Gerry have been living in their rented home for six months and have made a number of complaints about black mold which has been growing in the bathroom. Despite attempts to clean the mold and address the issue, it looks like the bathroom will need to be renovated and repainted. Linda and Gerry are not happy about this because they feel that their landlord has not done enough to address the mold quickly enough, and are withholding rent until the matter is addressed.
Before your discussion
Before confronting your tenant about the dispute, it’s important to prepare and know all the details of the issue. This will help you stay objective and lay the foundation for smooth discussions and/or negotiations.
Define the problem and objectives clearly. Identify the exact issues at hand and why/how it happened. Note your concerns on the matter and identify the outcomes you want to achieve when resolving the dispute.
Consider all sides. Put yourself in the shoes of everyone involved and try to understand the problem from their perspective. Why do they feel the way they do about the issue? How do they want to resolve this dispute? Resolving tenancy disputes sometimes requires compromise, so considering everyone’s perspective will help you negotiate and reach a middle ground that works for everyone.
Be realistic. Not every dispute resolves the way you want, so be prepared to deal with the worst-case scenario. What’s the worst that could happen if you don’t resolve this dispute like you envisioned? And how will the parties involved react and deal with that outcome?
For example: Linda and Gerry are worried about the mold because they are trying for a baby. They had not told their landlord about this, but in a conversation with their property manager, Linda reveals this piece of information. Their emotional position clearly contributes to the distress they are feeling. Now, armed with more information about where the parties stand, it’s possible to move into dispute resolution.
During your owner tenant dispute discussion
Once you’ve prepared and gathered all relevant information, it’s time to reach out to your tenant and other parties involved to commence tenant dispute resolution.
Initiate communications. If possible, contact your tenant directly to discuss the issue before proposing a discussion. This will let you voice your concerns and hear their side of the story. In some cases, you might even be able to resolve the issue in this initial discussion. Keep a record of this discussion (by putting it in writing) and record any details or agreements from this. Even if you do not resolve the issue in this initial communication, you’ll get a better idea of how to approach your ensuing discussion with them.
Keep calm. Things can get intense during discussions, especially if the dispute involves sensitive matters. Remember to always keep calm, professional, and respectful throughout the process. Be as objective as possible and avoid making the discussions personal.
Discuss the problem objectively. Stay on track in your owner tenant dispute discussions by defining what happened, identifying the problem, voicing your concerns, and proposing the best way to resolve it. If you get side-tracked in your discussions, work your way back to the problem and finding a solution together.
Hear their side. Give your tenant a chance to explain and discuss their side of the dispute. Consider their concerns and understand why they feel the way they do. Also, take note of any information or details that you may not have known and consider these when working to resolve the issue.
Be flexible. Chances are you and your tenant will be on different sides in a tenancy dispute. Be willing to meet in the middle if the situation calls for it. Remember that compromise requires give and take, so try to arrive at a solution that makes sense for everyone.
For example: Linda and Gerry meet with the landlord and express their concerns. You can discuss options for resolution, and work towards a solution that meets the needs of both parties. You might suggest half rent for a period of time while the renovations are taking place, and work with them to outline a schedule for renovations which offers the least amount of disruption.
Assistance from the RTA about tenant dispute resolution
If you’re still having trouble resolving your tenant dispute despite these discussions and negotiations, you can apply for dispute resolution from the RTA to help resolve it. This will give you another opportunity to resolve your tenant dispute before it escalates into a legal matter with the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
Need help with tenant dispute resolution?
You shouldn’t have to manage everything on your own – and when it comes to keeping your tenants happy it pays to work with a professional who can devote their time and energy to ensuring your tenants are satisfied.
Here at Beyond Property Management, we go above and beyond to take care of your property and resolve any tenancy dispute that may arise. Get in touch with us to find out more.