There are many roles landlords must play before and during an individual’s tenancy: interviewer, groundskeeper, problem-solver, and more. Sometimes they have to add mediator to their list of job titles when tenants are at odds with each other.
Regardless of how well a landlord may screen tenants or how clear he or she may outline their expectations of tenants in a Lease Agreement, some people are destined to quarrel.
In this post, we’ll discuss some tactics you can employ to help prevent conflict between tenants as well as some steps you can take to help diffuse hostile confrontations and foster peaceful resolutions 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, and often these issues erupt between neighbors in close proximity (i.e. when their residences are next door, across the hall, or directly above or below one another).
Theoretically, prevention can be quite simple. It starts with outlining clear expectations of your tenants in your Residential Lease Agreement.
For example, in your lease, you can include provisions about how you expect tenants to participate in maintaining a safe and peaceful environment for all residents, which could include a strict intolerance of harassment and some provisions about other inappropriate behaviors like 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, which means they can expect to live in their apartment or suite 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 the building. In this package, it’s not uncommon for landlords to include a guide to living on the property which has tips on how to interact with other tenants, good conduct practices in common areas (like a shared laundry room or foyer), and other helpful information (like where visitors can park, etc.).
You could use this guide to remind new tenants of your low tolerance for disruptive, aggressive, or threatening behaviors that may cause 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 there is no genuine attempt being made by the tenants or if they insist on involving you, there are some steps you can take to help alleviate the conflict:
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 regarding quiet enjoyment or request they keep their partying to weekends with 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 to show they were 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 cause stress and negatively impact the other residents on your property, which is why resolving the conflict quickly and proactively is essential.
Although prevention doesn’t always work, because you can’t always predict how personalities and lifestyles might clash, it’s important for you to take an active role in finding solutions in a timely manner. By hearing your tenants’ complaints and engaging in the resolution process with the steps mentioned earlier, 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.