How to Deal With Difficult Tenants

We have all had them.  They are the ones that when the receptionist says “Sue Jones is on the phone”…..you shudder and say “tell her I am not in”.

Unfortunately with a tenant like that….they will not go away.  They will not forget why they called and the longer that you leave returning that phone call…..the more disgruntled Sue Jones will be.

Unfortunately when a tenant is irate or disgruntled the saying “out of sight out of mind” definitely does not come into play.  The saying that seems to work the best in these cases is “actions speak louder than words”.  Confront the situation and advise the tenant what steps you have taken to show that you have ‘listened’.

Generally a tenant just wants to be heard.  They want to feel that their issue has been addressed.  These days’ tenants seem to have a lot more rights than they did 10 years ago and they know what these rights are.

A few years ago I had a tenant 30 days behind in rent crying to me that I was mean throwing her out on the street……2 days later I spotted her in the local pub feeding $50 notes through a pokie machine.

Unfortunately as agents, situations like these are frustrating.  We have to follow the correct procedures in legislation however as hard as we try and explain it to our landlords, as far as the landlord is concerned we have not done our job properly.

The definition according to Wikipedia of ‘Property Management’ is “Property management is the operation, control, and oversight  real estate as used in its most broad terms. Management indicates a need to be cared for, monitored and accountability given for its useful life and condition.

From my experience the definition of a Property or Onsite Manager can be summed up in 2 words PROBLEM SOLVER.

As with any problem comes a solution.  For the solution to be exposed the key is ‘people skills’.  As hard as it is in many cases the only thing that will calm an irate tenant down is to simply listen.  If you show anger or frustration this will only escalate the situation.  If the tenant is interfering with your place of business (i.e. – screaming at the reception desk) simply ask them to please come outside to discuss this and give your receptionist the look of “get ready to dial 000 if I am not back in 10 minutes!”

Strangely enough there is nothing more calming to a tenant if when they are angry you nod your head and smile back whilst uttering “I understand your frustration”.  I have implemented those words in EVERY confrontation with a tenant that I have ever had over the past 10 years and it has calmed the situation down EVERY time.  You are not saying that you agree with them or accepting fault you are simply saying that you understand that they are frustrated (which is evident by the way they are speaking to you).

Threatening a tenant that you will end their lease or increase the rent (besides being unethical) will only make matters worse as the tenant will “call the RTA” or “their very good Property Management friend” and then the argument will start with another source or with advice from a third a party.

In this day and age with violence seeming to be only increasing you need to be looking out for your safety and also that of your staff.  People are extremely unpredictable.  A number of years ago I was evicting a tenant who was extremely unhappy to receive the notice to leave that I had issued. She must have been waiting by the office for me in her vehicle as part way home I noticed I was being followed.  She then pulled up at the traffic lights behind me where she waived a knife at me.  Needless to say I drove to the nearest police station.

I urge you to take care in your place of business and give the phrase “I understand your frustration” a go.

One final thing…..the tenant with the knife was also the tenant feeding $50 notes into the pokie machine!!!

If I can be of assistance with any situation please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix

info@realstrategix.com.au