By: Elaine Simpson Founder: Occupancy Solutions LLC.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION TECHNIQUES TO USE WITH UPSET RESIDENTS
Conflicts are a big part of managing a community. No matter how large or small it is, every community has situations that arise. In some cases, it comes down to miscommunications. In other cases, the problems stem from a lack of understanding. As the property manager, you may have residents angry at you, too. Handling these situations can help you to not only get through the heat of the moment but also help you to retain quality residents who would otherwise with to leave.
Restate the Problem
Every person wants to feel as though their feelings are justified. Even if you don’t think they are, you need to show you understand what they are saying and that you understand their feelings. “I understand that you are angry because of the loud noises you’ve heard all week from your neighbor.” By restating what they are telling you or fighting about, you validate that you are listening and that you do care.
Provide the “Why”
In some matters, conflicts occur because people don’t understand why something is happening or why something is a rule. For example, you may have a rule within your community that limits the number of vehicles on the property per apartment and, as a result, you’ve been forced to tow one or more. Your resident isn’t happy. You may be able to show the importance of this to them, for example stating that you’ve had previous residents abuse the lot. Explaining why rules are in places provides important information to the resident.
In some situations, it is best to diffuse the situation as it stands and to talk to each party separately. The goal of any resolution process is not just to stop the fighting right now but to come to a long term agreement that everyone can live with. This ensures that individuals can remain happy within the community. Sometimes, it is just a matter of better understanding the needs of the community as a whole.
DON’T BLAME THE POLICY OR PROCEDURE MANUAL WHEN DEALING WITH A RESIDENT
Often times, it is easy for a community manager to simple say, “I’m sorry. I’m just following our company policy or the procedure manual.” This may be why you are doing what you are doing (whether it is approving or denying applications, handling evictions or enforcing the community rules and regulations.) However, simply saying that you are doing it because that’s what the policy says isn’t going to help any resident feel good about what’s happening and it often doesn’t create a positive environment within the community.
Address the Facts
Whether you are dealing with conflicts, enforcing the community rules or you are facing application questions, your ultimate goal is to talk about the facts involved in the situation. Why are you making this decision? What facts led up to this decision? By taking these steps, and being clear about your specific needs, it is possible for individuals to better understand why something is happening and what they can do, if possible, to fix it.
Make the Human Connection
One of the most important steps that a company can take is to form a human connection with the residents within the community. That means being “real.” Instead of sending a note about noise complaints, visit the unit when you know the resident is there. Then, say, “We’ve been getting noise complaints over the last few days. I wanted to check in on you and find out what’s going on. Do you need any help? Is there a concern we can work with you on?” By creating this type of dialogue you don’t just “yell” at them. You talk to them and find out what’s going on so you can address it. Of course, document the conversation and follow up with a letter.
It takes a matter of minutes to make these changes to the way you are handling conflicts and resident needs. It’s always a good idea to work directly with people to understand them, not because you want to base decisions off of relationships, but because you want to develop strong relationships that minimize conflicts in the first place. Working with your community is an important step every property manager needs to manage.
With over 26 years of experience in the multifamily industry, Elaine Simpson founded Occupancy Solutions, LLC to provide site operations, marketing, leasing consulting and training services for multifamily professionals of market rate, senior and affordable housing communities throughout the United States. Occupancy Solutions, LLC, recognizes and tailors to the unique operational, marketing and leasing challenges faced by their clients to assist distressed communities with proven cost effective techniques and strategies to achieve optimal occupancy while realizing ideal rents and reducing expenses.
Ms. Simpson is a National Speaker, NAA EI Faculty Member, Michigan licensed real estate broker, a Certified Senior Real Estate Specialist, an Accredited Resident Manager and a Certified Assisted Housing Manager.