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Unwelcome News: What Renters Don’t Want To Be Told

You sometimes have to navigate tricky landscapes when you manage rental properties. We’re not talking about pothole-filled parking lots, which can be paved; nor walkways impeded by bushes, which can be trimmed. It’s landlord-tenant relationships that often require a balancing act, and rarely is the communication as discomforting as when you are delivering news to tenants that you know they will not welcome.

Following are five things tenants or prospective tenants really don’t want to hear from a landlord or property manager. There are also a few tips for making these not-so-special deliveries in a manner that might help in terms of building a relationship with tenants despite the bad news.

1. Your Rent Is Increasing

Few things will raise a tenant’s ire as much as raising his or her rent. Be prepared to provide a reasonable reason for the increase. If you can demonstrate to the tenant that your costs are rising and you aren’t simply grabbing more money purely for profit, there’s a better chance the tenant will understand the increase. Passing along smaller annual increases also could diminish the impact compared with hitting tenants with a sharp, sudden jump.

2. We Can’t Return Your Full Security Deposit

Good tenants who have not damaged any property may assume they are getting their entire security deposit back when their lease expires. When a landlord has to deduct a portion from the total, a tenant understandably can be upset. It’s fair for tenants to question any charges — but even in instances where there’s no obvious damage, perhaps a tenant overlooked some required maintenance, such as having the carpets cleaned before moving out. When notifying a tenant that the entire security deposit won’t be returned, have a copy of the lease handy so you can cite specifics about the tenant’s responsibilities for the amounts you are deducting.

3. The Pool Is Closed for Maintenance

The amenities your property offers — perhaps a pool, a fitness center and/or a common socializing area — are undoubtedly a key part of the value tenants expect to enjoy in return for their monthly rent. These all require occasional maintenance, however. When you have to temporarily restrict availability, provide tenants with plenty of advance notice and an explanation about why the closure is necessary. You can further reduce any disappointment by making alternative arrangements, such as lining up short-term access to a local gym or pool if such options are available.

4. You’re on Your Own With That Neighborly Dispute

A tenant’s frustration can boil over when dealing with a nuisance neighbor. If the neighbor isn’t breaking the law or the lease, however, a landlord or property manager’s role should be minimal. Be as empathetic as possible, but encourage the frustrated tenant to manage the relationship on his or her own — or to call the police if the dispute rises to the level of being threatening.

5. Your Rental Application Wasn’t Accepted

It’s not easy telling someone you’re not going to rent a property to them, and it’s even more difficult for them to hear it. Whatever the reason for the rejection, show empathy and encourage the renter to re-apply in the future. Being considerate could earn you a referral to another qualified applicant. Of greater importance is to be aware of the legalities involved with rejecting a rental application. Know the laws, both federal and state, regarding discrimination and fairness pertaining to rental properties.

As a landlord or property manager, you know delivering news to tenants that isn’t pleasant goes with the territory. Going over the lease closely at the time of signing can prevent some issues from becoming contentious later, but it’s possible that at some point you’ll have to explain something a tenant doesn’t want to hear. Always be cordial, provide as much notice as possible, and provide notifications in writing as well. Simply being available to talk things over in a straightforward manner can also help you develop landlord-tenant relationships that work for both sides.

In addition to tips for building a relationship with tenants, American Apartment Owners Association offers member benefits such as landlord forms, educational webinars and other property management tools. Join today to take full advantage of these tools.

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