Property operators and managers want to keep their renters happy. Renter satisfaction is key to keeping vacancies and even costly evictions to a minimum, and to avoiding the costly turnover process as much as possible. Finding a new renter is expensive, with estimates putting the average cost at . Turnover processes (like cleaning, repairs, painting, etc.) are yet another expense, typically costing approximately .
For luxury properties, retention is even more important. Frequent turnover or dissatisfaction can be damaging to the community’s reputation, leading to higher vacancy levels and less interest from potential renters.
To ensure that demand for their properties remains high and to reduce turnover costs, operators of luxury rentals strive to keep residents content. One potentially tricky aspect of that, however, is managing the residents themselves.
Dealing with sensitive subjects
Living in an apartment building (even a high-end one) means dealing with the realities of having neighbors right next door. Even in the best of circumstances, “close quarters” usually leads to at some level of conflict between residents.
Common problems include noise complaints (parties, loud TVs or music, footsteps, moving furniture, etc.), odors, garbage in unapproved places, and pet noise or waste. Some of these issues are minor and quickly resolved – occasionally without the need for property manager intervention. One renter might ask another to keep it down or remind them to pick up after their dog, and they will immediately oblige with an apology.
In these cases, the owner or manager doesn’t need to get involved. However, often these situations escalate to formal complaints and requests for intervention. That’s why it helps to have a plan for dealing with these often tricky and sometimes-volatile situations.
So, what’s a manager to do when a renter is behaving in a way that is negatively impacting their neighbors? When it comes to handling resident complaints, property owners have two paths: proactive and reactive. Both are useful tools to have in your toolbox, and each plays a role in maintaining renter goodwill.
Let’s dive deeper into both.
Sometimes the best way to deal with a problem is to stop it before it starts. That means reminding your renters of their obligations to their fellow residents and making specific rules around noise, pets, parties, etc. extremely clear.
Most likely, your lease includes specific language about resident expectations, such as acceptable noise levels, quiet hours, disposal of trash, smoking, and pet ownership guidelines. Assuming your renters read their lease, they should have at least some idea of what’s allowed/not allowed.
But let’s be honest. Very few people can perfectly recall every detail of their lease and it's easy to forget the specifics. That’s why public reminders, such as those shared in public areas, community newsletters, and resident forums are a great tool for keeping these guidelines top-of-mind.
What might these reminders look like? Below, we’ll share some sample proactive messaging for four common tricky renter situations: pets, smoking, noise, and trash.
We hope all of you are having a great week. This is a quick reminder to leash and clean up after your pet. To keep our community clean and looking its best, we ask that all residents dispose of pet waste in designated areas. You can find doggy bags at the pet depot stations located around our property.
We’re proud to be a pet-friendly community, and appreciate your cooperation in this matter. Please don’t hesitate to contact the property management office with any questions.”
This is a friendly reminder that our community is a smoke-free environment. Smoking of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes or “vapes,” and marijuana, is not permitted within the building or in any common areas.
As a smoke-free property, it’s important that all residents respect the rights and comfort of their neighbors and our stated building rules. Smoking is currently only permitted in designated smoking areas that are located at least 25 feet from the building. We kindly ask that all residents refrain from smoking within the building or outside of these specified areas.
We appreciate your cooperation in maintaining a comfortable community for all of our residents. Please feel free to contact the management office with any questions or concerns.”
This email is a friendly reminder to please keep noise to a minimum out of respect to your fellow residents and in accordance with the terms of your lease agreement. Designated quiet hours are currently from 10 pm to 7 am, so please refrain from playing loud music, having your television at a high volume, or hosting large gatherings during this time.
We kindly suggest placing all subwoofers and bass amplifiers on stands rather than on the floor or against the wall. This will prevent sound waves from traveling through the walls.
We appreciate your cooperation regarding this matter. Please feel free to contact the management office with any questions or concerns.”
This is a friendly reminder to keep all hallways clear of trash and debris to avoid accidents and unpleasant odors. Our community has several designated areas for the disposal of household trash. Please see your rental agreement for details.
We also ask that all residents dispose of their garbage in the proper receptacles, with cardboard (including boxes), glass, and plastic placed into the appropriate bins. Thank you for doing your part to keep our community safe, clean, and comfortable.”
Even if you’ve done all of the above, you may have a problem renter or two on your hands. After receiving a formal complaint, the first step is to investigate. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for noise, smells, etc. and one renter’s raucous party is another’s small gathering. A one-time issue may mean a brief conversation with the renter and a respectful ask to avoid the action in the future.
However, multiple complaints about the same problem or “repeat offenders” means taking a more formal approach, usually in the form of a written notice. In these situations, having a paper trail is helpful should the issue escalate to legal proceedings. Below are a few examples of language to use in four tricky renter situations: late rent, excessive noise, trash accumulation, and smoking.
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to check in as your rent is currently past due. The total amount owed as of this message is [X]. Please make your payment at your earliest convenience. If there’s an issue I should know about, I’m available to discuss and come up with a plan.
As a reminder, rent is due at the first of each month and you can pay online or via check. If you are having trouble making your payment, I can assist you with the process as well. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to let you know that we’ve received a few complaints about excessive noise coming from your residence. Please be mindful of our property’s quiet hours, which are from 10 pm to 7 am, and refrain from noisy activities during this time.
If possible, please place any speakers or subwoofers on stands rather than against the wall or on the floor. This reduces that amount of sound that can travel through the walls. Also, we recommend using carpet or an area rug wherever possible to muffle any footsteps or moving furniture.
I appreciate your cooperation in maintaining a comfortable community for all of our residents. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
I hope this email finds you well. Unfortunately, we’ve received some complaints about trash in the vicinity of your rental. Please refrain from placing garbage outside of designated areas. Garbage chutes are located on each floor, and you can also bring bagged household trash to our property’s outdoor disposal areas.
Thank you for your cooperation and courtesy, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to let you know that I’ve received a few messages about smoke and tobacco odor in the vicinity of your rental. As this is a smoke-free community, I kindly ask that you refrain from smoking (including e-cigarettes and marijuana) inside of our buildings and on our grounds.
However, smoking is permitted in designated areas at least 25 feet from the building. Thank you for your cooperation and courtesy, and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.
After serving your renter(s) with written notice about an issue, be prepared to escalate the issue with a lawyer or other legal representative. However, the goal here is to avoid further conflict and communicate violations and their consequences in a clear and firm manner.
Keeping the peace
Managing conflicts between residents isn’t an easy task, but it’s worth it in the long run, both in terms of keeping renters happy and in terms of avoiding financial expense and general hassle. Planning, communication, and transparency around your property’s rules can help you keep conflicts and their consequences at a minimum.