Disputes with tenants are rare, but they do happen from time to time. Thankfully, this doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be faced with tiresome, and potentially costly, court proceedings – especially when you know how to handle such disagreements in the right way.
Preparation is key, and laying down the necessary groundwork now may help you later on should a dispute arise between you and your tenant. A solid tenancy agreement which states exactly how any disputes will be handled is always a good place to start, but it shouldn’t be your only course of action.
Here we’ll take a look at seven things you can do in order to resolve any issues that may occur quickly and satisfactorily for both parties. Let’s jump straight in.
1. Prevention is better than cure
It may be an old saying, but it’s one you’d do well to heed as a landlord. Instead of constantly having to resolve disputes, it’s always better to avoid them in the first place - and the best way to do that is to know the law inside out.
Keeping abreast of the latest changes to housing laws and making amendments as and when they are necessary will not only lessen the chances of incurring a dispute, it’ll also make you a better landlord, too. This can often result in happier tenants who are willing to stay in your property longer, lowering your chances of being left with dreaded void periods between tenancies.
If you think boning up on legislation sounds like a whole lot of work, there is a simpler route. Our comprehensive management service will handle all that for you, preparing your tenancy in a way that will minimise the chances of disputes ever happening. Providing you follow our advice and guidance, problems with disgruntled tenants will be extremely rare.
Even if a dispute were to arise, our expert team will be with you every step of the way. We’ll handle all of the complicated negotiations for you, bringing the dispute to a satisfactory conclusion, both for you and your tenant. The peace of mind this brings can prove to be invaluable, especially for those with busy lives.
2. Stay calm
One of the biggest, and easiest, mistakes to make should a dispute arise is to take it as a personal affront. Remember that this is business and, from time to time, situations like this will occur. This doesn’t mean that your tenant has anything against you personally, so you should remain civil and calm at all times – even if they are not.
Be friendly and try to resolve any problems the tenant may have yourself before you jump straight in to court proceedings. Even if your tenant cannot control themselves, it’s vital you maintain your composure and professionality throughout the duration of the dispute.
3. Meet up
In today’s digitally connected world, it’s highly likely that the first contact you’ll receive from your tenant will be in the form of an email or maybe a telephone conversation. If the issue they have cannot be immediately resolved, offer to meet up with them face to face to discuss the problem in order to try and find a solution.
Arrange for the meeting to be held on neutral territory, such as a local coffee shop, for example. This way, both of you will feel comfortable with the meet and remain relaxed enough to be able to come to an agreement that works for both of you.
4. Keep records
From the moment a dispute is filed, you should be keeping records of all correspondence you have with your tenant regarding the issue at hand. Having a paper trail to fall back on will be vital should you have to take things to the next level.
In fact, we would advise you to keep records on all of your tenants all of the time. Having a file for each property in your portfolio will allow you to keep tabs on any demands that have been made. Having this information to hand could dissuade a tenant from taking court action themselves should the documentation prove that they are in the wrong.
5. Hire a professional mediator
If you have done all that you can to resolve the issue yourself, but have come up short, hiring a professional mediator could be the logical next step. Holding such unofficial negotiations with a neutral third party can help both tenant and landlord feel they are being heard without bias. The mediator will also be best placed to advise whether or not further action is necessary in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion.
6. Be willing to compromise
While you may at times feel as though a decision is slightly skewed in favour of your tenant, it’s important to take a look at the bigger picture before you decide to dig your heels in. Are you being stubborn for the sake of it? Will settling the dispute now be more financially viable than a long, drawn out court hearing? Is the stress of taking the dispute further going to impact your personal life?
Once you sit down and look at the situation objectively, it can often become apparent that settling now is the wise and prudent move. Even if you may feel as though you have lost the battle, it’s important to keep one eye firmly on winning the war.
7. Take on a specialist solicitor
If all else fails and court action looks likely, hiring a specialist solicitor who regularly deals with landlord and tenancy law will be the best course of action to take. It can often be the case that contact from such a solicitor will persuade a tenant to listen to your solution once again and can result in a fair agreement for both parties being reached outside of court.
Should it go further, a specialist solicitor will be able to offer invaluable advice over your legal rights and your chances of getting the right result for you. While their services may not be cheap, such solicitors really can prove to be beneficial in such situations.
The vast majority of tenant and landlord disputes can be dealt with quickly and easily without the need to involve the courts. It is often the case that tenants have genuine grievances, but most can be sorted out quickly by the landlord if they are willing to listen and maintain an open dialogue.
If you need any further property related advice, give our experts a call today. We have a wealth of experience, both in sales and lettings, and we’re always happy to help wherever we can.