30 Jul 2018 | Landlord Tips

Being Proactive: How to Handle Tenant Disputes

Access to the Property

As a landlord or property manager, you can expect to deal with tenant complaints from time to time. No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to face disputes due to the nature of renting out your property. So, what are the complaints you’re most likely to face? And how should you deal with them?

Here are some essential tips and facts for NT landlords on handling the most common tenant disputes.

Access to the Property

You or your property manager, if you have one, are only allowed to enter the property for specific reasons:

  • Collecting rent
  • Emergencies
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Inspections
  • Property viewings by prospective tenants or buyers.

Except in an emergency, you have to give your tenant notice. This could be 24 hours, seven days or more depending on the circumstances. You also have to arrange a convenient time with your tenant.

Property Maintenance

As the landlord, you need to keep the property in a good state of repair. You should aim to fix any faults within five business days of your tenant reporting them. Your tenant is responsible for reporting faults. They also have to keep the property clean.

Withholding Security (Bond) Deposits

You must return your tenant’s security deposit within seven business days after they leave. However, you may be able to withhold the bond if they have:

  • Damaged the property.
  • Lost or destroyed any item included in your property.
  • Removed or changed any locks.
  • Not paid all their rent on time.
  • Not paid their water or energy bills, leaving you responsible.
  • Refused to leave the property.

It’s important to get your tenant to sign a condition report when they first move into your rental. This gives you protection if they damage your property or any items in it.

How to Handle Tenant Disputes

When you’ve got good tenants, you want to keep them as long as possible. This means you have to know how to handle disputes in the right way. Here's how.

1. Know Your Responsibilities

As a landlord or property manager, you need to be aware of your responsibilities as well as your rights. Always refer to the tenancy agreement and make sure you have all the relevant information you need. Think carefully about the issue before you speak to your tenant about it. Make notes covering the key points, and how you would like the problem resolved.

2. Put Yourself in the Tenants Shoes

Try to see things from your tenant’s point of view. Your property is their home. Think about how you would feel if you were in their position. What would you want? Be reasonable, and aim for a win-win resolution.

3. Communicate Clearly with your Tenant

Explain your position in a calm and sympathetic manner. Listen to what your tenant has to say. You might be able to resolve the dispute in a phone call. If this is difficult, set up a meeting and talk face-to-face. Make sure your tenant understands that you don’t want an argument.

4. Be Realistic About the Outcome

What results could you and your tenant both live with to resolve this conflict? Make constructive suggestions that take your tenant’s concerns into account. And give them time to think about how to respond, too. Be patient and thoughtful to get the best outcome.

5. Stick to Your Agreement

Put all information and decisions in writing. Clearly state your responsibilities and your tenant’s, too. If you agree to take a particular action, carry it out as soon as possible. Ensure that your lease agreement is followed.

In property disputes, you can never guarantee the process will be smooth or easy. But always be courteous and keep to your side of the bargain. This way your tenant will be more likely to keep to theirs.

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