4 Tips for Successful Management-Resident Relationships

Minor disagreements between management and residents are easily avoidable when both parties approach the relationship professionally. Sometimes arguments occur due to a lack of proper communication or simple mix-ups. How is that handled in any other business relationship or between close friends? Typically, respect and compromise are a great starting point. Whatever the case, both parties are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to avoid conflict or misunderstandings.

Residents and owners should follow these four tips to create good rapport and build strong, congenial relationships.

1. Search for the Best Fit
Owners and managers should always be thorough when reviewing residents’ applications. They should avoid quickly filling spots just to secure monthly incomes. Instead, wait for optimal applicants who are both polite and respectful. Arriving late for showings or turning in delayed paperwork are two red flags during the signing process. If residents don’t seem courteous of property management from the start, they probably won’t be in the future. At the same time, don’t be too picky over potential leaseholders. After all, it’s a business relationship and the weeding-out process shouldn’t turn into a popularity contest.

Residents also need to be mindful of potential property management companies. As customers, renters have every right to pick and choose between various owners before deciding on the best match. Residents should read reviews to avoid fraudulent or dishonest organizations while searching for apartments online. Contact past residents who might provide warnings or advice on how to best work with individual managers.

2. Be Communicative
The best way to avoid confusion is to converse frequently. Owners can contribute to good relationships by demonstrating consistent accessibility to residents. Email is a great way for property managers and lessees to communicate; request email addresses from all residents for convenient announcements and messages. Even stable relationships need to be maintained, so consider holding community events for the whole building to enjoy. Apartment parties allow management and residents to socialize and discuss opinions and praises.

Residents should always ask questions or communicate concerns immediately. Rather than letting frustrations pile up and then boil over, clear the air early and often. If no action is taken to resolve the problem and it becomes more serious, consider contacting local residents’ rights associations for guidance.

3. Take Action and Be Accountable
Managers and owners have basic responsibilities required by law, including making repairs in a timely manner while maintaining units and community areas. All electrical, plumbing, ventilation, appliances and other facilities should be sustained by owners. Should these systems fail during lease periods, owners are obligated to respond quickly and address any issues with lasting solutions. While patch jobs may help in the short run, long-term corrections need to be made. Professional repairs are more expensive when prior “resolutions” have to be undone.

Residents also have liabilities to address during their lease periods. Residents are required to keep units clean and safe, aside from normal wear and tear. Any damage directly caused by the resident is their financial responsibility. Garbage and hazardous materials should be disposed of in the proper manner and into designated bins. Aside from sanitary prerequisites, residents should keep late night gatherings contained (i.e., no guests running through property hallways) and quiet to be respectful of their neighbors. Obviously, any illegal activity conducted in apartments is grounds for eviction.

4. Document Everything
Managers and owners should clearly outline building regulations and rent due dates on multiple documents. A typical formal lease includes names of all parties in agreement, dates, lease durations, addresses, conditions, payment information, security deposit withholdings, insurance requirements and maintenance procedures. Managers and owners have the ability to make additions for building-specific regulations. As business administrators, managers and owners need to clearly outline all specific rules so if problems arise they are not liable.

Similar to owners, residents need to protect themselves and their finances. Upon move-in, residents should write down and photograph with date stamps all existing damages to properties. Documentation avoids unwarranted withholdings for damage compensation when leases end.

These partnerships are like any healthy relationship, requiring patience, understanding, compromise and consistent communication. It is important to take the appropriate steps to create a solid relationship between property management and resident. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just not a good fit and both parties need to move on respectfully.

Jennifer Riner lives in Seattle and writes about home improvement, rental management and local real estate for Zillow.