Staying proactive and anticipating possible scenarios can alleviate the fallout caused by disagreement.
Conflict is inevitable. Regardless of the community you manage, challenges will occur and often will involve your residents.
These conflicts can range from minor, run-of-the-mill complaints to legal issues. The ability to avoid such disputes – and to take proper action when they do occur – are valuable commodities, according to the Apartmentalize 2018 session “How Successful Independent Rental Owners Deal With Difficult Conflicts.”
Reflective listening, proactive solutions and reasonable expectations are three ways to properly manage conflicts, according to the panel.
“When a resident is discussing a conflict with you, let them finish,” says Rick Snyder, President and Owner/Broker of R.A. Snyder Properties. “Don’t interject or think about what you’re going to say next. If necessary, pause before you respond to de-escalate their emotions and show you’re reflecting.”
Snyder recommends brainstorming solutions in advance so you’re not forced into a hasty decision. This requires a collaborative approach with your onsite team, particularly with regard to fair-housing conflicts, other legal matters or unique situations such as hoarding.
A hoarding situation is a scenario in which reasonable expectations come into play. For instance, you can’t expect a hoarding resident to have their apartment completely clear within three days.
To avoid conflicts, or squash them quickly, onsite teams must be aware of the most frequent varieties and have plans in place for each. These include feuds between residents or families; the demanding, complaining, never satisfied resident; the intimidating and threatening resident; and the resident who is engaged in illegal or disturbing activities. Proper resident screening is one way to eliminate some of these potential issues before they arrive.
“We’re seeing more and more incidents where residents are harassing each other, or sometimes the owner and the management,” says Lynn Dover, Managing Partner for the Fair Housing Chapter of Kimball, Tirey & St. John. “The resident has the right to expect reasonable solutions to their problems. But that doesn’t always mean there is going to be a perfect solution.”
With warring neighbors, for instance, sometimes a clear solution simply doesn’t exist. That’s when management teams might have to get creative to appease all parties.
Possessing an awareness of your management style, whether authoritarian, collaborative or deferential, and having the ability to modify can also help resolve disputes.