If you are a Landlord or Property Manager, at some point you will face an irate tenant or other tense tenant relations. This has nothing to do with how good a landlord you are, but rather normal life situations.
Imagine it is 95 degrees outside and your Air Conditioner just stopped working. What do you do? You call your HVAC contractor. The problem is that it is 95 degrees outside and it seems every other A/C unit in town is busted too. He can’t get to your home for two days. So now you call another HVAC contractor who offers same day appointments. Great . . . the only problem is he charges a $150 fee just to come see what the problem is and based on this fee you know his price to fix anything will be twice as much as your normal guy charges. What do you do? Bear the heat or Bleed through your wallet?
Now imagine this same scenario with one of your tenants. Its 95 degrees and their A/C has stopped working. Who do they call?, They call you, their Landlord. They and their family are HOT and they need the A/C fixed NOW, and you are supposed to magically know how to make that happen, since after all this is your house and you agreed to provide them with working systems in the house.
What you do on this phone call will set the tone of how this entire situation plays out. You should first let them know that you realize they are in discomfort, then try to ask a few follow up questions to try to understand the exact nature of the problem, then explain to them exactly what you are going to do, and then tell them that someone will be following up with them soon.
The conversation should go some thing like this:
Tenant: This is Jane Tenant and My A/C isn’t working!! It’s like 100 degrees outside and we are Really Hot, You need to get this fixed NOW!
(Take a deep breath, you need to stay calm)
You: I’m sorry your Air stopped working, I will try to get it working again as soon as I can, but I will need your help, are you willing to help me solve this problem for you?
(You should notice almost an immediate change in their tone from adversarial to a sense of cooperation)
Tenant: Yes, Thank you
You: I need to ask a few questions so I know what to tell my HVAC contractor.
You: When did it stop working? What is the air doing? Is it blowing, but just warm? Is it not blowing at all? Is the switch on at the furnace? If you switch the thermostat to fan, does it start blowing?
Tenant: It stopped working this morning, its blowing but just warm air.
You: Ok I am going to call my Heating and Air contractor, but please realize that because it so hot, he is most likely very busy, I will give him your information so he can contact you directly to arrange a time to come fix your A/C. I will call you after I talk to him.
Now you have diffused a bad situation and put the tenant in control of some of the situation because it is on them to arrange the time with the contractor.
Always remember the communication you can provide the more likely you will keep the tenant happy even in uncomfortable situations. The most frustrating fact about being a tenant is a lack of control when these types of situations arise, so if you can put them in control of a part of the process then you have not only reduced your work load but actually made your tenant happier because they feel like they are doing something to make the situation better, not just waiting on their “horrible landlord” to fix something.