Property managers often have to get involved in…delicate…situations involving resident complaints. It can be awkward enough fielding and handling complaints about pets constantly barking. But what do you do about the, um, complaints of a more intimate matter? You need to address these, but they can be a little embarrassing for all parties involved, including you. (By the way, I’m not going to go into specific details about these particular complaints, because this is a professional blog, and also, my mom reads all of my stuff. Hi, mom!) Here are some strategies to maintain order—and your dignity—at your community. Having a strong lease agreement is your best defense, so make sure that is in order, and feel free to point residents in that direction if they’re violating anything on it. And, of course, the goal should never be to embarrass or shame the offender, but to come to a solution that makes everyone comfortable.
Anyway, here are some of the more personal issues you might have to face as a property manager, and some suggestions of how to deal with them.
Noise complaints. If you receive noise complaints of a certain nature from residents about their neighbors, you should address these as you would any other noise complaints. However, discretion is of course encouraged. Approach the offending residents, and let them know that there have been some complaints. You shouldn’t tell them who filed the complaints, and you certainly shouldn’t go into specifics. But tell them to try to keep down the noise, especially during late hours. And mention ways that they can muffle some of the noise in their apartment—for example, their lease might specify that a certain percentage of the apartment should be carpeted. Giggling in this situation is frowned upon, but if it really can’t be avoided, make sure you do it away from your renters. That’s just polite.
Visual complaints. Look, sometimes people forget about curtains, and we can’t all look like Bruce Springsteen circa the Born in the U.S.A. album or Megan Fox circa pretty much any time. If you get complaints about residents having been subjected to a show (won’t somebody please think of the children!), you should address these too, especially because there might not be a specific rule about this sort of thing in the lease, but it can still cause discomfort to neighbors. Again, talk to the offenders, and again, be discreet. Mention that they might not be aware of this, but that others can see into their apartments. Hopefully that will be enough to get them to realize the blinds should be down.
Odor complaints. Marijuana has a specific smell, and that smell permeates. I’m not going to get into the legalities of marijuana itself—some states allow it totally, some allow for medicinal reasons. Know the law in your specific state. Anyway, even if it is legal, the smell might make it difficult to rent out neighboring units, or might just bother neighbors. If your community is non-smoking, you might be able to bring that issue up. If not, then you can just address the smell head-on. Ask the resident if he would mind limiting smoking to near an open window or a designated area, if one exists. It couldn’t hurt if you showed up to the door bearing Doritos, either. (Not just for this type of inquiry, either. They’re delicious and will most certainly help smooth over almost any type of issue.)