Successfully dealing with difficult resident conflicts requires property management teams to stay proactive and to anticipate all possible scenarios that can alleviate the fallout caused by disagreement with the tenant. 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 and will, in the long run, save you both time and the expense of possible legal fees.

Reflective listening, proactive solutions and reasonable expectations are three ways to properly manage conflicts with your resident. When your resident is discussing a conflict with you, let them finish. Don’t interject or think about what you’re going to say next. Pausing before you respond will de-escalate their emotions and show you’re reflecting on their issue.

Brainstorming solutions in advance with your onsite staff will prepare them to handle difficult conflicts with a resident. It will prepare them to know how to react so that they’re not forced into a hasty decision. This requires a collaborative approach with your onsite team, particularly with regard to fair-housing conflicts.

To avoid conflicts, or squash them quickly, onsite teams must be aware of the most frequent varieties of conflicts and complaints they can expect from residents and have plans in place for each. These complaints can 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 occur. But when they do occur, preplanning on how best to resolve particular issues will save you both time and potential liability.

Remember that there’s a difference between problem residents and resident problems. Apartment community staff members should know the difference and be able to respond accordingly. Apartment community management is one of the most people-intensive jobs in the marketplace. The personal nature of the service — providing customers with a place to call home — can lead to some very strong opinions and expectations that may not necessarily always be met. When onsite staff members are prepared on how to resolve these problems they will create a more satisfactory experience for the resident and avoid an unpleasant escalation of the situation? Onsite staff should always focus on the issue and on resolving it, not on whether they see it as an issue. Because if the resident perceives there is an issue, there is a problem. Acknowledging the problem, and letting the resident know what course of action will be taken to resolve it can avoid potential monetary or legal problems for your property.

It is in your best interest to always quickly respond and solve resident problems to avoid creating a problem resident that in turn creates a problem for you.