Tenant Parking Disputes, What Landlords Need To Do.
At Nexus Property Management®, we pride ourselves on our communication and strategies for resolving conflicts is a huge part of this success. Over time, we continue to develop and fine tune our best practices as we analyze the successes of our growing franchise. It is also our hope that all who share our passion for property management can learn along with us:
Tenant parking issues have been around as long as tenants have had vehicles and if you’re a property owner it’s only a matter of time before this potential headache threatens your peace of mind. What should be a simple issue, assuming there is enough parking for all, can have serious negative effects on the renting experience of everyone in your building. Typically, people are accessing their cars at least twice a day (once to leave, and once to return)...and the last thing you want is for them to be reminded each time they enter your driveway how unpleasant their experience with you and their neighbors has been.
Typically, there are two ways to deal with a tenant parking dispute: one that is reactive, and one that is proactive.
Let’s talk about being proactive first, especially since this issue is certain to arise sooner than later. Proactive management is always preferable as it works to avoid conflict, rather than resolve it. The best proactive method of avoiding tenant parking disputes is to post custom parking signs for each unit on the property. A reserved parking sign ensures that all tenants have at least one spot and will cost you no more than $15 on Ebay. For a low price, you can find a sign that you can personalize (with unit number i.e. 1L) really easily. Do not settle for paper, plastic, or wood as these will quickly deteriorate and become unappealing. Aluminum is the way to go. Also, avoid spray painting the ground, especially if you’re in an area that receives snow in the winter. It can look sloppy and prove ineffective as tenants (or guests) may claim they don’t see them (because they’re always covered up by cars). A nice aluminum sign let’s all who come to your property understand the expectation and they see that you are organized and thinking about their welfare before any issues arise.
But what if you can’t get to this before it becomes an issue? You’ll need a reactive approach that can still yield positive results...and here’s the best one: Have your tenants work it out themselves. It may seem too easy, but with the right tact it is by far the best avenue for several reasons:
- If done correctly (see tips below), it can create a neighborly relationship that will improve the quality of each renters’ tenancy and increase the likelihood of decreasing hassles (for you) down the road.
The best way to facilitate this is to provide a script starter/model. For example, a tenant has brought it to my attention that tenant B keeps parking in her spot and she was late to work today because of it. My response is as follows: “Tenant A, I’m really sorry that you were late for work today and I want to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. As much as it might seem like it, I don’t think Tenant B did this on purpose, but nonetheless it needs to be fixed immediately. I could come down there and knock on her door and talk to her for you, but I know that as soon as I leave (or shortly thereafter) she’ll be right back to where we are today. INSTEAD, YOU SHOULD REACH OUT TO HER YOURSELF (knock on the door, write a letter or note) and let her know how her parking affected you and your day. By starting a conversation with her it’ll make it easier for her to understand why this was a problem and she’ll be much more likely to think next time. She’ll also be much more willing to work toward a solution together. Please let me know how it goes.”
- It is an opportunity for you to train/educate your tenants that dealing with issues that arise themselves is encouraged and most efficient. You avoid being the middleman or woman.
Just like a parent doesn’t want to deal with every little issue that their children face, a property owner cannot be as successful if they’re dealing with every conflict that arises. People need to be empowered to deal with things that arise themselves, and tenants are no different. Because they are renting they may be more apt to just pass things off to you, but if you allow this then the pattern will continue for as long as those tenants are with you. Conversely, if you teach your tenants to address issues themselves, they will adopt that approach and your job as owner will be that much easier. Much like a student takes cues from a teacher or an employee takes cues from his boss, your tenants are looking to you to set the tone for how things will be handled in your building.
- It encourages the growth of a neighborly relationship.
This was touched on in #1, but we want to make sure you fully appreciate the advantages of having tenants that get along and feel a neighborly connection to your property. For one, they will 100% treat it with more respect in terms of upkeep, cleanliness, and reporting any maintenance issues that are important to the well-beign of the building. This all leads to longer tenancy and less hassles for you. It also breaks the perceived structure of all-powerful owner and subservient tenants and moves toward a more cooperative effort where your tenants have full buy-in as partners in making their experience with you as positive as can be. By asking them to handle an issue themselves you can take a major step in developing a feeling of respect.
Mick Lefort is the Vice President of Operations for Nexus Property Management®. A National Property Management Franchise that manages all types of rental property from single family homes or condos to large apartment buildings and complexes.
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