Chapters News

Taking control of a disgruntled landlord situation

By Tina Case – Professionals Lithgow Real Estate

  As property managers, we hear a lot of talk about how to deal with difficult tenants. But what about those landlords whose names strike fear into your heart and make your insides scrunch up? Often a landlord can be harder to deal with than a tenant, as they are your employer and you have to prove the worth of both yourself and your agency to them.

So let's look at a few strategies on how to approach this delicate area of management.


Often when we call a landlord, we are stressed. We have just had to deal with a problem that a tenant has brought to our attention. We may have had a stressful day, or feeling under time pressures to get the work approved and out to the tradesperson.

It is so important for us to take a moment and think about our landlords. Some understanding from you may go a long way towards them feeling better about the phone call. They may be stressed themselves, this could range from having a bad day through to money pressures regarding the requested work/repair.

Build relationships
A client needs to know you; they cannot just be a file number or an address. If that is the case then you will just be another real estate agent and become interchangeable, quickly.

Make the time to not have a bad reputation in their mind. Don't only call them with bad news, make a point that when you call with a rent review or a lease renewal that you have just saved them money. By keeping the same tenant in place and signing a new lease you are not charging them a letting fee and you are also maintaining a zero vacancy rate for the landlord. By giving them a rent increase you are maximizing their return.

It is easy to build rapport - we all love to talk about ourselves! Ask them questions about their life and see how easy it is to find common ground. Make sure you remember this, keep notes on the file, so that you can ask about their cruise or how their child's first day of school was etc. By building relationships you begin to know their personality and calls become less of a chore - for all involved.

Be proactive
Don't wait for your landlord to call you after the end of the month wondering why their rent is behind or a repair has not been completed. Speak with your owner, let them know what you're doing and inform them of the conversations with the tenant or tradesperson. By making the call first, you are not back pedalling and justifying your position.

These calls can be hard to make, but believe me when I tell you that being the one in control of the call is better than scrambling for a file, trawling through notes or a history with an irate landlord on the phone waiting for answers.

Follow up on your tradespeople, making sure that requested work has been done and inform your landlord about the completed work. Again, by being proactive you are more in control of the call.

Still not happy?
So if you have put in place the above strategies and your owner is still difficult to deal with, there comes a time to escalate the relationship. You could try having another property manager deal with them. Sometimes changing up the relationship can help. The new property manager can even broach the subject if something has upset them or isn't working for them. That way the landlord feels heard and their concern is validated. I think it is so important that they are aware that they will still have to deal with the original property manager at some point. Otherwise it becomes untenable and unworkable.

Next tip is to bring it out in the open. Try sending them an email letting them know that you are aware that they are not happy. If the issue is to do with something that you have done, then speak with your licensee and see if you can have the ability to give them a reduction in commission or a rebate that relates to the issue.  Sometimes this acknowledgement and an offer of funds will be enough to appease them.

Unfortunately a time may come when despite your best efforts to mend an issue, it is damaged beyond repair. Make sure that you refer to your agency agreement and give them the correct notice. Generally this will be 30 days. Send them an email confirming when the files will be ready and get it sorted.

As much as it is hard to do, you will feel so much better when that file walks out of the office and you don’t have to deal with their unreasonable demands any longer.

Your sanity and job satisfaction is paramount. If you dread the phone calls with certain clients, then you have to deal with it before you lose your mind.