Often, as landlords, we are put in the position of having to have uncomfortable conversations with renters regarding collection of rent, conflict resolution or violation of House Rules. It is important that we act as an authority figure in any conflict and not become part of the issue. Remember always that this is your house and your rules. I don’t say this so that you can abuse this authority, but only so that you can maintain a peaceful environment for all involved. With this power comes great responsibility. As you wield this power, remember that the renter has rights as well.
- Keep your feelings in Check. This isn’t about you, this is about the house and its occupants. If you allow your feelings to enter into the mix, you will quickly lose control. Always discuss the facts and expectations. Never comment on the person, just the behavior. Remaining subjective will allow you to retain control of the situation.
- Get the Facts. Don’t turn hearsay into validated accusations. Do not make assumptions. Sometimes it is one person’s word against another. If this is the case, remind both of the rules and elicit commitments to continue to follow these rules.
- Use the word “I”. Speaking in first person gives you the power. You must communicate your expectations (“I have written in the rules that there is no loud music after 10:00pm”). This is your house, your rules, so take responsibility. Never play it off on someone else (“My wife doesn’t like it.” Or “The other roommates complained to me last night”). These statements diminish your authority. Stand up and take control.
- Stay Focused. When resolving conflict, the person in the hot seat has a tendency to want to follow rabbit trails. “Yes, I ate her peanut butter, but she always leaves towels on the bathroom floor.” This is a method of deflecting attention from their undesirable behavior. Don’t be tempted to follow these distractions. You must stay on task. If the other roommate is leaving towels on the floor, then tell them you will speak to her about it, but for now, we are discussing the peanut butter. Be sure you follow through about the towels. Don’t just say it, do it.
Being a landlord is a position of responsibility. You must act and behave in a way that creates an environment of harmony for all the residents. Sometimes, you may need to compromise. Other times, you will need to stand firm. It may very well come down to asking the renter to leave. Don’t be afraid of this possibility. I promise, there are other renters out there. And the next one might be better than the last one.