The Best Way to Handle Complaints From Residents

Striving for 100% resident satisfaction is a key goal for operators, but it’s not always possible. There are many factors that influence how happy residents are in your development such as:

  • Staff professionalism
  • The quality of apartments and amenities
  • Rental rates

If you receive complaints from residents, resolving issues in a quick and amiable manner ensures they don’t have the opportunity to escalate — especially if these are concerns that fall under your control. There is a right way to respond to a resident complaint, which can showcase the excellent attitude of your staff and may even strengthen the level of courtesy and respect shown to you and your team.

Below, we discuss the correct way to handle complaints from residents. But first, it’s important to take a look at some of the most common themes so we can identify measures to prevent complaints from occurring in the first place.

What are the Most Common Resident Complaints?

Understanding why residents are unhappy is the first step to reversing the problem. Let’s take a look at the problems residential operators from across the UK are resolving every day:

Unjustified Rental Fees

BTR and PBSA are synonymous with quality. Generally speaking, residents are fine with higher-than-average rental fees because they understand that living in modest luxury comes with a price. What they’re not okay with is paying top level fees and seeing no benefits.

If you promise something to your residents, you have to deliver. It might be that you pushed a certain amenity as a key selling point, or maybe you highlighted how much thought and detail goes into community events. Residents will expect as much, and they will make a complaint if they see otherwise.

In order to prevent any issues concerning rental fees, residents have to get value for money. This means all services and amenities should be up and running when they move in and their accommodation has to be up to standard.

We understand that operating a development isn’t smooth sailing, and issues can crop up. If you have to close a key amenity for any reason, or further work needs to be done, address the point with residents immediately and offer them a voucher or reduced fee for the month as compensation for the trouble.

Level of Customer Service

Staff represent your development’s brand. Anything they do is a reflection of your company, so it’s imperative that every member of your team conducts themselves properly in the working environment.

This doesn’t mean they have to act like robots; quite the reverse actually. A friendly nature and a bit of personality can endear residents to your employees, but that has to be combined with a certain level of professionalism and competence.

Team members should take responsibility for problems when a resident approaches them. Anyone who responds by saying that a task isn’t their job or they’re not the right person to talk to creates a new layer of difficulty for residents and it also comes across as rude.

Comprehensive training sessions provide staff with the skills they need to handle most situations and reduce the number of complaints from residents. Not only will this improve service levels, it gives individuals more confidence in their abilities so they’re ready to take on greater responsibility as well.

How to Respond to a Resident Complaint

Knowing how to respond to a resident complaint without exacerbating the situation is a key skill for operators. Here’s our guide on how to peacefully and efficiently resolve complaints from residents.

Maintain a Professional Approach

If a resident comes to you with a problem — no matter how large or small — your first job is to show empathy and understanding. They should feel confident that the matter will be looked into and that in no circumstance have they bothered your team by raising a point.

Provide Clarity

Issues that may take time to fix have to be documented and the one who raised the concern should be kept up to date. Substitute jargon for plain English, and reassure the resident that the matter will be investigated.

Share Your Conclusions

Identifying the source of the problem helps you to understand what went wrong to begin with and provides you with the knowledge needed to avoid making the same mistake again.

Share your findings with the resident(s) and be willing to answer further questions as reassurance.

Make an Acknowledgement

Nothing in life is perfect, and at some point, issues will crop up. This alone won’t deter residents from re-signing a lease agreement, as long as the problem has been acknowledged and someone has accepted responsibility.

Detail the Next Steps

Residents want to see progress is being made to rectify complaints. If possible, outline in writing the steps that will be taken and provide a timeline if you can.

Follow Up With the Resident(s)

Once the matter has been resolved, it provides you with the perfect opportunity to check in with the resident(s). Ask if they are now satisfied that the problem has been addressed, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on how well they thought the situation was handled. All information you gather at this final stage provides you with more knowledge and expertise for future reference.

Why Handling Complaints From Residents Matters

An effective complaints procedure helps keep matters organised and amiable. The way you approach the situation can actually improve your development’s reputation, as people like to see your team create a better living environment. Potential residents may read online reviews for your building amongst others when property searching, and that can-do attitude can make all the difference.

Nobody is expecting your development to be perfect 100% of the time, but residents do expect to be taken seriously. By working out the best way to handle complaints from residents, you’re showing them a high level of respect and that can result in a long and healthy tenant agreement.

About the Author: Dustin Fjeld

Dustin Fjeld
As founder member of Fjeld Consulting, Dustin has helped save clients thousands across a range of BTR, PBSA, PRS and Co-living portfolios.

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