Many investors think that the hardest part of becoming an investor is searching for and finding the right investment property.

In reality, that’s only the beginning.

Once you own an investment property and become a landlord, you have to learn how to effectively manage it – and a huge part of this is ensuring that your tenants are happy.

Noisy Tenants

After all, if they’re not happy living there, they’re going to move to greener pastures pretty swiftly.

In this article, we look at the most common tenant complaints about those living in apartments and how to overcome them.

It all begins with CLAP: Children, Landscaping, Animals and Parking.

1. Children

Children running around in a unit complex without much adult supervision are likely to attract the attention of other tenants, and not in a positive way.

We’re not talking about kids who like to take a scooter ride after school around the complex – but the cheeky children who shriek around the complex and go ‘door knocking’ (purposely or intentionally knocking on other tenants’ doors and then running away for “fun”, a game that can be very irritating and frustrating for neighbours).

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Note: Complaints regarding children can be targeted at those who live on the premises, or children who are visiting the complex temporarily.

Importantly, a body corporate can’t refuse to let a dwelling to certain groups of people such as families, and complaints regarding children can be very difficult to manage.

Children are, by nature, noisy little critters!

2. Landscaping

The quality of landscaping in common areas, as well as the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of said areas, can result in tenant complaints.

It’s not uncommon for a body corporate or owners corporation, which manages all of the owners in a building or complex, to receive complaints about lawns not being mowed, hedges not being trimmed or tree roots causing damage to paths.

For tenants, this can become a problem when trees or vegetation impacts their view or ability to use their home.

3. Animals

Dog Welcome Home

Anyone who has been stuck living near a heartbroken dog left locked indoors all day knows only too well how frustrating that can be: a constantly barking dog can be hard to ignore.

Other common complaints in relation to animals include toileting – as some owners don’t pick up after their pets – and damage to common property.

4. Parking

Tenants parking in another tenant’s parking spot…

Tenants parking regularly in the visitor bays… tenants parking in the wrong spots altogether… visitors who overstay their welcome by using a parking space as their own private space… even tenants who make up their own parking spaces on grassy areas.

These are all potential causes of dispute between residents in a strata complex and could see your tenant making contact with you if they’re getting fed up with others doing the wrong thing.

5. Maintenance and upkeep

Maintenance

As a landlord, it’s up to you to ensure the property you are renting out is in good condition.

However, it’s the body corporate’s responsibility to maintain the building and ensure the upkeep of common areas – which means you don’t always have control over how well this is carried out.

Problems such as water leaks, mould build-up, pathways requiring repair and locks to mailboxes being broker can be the subject of a lot of complaints.

This is why it’s a good idea for you (or your property manager) to develop a good relationship with your strata manager – so you can ensure any issues are raised swiftly.

You may even choose to join the management committee.

6. Noise

This is a big one!

Excessive noise is one of the most common complaints that tenants can have, and for good reason: no one enjoys trying to fall asleep against the backdrop of a neighbour’s loud dance party music.

Your tenant’s noise complaints may be the result of just one regular offender, in which case it may be a little easier to address the issue.

Generally, most unit complexes don’t have more than one tenant repeatedly making excessive noise and complaints are often because of a party.

However, if the problem is ongoing – they constantly practice the drums at 10 pm, they hold regular parties, they stomp around the apartment or they watch television with surround sound as if it is their own personal theatre, then it may need to be addressed.

7. Odours

Odour Bathroom

If your tenant complains of an odour coming from their plumbing or bathroom, then it needs investigation fairly quickly – it could be the case that there is a blockage or other issue causing a build-up.

Also, when a tenant is living in closer quarters with others, it isn’t uncommon for strong cooking odours to be shared.

They might waft through mechanical ventilation systems and impact larger areas, or they might just be living so close to a neighbour that they constantly smell what they’re cooking up.

Containing or preventing this from happening is extremely difficult in a strata living situation, so tolerance is the key when people from different ethnic origins are cooking foods that have strong odours.

8. Smoking

Smoking

On the topic of smells – smoking is another major area of dispute amongst tenants.

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Note: Under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998, smoking in enclosed areas of a common area is prohibited, so if your tenant complains of another resident smoking in the carpark or the front entry, that can be addressed fairly quickly.

A tenant smoking in their own apartment, on the other hand, is much trickier to manage.

There have been some legal rulings over the years regarding smoking within units, where the smell escapes through the balconies, under doors or into the extraction system.

These rulings have found that a body corporate doesn’t have the authority to prohibit smoking within a unit, including on balconies as these are private homes.

However, somebody corporate schemes have passed by-laws that state residents are not permitted to smoke on their balconies, which causes a nuisance to neighbouring units.

As you can imagine, these by-laws can be very difficult to enforce – so this is an area you need to work very closely with your property manager and body corporate manager on.

9. Damage to common areas

When many different people use a communal area, there’s an expectation that everyone will do the right thing to maintain and present these locations to a high standard.

Of course, this isn’t always the case.

Strata managers and property managers report that the most common complaints regarding communal areas often stem from issues with people using pools and barbecue areas, and not cleaning up after themselves.

It can also create problems if tenants attempt to use common areas for their own private use on a more regular basis when they are designed to be shared by all of the residents in the complex.

10. Lack of privacy

Landlord Tenant Problems

When it comes to apartment living, most residents relish the privacy within their own four walls as they are sharing so much of their “home” with others.

As a result, tenants tend to become disgruntled if the landlord, on-site manager or property manager comes knocking too often.




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