It is the responsibility of every landlord or property owner to ensure that their renters are comfortable in their living spaces. This applies in terms of both the physical place and the social conditions that go with it.
Complaints about excessive noise and rowdy behavior are inevitable every once in a while. The offense may just be an isolated event – a visit from friends and family or perhaps the occasional party. Maybe it’s movie night and the TV or sound system is reaching a few decibels above tolerable levels because of the excitement. In a worst case scenario, it may be poor overall conduct unraveling, a recurring inconvenience for the offending tenant’s neighbors – and for you.
What can you, as a property owner, do to keep the peace? Here are 4 effective strategies:
- Establish clear house rules and penalties and communicate them early on
Prevention is always better than cure, as the saying goes. Set clear rules regarding noise and proper conduct, such as “quiet hours” (i.e. between 9:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. the following day) and no shouting, running, or any horseplay along corridors. Look into your local laws for relevant noise ordinances that can serve as the backbone of your house rules.
Assign corresponding and reasonable penalties for each offense. Apply a tiered penalty system – start with just verbal or written warnings for first-time offenders, for example – so as not to alienate your tenants.
Explain your house rules both verbally and in writing, especially during a tenant’s application. At times, this may discourage prospects from deciding to move in. It’s not your loss – in fact, you are probably sparing yourself and your tenants from a potential headache.
- Invest in carpets and other soundproofing measures
Landlords can also prevent noise complaints and related conflicts with decent soundproofing. Something as basic as carpeting can make a big difference. Soft materials like carpets minimize hard surface areas that amplify sound and make noise easier to transmit through unit walls.
- Learn effective conflict resolution
Noise complaints can get very tricky for landlords when the alleged culprit argues back – either the complaint is exaggerated or it is unfounded. In these situations, a good grasp of conflict resolution basics comes in handy:
– Remember that the goal is to reach an agreement that benefits all parties for the long term. Be impartial throughout the entire process.
– Hear out both sides of the complaint before making any decisions or taking action. Both parties will appreciate the opportunity to air out their side. This will likely make them more agreeable to a compromise that benefits everyone.
– Invite the parties to a dialogue. Conflicting parties tend to be more satisfied and cooperative when they arrive at solutions by themselves, rather than having a third party – in this case, you – impose a resolution.
- Be firm
If the unfavorable behavior persists despite repeated warnings and dialogues, be prepared to make difficult but necessary decisions.
You can begin with a “cure or quit” notice – a letter that gives the offending party the choice between correcting their disruptive behavior or otherwise making them subject to eviction.
If this still does not work, evicting the offending tenant is the way to go. While this leaves you with one tenant short, you’re better off losing this one than the other better-behaving tenants that are affected by the former’s misbehavior.
For more advice on how to be an effective San Francisco landlord, get in touch with Ray Amouzandeh of TARGA Residential Brokerage. Call him at 415 494-7009 or email SFHomez(at)gmail(dotted)com.