Why Landlords Should Care About Roommate Conflict

Originally appeared on RoomSync
 It’s only the second week in September and you’ve already received several complaints from tenants detailing how they can’t stand their roommates! Like many landlords, you believe that it isn’t your responsibility to mediate roommate conflicts. After all, you’re a landlord, not a conflict resolution specialist. You tell the tenants that it’s their responsibility to work out any differences and come to a mutual understanding. What else can you say? It’s not like you’re going to evict a tenant for not being a good roommate.

Should landlords care about roommate conflict?

Roommate conflict scenarios are an unfortunate reality when dealing with student housing. It’s common for landlords to rent by-the-room, which often involves having tenants live together who know nothing about one another at first. If a landlord is lucky, a group of friends will rent out the vacant unit or rooms, but it’s not always practical to expect this perfect group of students will apply for housing together.

When roommate problems occur, what should landlords do?

Regardless of the market a landlord owns rentals in, one thing always remains consistent — the goal to keep profit margins high and vacancies low. A great way of achieving these two goals is by maintaining a high lease renewal rate. To accomplish this, it’s important to ensure that current tenants are happy and enjoy their accommodations. If a tenant experiences roommate conflict, the odds of him or her renewing the lease is considerably low. This probability of renewal is even less, if the landlord doesn’t attempt to help resolve the roommate issues. By taking a hands-off approach to roommate problems, it will likely be a detriment to increasing lease renewal rates and profits.

Low lease renewal rates can cause both a loss of time and money. A sizable chunk of potential income can be lost when a rental is unoccupied because the student market leasing cycle can sometimes be a tricky one. Furthermore, it can be a burden on the landlord’s time, as vacancies mean advertising the property, answering calls and emails, screening or interviewing potential tenants, etc. All of this can be potentially avoided by finding a group of compatible tenants, who don’t have conflicting lifestyles.

Another important issue for landlords to consider is how they handle roommate conflict can potentially affect their other tenant’s opinions. If a landlord completely ignores complaints about roommates, it can often leave the other tenants feeling unsatisfied. Unfortunately, it’s very similar to how a tenant would react if a landlord were to ignore household repair requests. Tenants would probably get the impression that the landlord doesn’t care about them and it might diminish the landlord’s reputation within the community.

What tools and techniques can landlords utilize to help avoid roommate conflict?

Of course landlords aren’t qualified roommate-matchmakers, but it’s in their best interest to at least attempt to find a group of students who will get along. Finding a compatible group can be achieved by implementing a more thorough tenant screening and interviewing process. By asking a series of planned questions, a landlord can be capable of getting a good read on potential tenants to determine whether or not they are suitable candidates.

Another technique that can be used by landlords is the creation of a roommate agreement. Although, this roommate agreement wouldn’t be legally binding, it could provide a framework for positie tenant relations and promote a friendly environment for all roommates. Landlords could create the document or ask the tenants to get together and form their own roommate agreement and sign it. This document can detail things like how to divide chores, rules for having guests, and other common issues which roommate conflicts may arise from.

Some landlords incentivize students to encourage their friends to move into the rental unit. This incentive can come in a variety of forms, most commonly being a small rental deduction or a cash bonus for each referral. This isn’t a surefire way to avoid roommate conflict, but it is advantageous if the group living together is friends, instead of strangers.

What should landlords do if roommate conflict still occurs?

If roommate conflict still happens, the very least a landlord can do is show some degree of concern and a willingness to help remedy the problem. This can be accomplished by simply talking with the tenants and trying to mediate the issue at hand.

Landlords might not be roommate-matchmaker experts like RoomSync, but in the long run, it’s beneficial for them to try to minimize roommate conflict to the best of their ability.

SEE ALSO: How and Why To Conduct Tenant Exit Interviews

Originally published at www.places4students.com.