When your contractor disrupts your tenant’s privacy
Five Easy Lessons that just might save the day!
Late one Friday afternoon the landlord’s electrician entered a tenant’s apartment unannounced to complete a job. Unfortunately, he walked right into a room where the tenant was dressing! The electrician fled under a hail of screams and threats. Things only got worse when the tenant met him minutes later in the hallway. Just when this irate tenant was raising his fist, the property manager walked into the building and broke it up. Although the immediate crisis was averted, fighting words were hurled back and forth. That’s when the landlord was called. Learn what happened next….
Although the landlord had plans, she immediately cancelled them knowing this situation needed to be de-escalated right away. Although the electrician first told the landlord how ‘innocent’ his actions were and ‘inappropriate’ the tenant reaction, the tenant had a different story. It was bad enough that the electrician had entered his room without checking, but he never apologized! In the back of the landlord’s mind was the possibility of legal action, rent withholding and losing a valuable tenant. Please see the five lessons learned below.
Lesson 1: Move quickly.
This landlord wasted no time. She changed her plans for the evening and contacted the tenant immediately. Making sure the tenant is contacted right away is a critical ingredient for restoring trust and respect, and avoiding unnecessary escalation.
Lesson 2: Give the tenant a chance to talk and vent.
However minor the issue, letting tenants speak their minds freely will be time well spent. Venting doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with the tenant. It does mean giving the tenant a chance to speak, uninterrupted. Given how privacy rights had just been breached, this tenant had reason to be angry. In this case the tenant took over twenty (20) minutes to let off steam but he eventually became calm and able to listen. Only then is it useful to talk with the tenant.
Lesson 3: Be willing to apologize in words and action.
Although the landlord didn’t offer to repair the wrongs caused by the access snafu, he did offer his apologies, caring and respect. The landlord also got the tenant a certificate for dinner at a local restaurant, with a sincere apology note attached.
Lesson #4: Correct the behavior that caused the problem immediately.
Although the tenant and electrician had developed an access plan, the electrician’s schedule had changed, which led him to “drop in” on the tenant unexpectedly. When access issues surface, it is crucial to re-establish a plan that can account for unexpected changes. (If the electrician is willing, you could suggest that he also apologize but you may need to help him do it properly!)
Lesson #5: Reassure the tenant.
Reassure the tenant that corrective steps have been taken and a new access plan is in place designed to prevent repeat problems from occurring. Providing reassurances can be critical for rebuilding trust and improving future cooperation.
So, remember these simple steps the next time a crisis looms:
Act Now – Listen – Apologize – Correct – Communicate