Living in an apartment community offers an environment in which a diversity of residents coexist in close quarters. However, with this proximity comes the inevitable challenge of managing and addressing problem residents. These individuals may exhibit disruptive behavior, violate community rules, or create a negative atmosphere that affects the well-being of others.
Problem residents in apartment communities can show up in different ways. Ranging from excessive noise and property damage to violations of community rules and conflicts with neighbors. Identifying these behaviors is crucial to resolve the issues early and quickly to prevent conflicts from escalating.
Property management teams play a vital role in monitoring the community, but it is equally important for residents to report concerns promptly. Here’s a look at the various aspects of dealing with problem residents in apartment communities followed by effective strategies for resolution.
Apartment Community Resident Problems
Here are some of the problems many multifamily residential property managers encounter in their work with apartment communities.
Harassment and bullying
Harassment and bullying in apartment communities create an unhealthy living environment and pose serious threats to residents’ well-being. This kind of behavior can range from verbal abuse to intimidation. Victims may experience emotional distress and a diminished sense of security in their homes.
Property management must actively address these issues, to support a culture of zero tolerance. The key is to establish anti-harassment policies, encouraging reporting mechanisms, and swiftly investigating complaints. By prioritizing resident safety and fostering a sense of
community respect, apartment complexes can create spaces where all residents feel secure and valued.
Pets and pet infractions
Pet problems include excessive barking, animals roaming freely without being on a leash, or owners not cleaning up after pets. If the apartment community allows pets, it must include well-defined policies around this.
The presence of service animals adds a layer of complexity to the dynamics of apartment communities. While recognizing the importance of accommodating individuals with disabilities, property management must navigate potential challenges.
Some residents may complain about those who have a service animal. They need to be educated on the use of service animals and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some owners, however, abuse the service animal policy, and may claim a pet as a service animal when it does not meet the requirements.
Unauthorized occupants are people who live in the apartment that aren’t included on the lease, or a family member of lessee. It can be someone who has moved in and is staying in the apartment for longer than is permitted by the lease terms.
A big concern is the potential strain on community resources. Unauthorized occupants may contribute to increased utility use as well as wear and tear on the facility. Property management must address this matter to maintain the fair allocation of resources and uphold the rights of residents who adhere to the lease agreement.
Unauthorized occupants also raise security concerns, as their presence may go unnoticed or unverified. This situation can compromise the safety and well-being of the community, requiring property management to implement measures to ensure that all residents are properly documented and accounted for.
When residents engage in unauthorized subleasing, it can lead to problems for property management. One is the lack of control over who occupies the units, potentially compromising the safety and security of the community.
Unauthorized subleases often mean that individuals with no background checks or lease agreements are residing in the community, raising security risks, and jeopardizing the well-being of other residents.
An apartment community has a limited number of parking spaces. To prevent parking violations, there needs to be signs clearly pointing out which parking is for residents, and which spots are for visitors. Some communities have assigned parking spaces, and a resident or their guests may use another resident’s parking space, thereby causing issues.
Averting the use of the apartment community as a space where drug deals occur is vital to the security and safety of residents. When a space becomes a meeting place for drug deals, it can lead to other crimes.
One of the biggest challenges of apartment living is noise. Residents may hold parties, play music, turn up the TV, or fail to curb their pet’s barking. How does a community balance residents’ need to do noisy things and maintain peace? That’s a challenge property management must solve and create policies around.
A community may have shared apartment amenities, such a swimming pool, gym, laundry room, and meeting rooms. These violations could be the abuse or misuse of the space and overcrowding.
Damages and vandalism
Residents, their families, or their guests may cause damage to property or amenities, as well as commit acts of vandalism. These violations are typically resolved with fines, but without video surveillance, property management will be unable to determine who caused the issue, or who should be fined for the action.
The key to reducing the risk of these problems occurring is well-defined policies and procedures. Of course, things don’t always go according to plan, and employees need to be ready to nip problems in the bud.
How to Deal with Problem Residents
One of the key elements in managing problem residents is effective communication. Open lines of communication between residents, property management, and, if necessary, law enforcement, can help address issues proactively.
Property management should foster an environment where concerns are taken seriously and addressed promptly. It’s essential to create a culture of open communication to ensure residents feel comfortable reporting problems without fear of retaliation and to give them a great residential experience. Here are five effective ways to deal with problem residents.
1. Create clear and fair community rules
Apartment communities typically have a set of rules and regulations in place to maintain a peaceful living environment for their residents. To ensure a sense of order and accountability
within the community, it helps to have processes and policies that are fair, and enforcement that’s transparent.
If the apartment complex does not have community rules, then they need to create them as soon as possible and communicate them to residents. Property management should communicate these rules using multiple avenues, including written documents, community meetings, and online platforms. Residents should have easy access to these rules.
Apartment leadership also needs to conduct regular audits of community rules and enforcement procedures. This helps to confirm that they remain both relevant and fair.
These reviews allow property management to identify any potential biases in their practices and make necessary adjustments to uphold fair housing principles. It’s highly recommended that property management work with attorneys to ensure compliance with fair housing laws.
2. Reinforce community rules
It is imperative for property management employees to consistently enforce these rules to discourage problematic behavior. Management needs to issue warnings, fines, or even eviction in extreme cases.
These rules need to be applied uniformly to everyone. Selective enforcement may lead to concerns of discrimination. Treating residents equally and fairly goes a long way toward building trust.
3. Use professional facilitators
Apartment community employees need to learn conflict resolution techniques to mediate disputes and promote understanding among residents. If the problem is too complex, consider mediation sessions facilitated by trained professionals.
Bringing in a neutral third party to facilitate discussions between the concerned parties can lead to resolutions that are acceptable to all. Mediation not only helps address immediate concerns but also promotes a culture of open communication and conflict resolution within the community.
This creates a neutral space for those involved in the conflict to share their concerns. The facilitators will help them work towards a mutually acceptable solution. Encouraging empathy and understanding among residents can contribute to a more harmonious living environment.
4. Communicate with residents who violate community policies
Property management should engage in open and transparent dialogue when addressing policy violations. The first thing is to clearly articulate the nature of the violation, the specific policy breached, and potential consequences. This communication can occur through written notices, emails, or face-to-face conversations, depending on the severity of the violation.
Timeliness is a critical factor with policy violations. Swift action by property management shows a commitment to maintaining a safe and orderly community. Delays may lead to tension and create a toxic atmosphere. The policies and processes must document that violations will be handled promptly.
Using technology for documentation is another valuable strategy. Property management can leverage digital platforms to record and store communications and information related to policy violations. Documented communications include emails, video recordings, video meetings, and text messages. This not only ensures accuracy but also provides a comprehensive history that can be referenced if similar issues arise in the future.
In working with residents who violate policies, focus on education and rehabilitation. Rather than resorting to punishment, give residents resources, such as educational materials or counseling services. It helps address underlying issues contributing to the violations. This approach emphasizes a commitment to community well-being and the development of a positive living environment for all residents.
5. Invest in video surveillance and monitoring
Video surveillance with remote monitoring can document resident problems and conflicts within apartment communities. It’s a non-intrusive and objective means of capturing events. This technology enhances the ability of property management to address issues promptly and accurately. One advantage of video monitoring is its role in providing an unbiased account of incidents. In cases of disputes or conflicts among residents, video footage serves as an impartial witness, capturing events as they unfold. This objectivity minimizes the potential for misunderstandings and ensures that the facts are accurately represented. Most importantly, it fosters a fair and transparent resolution process.
Furthermore, video surveillance acts as a deterrent to violations of community policies. This proactive and preventive aspect contributes to a more secure and peaceful living environment. The evidentiary value of video footage provides visual documentation and concrete evidence. This is useful for myriad reasons- for example, it allows property management to conclusively determine who caused damage and should be fined. It’s crucial to have security cameras inside and around the property, including the parking lot.
Despite property management’s best efforts to create a culture of trust, residents may still feel reluctant to report problems. Video surveillance closes this gap. The presence of cameras can act as an additional layer of security, assuring residents that their concerns will be taken seriously and that there is an objective means of verifying incidents. This sense of security communicates to residents that their well-being is a priority.
Video surveillance with remote monitoring’s objective recording, preventive capabilities, evidentiary value, and ability to enhance the overall sense of security contribute to a more
effective and efficient resolution of issues within the community. Apartment communities that implement this technology responsibly can maintain a safe, respectful, and well-regulated living environment for all residents.
For more information about multifamily residential security technology, check out the Complete Guide to Securing Your Multifamily Residential Building. To learn more, contact us.
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