Cross-industry companies are seeking employees with more than sector-specific expertise. Workers high on the lists of recruiters these days are those with the essential soft skills to run a successful team. They want workers with the necessary soft skills to manage high-achieving teams, which is important in investment property management. Among the soft skills that are typically considered to be the most difficult to master are conflict resolution, interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate effectively, especially in high-stress and conflict-charged situations.

Well-honed soft skills are a great asset for anyone to possess, and especially advantageous for property managers who periodically find themselves handling challenging situations with residents. Below are some fairly common conflicts property managers must navigate. Read on and learn how, by adopting these soft skills, can enhance your relationships with tenants and help you resolve conflicts, even before they occur.

1.Tenant Complaints

Tenant complaints can range from legitimate issues such as ongoing noise in a neighboring apartment to problems outside your control such as the rooster at the farm across the road that wakes them up every morning.

Regardless of the absurdity of a complaint, it’s important to listen to your resident and to empathize with their concerns.  State clearly that you heard their grievance and understood their concern. If the problem is one you are able to solve, thank the tenant for discussing it with you and explain what actions you will take and tell them when you expect to resolve it. Encourage the tenant’s input on future issues too. This way, the tenant feels they have been part of the solution and will leave feeling pleased.

Now, if the complaint is something you cannot fix, acknowledge the tenant’s frustration and explain why you are unable to fix it. Thank the tenant for the input but make sure they understand that some things are simply out of your control.

2. Missed Rent Payments

This is never a pleasant task for property managers since it is one area in which you have to stand firm. There is no need to be impolite or contentious but you do have to be uncompromising to send a clear message to the tenant to prevent late or missed rent payments from becoming a habit.

Most residential rental properties have rather clear payment requirements spelled out in the lease agreement and stringent rules and consequences when residents miss a rent payment. The first time a resident misses a payment, it’s OK to simply notify them and include a copy of their lease or association agreement with the notification. If they are generally a good resident, it’s important to remain polite. professional, and even reassuring despite being unable to breach the late payment policy. You want the tenant to walk away grateful for your professionalism and cool under pressure and hopefully understanding your constraints. You never want animosity to brew between yourself and a good tenant, so handling these types of conversations well can really test your investment property management skills.

3. Undesirable Maintenance and Construction

Maintenance and property improvement projects are unavoidable. As the property manager, it’s up to you to do everything you can to minimize their inconvenience to your residents. It is also important to keep residents apprised of any changes or updates throughout the project’s duration.

Begin by sending a notice to all residents through the resident site as well as every additional channel available to you. Send the first notice out well in advance of the project start date. Hang notices on bulletin boards in common areas and in resident mail areas. Send out an email blast and post it in community discussion groups and on your social media channels. Include an email address or phone number for residents with questions to reach you. Make sure to respond to tenant questions as quickly as possible.

Explain what will be involved in the project and how long it will take. If you foresee any inconvenience to tenants the project may cause, give them a heads up so that they can make any necessary adjustments to their schedules to compensate if necessary.  If there are changes or delays to the project plan, communicate that information to residents immediately.

Do not underestimate the importance of sharing details of the project with your tenants either. Some things that may seem insignificant to you such as changing the doormats or moving the entryway seating could be a big deal to residents with limited mobility.

4. Residential Rule Violations

Many instances of resident conflict stem from residential rule violations, whether real or perceived, especially in community associations and HOAs. If a resident is breaking noise, storage, parking or smoking rules, take steps according to the language spelled out in your tenants’ lease agreement to resolve the situation.

Notify the offending resident via email and include a copy of the lease agreement or community rules. But take the time to talk to them, as well. Approach them in a polite, non-confrontational way. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them deal with whatever problem it is that is causing them to breach their lease agreement. There may be a reason for their rule-breaking, and they’ll appreciate your willingness to help them find a solution if you can.

How to Show Superior Investment Property Management Skills

  •  Communicate to the residentthat there is no more leewayfor missed payments. Follow the guidelines to the letter, notifying your resident, applying any late fees outlined in the agreement and initiating legal proceedings, if necessary.     •  Remain polite and professional throughout the exchange. Communicate to the resident via email or phone to advise them what steps will be taken as a consequence of the current missed payment.

    •  Never confront the tenant at their residence or in the community’s common space, and refrain from calling or emailing them more than is necessary. You don’t want them to accuse you of harassment.

    Well-honed soft skills are in demand in every industry and they can benefit property managers tremendously. Work on developing yours routinely until they become second nature. As a property manager, your soft skills are a critical part of investment property management. Great soft skills can provide you with superior communication capabilities and help you help your staff learn to communicate more effectively with each other and with your tenants. In addition, highly developed soft skills can establish you as a strong leader, an impressive problem solver, and advanced creative and critical thinker, and a positive, productive, and efficient team leader. So, what’s your superpower?