Landlord-Tenant Relationships

Property Management

4 Common Complaints About Rental Homes and How to Manage Them

Written By Melanie Kershaw

Last Updated Jun 12, 2024

A young renter complains to her landlord about a rental home issue

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Vacancies, repair bills and legal challenges are costly problems for rental homeowners. But there’s a simple solution that goes a long way in avoiding them: listening to your residents and addressing their concerns.  

If something is wrong with your rental home, the residents will complain. This isn't always a bad thing. When handled well, complaints can be an opportunity to keep your rental running smoothly and cash flow steady. 

Being aware of common resident complaints can also allow you to be proactive. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with or avoid these issues puts you ahead of the curve. So regardless of your management preference (DIY, property management, or innovative alternative like Belong), this guide will look at how to address and avoid four common complaints in rental homes.

4 common resident complaints and how to manage them

1. Maintenance and repair complaints 

No prizes for guessing the most common rental home complaint. When things break down, they need fast solutions and so do you. Leaving maintenance or repair requests unresolved can have dire financial consequences.

Risks of mishandling maintenance complaints include:

  • Escalation – a small leak can quickly become major water damage
  • Residents legally withholding rent until the problem is solved
  • Residents authorizing repairs and deducting it from rent owed due to lack of action
  • Breach of the lease agreement, allowing residents to leave without notice or taking legal action for compromising safety  

Neglecting maintenance complaints is never worth the risk. This is why Belong is available 24/7 to discuss any concerns with homeowners and their residents – not just in an emergency. We have a 10,000+ strong vendor network to resolve issues quickly and handle proactive maintenance subscriptions to keep homes fine-tuned year-round.

Homeowner tips for reducing maintenance and repair complaints:

  • Set aside budget for repairs and be proactive about maintenance in your rental home.

  • Consider the age and condition of your rental home and plan to replace or repair items that face wear and tear. 

  • Make sure you have access to good contractors – trusted maintenance professionals are not always easy to come by at short notice.

  • Conduct inspections of your rental home and ask residents questions about the condition of appliances and amenities to get on top of potential issues.

Related: Why Ignoring Rental Home Maintenance Could Cost You More Than Repairs

2. Complaints about slow or poor communication

If a resident has a problem or question, how quickly can they speak to someone? Do they trust that action will be taken? When it comes time to sign a lease renewal, residents might think twice if they can’t count on their concerns to be addressed. 

Communication is also a two-way street. If you want reliable residents who work with you to keep your home in good shape, you should lead by example. But that’s not always feasible for busy homeowners. It’s one of the many reasons Belong offers 24/7 support to everyone in our network, making this level of care more approachable for homeowners. And we know we’re onto something because 73% of Belong residents renew their 12-month lease. 

Homeowner tips for avoiding complaints over resident communication:

  • Be responsive. Have good procedures in place so your residents know exactly how and when they can contact someone.

  • If you can’t manage fast responses, hire someone that can. Make sure they show you good communication and service too.

  • Be realistic and transparent with timeframes. If it’s going to take a week before someone can deal with a complaint, let the residents know instead of leaving them to wonder.

  • Keep written records of all communication to ensure procedures are followed in a timely way and to support you for legal and tax purposes.

Related:10 Proven Ways To Reduce Vacancies & Keep Great Rental Tenants Long-Term

3. Privacy and security concerns

If resident safety doesn’t seem like a homeowner responsibility, think again. While you’re not expected to prevent crime, landlords do have a legal obligation to be proactive and take reasonable steps to lower the risk of criminal activity in your rental home where possible. 

It’s important to handle the data of your tenants correctly too. Holding a significant amount of personal information (like on rental applications and tenant screening) poses a security risk to your residents and applicants. Be sure not to hold onto data unnecessarily and dispose of it safely. 

Homeowner tips for avoiding security and privacy risks to residents:

  • Install security gates and locks where appropriate.

  • Update the locks and keys if you ever need to evict a nuisance resident or someone moves out due to an incident such as domestic violence.

  • Repair any broken windows, doors or entry points to the rental home.

  • Provide a lockable mailbox or parcel locker to reduce theft and fraud risks.

  • Ensure there is good lighting in and around the property and consider additional security measures if there are crime concerns in your neighborhood.

  • Choose wisely when it comes to who you work with. Contractors and property managers can pose a risk to your residents when they enter the home and/or handle your data. 

  • Dispose of tenant screening data in accordance with FTC rules. 

  • Take out landlord’s insurance to protect your home and ask that residents have renter’s insurance for additional peace of mind.

Related: Can Landlords Be Held Responsible For Criminal Activities On Their Properties?

4. Complaints about mold

Mold deserves its own category outside of maintenance because it’s a tricky one to navigate. There’s no federal landlord-tenant law covering mold and it’s common for homeowners and residents to disagree on who is responsible for mold removal. 

It’s up to your residents to ventilate the home and clean up minor mold as general housekeeping. But they also need to notify you if visible mold is present because it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to remediate if it’s a problem due to something like a leak or failure to disclose pre-existing mold issues. If a resident has a mold complaint, don’t ignore it. Investigate the situation and act quickly. If it grows into toxic mold or any problem that causes health concerns, it could be considered a violation under a tenants right to a livable space and you could be sued for damages. 

Homeowner tips for preventing resident complaints of mold:

  • Inspect the home for mold and mildew before listing the home on the rental market.

  • Conduct regular maintenance to prevent water damage that causes mold growth.

  • Replace faulty or aging appliances that are prone to leaking such as refrigerators and washing machines.

  • Install a smart water sensor that alerts of leaks to avoid flooding and excessive damage and mold growth in your home.

  • Install insulation to protect the home from moisture and mold growth. You may also want to provide a dehumidifier or air purifier if your climate is prone to high humidity.

  • Inform your residents of the best ways to keep the home well ventilated such as using exhaust fans in bathrooms, opening windows and running dehumidifiers if necessary. 

Let Belong handle your residents, 24/7

With Belong, your rental home and residents are in good hands. Belong is a proptech company on a mission to fix long-term renting by focusing on modern innovation and services that support everyone.

Belong residents get access to 24/7 support, an app for easier maintenance requests and complaint resolution, access to renter’s insurance, and the benefits of a 10,000+ strong vendor network. It’s why Belong homes find residents quickly and keep them for longer. 

See why thousands of US homeowners are ditching outdated Property Management in San Francisco, Austin, San Diego, Los Angeles, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and more.

Disclaimer: We don’t enjoy using the word ‘landlord’. We prefer to refer to members in our network as homeowners and residents, since we’re on a mission to upend and redefine the traditional landlord-tenant relationship. That said, where this article refers to legislation we needed to use the legally defined terms. This article should not be considered legal advice, please research local laws or speak to a lawyer regarding your individual rights and circumstances

About the author

Melanie Kershaw

Mel Kershaw is a Content Lead at Belong. With an extensive background working with technology companies including Eventbrite and Yelp, she’s always looking for ways to create educational and informative articles that simplifies tech and solves problems for her audience.