Western Verify

Effective Strategies for Managing a Complaining Tenant


As a landlord, being fully committed to your rental property is crucial. While emergency calls in the middle of the night for significant issues can be rare and manageable, dealing with a tenant who constantly complains can become a significant burden. So, how can landlords effectively handle tenants who seem to find fault with everything?

Imagine this scenario: one day, your tenant contacts you about a conflict with a neighbor. The next week, they complain about the water pressure in the shower. The following month, they claim the basement smells strange. A week later, they’re upset about the crowded street parking. Here’s a high level guide to managing such situations effectively:

  1. Clearly Define Responsibilities in the Lease Agreement

Start by ensuring your lease agreement clearly outlines the responsibilities of both the tenant and the landlord. Most rental agreements should specify that tenants are responsible for taking reasonable care of the property, including tasks like replacing light bulbs, removing trash, unclogging toilets (when not due to a severe plumbing issue), and maintaining overall cleanliness. This clarity helps prevent tenants from expecting you to address every minor issue.

  1. Set Boundaries for Communication

While it’s essential to be accessible for legitimate concerns, you don’t always need to answer every call immediately. Let calls go to voicemail and screen the messages to determine if the issue requires urgent attention. Focus on addressing genuine problems that impact the overall living conditions, such as broken appliances or significant plumbing issues. Always document complaints and the subsequent actions taken, including photos or videos of completed repairs, to provide clear evidence that the problem was resolved.

  1. Handle Minor Complaints Efficiently

For minor complaints that don’t affect the livability of the property, respond with a polite but firm message. Acknowledge the complaint and provide guidance on how the tenant can handle it themselves if it falls under their responsibility. This approach encourages tenants to take more initiative in maintaining the property and reduces the frequency of minor complaints.

  1. Consider Offering an Early Lease Termination

If a tenant’s complaints become excessive and unreasonable, you might consider offering them an early termination of their lease agreement. Some landlords suggest providing a move-out credit of $150-$200 to incentivize the tenant to leave. Surprisingly, this offer can sometimes be enough to make the tenant reconsider their complaints and decide to stay, thus reducing the frequency of their grievances.

  1. Foster Open Communication and Build Rapport

Developing a good relationship with your tenants can often preempt complaints. Regularly check in with them to show you care about their living experience. Address minor issues promptly and maintain open lines of communication. When tenants feel heard and valued, they may be less likely to raise trivial complaints.

  1. Use a Property Management System

Consider using a property management system to streamline communication and track maintenance requests. These systems allow tenants to log complaints and requests online, making it easier for you to prioritize and address them efficiently. It also provides a documented history of interactions and repairs, which can be useful if disputes arise.

  1. Set Up Regular Inspections

Regular property inspections can help identify potential issues before they become major complaints. Schedule inspections quarterly or bi-annually and address any problems proactively. This not only keeps the property in good condition but also shows tenants that you are committed to maintaining a high standard of living.


Dealing with a constantly complaining tenant can be challenging, but with clear communication, well-defined responsibilities, and a strategic approach, you can manage the situation effectively. By setting boundaries, documenting interactions, and fostering a positive landlord-tenant relationship, you can minimize unnecessary complaints and ensure a more harmonious living environment for all parties involved. Managing tenants who frequently complain requires patience and a systematic approach, but with these strategies, you can maintain control and ensure your property remains a pleasant place to live.