Complaints - Why you should never ignore them
Complaints in the property industry are on the increase as tenants exercise their rights, as landlords expect better services and agents demand more from their suppliers. But how do you stop a complaint from ever materialising and what should you do should when they land in your inbox?
Sloping shoulders is a term often associated with business practices however there is a growing feeling that agents and landlords are attempting to deflect responsibility when in fact most complaints could be easily resolved if only all parties talked to each other and inventory providers are included in the conversation.
As Sián points out, if adjudicators do not have the right information then the dispute is often lost before it even hits their inbox so getting to grips with the issues or complaint early on can only benefit all the key people involved in the tenancy.
Melissa refers to the tendency of some providers (and software!) to rely on terms such as Poor, Fair or Good (or The Good, The Bad and the Ugly as Sián likes to call them!) when reporting conditions in an attempt to be more 'time efficient' when in fact they are storing up a host of problems when it comes to the checkout where liability, damage and costs are levied against the tenant and their deposit.
Melissa also points out the fact that it is often the inventory clerk who is the 'first port of call' when a complaint is made often bypassing the actual reason for the issues in favour of a 'quick resolution'.
Another key reason for complaints being raised is the lack of detail in the report. Brief or 'stock comments' are often the cause of misinterpretation by the reader and so by the time the deposit goes to dispute its too late to rectify what could be minor issues or complaints leaving the inventory clerk holding the proverbial can.
Both Sián and Melissa agree that the best way to head off any complaint is to first compile a detailed property report based on fact, evidenced by comprehensive pictures or video (not the bubble / 360 kind) and to then deal with complaints rather than leaving them to languish in the 'too hard to deal with' drawer.
Finally; Sián shares her 6 top tips for managing complaints:
- Respond - Don't ignore the complaint!
- Take ALL complaints seriously
- Don't accept blame - its not always that straightforward
- Set out time frames for your response and keep to them!
- Keep everything professional - it's easy to get emotional so take a breath and give yourself time to think
- Learn from each complaint