The stories you are about to hear are real, the details have been changed to protect the… difficult.  

The property management field exposes you to an array of personality types. You’ll always have your favorite tenants: your I-hardly-know-they-exist tenants, the friendly pop-in tenant, the struggling-yet-sweet tenant, the brings-you-extra-food tenant. But for all of the good, rule-following tenants, you still have those few who make your day longer and your job harder. 

The following are a few common tenant profiles I’ve come across during my time as a property manager, and how you can use property management software to lessen the amount of time and effort you spend keeping them happy. 

The Short-Fused Tenant 

“How dare you increase my CAMs for the year!” “The hallway carpet has a snag – you’re not doing your job!” This one is tough because you’re tasked with not only addressing the tenant’s issue but also the manner in which they are bringing it to your attention. But first, you need to respond to the screaming; I (try to) follow these steps to not only calm down the tenant but also prevent myself from saying something regrettable. 

  1. Let them scream.  
  2. If I’m on the phone, I roll my eyes as hard as I can while I’m listening. This doesn’t do anything, it just makes me feel better. 
  3. If they’re yelling at me via email, once I get the gist, I close the email and come back to it later when it’s less shocking. Then, I forward it to a coworker or my husband, someone who will side with and support me unconditionally. The response I’m looking for sounds something like “wow, how do you even deal with that? Your job can be so hard!” (if anyone’s asking).  
  4. If they’re yelling at me in person, I tend to stare at them silently while my ears turn red with anger and/or embarrassment. But my suggestion would be to stop them immediately and calmly say you do not need to be yelled at and this conversation can continue at a later time.  
  5. When they’re done screaming, pause just long enough to make the silence uncomfortable.  
  6. Respond quietly and slowly, but firmly, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Let me speak to my team and the Landlord and get back to you.” And end the conversation 

Responding at a later date gives you time to prepare your response and your remedy and potentially pull in an ally for feedback or support when dealing with this tenant. Plus, I suggest always responding to these interactions by email.

And while I’m typically calmer in writing than in speaking, my rough drafts will include a few choice words to the tenant that might get me in trouble. But in the end, the email always comes out more thoughtful and deliberate than a surprise conversation would. 

A dirty little property management secret is that you can always pull the “landlord” card – the mysterious building owner pulling all the strings from behind the scenes. Truthfully, you are operating the building at the landlord’s direction, and it is good to remind the tenant that you do not make decisions in a silo. It is also to your benefit to use the landlord figure to help shoulder the blame, which most landlords would agree with since you are the front line taking the heat. 

A great way to keep track of these interactions (for better or worse) is by logging them into a centralized note-capturing database where all your team members can always stay up to speed. 

image showing WorkSpace property management software activity tab used to manage communications about properties

In WorkSpace’s activity tab, you can have direct conversations with teammates, log notes on projects or post updates for your staff all under the umbrella of a specific property. 

The Haggler 

You’ve heard it before – a tenant experiences some sort of inconvenience and believes he is entitled to a credit on his rent. I had a tenant email me asking for a credit because dust had fallen onto his Porsche, in the parking garage, from construction work being done on the floor above. 

After I got over the audacity of the request, my APM and I brainstormed on how to make him feel heard and figure out what can we give him instead of a credit.

Property management is a balancing act between customer service, enforcing the lease, and adhering to how your building owner wants their property managed. 

First and foremost, I apologized for the inconvenience and offered to let him change his (paid) parking space in the garage. We tried to identify something of value to give the tenant that cost us little to no money.  

What we ended up doing, because the timing was right and the impact was high, was packaging a lease renewal with replacing the carpet in their suite and touching up the paint. We all got something out of the deal – the leasing department, who brokered the deal, extended a lease early, the tenant got new carpeting (when a typical lease renewal would have been a carpet shampooing) and the management office now has a happy tenant. 

In a property management system like WorkSapce, you can attach a copy of the receipt, gift card or note in the tenant’s lease file, cataloging the correspondence and any details of the relationship digitally and stop increasing the weight of the lease file by adding hard copies! 

The Needy Tenant 

Either due to entitlement, inability or refusal, this tenant needs help from you to complete the simplest task. It never ceases to amaze me the requests tenants will pose to a property manager when, if they were in their own home, they would handle the situation themselves.  

One tenant consistently asked us to spray Raid in their suite kitchen when they forgot to throw food away (instead of buying their own can or, you know, being cleaner). Another tenant was requesting the engineers close and open the HVAC vents on a weekly basis in one of their offices (instead of choosing a temperature everyone can live with and individually adjusting with clothing choices). Then there was the guy who pointed out a fingerprint on an overhead light that he wanted wiped down (where he was over 6 feet tall and our dayporter was 5’1”). 

The conundrum is how to nicely inform the tenant that your staff is being overutilized for their needs while also reassuring them that customer service is a priority. 

My first step is to casually describe how many tasks the dayporter has on his/her plate or how it’s a busy week for the engineers. Sometimes tenants are legitimately uninformed about the staff’s other responsibilities.  

A more direct and aggressive approach is to address the issue as if their problem was the most important issue on your plate. In the Raid example above, as a property manager, I would go to the suite and examine the ants like I’m trying to invent cold fusion. Then I would suggest we call the pest control vendor, who will spray for $75 a trip at the tenant’s cost because the ant problem is within the suite. 

Similarly with the HVAC example, I would gather the engineers, my APM (or anyone else official) and have the engineer open the ceiling tile and start suggesting structural changes to the location of the HVAC unit that would solve this “vent problem”. By virtue of us discussing the cost (hundreds, if not thousands of dollars) and mention the possibility of it being at the tenant’s cost, it’s usually quickly determined that Betty can just wear a sweater. 

Truth be told, you’re always going to have a few tenants that take up more of your time than others. Tracking the amount of time your staff has spent on a singular property or specific tenant can provide valuable insight into your team’s productivity. With reports like Service Request Originator, Volume, Count Summary, and others you can always have a birds’ eye view of where the tenant issues are. 

image showing how to use property management software to track service requests

The Clueless 

“How much is my rent? Can you email me a statement? Can I bring you the check at 5:35 instead of mailing it to the lockbox?” To an outsider, this may seem like a benign request, and in the grand scheme of things, it is. Being a clueless tenant is not a crime, nor is it even the most difficult type of tenant, but it can suck time away from your other responsibilities.  

As property managers well know, a standard lease states that the landlord (or their representative) does not have to provide a rent statement, though most of us still do. The tenant is responsible for knowing how much their rent is and for paying it on time with or without a notice. Technically, we are under no obligation to print the statement or stay open late to accept the rent check and acquiescing to her request risks reinforcing this behavior.  

But a large part of being a property manager is customer service, so in most cases of a clueless tenant I grin and bear it. In this situation, after a couple of months of repeating this behavior, I printed her out a rent schedule so she could see her future rent and CAM charges for the foreseeable future. This isn’t typically a document that managers provide tenants, but it would end up solving a problem for both of us.  

Unfortunately, I couldn’t change her habit of dropping the check off at our office no matter how many subtle and not-so-subtle reminders I gave her. So I told her we close promptly at 5:30 but she is welcome to slide the check under the door (just make sure this is possible at your office first!). 

Sometimes the best way to remind one tenant of your policies and procedures is to remind all of your tenants of your policies and procedures.

If you’re using property management software, such as WorkSpace, you can send a Broadcast, reaching all of your tenant contacts with just a few clicks in email or text format. 

image showing how to use WorkSpace property management software to send out tenant broadcasts


Of course in property management, there are always mitigating circumstances to consider, and each case is different. The tenant occupying 8,000 RSF is going to require more compromise on your part than the 800 RSF tenant, as is the tenant who has a renewal approaching. In those cases, you’re going to bend a little farther backward than usual and make those tenants happy to be at your building. Even if you roll your eyes when no one is looking.