Landlords and property managers should do everything in their power to help forge positive relationships with their tenants. Here are some ideas to help.
First impressions count. When meeting prospective tenants for the first time, you have a chance to set the tone for the relationship. Make a good first impression by greeting them warmly, smiling, and making eye contact. Take time to answer any questions they have about the property.
Once they become your tenants, it’s important for them to know they’re not just another face or unit to you. Make an effort to remember their names and something about them you can ask when you see them. Ask about their kids, their pets, or any hobbies they had mentioned previously. Small details like this help them know you care about them as a person.
Having a relationship built on respect is essential for a successful tenancy. Tenants will notice if you look down on them or see them only as a means to profit. Having a good professional relationship can help prevent problems before they begin. While you don’t have to be the tenants’ friend (and some would argue you shouldn’t), treat them well and encourage them to stay.
Lastly, while you might own or manage the property, that property will be the tenants’ home. As such, you should do everything you can to respect their privacy. This means giving appropriate notice before entering to make repairs or perform inspections. It also means giving tenants the right to quiet enjoyment (without excessive or unnecessary visits).
Even though you want to give your tenants space, it’s important to be available when they need you. This includes any repairs, routine maintenance, or questions they have about the property. Give your tenants a good way to contact you and make sure you respond to them.
Some landlords choose not to make an effort when it comes to being available to their tenants. This is a mistake for several reasons, one of them being liability. If your tenants can’t contact you in case of an emergency or for necessary repairs, you could be legally responsible for any injuries resulting from your negligence. Making yourself available is also important for protecting your investment. If a landlord brushes tenants off when they request repairs, small problems that could be easily fixed may become bigger problems later down the line.
Repairs and maintenance aren’t the only reasons why a landlord or property manager should aim to be approachable. Having a good level of communication with tenants can help de-escalate conflict and eliminate problems. If a tenant knows they can come to you with questions or concerns, they will be happier residents and more likely to stay long term.
Some landlords hesitate to emphasize their availability because they don’t want their tenants bothering them with every little problem. Instead, leaving the door open to communication can actually help reduce problems. If tenants know you’re willing to listen, they are more likely to come to you and be honest about situations they are facing.
Think of communication as a thermometer that lets you know the status of your unit and how your residents are doing. If everything is going smoothly, communicating regularly will confirm that. If there are problems, communication can help you determine the source of the issue and come up with a strategy to deal with it before it escalates.
Figure out the best means of communication. Some managers and landlords use phone calls, emails, or texting. Others opt for more high-tech solutions. If you’re using Tellus, you have a property management app built around a chat platform that makes communication a breeze. Whether it’s asking a simple question, submitting a maintenance ticket, or requesting reimbursement for the time they paid the plumber, using Tellus Chat to communicate saves everyone time and keeps automatic records of all conversations.
By managing your responsibilities well, you’ll establish yourself as a competent professional. You want to be seen as someone who will do what they say and who is dependable, firm, and fair. This helps tenants respect you and also makes you a better landlord or manager.
Part of this is accomplished from how you set up and enforce your lease. Make sure you’ve included the right clauses and that you explain the key clauses to your tenant. You should outline your responsibilities as the landlord or manager and highlight your tenant’s responsibilities. If you have clear expectations from the beginning, there is a smaller chance of misunderstandings.
If there are problems with the property that you know will affect your tenant, disclose these issues before the tenant signs. In some cases, you may even be legally required to do so. If any problems arise, make sure you take care of them promptly. This will make your tenants happier and will also limit your liability.
If you have to deliver bad news to tenants (like a major rent increase or deductions from the security deposit), do it in a way that is respectful and professional. Put yourself in your tenants’ shoes and do what you can to make the news more manageable.
Relationships with tenants don’t have to be complicated. Be respectful, don’t neglect your responsibilities, and be willing to communicate. While this doesn’t guarantee a complete absence of problems, at least you will know you’ve done everything in your power to improve the relationship.