Building good tenant/landlord relationships is not only the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing to do. When landlords groom good relations with their tenants, they can ultimately improve retention, on-time payments and reduce unnecessary nuisance calls. They may discover properties are better respected, they gain more referrals and conflicts are reduced. Yes, cultivating good tenant/landlord relationships are good for business.
Building these relationships isn't necessarily difficult or time-consuming. It can be a series of little things, done consistently, that work together. Here are some of the little things that can be done to cultivate good tenant/landlord relationships.
This may sound simplistic but it can be easy for landlords to become a bit hardened and demanding due to the behavior of bad tenants in the past. Prospective tenants should be welcomed and treated like the customers they are. Taking the time to learn a little bit about them and their circumstances can go a long way in building understanding. If they are new to the area or neighborhood offer helpful advice about shopping, dining and entertainment options nearby. Sending a small welcoming gift upon move-in can be a nice way to start your relationship.
Set Expectations from the Outset
Many issues that occur over the course of a tenancy can be headed off by setting proper expectations at the outset. Tenants should clearly understand how much their rent is and that the due date is the deadline for payment, not an optional date. They should understand the routine maintenance issues they are responsible for and when to contact the landlord. They should be shown where the main shut off valves are for gas and water if applicable.
Tenants should be clearly advised in how they can and cannot make changes to the property. Most of all, they should understand the ramifications of not meeting these expectations. Keep in mind, expectations work both ways, so let them know what they get in return. This should all be done in a professional, friendly manner that sets the tone for a mutually respectful relationship.
Document Every Contact
It can be easy to confuse tenants, especially in a larger building. This can damage relationships. Keeping good records can be critical in building relationships and in tracking maintenance and other issues. If a complaint is filed by one tenant against another it should be noted in the files of both. Write down every call, maintenance request, lock-out phone call, and office visit. Also, note when any issue was resolved and the steps that were taken.
Make it Easy to Pay Rent
Taking barriers away from making rent payments can minimize late rent payments and improve relationships. Renters today expect an online rent payment system and accepting a variety of payment choices gives them options. It is a win-win for tenants and landlords.
Communicate with Respect
Too often landlords make assumptions about tenants based upon previous renters. Every tenant deserves to be treated respectfully based on their own behavior. Admittedly, this can be a challenge but making assumptions can turn what could have been a good relationship into a poor one. Be respectful when setting up an inspection, making cosmetic improvements to the exterior, or scheduling the resolution of maintenance issues. Be upbeat and friendly in personal contacts. Tenants may have different preferred methods of contact so make note of each and contact them accordingly.
Nothing frustrates a tenant more perhaps than not knowing that a request is being acted upon. If you can't get to a repair promptly, at least respond to it letting them know it was received and when it is scheduled for resolution. If a client files a complaint about a neighbor, let them know of any steps that have been taken. Avoid the temptation to respond to a slow paying tenant's concerns like-mindedly.
There are a lot of ways to stay connected with tenants including an occasional email, creating a quarterly newsletter, or noting birthdays or major holidays with a card or small gift. Remember that the financial value of a tenant is not what they pay each month, but what they pay over the course of a year. That should elevate their value in the mind of a landlord.
Keeping consistent in behavior and the enforcement of the terms of a lease allows tenants a better understanding of what to expect. The fewer surprises between the landlord and the tenant the better.
Having good relationships with tenants can have a huge, positive effect on a landlord and how they approach their jobs. It is well worth the small effort it can take in setting expectations, documenting interactions and staying connected. It can lift a heavy load from the shoulders of a landlord and have a positive impact on their business.