One of the secrets to success as a landlord is improving your tenant relationships. When you have better relationships with your tenants, they’ll longer stay in your properties, which means you’ll have fewer vacancies and more consistent cash flow. They’ll also be more likely to take good care of your property, and work with you to resolve whatever issues arise.
The question is, what steps can you take to improve your tenant relationships?
Hiring a Property Management Company
Perhaps counterintuitively, one of your best options is to remove yourself from the equation entirely by hiring a property management company. Your property managers will take care of everything on your behalf, including collecting rent, conducting property maintenance, and handling complaints when they arise. Property managers tend to have a lot of experience and conduct themselves professionally, so you can sit back and rest assured that your tenants are in good hands.
The only downside is that property management companies take a small percentage of your gross revenue as payment, slightly eating into your profitability. But in most situations, it’s well worth the cost.
How to Improve Tenant Relationships
If you decide to go it alone, there are several steps you can take to improve your tenant relationships:
1. Find the right tenants. Your first job is to make sure you find the right people for your property. Screen your tenants carefully and make sure you find people who can afford to make rent payments consistently. It also helps to interview your tenants in person to get a feel for them and to introduce yourself.
2. Start with a good first impression. While you’re at it, make sure you start with a good first impression. You don’t have to be friends with your tenants, but you should be friendly in your initial interactions. Get to know them a little bit and talk about yourself. Pay attention to your body language and smile if you’re meeting them in person. You want to give them good vibes and make them feel comfortable entering this arrangement.
3. Give favorable terms. Most lease agreements are fairly standard, but try to create favorable terms for your tenant if you cans. For example, you might include utilities to make things more convenient for your tenants, or allow for pets to attract pet-loving tenants. You can also make terms more flexible, like allowing month-to-month rent instead of year-long commitments.
4. Remain transparent. Build trust with your tenants by being as transparent as possible. Be upfront and honest about your motivations and your needs. If you’re going to be delayed in responding to a request, explain why. If you face a tough question, try to provide an honest answer.
5. Respond promptly. When your tenant reaches out to you, make an effort to respond promptly. Even if you don’t have an answer to their question, you can at least let them know this is the case. A message that says “I’m not sure yet. I’ll get back to you soon” is better than no message at all.
6. Take care of issues. Inevitably, problems will arise at your property. When they do, make an effort to resolve them as quickly as possible. Commit repairs, address complaints, and generally strive to make things better for your tenant. They’ll appreciate your effort.
7. Be understanding. Occasionally, your tenants will make things difficult. They may miss a rent payment or damage the property in some way. When this happens, try to be understanding. Offer a compromise and a way for both of you to work together to set things right.
8. Provide rewards or perks. Though not a strict requirement, you can increase tenant trust and build your relationship by offering rewards or perks. For example, you can express your gratitude for the tenant’s occupation by sending them a small gift basket around the holidays. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way.
9. Keep improving the property. If you can, try to keep improving the property. Adding storage space, renovating the kitchen or bathroom, or refinishing the porch can all breathe new life into the property.
10. Learn from your mistakes. Finally, understand that you’re going to make mistakes. You may mismanage a difficult situation or fail to compromise when you need to most. Remain humble and attempt to learn from these mistakes so you can keep improving as a landlord.
Even following these tips, you should know that not all your tenant relationships are going to be great. They also don’t have to be. As long as they’re respectful and manageable, good tenant relationships will work in your favor. And when a bad tenant comes along, you can identify the issue and figure out how to move on.