The more your tenants respect you, the more likely they are to take better care of your property, which includes notifying you when there’s a problem. While tenants can be unpredictable, and owning property comes with the risk of being surprised with some random breakdowns, you can manage the relationships you have with your tenants to a degree.Having tenants is like having kids – you have to earn their respect, need to be there for them when they need you, but you can’t let them walk all over you.
Here are 7 ways you can earn their respect and keep your boundaries (and property) intact:
Manage tenant expectations
You might think of promises as sentences that explicitly include the words “I promise,” but promises can be implied as well. Anytime you tell someone you’re going to do something, or imply that you will, you’re making a promise – and people, especially tenants, remember promises made by their landlord.
Before telling your tenants that you’re going to do something for them, no matter how small, make sure you can follow through in the time frame you’re providing for them. Don’t be afraid to tell them you need to check your schedule and get back to them. Part of being an efficient landlord is managing tenant expectations so you don’t over-promise and under-deliver. If anything, you want to under-promise and over-deliver.
Write down all of your promises
When you do make promises to your tenants, write them down and put them in your calendar and daily schedule so you don’t forget about them. If one of your tenants is having a minor problem with their washing machine, for example, it may not be an emergency. But if you forget to handle the repair, your tenant is going to feel let down, and even angry, when they have to start hauling their laundry to the laundry mat just to have clean clothes.
A tenant will probably understand that it takes a few days to get a repair person, but if it takes you a week or two to call and schedule the appointment, they won’t be so understanding.
Take care of quick fixes quickly
When a tenant calls to let you know they lost the key to a bedroom door, the stove’s pilot light went out, or the water heater temperature needs to be adjusted and they don’t know how to do it, that’s an opportunity to show up as a hero for your tenant. While you don’t want to give your tenants the impression that you’re at their beck and call, handling these small issues quickly can add to the overall respect your tenants have for you (and your property).
A lost key can be replaced if you have a copy, or you can replace the whole doorknob for less than $20. A water heater’s temperature can be easily adjusted in just a few seconds, and you can pop over to show the tenant how to re-light their pilot light.
These small issues, if taken care of quickly, will give your tenants more reason to be respectful of your property.
Always return communications promptly
When you return communications from your tenants promptly, you show they are more than just a paycheck to you. If your tenant is calling you to follow up on a repair you haven’t called in yet, don’t wait to call them back. First, plan a time to call in the repair, and then let them know you’ve got it in your calendar to call in the repair, and you’ll update them as soon as you know more. Don’t leave your tenants hanging.
If you have tenants who love to chitchat, or who tend to complain a lot over the phone, email is a sufficient form of communicating your updates.
Go above and beyond expectations
You may not want to do this all the time because some tenants might walk all over you, but when you have good tenants, it pays to go above and beyond for them in small ways. For example, if your tenant had a load of towels in the washer when it broke and somehow tore their towels to shreds, when you repair or replace the washer, give your tenant a $50 gift card for a local department store so they can replace their towels.
It’s a fact that many businesses are successful because of their generosity toward their employees, customers, and community. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be generous with your tenants in this kind of situation.
Of course, appliances are prone to breaking, and it’s not your fault that the washing machine broke at that moment and ruined their towels, but being generous with your tenant is like extending a helping hand and making the situation right, regardless of what caused the situation.
Ask questions when there’s a problem with consistently late rent
If your tenant is consistently late with the rent, it might not be their fault. It’s possible that their pay cycle is off by just enough that they can’t make their payments on the schedule you’ve established for them.
It never hurts to ask questions to find out why. If it turns out your tenant has an odd pay cycle, you may want to consider adjusting the lease agreement to allow them to pay rent on a different day of the month. Most agreements call for rent to be paid on the first of every month, but it’s not uncommon for some people to pay on the third, the tenth, or even the fifteenth of the month.
You don’t want to lose a good tenant just because their paychecks are delivered a few days after everyone else’s. It’s worth being agreeable to adjusting the rent cycle for them.
Hire a flat fee property management company
In a perfect world, appliances would last forever and repairs would never be necessary. While nothing mechanical is guaranteed to last forever, hiring a property management company can significantly reduce the amount of stress landlords experience from having to maintain their properties.
If you’ve got property in the Houston area and need some help, contact Green Residential to learn how we can make your life as a landlord a breeze. We offer more than just handling property and appliance repairs. We’ll screen your tenants, and even collect rent on your behalf – all for a flat fee. Contact us today and find out how you can experience the freedom many other landlords have been enjoying for years.