Being a landlord is essentially a customer service job under a different name. You’re providing services in the form of a place to live, while your tenants pay you in the form of rent. Just as retail stores don’t want to lose a good customer, you don’t want to lose a good tenant at the end of a lease.
How you conduct business with your tenants matters. The better the relationship, the easier it will be to work out any issues. Here are 6 tips for maintaining a harmonious relationship with your tenants:
- Avoid making friends with tenants
Sometimes you just click with people – even tenants – and it’s not an easy decision to avoid pursuing a friendship with them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with befriending a tenant – except that you don’t know whether you’re going to get taken advantage of.
You need to be seen as the boss at all times; renting to friends blurs that status.
For example, a tenant who is a friend might start to expect favors from you. By getting involved in their personal life, you’re going to learn about their financial situation and hardships. If you give them sympathy today for their hardship, tomorrow they might expect a pardon for late rent because you understand their situation. When you don’t give them a free ride, you could lose a friend and a tenant.
It’s also smart not to rent to existing friends or co-workers. If you’re asked, simply let them know your policy is not to rent to friends, family, or co-workers, but you’re happy to help them look for another place.
- Respond to requests quickly
Tenants expect you to respond to their requests for repairs and maintenance quickly. They also expect you to respond to every communication quickly, even if it’s not urgent.
The right way to respond
When you’re not sure when you’ll be able to take care of a tenant’s request, don’t respond with a vague answer just to appease them. For instance, say a tenant needs a screen replaced and you’re unable to commit to repairing it by a specific date because you need to check your calendar first. Either check your calendar before responding to your tenant so you can give them an absolute date, or send a quick reply to let them know you’ll get back to them by the end of the day.
Although it seems harmless, telling a tenant you’ll be able to stop by “sometime next week” isn’t acceptable. As a professional, you want to hold yourself to higher standards.
There are several reasons to think before you respond to a tenant’s request:
- Providing a vague time frame tells your tenant you’re not committed to solving their request. They’ll feel like they’re on the backburner and last in line.
- Thoughtlessly committing to a date before you check your schedule increases the chance you’ll need to reschedule. The more often you need to reschedule, the less reliable you’ll be considered.
- Giving your tenant an exact date and time you’ll show up to perform the repair – and then showing up at that time – increases your tenant’s respect for you as a landlord. Your word is your honor, and people notice the little things.
Don’t show up too fast
You want to be fast, but don’t be too fast. That doesn’t mean you should delay your response time. However, if you have tenants who consistently call you for small things and one day you don’t respond within five minutes, you might find yourself overwhelmed with extra emails and phone calls from them.
In other words, don’t get your tenants used to you being at their door at the drop of a hat.
- Get everything in writing
While verbal agreements are just as binding as a written agreement, they’re harder to enforce because there’s no proof. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to take a tenant to court, you’ll regret not having every part of the agreement in writing.
Get everything in writing, and remember to include these 9 items in your written lease agreement.
- Don’t text with your tenants
In today’s world, it seems impossible to live without text messages. They’re convenient, fast, and people can text replies when they’re unable to make a voice call. Although text messaging is convenient, don’t do it with your tenants.
Text messages are informal, no matter what you’re discussing. Once you allow someone to text message you, it opens the floodgates for them to contact you virtually anytime they want.
Say you allow a tenant to text you when they’re going to be late with the rent, and you respond with something basic like, “thanks.” The next thing you know, that tenant might send you a text saying, “what’s up, how are you?” The moment you reply, you’ve given your tenant the green light to hit you up like they would a friend.
A tenant who texts you to start a conversation may not mean any harm, but if the conversation isn’t business related, it’s only going to take you away from your own life. Even if the conversation is business related, it should be discussed live, not in a text.
Texting with tenants also gives them an “out” for avoiding making real contact with you when it matters most. Using text messages for communicating can escalate a situation quickly in a direction that’s anything but harmonious.
- Make things easy for your tenants
The best way to maintain a harmonious relationship with your tenants is by making things easy. If they need to adjust the day they pay rent, be willing to accommodate that. Sometimes people have a difficult time meeting rent on the first.
Be willing to work with your tenants when special circumstances come up and they’ll cut you some slack as well.
- Be accountable for your promises
When you sign a lease with your tenant, the agreements go both ways. Your tenant is agreeing to certain terms for paying their rent and maintaining the property, and you’re agreeing to provide the tenant with a safe and habitable living space.
Your tenant will expect you to follow through with your end of every agreement you make. This includes the lease as well as your promises to perform repairs and maintenance. For instance, if your tenant accidentally puts a hole in the wall and you say you’ll come by Friday afternoon to fix it, by Friday evening that hole should be patched.
Just as some landlords are used to tenants who don’t keep their word, many tenants are used to landlords who don’t keep their word. Keeping your word, no matter how small, is the best way to keep a great tenant.
Green Residential can help you manage your tenants
Even when you’ve got great tenants, sometimes you need a little help. Our property management services in the Katy area are professional and affordable. Contact us today for a free analysis to find out how we can help you free up more of your time.