Effective communication is the key to healthy landlord/tenant relationships. Effective communication is built on three main factors: transparency, honesty, and respect. With these three factors present, you’re more likely to resolve issues with your tenants before they grow into larger issues.
The following tips will help you integrate these foundational elements into your landlord/tenant relationships:
Respond to all tenant requests quickly
Being a landlord means juggling multiple responsibilities, and when you finally get a break at the end of the day the last thing you want to deal with is a tenant’s request – especially if the request isn’t an emergency. On the other hand, you don’t want your tenant to think you don’t care about their needs.
Not returning a tenant’s phone call only increases their anxiety and gives them time to create stories about how you don’t care about their problems. The more time passes, the more that tenant might become bitter and resentful toward you. That bitterness will stay with them throughout all future interactions with you. A bitter tenant can become extremely uncooperative.
While some landlords return tenant phone calls according to the priority of the request, it’s better to respond to all tenant calls quickly, regardless of priority. You don’t need to schedule a repair or solve their problem immediately, but you do need to return their call.
Promptly returning a tenant’s phone call says you care about their issue. Calling your tenant quickly gives you the opportunity to get more information and let them know you’re working on a solution. By calling your tenants back promptly, you’ll put them at ease and they will feel respected.
Give tenants the ability to send you text messages
Tenants need different ways to communicate with you. While some people prefer making a phone call, others might want to send a text message.
Allowing tenants to text you makes it easy for them to notify you about the smaller issues around the property. It’s also a quick way for you to acknowledge their needs.
Make sure you get a separate phone number to give tenants so you’re not giving out your personal number. Some landlords get two separate phones but if that doesn’t appeal to you, get a smartphone that accommodates two SIM cards. Make sure the phone’s software allows you to send calls straight to voicemail one SIM at a time. You’ll want to maintain strict business hours.
To give tenants access to you in an emergency without giving out your personal number, set up an 800 number that gets forwarded to your personal number. Your tenants will always be able to reach you but they won’t ever have your direct number.
Text messages are convenient and make it easy to communicate. However, be careful what you say in text messages to tenants. “A text or email can be a contract if there is an offer and an acceptance by both parties,” Colorado-based attorney Christopher Leroi told AOL. To avoid potential issues, be clear and concise in your text message content and don’t respond at all if a tenant is badgering you. In that case, pick up the phone and call the tenant.
Fiercely protect your time
Your tenants need to know your time is valuable. Avoid giving the impression that you’re available on a whim. Always make it clear to tenants that you’re scheduling their needs and if anything changes on their end, they need to let you know.
Protecting your time tells tenants you’re serious and can’t be taken advantage of. This naturally commands respect from others. When you require tenants to meet with you according to a schedule, they’ll be less inclined to chit chat or randomly call you to say “what’s up.”
Ignore all non-business-related text messages
There’s always that one tenant who tries to blur the lines between a landlord/tenant relationship and a friendship. They’re the ones who send random text messages complaining about their spouse or kids, or some other personal problem.
No matter how much you can relate to their issues – no matter how much you want to help – don’t put yourself in that position. Ignore all of the personal messages tenants send you. Don’t even give them one tiny bite of your attention. Once you start texting with a tenant like a friend, they’ll start to expect favors like letting late rent fees slide.
Keep your relationship appropriate and your tenants won’t lose respect for you as a landlord.
Acknowledge mistakes to your tenants
Mistakes, missed appointments, and late calls should all be acknowledged. If you tell a tenant you’re going to stop by on Thursday to fix a cabinet door, call them when you realize you can’t make it. Don’t let the day slip by and wait for them to call you asking where you are.
Any time you make a promise to a tenant, no matter how small, you’re creating expectations. When you don’t follow through on your promises, tenants feel let down and their sense of trust in you is diminished.
Be honest with your tenants and acknowledge any mistakes or setbacks. Keep them informed and in the know.
Send reminder alerts to tenants before repairs and showings
Extend tenants the courtesy of reminders before scheduled repairs, maintenance, and showings. Once you’ve made the appointment, plan on sending a reminder at least once, perhaps 24 hours in advance.
Some tenants might keep a written schedule, but others might not write appointments down. Don’t make a tenant wrong for not writing down an appointment. Send them reminders via email, text message, or give them a call and leave a voicemail.
Your tenants have lives just like you. They’re busy people with schedules and things to do. A simple reminder can go a long way to generate respect from a tenant.
Is your landlord workload too much? We can help
Stressed out from your workload? Being a landlord is rough when you’re doing it alone. If you’re looking for relief, consider hiring a property management company to take care of your tenants’ needs. At Green Residential, we have decades of experience managing properties and we know how to develop healthy communication with tenants.
Owning rental property can be lucrative, but if you want to generate truly passive income, you’re going to need help. Contact us today for a free analysis and find out how we can help you turn your rental property into a source of passive income.