There are some wonderful things about owning rental property in Katy. It’s one of the most sought-after areas in Texas with excellent school districts and promising real estate returns. It’s also near Houston proper, which is attractive to renters.
But being a landlord in Katy isn’t always easy. You might feel overwhelmed or inadequate for your daily tasks. You might also be faced with stress from your 9 to 5 job or fail to organize yourself well enough to properly handle the property.
There may also be problems with your tenants. Disgruntled tenants complain often, leave bad reviews online, and often deface the property to spite you. This kind of behavior can leave you with a bad reputation, whether it’s true or not.
If their frustrations make it to the online realm, you’ll be in even bigger trouble. More than 80 percent of people use online reviews as a key part of their purchasing decisions. Negative online reviews can make it very difficult to acquire and retain tenants.
A suffering reputation becomes an all-encompassing problem. “Reputation permeates every aspect of life for real estate agents and [landlords],” says Pete Kazanjy, CEO and co-founder of Honestly.com. “Because it’s a really personal business, you can’t necessarily shed your reputation.”
If your reputation has been tarnished by a bad review or you simply haven’t been the best landlord, you can do something about it. Follow these steps to take back your reputation and be a better manager.
- Site the Problem
We’ve already discussed a few major problems that could be holding you back from being an excellent landlord. It’s important to diagnose problems fully so that you can start fixing them.
Start with some online research. Read reviews, comments on your website, and social mentions. You can learn a lot about how people perceive you by reading online chatter.
Then, decide if the problem is a disgruntled tenant trying to hurt your reputation or if there’s some truth to the words. When you accurately lay blame to the situation, you can more easily develop an action plan to overcome it.
- Assess the Damage
As you research the issue, determine the level of damage that’s been done. Mike Muhney, co-Inventor and co-founder of the software company Sage ACT!, gives the following advice:
“Repairing a damaged reputation begins with an accurate assessment: Who are you? What did you do or not do? What must be done to correct it? If you need, get a second opinion from a few trusted friends who can give you a more balanced viewpoint on what you’ve done and what you need to do to fix it.”
As a landlord, these steps are vital to helping you recognize the way your tenants perceive you and if you’re worthy of acquiring and sustaining tenants.
- Humble Yourself
As soon as you learn about your tarnished reputation, your first reaction may be to go on the defensive. You might justify your actions and inform the offended party of their wrongs. You might even believe what you’re saying, but an angry confrontation won’t help the situation. In fact, it will probably make it worse.
Be humble enough to realize there’s a problem and that it might be your fault. Before you point fingers, think about the way your actions will come across to others. Recognizing that you might be wrong is the only way to fix the problem and move on.
- Address Valid Complaints
Muhney of Sage ACT! recommends creating an action plan in which you take care of the glaring problems. If you show that you’re handling the problem personally, others will see you as a proactive landlord who wants the best for his or her tenants, even if you made a mistake in the past.
“Put your damage control plan into action,” he says. “Whether you need to reach out to specific people or publish information online, you have to follow through. And this must become part of the “new” you. Ingrained, instinctive, and disciplined behavior will restore your reputation.”
Talk with upset renters and make any possible repairs. Make progressive comments on both positive and negative reviews online to show that you’re engaged and interested in repairing the problem.
- Establish Honest Communication
Once you’ve handled some big complaints, it’s time to start again. Implement open and honest communication to avoid misunderstandings with your tenants. It can also help to repair damage control if an incident happened under your watch.
For example, if you experience a number of break-ins, despite a good security system, you can explain to your tenants what the problem was and your steps for fixing the problem. They’d rather be aware of the problem than to find out you were hiding things.
You should also be upfront in your initial contact with tenants. Be detailed and candid in your rental agreement, and don’t try to conceal things with jargon. If you don’t want pets, loud music at night, tenant DIY repairs, or any other stipulation, state such in the agreement. People like to know what they’re getting into ahead of time, and most disagreements tend to arise based on unclear rules.
- Be Progressive
If you’re a landlord still living in the stone ages, you’re likely to get a complaint or two. Today’s tenants prefer the use of technology in their rental properties. It’s convenient and gives the feeling of a more updated property.
If you haven’t put yourself online yet, do so. Put up a website and develop social media profiles where your tenants can easily connect with you. Take online rent payments to streamline the process and increase efficiency. Claim your business on Google Pages and Yelp so tenants can leave reviews and you can assess the perception of your management.
There are other kinds of technology that can help your property flourish as well, like smart security systems and mobile apps. These may not fit into the budget now, but can be something to save for if you want higher quality of living in your units.
- Put Yourself Out There
“Once you’ve established a solid reputation, it’s easy to think the work is complete,” says Mike Muhney when asked how to repair a reputation. “Big mistake. Your reputation is ‘maintained’ only by your efforts. And once you establish a good reputation; you must further it.”
You’ll never repair your reputation by hunkering down and hoping for the best. Muhney recommends applying a few age-old principles to put yourself out there and show that you’re responsible and capable.
“First, keep a thorough record of each relationship,” he says. “Use some kind of system to keep track of your relationships. Do what you said you’d do. Be where you say you’ll be. Follow through as you promised you would. Maintaining your reputation requires discernment, diligence, and discipline in each relationship you’ve built. Strong relationships don’t happen by accident; I believe they’re built on four elements: time, intensity, trust, and reciprocity. As your relationships grow stronger, so will your reputation.”
- Hire Green Residential as Your Property Management Company
If you’re struggling to maintain your reputation, you might need some outside help. The property managers at Green Residential are trained and ready to help you improve your reputation. We’ll help you get organized, screen tenants, write contract agreements, market your properties, and much more.
Together, we can show your tenants what it looks like to be professional and responsible while delivering excellent service. For more information about how Green Residential can be there for your Katy property, contact us today!