Whenever you have multiple families and individuals living in the same community and sharing facilities like pools, saunas, clubhouses, barbecues, and laundry rooms, you’re going to see lifestyle differences that are sure to clash and cause frustration for tenants and possibly even you.
It’s impossible to eliminate such problems completely, but here are some tips to help you mitigate them and set the foundation for a respectful community:
1. Set clear expectations from the start
From the moment your tenant walks in the door to view a vacancy, you should be setting the tone for a professional, no-nonsense relationship. Never give your tenants the idea that you’re too easygoing and not professional. If you do, they may take that as an invitation to avoid following the rules and let rent payments go late.
2. Post (and enforce) laundry room rules
Communal laundry rooms seem to bring out the worst in people. We’ve all had to wait hours for that one person to get his clothes out of the washer so we can start our loads.
If you run an apartment complex with a laundry room, you need to post basic rules. Most people will follow them or just naturally have those habits in place, but every apartment building gets a few people who just don’t get it.
When people do their laundry it’s usually on a day off work, and they’re hoping to relax. They’ve dealt with stress all week and don’t to face any more stress from the outside world.
But when they start doing their laundry, they realize they’re not going to get through it without stress. The scene often looks like this:
In addition to abandoned laundry well past done, trash is all over the floor, there’s a sticky mess of soap spilled on top of the washers, dryer lint is all over the floor, and it looks like a kid left a lollipop stuck to the table where you’re supposed to be able to fold your clothes.
By posting common-sense rules in the laundry room, you’re doing your tenants a favor. For example, if you decree a fifteen-minute rule for getting clothes out of the washer, this protects tenants from having to feel bad about removing someone else’s clothes from the washer after they’ve a long time.
Some people will wait hours before removing someone’s clothes, and you wouldn’t want their frustration redirected at you.
If you can find a way to create, post, and enforce laundry room rules, you will be a hero to your tenants. Even sloppy residents will be grateful for a clean laundry room, though they might never recognize they had contributed to the problem in the first place.
3. Be accountable to your tenants
Without a doubt, everyone forgets a promise they’ve made at some point in their life. And everyone makes mistakes, too.
Just because you’re a landlord, that doesn’t mean you’re immune from mistakes. It clearly doesn’t mean you’re excused from rectifying situations that were your responsibility.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re responsible for a mistake — you charged someone the wrong fee, say, or your maintenance person didn’t install something correctly — make yourself accountable for that to your tenants. Don’t just make excuses; account for it, accept responsibility, and commit to its resolution.
For instance, if you accidentally charged someone too much for a fee, just let the tenant know and get the person a refund, in cash if you can. Or if your maintenance person did a poor job on a repair, acknowledge it, apologize to the tenant, and assure the person you’re going to take care of it as soon as possible.
Most important: do it.
4. Go above and beyond
In addition to reaching out to residents to create community, you can also create feelings of appreciation by making your tenants’ small requests a priority. You know those little fixes tenants seem to need that you might be tempted to postpone because it doesn’t involve anything serious like a broken water pipe or a gushing toilet?
Maybe your tenant needs a window screen replaced, or the living room blinds snapped off the pulley. Maybe one of the electric burners went out … but they’ve got three more, so it’s not like they can’t cook.
These issues may seem small to you, but they can pose a huge inconvenience to your tenants. And if they seem particularly upset about these small issues, it’s possible they’re not raising the actual issue that has them steamed. They might be upset because they feel as if you’re avoiding the repair.
Never forget that your tenants will talk to one another, and this includes new tenants. You don’t want your long-term tenants telling your new tenants that you’re the landlord that never gets things done.
If you really want to create a respectful community, it’s up to you to take the steps to set the tone. When you go above and beyond by making all fixes a priority, your tenants will really get that you care about them and they are worth your time.
Making all fixes a priority doesn’t mean rushing out to Home Depot at 6 a.m. to buy a new electric burner for your tenant and have it installed within the hour. It just means taking the time to assess the situation, making a plan with a realistic timeline for completion, and staying in communication with your tenant.
No reasonable tenant will expect you to replace an electric burner within 24 hours, but if you make it a point to let your tenants know you’re on top of the problem — and then follow through — you’ll earn their respect and trust.
5. Manage your priorities through communication
When you’re managing a property, there may be occasions when you’re overloaded and can’t make good on a promise. Though this isn’t the ideal scenario, it’s bound to happen.
Maintaining good communication with your tenants is the best way to avoid any upsets. For example, if you’ve got a few minor issues to repair (like a broken cabinet or a tub that needs to be re-caulked), and suddenly someone calls you because there’s a beehive in one of their walls, the beehive will obviously take priority over everything else.
Due to time constraints, you may find yourself in a position where you have to reschedule your other repairs. The last thing you want to do is address the emergency, and fail to let your other tenants know several days later that you’re sorry you never showed up because you had this big emergency.
Don’t leave your tenants hanging, even if all they’re waiting on is something as simple as a new cabinet door. Make it a point to pick up the phone as soon as possible and let your other tenants know that you’re dealing with an emergency situation, and when you’re done you’ll be happy to help them.
Being a landlord is hard work
Being a landlord is a huge responsibility and can be absolutely exhausting. That’s why many owners hire a property management company to handle the hard work for them.
As a professional property management company dedicated to making your life easier, Green Residential can handle all of the situations you don’t have the energy to deal with. We can screen your tenants, collect rent, handle evictions, and even coordinate your repair and maintenance needs.
Contact us right away to find out how we can do the hard work for you!