Most people in the real estate industry have a pretty good idea of the various pros and cons associated with being a landlord. And while the positives generally outweigh the negatives, there’s one glaring issues that many just can’t tolerate: The inability to get away from it all.
Whereas the traditional 9-to-5 employee gets to clock out during the week and then enjoy a nice long weekend away from the job, landlords don’t always have this luxury. It’s difficult to completely disconnect for more than a couple hours at a time.
If you want to enjoy a peaceful weekend, you have to be strategic about how you handle different issues. Hopefully, this article will offer some ideas that can be applied in your specific situation.
The 3 Biggest Issues Landlords Face
Before delving into practical tips and suggestions for dealing with this challenge, it’s helpful to identify the issues that commonly hold landlords back from enjoying peaceful evenings and weekends. Three of the biggest culprits are as follows:
1. Repairs and maintenance
Every landlord is all too familiar with that midnight phone call where a frantic tenant tells them water is spewing out of a pipe or a toilet is overflowing. Repair and maintenance calls are probably the most common reason tenants reach out to landlords on the weekend.
2. Noise complaints
Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment – which includes the right to undisturbed use and enjoyment of the property. When neighbors are loud, unruly, or combative, tenants get fed up and call their landlord to fix the situation.
3. Feeling unsafe
Tenants also have the right to certain safety precautions and will often call their landlords if they feel threatened – particularly if it’s at the hands of another tenant in a multi-family housing complex.
If you’re anything like most landlords, you’ll find that 90 percent of your weekend calls stem from one of these three issues. As you devise a plan for minimizing weekend interruptions, these are the points of friction you should deal with.
How to Enjoy an Uninterrupted Weekend
You probably have some weekends that are relatively unassuming and others that are chaotic, but without a strategy you’ll find it pretty difficult to enjoy the former with any consistency or frequency. In the pursuit of more uninterrupted weekends, try the following:
1. Set Ground Rules
It all starts with establishing ground rules. Tenants should have a clear idea of what’s expected of them, what’s expected of you, and how that translates to accepting responsibility in different situations.
For example, tenants should know the difference between normal wear and tear and an issue that must be fixed by a professional. If you aren’t clear on this up front, some tenants may take advantage of the system and call you for anything and everything.
Many landlords find it helpful to include “skin in the game” clauses that require tenants to pay a “deductible” whenever a service professional is sent out to the house and fails to find anything wrong.
2. Establish Hours
Sometimes late night or weekend calls are made without much forethought. If a tenant knows that you have certain hours that you’re accessible and other hours where you’re “off duty,” they might be willing to wait until Monday to bother you with a minor issue.
You obviously can’t go off the grid without having someone whom tenants can get in touch with, but formal hours have a way of cutting back on the pointless, non-urgent requests.
3. Don’t Put off Problems
It’s tempting to ignore requests during the week – especially when you feel like they aren’t urgent – but putting off problems will eventually come back to haunt you.
In addition to having them loom over you, there’s always a chance that they could worsen and escalate over the weekend. At this point, you may have no other chance than to deal with the issue right away.
4. Use Auto Respond and Voicemail Greetings
You don’t want to spend your weekend fielding phone calls and replying to emails, but this doesn’t mean you can just ignore your tenants when they reach out to you with a problem or need.
One way to save time and keep tenants in the loop is to use auto responders for email and special weekend voicemail greetings for phone calls. An example response would look like this:
This is [insert name]. Thanks for contacting me. My normal working hours are Monday through Friday, 8am-6pm. Please tell me briefly about why you’re calling, and I’ll get back to you first thing next week. If this is an emergency, I’ll contact you as soon as possible. Thanks – and have a great weekend!
This sort of greeting ensures tenants don’t feel neglected, but also provides you with some leeway to wait until the following week to address minor concerns.
5. Have Your Team on Speed Dial
If you receive a phone call and there’s an actual emergency – such as a leaking pipe or an incident with a neighboring tenant – it’s helpful to have someone on standby who can handle the issue for you (in case you’re out of town or unavailable to respond. Keep these phone numbers on speed dial.
6. Hire a Property Manager
Don’t want to deal with any of this? One of the smartest things you can do is hire a property manager. They’ll handle all of these inconveniences for you so that you can enjoy your weekend without the stress and worry of tenant problems hanging over your head.
7. Be Understanding
At the end of the day, be understanding. Remember that your tenants are just trying to enjoy their weekends as well. You have an obligation to live up to your end of the lease agreement, even if it isn’t convenient in the moment.
Work with Green Residential
At Green Residential, we take pride in helping Houston’s leading landlords serve their clients. Whether you have a single rental property downtown or dozens spread out over the metro area, our professional property management services will alleviate the burden of weekend phone calls and late-night emergencies. For more information on how we can specifically help you, please give us a call today!