Have you ever been to a dinner party, in a checkout line at the supermarket, or working out at the gym when someone asks you what you do for a living? Instead of providing a simple response, you sort of fumble with your words and attempt to cushion the blow before explaining that you’re a landlord.Why is it that you hesitate to say you own rental properties for a living? Why do you feel the judgment of others piercing you to your core? In all likelihood, it isn’t anything you’ve done.
Instead, it’s the negative stereotypes that our society has created over the years. And while you can’t do much to change an outsider’s perspective of you, there are plenty of practical action steps you can take to smash the stereotypes your tenants hold about you and your contemporaries.
Doing Away With These 4 Common Landlord Stereotypes
We live in a complicated world where the average person is heavily over-stimulated on a daily basis. And as amazing as the human brain is, it simply doesn’t have the firepower to process everything it encounters in great detail.
As a result, it uses a myriad of shortcuts – called heuristics – to simplify information and make it easier to process, reach decisions, etc. A stereotype is a type of judgmental heuristic that modern humans use to quickly make assessments about groups of people.
“Simply put, stereotypes are characteristics imposed upon groups of people because of their race, nationality, and sexual orientation, among others. But these characteristics tend to be oversimplifications of the groups involved,” journalist Nadra Kareem Nittle writes.
Whether you realize it or not, your title of landlord makes you susceptible to some less than positive stereotypes. Instead of laughing them off as untrue – which, in your case, they likely are – you must go on the offensive and prove them wrong through positive actions.
In order to help you find success as a landlord and do your part to smash dangerous stereotypes about your profession, let’s highlight some of the biggest misconceptions that exist:
Stereotype #1: You’re Grouchy and Unfriendly
There’s a rampant belief among many renters that landlords are old, crotchety people who spend their days being miserable about everything. Most renters have had their run-ins with landlords like this and are under the impression that landlords exist to be grouchy (and take their frustrations out on tenants). This causes them to put up walls and become defensive at anything that may be viewed as a slight.
Solution: Of all the landlord stereotypes that exist, this is probably the easiest one to overcome. It sounds obvious, but in order to smash the perception that you’re grouchy and unfriendly, all you have to do is be, well, pleasant and friendly. Simple suggestions include:
- Smile whenever you greet one of your tenants. This small gesture goes a long way towards facilitating genuine interactions.
- Send an occasional greeting card, gift card, or small surprise on special occasions like birthdays, holidays, or rent anniversaries.
- Make your tone of voice slightly more nurturing when making requests or delivering admonishments.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a warm or cold personality, you can shatter the grouchy and unfriendly stereotype by following the golden rule and treating others how you’d like to be treated.
Stereotype #2: You Only Care About the Money
“Landlords are often noted for only caring about getting the rent money. They provide the bare minimum for tenants and charge for every little extra. They make cheap repairs that will only partly solve the problem, and they aren’t willing to pay any more than necessary for fixes,” LandlordStation explains.
While owning rental properties is very much a bottom-line business, you have to actively work to ensure you aren’t coming across as a greedy penny-pincher.
Solution: There are times when it makes sense not to raise the rent, even when you can. (This will likely increase retention and lower vacancy rates.) There are also situations where you should go above and beyond a repair request. Not only will this make the tenant happy, but it’ll also benefit your property in the long run.
Stereotype #3: You’re Constantly Trying to “Catch” People in the Wrong
Landlords often get equated with being nosy enforcers – constantly seeking out violations and wrongdoings from tenants in order that they can bring the hammer down. Again, there are definitely some landlords that do this, but you can shatter this stereotype by adopting a less intrusive approach.
Solution: The best thing you can do is be clear about your guidelines from the very beginning. Make it known that you’ll trust the tenant until they give you a reason not to. Assuming that you’ve done a good job of tenant screening, this should eliminate many of your problems.
Stereotype #4: You’re Unapproachable
The fourth common stereotype has to do with your relatability. Many tenants are under the impression that landlords are unapproachable. Unfortunately, this is bad news for you as it causes your renters to hide problems from you (rather than make you aware of them right away).
Solution: Some landlords may disagree with this approach, but give your tenants your personal contact information – including cell phone and email – and encourage them to reach out to you directly whenever they have a need or request.
Let Green Residential Help
One person can’t change a stereotype in an established culture, but you can override the misconceptions your tenants have about you as a landlord and person. The key is to understand how they feel and take positive steps to prove their judgments wrong and inaccurate.
Nothing replaces positive human-to-human interactions between a landlord and tenant, but sometimes it’s nice to have a helping hand on your side. At Green Residential, we work closely with Houston landlords to provide exceptional, hands-on property management services that prioritize the bottom line without marginalizing tenants.
For more information on how we can help you continue to grow and sustain your rental property business, please contact us today!