It’s easy to underestimate the value that communication brings to the landlord-tenant relationship. That’s because most landlords and property managers are focused on bottom-line numbers; they want to make sure tenants are paying their rent and that their property expenses are covered, with all other priorities being secondary.
And true, better communication habits don’t have the power to generate rental income out of thin air, and even the best conversation with a tenant isn’t going to make them treat your property with more care and respect. But with a better communication system in place, you might be surprised to find out what’s possible.
The Perks of Better Communication
These are just some of the perks of better tenant communication:
- Tenant retention. If your vacancy rate is too high, it could ruin your potential profitability. That’s one reason why tenant retention is so important. The longer you keep your tenants around, the lower your vacancy rate will be, and the less time and money you’ll spend trying to find new tenants.
- Easier relationships. With solid communication on both sides, it’s much easier to manage tenant relationships. They’ll feel comfortable telling you that their rent may be a day late. You’ll feel comfortable following up with them about an issue. You also won’t have to worry that your tenant resents you, or that they’re going to damage your property out of spite.
- Faster conflict resolution. If and when conflicts do arise, good communication habits will allow them to get resolved quicker. If there’s a repair issue that needs to be addressed, you can sort it out. If your tenant isn’t fulfilling their responsibilities, you can find a solution together.
- Proactive issue acknowledgment. When you have good rapport with a tenant, they’ll be much more likely to proactively bring issues to your attention. For example, a leaking roof, if left unchecked, could result in major property damage. If your tenant feels comfortable talking to you, they’ll be much more likely to give you a heads-up so you can address it.
Communication as a Two-Way Street
One of the most important lessons to learn in the realm of tenant communication is that communication is a two-way street. If you want to optimize this situation and capitalize on the benefits listed above, it’s important to master how you speak, write, and send messages to your tenant – but it’s also important to help your tenant reach out to you in better ways as well.
When both parties are more invested in the relationship, with greater rapport and more polished communication skills, both parties stand to benefit.
How to Improve Tenant Communication
You don’t need to have a degree in communications to become a better communicator, nor do you need years of practice. In fact, most of the habits and strategies that strengthen your tenant-landlord relationship are easy to execute.
- Build the relationship early. First impressions count. If you want to practice good communication with a tenant consistently, you need to make an effort to build the relationship early on. Make it a point to get to know your tenant, learning about them on a personal level and figuring out their goals and values. Make it clear that you want them to be happy at this property and show them that you’re open to conversations. The more rapport you build in the first few weeks of interaction, the better.
- Provide multiple methods of contact. Make sure your tenant has multiple ways to contact you. Some people prefer to talk on the phone when discussing an issue. Others prefer to write out their thoughts in an email. If you give tenants your phone number, email address, and other methods of contact, they’ll feel more empowered to reach out to you when necessary. Similarly, get multiple forms of contact information from your tenant and consider which channel you use carefully.
- Set expectations proactively. Expectation management is crucial for good communication, so set realistic expectations proactively. Let your tenant know what they can expect from you in terms of repairs and maintenance, outreach, and conflict resolution. Set the ground rules for the property (in writing and in conversation) and clarify points of ambiguity. Then, stay true to your commitments and meet those expectations.
- Respond promptly. If and when your tenant reaches out to you, make it a point to respond promptly. Depending on the medium and the urgency of the message, it may be ideal to respond in 24 hours, or within an hour – and the faster, the better. You don’t have to have all the answers when responding, but you should at least acknowledge that you received a message.
- Answer questions transparently. When your tenant asks questions of you, be honest and transparent when providing answers – even if what you have to say contradicts their expectations or hopes. Saying something like, “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to make the repair until Thursday. I’ll be out first thing Thursday morning” can be incredibly valuable.
- Reach out occasionally. When things are going well, make it a point to reach out occasionally. Check in with your tenants to see how they’re doing. It’s a great way to discover hidden issues and prove your investment in the relationship.
- Adapt to your tenants. Keep in mind that not all tenants communicate the same way or have the same preferences. Some prefer more frequent contact, while others like to be left alone. Make sure you adapt to your individual tenants’ needs.
If you like the idea of being a landlord and managing your property yourself, these communication strategies have the power to greatly improve your results (and reduce your stress in the meantime). But there might be a better way.
Hiring a property management company allows you to take a backseat, allowing professional managers to take care of things like tenant screening, rent collection, and even evictions (if a bad scenario unfolds). It can help you run your property more efficiently and remove you from the most stressful situations entirely.
If you’re interested, contact Green Residential for a free consultation!