Tenant-landlord relationships are part of every successful rental business. Strong relationships turn into long-term leases and renewals, providing housing security for tenants and stable revenue for you. For this reason, it’s crucial to prioritize relationships early in the leasing process.
If you’ve already secured good tenants, building relationships with them will be natural and mostly effortless. However, challenges in any relationship are inevitable. Simple misunderstandings can rapidly unfold into larger and messier situations than you started with.
Establishing clear standards and guidelines for these circumstances protects you against some of this risk. In other situations, sharp communication skills can get you out of a tight spot. No matter what your approach to problem-solving, interacting and empathizing with tenants is the most direct way to build lasting relationships.
Below are eight strategies for building and maintaining healthy relationships with your tenants.
Set Clear Rules
If you don’t provide the rules up front, you can’t fault your tenants for breaking them. The first step toward avoiding misunderstandings is to set clear rules and make them readily accessible to your renters.
For example, you might provide tenants with a list of community property rules on move-in day. These rules could reiterate your stance on pets and smoking, as well as other items like how trash should be disposed of, acceptable noise levels for parties, and guidelines for guests.
Enforce Late Fees
This tip might sound like the opposite of what will please tenants. However, enforcing late fees is actually a great way to implement fairness across tenants.
If every tenant is subject to late fee rules, with no exceptions, then you can’t be accused of accepting excuses or expressing favoritism. In addition, tenants will learn to respect you and all other lease terms because they know the rules are enforced.
If you’re worried about being the “bad guy,” delegate this task to property management software. Your software tool is a neutral third-party enforcer. It can even restrict tenants from paying next month’s rent until they’ve paid all prior fees in full.
Be Prompt and Professional
The value of promptness and professionalism holds true for all types of businesses. Professionalism is a broad term encompassing a variety of qualities, including promptness, reliability, organization, accountability, integrity, and respect, among others.
Promptness is especially important as many tenant concerns (rent questions, utility/amenity issues) significantly interfere with their daily lives. If you don’t address these concerns quickly, tenants will feel neglected and disrespected.
Set Guidelines for Communication
Setting guidelines for tenant-landlord conversations naturally promotes robust relationships. Your tenants should know exactly how to contact you and how long they should expect to wait to get a response. For example, give tenants the specific hours you’re available as well as directions for using the chat feature to contact you on property management software.
If your renters are confident in how to reach you, they will feel more comfortable and secure.
Showing basic empathy, compassion, and personability goes a long way toward building strong relationships. As the landlord, you are in a position of authority and should keep all interactions with your tenants professional. However, this isn’t an excuse to act cruelly. If a tenant has a concern, listen attentively and demonstrate understanding for genuine mistakes or misunderstandings.
Equality is not only essential for relationships. Fair practices also protect you from liability and expensive lawsuits. It’s imperative (and legally mandated) that you treat all your tenants equally.
This includes during tenant screening. You should screen all your tenants the same way and justify your reasoning for denying tenants openly and factually. You can’t discriminate based on race, sex, disability, or any other protected class, but you can and should tell tenants who don’t meet your credit or income minimums why you denied their application.
Yes, it’s true that you own your properties. However, this doesn’t mean you can barge in on your tenants any time you feel like it. Respecting basic privacy is an understated but vital component of tenant-landlord relationships.
If you do need to inspect or enter a tenant’s property, be sure you give them the appropriate notice.
Use Caution on Social Media
Finally, maintaining strong relationships extends to social media networks as well. Some landlords may use social media as part of the screening process. Others may try to befriend their tenants on social networks to keep tabs on their properties. As a general guideline, use caution when viewing tenant profiles on social media. Remember, you can’t force a tenant to add you back or make their account public.
Build Long-Lasting Tenant-Landlord Relationships
If you’ve done your job screening, tenant relationships shouldn’t be onerous. In fact, most relationship concerns boil down to being respectful and professional. Tools like property management software are your aids to both. By following these few tips, you will hopefully minimize the scope of any relationship challenges which do occur and resolve them skillfully.
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