Being a landlord isn’t all about collecting rent. With the right approach, you can form lasting relationships with tenants who trust and like you. After all, you’ll be entrusting your tenants with some of your most valuable property – and you want them to take good care of it. Here’s how to be the kind of landlord tenants will go out of their way to please.
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1. Take Your Tenants’ Concerns Seriously
You may not always be able to do anything about your tenants’ concerns – maybe they’re complaining about a loud neighbor in a property that doesn’t belong to you, for example. But you should always listen to your tenants’ concerns and use active listening techniques to make sure your tenants feel heard.
If it’s a problem you can fix, like intervening in a dispute with another one of your tenants, or making some repairs to the unit, you should do what you can to resolve the issue. Do your part in a timely fashion so that tenants continue feeling heard and respected.
2. Respect Your Tenants’ Privacy
Just because you own a rental property, doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right to drop in for an inspection whenever you want. In many states, you can’t enter your tenant’s unit without 24 to 48 hours’ notice, unless it’s an emergency (like, for example, you know a water pipe has burst or you have reason to believe that your tenant needs emergency medical care). These laws are intended to preserve tenants’ privacy and their rights to quiet enjoyment of rental properties.
Tenants want their privacy – it helps them feel safe and secure at home. If your tenants resent you for popping in at all hours, they may not take as good care of your property as they might otherwise. A nosy or overbearing landlord is usually enough to get most tenants to move at the end of their lease period, if not look for ways to get out of the lease early. If you want your tenants to renew their lease, give them the privacy they need at home.
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3. Have Some Compassion
As many landlords learned during the opening salvo of the COVID-19 pandemic, even great tenants can fall on hard times. A job loss, an illness, or a death in the family can jeopardize a tenant’s ability to pay rent through no fault of his or her own.
As a landlord, it pays to have some compassion for good tenants who have fallen into difficulty. If you give your tenants a little more time to come up with rent after a setback, they’ll remember your kindness in the future and will be more likely to go out of their own way to pay back any money owed, take good care of your property, and even renew their lease.
4. Stay on Top of Repairs
The number one thing most tenants want from their landlords is quick repairs. Everyone just wants to live in a comfortable, functional, up-to-date home. And you have a responsibility as a landlord to make repairs in a timely fashion. Many states even specify how much time you have to make repairs to a property you’re renting out.
Ideally, you should make emergency repairs the same day. For non-emergency repairs and updates to the property, you should discuss the timing of the repair with the tenant, but begin making arrangements as soon as you learn of the damage. Tenants will be more likely to report damage to the property right away if you handle repairs in a timely fashion, and that will help you protect your investment by keeping your property in good shape. Many landlords find that using HOA and property management accounting software helps them schedule and track repairs, especially when multiple properties are involved.
5. Know the Law
Each state has landlord-tenant laws that govern things like what you’re allowed to put in a lease, how much notice you have to give before an inspection, how much you’re allowed to require for a security deposit, how to commence the eviction process, and so on. Before you even buy your first rental property, you should familiarize yourself with your state’s landlord-tenant laws so you can meet your obligations, understand your tenants’ obligations, and avoid getting hauled into court.
Being a landlord is a lot of work, but it can be worth it both financially and emotionally. You don’t have to be your tenants’ friend, but you shouldn’t treat them like cash cows, either. Take your responsibilities seriously and have a little empathy when tenants need it, and you’ll find that it’s easier to find, and keep, great tenants.