Being a landlord isn’t just about collecting rent and avoiding damage to your property. Sure, those things are important — but with the right approach, you can build lasting relationships with tenants who trust and like you.
Why should you care if tenants like you? Well, you’re entrusting them with the day-to-day care of your property, and they have a lot of opportunities to damage it in creative ways, so you want to stay on their good side. More than that, you want them to be good tenants — to pay their rent on time and take good care of the property. To get good tenants, you have to be a good landlord. Here’s how.
1) Take Tenants’ Concerns Seriously
Most tenants won’t call the landlord over something unless they feel there’s no other way to address the situation, so you should take every complaint or concern raised seriously. You can’t always do anything to address your tenants’ concerns — for example, you can’t ask the people in the unit above your tenant’s to stop stomping around at 3:00 a.m. unless they’re also your tenants. You can’t get the old lady who owns the house next to your rental unit to take down her ugly lawn flamingos. But you can mediate disputes between your own tenants, address concerns about the property itself, or make exceptions for tenants in unusual circumstances.
2) Respect Tenants’ Privacy
In many states, you have to give 24 to 48 hours’ notice before you can enter your tenant’s home outside of an emergency situation. Even if you live in a state without such a notice period, or your tenants agree to forgo it, you should still respect tenants’ privacy. Just because you can drop by unannounced doesn’t mean you should drop by unannounced.
Tenants want privacy in their homes, so try to give reasonable notice before entering the unit, unless there’s an emergency situation. You really don’t need to access the property while the tenant is living there, unless repairs are needed or you suspect the tenant has caused damage. You can drive a good tenant away from a nice property by being too nosy.
3) Be a Little More Understanding
Things happen. If you have tenants long enough, you’re going to have some that lose their jobs, or experience a death in the family, or have a relative who needs someplace to stay for a few weeks. If they need a couple of extra days to pay rent or need to let someone stay with them for a little longer than the lease technically allows, try to be understanding, especially if they’ve been a good tenant otherwise. They’ll remember that you cut them some slack when you want them to renew their lease or pay a little more in rent every month.
4) Make Repairs in a Timely Fashion
Tenants just want to live in a well-maintained home, and they have the right to that. Don’t try to dodge repairs. Tenants will be much more likely to resign a lease if they can trust you to perform maintenance and repairs in a timely fashion. After all, no one wants to live with broken heating or a leaky pipe for weeks.
If your tenant needs an emergency repair done, have it done right away. If it’s a non-emergency repair or routine maintenance, give the tenant notice that you intend to inspect the damage, or just go ahead and set up an appointment with a contractor. Your properties will fare better if repairs are made in a timely fashion, too. Once you have multiple properties, you can use HOA and property management accounting software to manage maintenance requests as they come in.
5) Know Your Obligations and Your Tenants’ Rights Under the Law
Look up your state’s landlord-tenant laws to make sure you’re meeting your obligations and respecting your tenant’s rights. Your state’s landlord-tenant law governs such things as the handling of security deposits, when and how often you may access the property, when and how to evict a tenant, and what you can do with abandoned property in the unit. Laws may change, so try to stay current.
If you want to attract great tenants who will stay in your property for years, look after it as if it were their own, and always pay their rent on time, you need to be the best landlord you can be. If you’re cheerful, fix things promptly, and are willing to cut good tenants a little slack when they need it, you may find yourself developing a relationship with your tenants that goes beyond business and into friendship.