Why a Strong Landlord-Tenant Relationship Is Important and Strategies to Build One
Owning a rental property generates passive income, but it doesn’t guarantee lasting positive relationships with a renter. People living in neglected rental properties that never hear from their landlord can feel forgotten and uncared for, which can increase unit turnover and ruin a landlord’s reputation. Every landlord and property manager should learn why a strong landlord-tenant relationship is important and the strategies to build one.
These tips will show you how to make your renter happier, some without having to spend any money. A tenant will appreciate the efforts and likely feel more at home as a result.
Strategy One: Set expectations
After selecting a tenant, you’ll immediately want to establish a positive landlord-tenant relationship. The first thing you’ll need to do is set expectations. Discuss what each of your responsibilities are and what you expect from him or her. Allow them to share what they expect of you as well, and be sure to let them know if their expectations are reasonable or not. Many, if not all of these, should be covered within the lease.
Review your processes for handling maintenance requests and tenant complaints, and make sure to detail which repairs, if any, are the tenant’s responsibility. If possible, give them a timeline of how long it typically takes for a maintenance issue to be fixed. This gives your tenant a realistic idea of what to expect if any issues come up.
Encourage your tenant to reach out to you if they have any questions or concerns upon moving in or during their lease. Let them know you’re a resource for them and available to help.
Strategy Two: Maintain open communication
When you set expectations with your tenant, you’re essentially encouraging a landlord-tenant relationship that has open communication, which is key. Let your tenant know the different ways they can get in contact with you or the property manager, whether it’s through email, phone call, etc., and when they should expect a response. The response to the tenant should always be respectful and delivered in a timely manner so they feel both heard and valued.
Reach out at least twice a year with a survey to get firsthand accounts of what’s working for your renter and what needs improvement. Once you get responses from those surveys, act on the feedback that’s reasonable and makes sense.
You can even leave a care package on your tenant’s doorstep from time to time to show appreciation for them, or give them a gift for their birthday, no matter how big or small. Small gestures will go a long way.
Open communication is also important when you need to initiate contact with your tenant to terminate a lease, inform them of a rent increase or any other upcoming change. It’s best to inform your tenant as soon as possible about these changes and give them time to make any necessary decisions on their end. Even if they aren’t happy about the situation, they’ll be grateful you gave them time to figure out their next move.
Strategy Three: Keep your word
It can be very frustrating for a tenant to constantly follow up with a landlord or property manager about a task they were supposed to complete or for an answer to an inquiry. When your tenant reaches out with a question or a maintenance issue, you need to respond within a reasonable amount of time. Responding the same day to a request made is preferable, especially if the request poses a threat to the tenant. And if there are any follow-up tasks that need to be completed as a result, finish them in a timely manner.
Waiting around for a request to be completed can make everyday living difficult and unpleasant for your tenant, and it’s even harder if they have to keep reaching out to you about it. If there’s a threat to their security or wellbeing, they’ll want a timely solution. Knowing that you care about their living issues helps them build trust with you and encourages them to continue being your tenant.
Strategy Four: Prioritize property updates & projects
Prioritizing property updates and projects is another way to show your tenant you care about them, which can help build a stronger landlord-tenant relationship. If a property request or upgrade was provided as feedback in one of the surveys you sent your tenant (as mentioned above), consider implementing it if it makes sense.
For example, if your tenant has a pet and asks you to install a fence around the property to keep it from running away, consider doing this if it’s financially reasonable. Not only will your current tenant benefit, but future prospects with pets will likely be more interested in your property if they know their pets will be safe and can’t run away.
Strategy Five: Document everything
In order to keep your landlord-tenant relationship strong, document all your communication with your tenant. This includes emails, letters, phone calls and voicemails. Additionally, you’ll want to have records of any disagreements as these will protect both your rights as well as your tenant’s.
As mentioned above, make sure to document both you and your tenant’s rights within the signed rental agreement. If conflicts or issues arise, you both can refer to this section to find a resolution. If you’re not sure what those rights are and what you should include, consult with an attorney.
Strategy Six: Respect tenant boundaries
You own the rental property and have the legal authority to enter whenever you’d like, but don’t abuse this right and make your tenant feel uncomfortable. Landlord-tenant relationships dissolve when a renter feels like they don’t have any privacy. Respect their boundaries by creating entry rules and clearly outline these in the lease.
For example, clearly state in your lease that you must let your tenant know at least 24 hours in advance that you’ll need to come inside the rental property. Make sure to include the ways this notice can be given in your lease, whether it’s by sending an email, talking to the tenant directly on the phone and/or leaving a voicemail. When you do this, a tenant won’t feel taken advantage of, and they’ll appreciate having a reasonable amount of time to prepare for your arrival.
Strategy Seven: Keep the property safe
A renter doesn’t want to feel unsafe inside his or her rental home or around the property. If they do, they’ll likely move as soon as their lease is up. Help your renters feel safer by adding new security measures that fit within your budget. A few ideas include installing brighter flood lights around the home and implementing a security system. The safer your property is, the more comfortable your renter will feel living there. And if your renter is comfortable in their home, that’s one less reason they’ll consider moving away.
The benefits for landlords and property managers
When you implement the above strategies with your tenant, you’re likely to benefit from the below.
Less vacancies and turnover costs
Shuffling through renters decreases a property’s return on investment (ROI) by creating substantial fees that add up as units remain empty. There are cleaning fees to cover, advertising costs to market the vacancy, etc. The less time your rental home is vacant, the more money you’ll make.
Better care from renters
A positive landlord-tenant relationship can also lead to less unit maintenance. A renter who appreciates their landlord or property manager will likely respect their living space more and think twice before creating large holes in the wall or destroying the carpet. If you show your tenant respect, they’ll likely give it back to you.
Improve every landlord-tenant relationship
Every landlord can build a strong relationship with their tenant by using these strategies. Happy tenants help increase a property’s ROI and build your reputation as a great landlord, resulting in lasting benefits for everyone involved.