The tenant-landlord relationship is one of the most complex aspects of owning investment properties. If you are able to develop positive relationships, real estate investing will feel manageable and rewarding. But, if you develop negative relationships, you may find yourself wondering if real estate investing is worth the headache.
Keeping tenants happy doesn’t have to be challenging or time-consuming, though. At HUNTAHOME, we provide property management in Dallas and Fort Worth, and we’ve discovered several easy ways to keep tenants happy. Here’s a look at 8 things you can do in an effort to develop positive tenant-landlord relationships.
Communication is essential in so many aspects of life — including when you serve as a landlord. Let your tenants know well in advance before service workers stop by, and certainly let them know before you arrive at the property for any reason. You’re not obligated to let tenants know when you’re coming to the property, but it’s a good way to develop goodwill.
Also, focus on early communication when you’re delivering bad news. For example, if the time is coming to raise rent, let tenants know early on so that they can get used to the idea before the rent hike kicks in. Also, if you need tenants to move after a lease is up, let them know as quickly as possible. It’s the right thing to do, and it will help maintain a healthy relationship during the final weeks and months that your tenants spend living at the property.
When your tenants are trying to communicate with you, be as responsive as possible. There’s no need to answer every phone call or respond immediately to every email. But it’s a good idea to answer questions and return messages within 24 hours or less.
Also, make sure there’s some sort of avenue for communication if and when your tenants experience an emergency. Whether you have a management company that provides a response 24 hours a day or whether you are the around-the-clock point of contact, it’s in your best interest and in the best interest of your tenants to respond quickly to emergencies.
- Quality Fixtures and Furnishings
You need not provide luxurious fixtures and furnishings — ceiling fans, lighting, washers, dryers, drapes, etc. But make sure that your fixtures and furnishings are clean and operable. If you try to scrape by with an aging washer and dryer that look shabby and that barely get the job done, your tenants will resent you for it.
- Proactive Maintenance
It’s always a good idea to follow a regular and proactive maintenance schedule. For example, there are certain things you should do to the house and certain preparations you should make when summer ends and the weather starts to grow cold.
Why is proactive maintenance so important? First, it reduces the chance of emergency repairs later on, as maintenance allows you to identify and repair emerging trouble spots in a home’s major systems (HVAC, roofing, electrical, plumbing, etc.). And, second, proactive maintenance is a lot less expensive than emergency repairs.
As an added bonus, your tenants will appreciate the care and attention you give to the property, and they will certainly appreciate how few emergencies they live through at your property.
Within limits, you should want your tenants to feel empowered to make small-but-important decisions about a property. For example, if a toilet needs minor repairs, you could allow them to arrange the repairs and take the cost out of rent. Also, if you know it’s time to paint the interior of the property, empower your tenants to choose the color — again, within limits.
One of the reasons the tenant-landlord relationship can become so fraught is that renting is such a temporary situation. By empowering your tenants, you give them a sense of ownership and permanency that most renters are lacking.
Landlords can have too many rules and restrictions. Yes, you want to put guidelines in place to protect your property from harm. But focus on finding high-quality tenants, and then give those tenants a little bit of leeway.
One great example is pets. Some landlords have experienced terrible trouble with pets in the past. But, if you find quality, responsible tenants, giving them leeway to have a cat or a small dog will help build trust in your relationship. You can even ask for a small pet deposit to insulate yourself from risk.
A single month of vacancy can often wipe out a planned rent increase, even when you account for that rent increase over an entire year. So consider providing incentives to get your tenants to stay. You might offer to keep the rent the same if they sign a new lease, or you might offer a free month of rent when they sign a lease at a higher rate.
The key is to keep your property filled while making your tenants feel like they are getting something out of it.
When you own a rental property, you have a valuable asset that you want to take care of. But, you must exercise restraint when it comes to contacting your tenants and certainly when it comes to visiting the property. Tenants choose to live at your property because they need a place to stay — not because they need new friends. Do what you need to do in order to care for the property, but keep a healthy distance as much as possible.
Outsource Your Tenant-Landlord Relationship
The easiest way to develop strong tenant-landlord relationships is to outsource management to a quality, experienced company you can trust. At HUNTAHOME, we are the leading provider of property management in Fort Worth, Dallas and surrounding areas. When you need a management partner that keeps your tenants happy, we deliver.
Contact us today to learn more about effective DFW property management.