For many property owners, managing tenants is the most difficult part of the job. It doesn’t always come easy, and nearly every long-time landlord has a story of that nightmare renter who didn’t care for the place, was always late on rent, and always failed to properly communicate with them. However, most tenants aren’t like that at all. In fact, as long as you hold up your end of the bargain, they’ll be generally happy with their experience renting from you. In this article, we’ll review several ways you can both care for your property and work to keep tenants happy.
Set a strong foundation
As a property manager or owner, you have to juggle what, at times, may feel like a dozen different projects and needs. After all, your investment property is far from the only thing on your mind: there’s also your own home, your family, your career, and much more. There will be months where this overfilled plate may feel overwhelming. If you have the right foundation in place, however, you’ll be able to weather the storm. Here’s how to go about setting good habits, right from the get-go:
Select local professionals now
When your renter calls you at 6 a.m. about a leaking pipe, you don’t want to be scrambling to find a local plumber who happens to work on weekends. It goes without saying that many plumbing emergencies, water leaks or electrical issues, and HVAC problems need immediate attention. Every minute spent trying to find a local pro is another minute of water damage and your renter feeling just as frustrated as you are. It’s not the ideal way to keep tenants happy and satisfied.
Rewind to the present. Now is the perfect time to find and vet out local service professionals. Talk to several plumbers, electricians, HVAC techs, roofers, and other service specialists in your area. Ask them about their licensing, experience, availability, fees, and more. Once you have a list, save the information for your top choices on your phone. The next time you need a plumber—or, really, anyone else—you’ll be able to act fast.
Many tenants are unsure where the boundaries are and talk to the property owner or manager. After all, what constitutes an “emergency”? Is the air conditioner making strange sounds—but otherwise still working—reason enough to call? What about water pooled around the base of the water heater? These could be signs of an impending problem, but your renter may not know that or feel comfortable calling you to fill you in on what’s happening. This is always to your detriment: it means you’re less informed about the state of your rental property and your renter feels disconnected from you.
Our recommendation? At the start of the lease, talk to your renter, and set clear guidelines for communication. Many renters are far more comfortable texting than they are calling. Encourage them to do so: you’ll find that they’re more willing to communicate with you if they don’t have to experience the awkwardness of initiating a call.
You don’t have to become best friends with your renter, but sending them an occasional text to ask them how things are going or if the property needs anything can be a good way to stay in touch and make them feel as if their needs are being considered and their opinion is valued. You’d be surprised at how much this impacts renter happiness.
In an emergency, act fast
Setting up a strong foundation is important. So is being quick and decisive when faced with a crisis. As a property owner, procrastination is your enemy. If your rental’s water heater has stopped working, it might feel like something that can wait until the weekend. But, for your tenant, that means no hot showers, doing the dishes, or running the laundry. Needless to say, they might feel differently about your decision to wait a few days—and remember your inaction when their lease is up.
When in doubt, communicate. Ask your renter how important it is to them that the issue gets fixed right away. You may find that you’re not on the same wavelength and that something you thought was pretty innocuous is actually causing them a great deal of stress and frustration. Dealing with that problem immediately can be a great source of relief for your tenant and make them feel a lot more comfortable.
Take an empathetic approach
It may have been many, many years ago, but most of us were once renters ourselves. Think back to when you were on the other side of that relationship: what were the frustrations you had with your landlord at the time? What could they have done differently to make your rental experience more pleasant? When you ultimately decided to move out, what drove you to do so?
Not every renter thinks or feels the same, but you can draw on your own experiences to become a more effective and empathetic property owner. It can start with a simple question for your renter: what can I be doing better? If you don’t feel comfortable asking them this while they’re still your tenant, ask them for candid, honest feedback before they move out. You may not like hearing everything they have to say—again, if you think back, was your opinion of your landlord all rainbows and sunshine? But even critical feedback is an opportunity for you to grow into a more responsive property owner and keep tenants happy in the future.
Be willing to grow as a property manager. It’s not a role many people can 100% nail from day one, so working to improve what you do and how you manage your investment property is absolutely crucial.
If you want help with the daily aspects of property management so you can improve as a landlord, contact the team at RPM Tri-Cities today.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.