Real estate investor, Founder/CEO of TurboTenant: rental marketing, tenant screening, rental applications, rent payments, and more.
It’s no secret the rental industry has had multiple forces negatively impacting it over the last year. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, state eviction moratoriums, job loss and a lack of knowledge and access to rent relief, landlord and tenant relationships have become even more strained. Historically, the landlord and tenant relationship has always been viewed as rocky and contentious, but the pandemic and the associated economic hardship elevated the issue.
However, it’s important to realize that landlord and tenant relationships don’t have to be contentious. I’ve learned along the way that while landlords have to learn the day-to-day of managing their rentals efficiently, learning how to build successful relationships with tenants is also a crucial part of the process. Just as landlords take care of their properties, they also need to put time and effort into the personable side of property investing.
Finding and keeping a good tenant can increase your return on investment (ROI) as a property investor, as you can secure long-term tenants and have fewer vacancies. To do that, you need to learn to build and cultivate those renter relationships. Below are my five top tips for fellow landlords on building better relationships with tenants.
1. Always Communicate
It’s been said time and time again, but communication is everything. Particularly in the rental world, landlords need to be transparent with tenants about their policies and easy to get in contact with, ensuring their tenants feel like they can talk to them when an issue arises.
In December 2020, around 56% of renters reported that communication with their landlords did not increase during the pandemic. With the economic strife and narrative of many renters being unable to pay rent, increased communication could have helped landlords and renters create solutions together, such as setting up a payment plan.
2. Be Organized
If you’re an unorganized landlord, it may not only make your life more difficult, but it can also impact your tenants. Disorganization can often lead to being unresponsive and hinder good communication. Having strategies and processes in place for managing your rentals will help you stay on top of your property’s and tenant’s needs. For example, having organized and proper forms for routine property inspections or notices of entry will make a huge difference in your tenant’s renting experience.
3. Use Designated Tools To Communicate
Whether it’s by email, text, phone or even in person, trying to reach a renter through many forms of communication can sometimes feel overwhelming. Responses can easily get lost, which can leave landlords and renters frustrated. Being explicit on how you will communicate with a renter in your lease is a best practice.
Having a designated communication method, such as a landlord messaging app for texting, will enable both of you to know the appropriate way to contact each other when necessary. Having all your communication in one place will also prevent any confusion or frustration and allow you to reference it when needed. It’s vitally important to document everything between you and your tenant — in the unfortunate event that the relationship goes south, you may need to reference it.
4. Get To Know The Renter
During the screening process, before you even offer a lease agreement, you should always take time to get to know the renter. While a tenant screening report lets you review the hard data to see if the renter will pass your background, credit and income criteria, it’s still a good idea to get to know the renter beyond the screening report.
Have a conversation before offering a lease to clear up any questions you might have. This also gives tenants the opportunity to ask you questions and get to know you as a landlord. It will help establish a solid foundation for the tenancy and set a good tone from the start.
5. Always Follow Landlord-Tenant Laws
While this one might seem obvious, always following the law as a landlord and being familiar with both federal, state and local Fair Housing laws is essential. This will protect you and your renters and make certain you do not do anything illegal or accidentally discriminatory. For example, knowing how much notice you need to give tenants before entering the property or how long you have to fix non-critical repairs will help you stay accountable and build trust with your renters.
Focusing on building great relationships with renters might not be the first thing new or even old landlords are worried about, but it truly makes a difference. Building trust and transparency with your renters allows room for both parties to work together on solutions to common renting problems, such as unpaid rent, early move-outs and so on. By implementing these tips, hopefully, you can avoid such problems and continue to increase the ROI on your property investments.
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