(Photo: Daniel Rothamel)
A happy tenant. A “benevolent landlord.” These are certainly underrated concepts in real estate investing. Even if you have a property manager, these concepts are important to understand, especially if you are trying to find a property manager to work with. Get educated on how to maximize cash flow, attract and retain tenants, and renovate your rental with the end customer in mind. A happy tenant, one who is satisfied with their living arrangement but respects your authority as a landlord and desire to keep rents at market levels, is the holy grail of real estate investing.
Make Sure the Tenants Know the Rules
The quickest way to piss off a tenant, and damage the relationship from the get go, is to have an argument or dispute. First of all, tenants are expected to know (and follow) the rules, and ignorance is no excuse. Keeping that in mind, it’s in your best interest to actively ensure they know the rules and do what you can to make them very clear. If the tenant clearly knows your expectations as a landlord, they are more likely to follow the rules. Most people want to play by the rules and stay on good terms with their landlords. Make it easy for them to do so, and you’ll have full occupancy in your rental for long chunks of time.
Answer the Phone Promptly!
If the tenant calls you, or if they call your property manager, you/they should answer the phone or return calls promptly. Email is great as well, and quickly becoming a preferred method of contact for non-emergencies or general questions. Good email etiquette is responding to a tenant before the end of the day, or at the very worst, no later than 24 hours. If the email appears to be urgent, or even bordering on an emergency, call the tenant ASAP to avoid a crisis. Keeping contact will keep your customer in your home as a satisfied and happy tenant.
[su_animate type=”rotateIn” duration=”1″][contentblock id=subscribe][/su_animate]
Complete Repairs on Time
As a companion to answer the phone, being prompt and responsive on maintenance issues is also critical. If the furnace is on the fritz, the toilet is clogged, or the refrigerator stops working, you need to respond quickly by scheduling a maintenance visit. Nothing will send tenants out of your property quicker than deferred maintenance. They will certainly feel that they live in shabby or unkept conditions and they will want out of there.
It’s okay to have a little self respect–if the tenant is rude and demands you immediately show up to look at a minor faucet leak, politely explain that you are unavailable at the short notice time they requested, but will be sure to schedule a maintenance visit ASAP. A solid tenant/landlord relationship is a two-way street–respect goes both ways.
Don’t Jack the Rent Up Too Fast
Sudden or unusual increases in rent will make the tenant disappear faster than a melting snow cone in hell. Sure, you can always get a new tenant if someone is willing to pay your new rent price, but a new tenant may not be near as great as your old one and you have vacancy costs while you wait to re-lease the unit. Keep rent increases at 2-3% per year, perhaps more if a new tenant comes in and your market is hot and competitive, i.e., there aren’t enough rentals to keep up with those who are looking to rent.
If you aren’t already using a property manager to help alleviate the landlord/tenant headaches, these basic tips should help keep things positive with potential and current tenants. If you continue to have problems, sometimes you just have to deal with these bad tenants and even evict them if the issues are insurmountable.