What Boundaries to Set as a Landlord?
As a landlord, you deal with a lot of issues, from showing and leasing your property to fielding maintenance requests, collecting rent, and more. Arguably the most crucial task is maintaining the business of your income property. What does that mean, exactly and should a landlord set boundaries? It means treating your income property as the business that it is, starting with how you interact with your tenants.
The boundaries you set, or don’t, as a landlord, greatly impact the success of your business. By establishing firm boundaries as a landlord, you’ll not only gain the respect of your tenants, but you’ll also come to find your property runs much more smoothly than before. Win-win? We’d say so.
So, what boundaries should you set as a landlord? These three simple, but effective guiding principles will help you establish your boundaries and you up for a successful career as a landlord.
Treat Your Tenant Like a Colleague
How would you treat the guy in HR you’ve only ever seen a few times? You’d offer a smile, a few words of small talk, but you’d never let him interrupt how well you do your job. You’d be friendly and kind, but brief and uninvolved. Bingo –– that’s precisely how you should treat your tenants. Your tenants are your business, so treat them as such.
Your Property is a Business
As the owner of the property, it’s hard not to feel connected to it. You want it to stay in good shape, and you want to be responsive to your tenant’s needs. That’s all fine and good, but they can wait until 8 am tomorrow –– right? Barring an emergency, there’s no reason for you to be meeting with your responding to requests from your tenants after business hours.
In fact, when a tenant requests a meeting or a phone call, treat it like you would a business meeting (since it is one, after all). Propose a time that would work for you, and put it in the calendar with a start and end time. Demonstrating proper respect for your time shows your tenants you’re serious about the business and will help them respect your time as well.
It would be best if you got in the habit of requiring written communications, rather than phone calls. This creates a record in case of later issues. If a phone call or in-person conversation occurs, type up what was discussed and email it to your tenant. Getting their buy-in on what was discussed and the outcome will be tremendously beneficial to your property and your relationship with the tenant, not to mention creating a paper trail.
Inspect Regularly, Respond Quickly
Two guiding principles for a landlord are to inspect your property regularly and to respond quickly to tenants. Why check your property regularly? Proactively addressing issues and looking to improve the unit even while your tenants are still living there can go a long way. Tenants will notice your commitment to the property, and likely be more respectful with how they treat it. Not to mention, by walking through the unit now and then, you will probably catch issues before they become big problems –– saving you hassle and money.
While it’s essential to review the condition of the property with some regularity, it’s also vital to respect their right to privacy. Remember, it’s not your home anymore. It’s your property, and it’s their home. Give them proper notice in accordance with your state and local ordinances.
As a landlord, you should always respond quickly and with respect. While you don’t need to be available for a late-night meeting or phone call, you do need to be sure you’re responding to your tenants’ needs in a timely fashion and being respectful when doing so.