We recently had a social media post that advised Landlords not to be friends with their Tenants. The responses were varied and spirited, to put it mildly. Given the importance of Landlord-Tenant relationships and some seemingly common misconceptions about them, we figured it was a topic to explore in-depth to see how to build a good relationship with your tenant.
Broadly speaking, our advice to Landlords is to be friendly and professional with Tenants.
Here’s why this is the tone we try to strike with Tenants and some tips for how anyone Landlord can build friendly, professional, and positive relationships with their Tenants.
Positive Landlord-Tenant Relationships Lead to Better Rental Outcomes
Good Landlord-Tenant relationships lead to better outcomes for both Landlords and Tenants. Perhaps most importantly for Landlords, they lead to better returns. Here are a few reasons why:
- Increased Tenant retention. Recent research found that around 50% of Tenants leave their rental property because they’re unhappy with their Landlord. Good relationships lead to less Tenant turnover and improved returns for Landlords.
- Quality Tenant referrals. One of the best ways to attract quality Tenants is through word of mouth. If your current Tenants are happy with their property, they’ll serve as a great resource when it comes to filling vacancies in other units.
- Increased commitment to keeping the property in good condition. Landlords that build strong relationships with Tenants show an increased investment in their rental property. This, in turn, leads to increased investment from Tenants and an increased desire to keep the property in good condition.
- Timely communication. When Landlords and Tenants have a good relationship, Tenants are more comfortable approaching the Landlord with problems or concerns. This means it’s likely that you’ll hear about maintenance issues or financial issues sooner, which leads to better outcomes.
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How to Build Good Relationships With Tenants
While there are clear benefits to building strong relationships with Tenants, it doesn’t always come naturally to Landlords. That said, there are some clear steps all Landlords can follow to build and maintain positive relationships with their Tenants.
Communication is the most important factor when it comes to good Landlord-Tenant relationships. Whenever possible, Landlords want to set the tone for good communication from day 1. Here are some simple ways to do this:
- Have a thorough Lease Agreement that clearly lays out all expectations for Landlords and Tenants. Prior to move in, go over the Lease with the Tenants and make sure Tenants understand their responsibilities.
- Specifically, go over the maintenance policy and how Tenants should deal with needed maintenance or repairs.
- Make sure that Tenants have your contact information and encourage them to contact you with any concerns or questions.
- Ask Tenants if they have any questions or if there’s anything else they need.
- A few days after move-in, reach out by email or phone to make sure Tenants have gotten settled and to see if they have any questions.
Good communication from the start will help set Landlords up for success, but it’s important to continue building on this strong foundation. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Regularly reach out to Tenants. This can be through an email, text, phone call, or in-person meeting, but it’s important to communicate with Tenants consistently, whether it be every month, every other month, or once a quarter. In this communication, keep Tenants updated on anything that’s happening at the property or that is upcoming. Perhaps most importantly, ask for Tenants feedback on how things are and any repairs that are needed. Tenants provide an invaluable perspective on the condition of your property, so ask for their feedback and listen to their responses. This regular communication doesn’t have to be formal but it’s an important way to let Tenants know that you care about their experience in your property and to keep lines of communication open.
- Promptly respond to Tenant concerns. If a Tenant reaches out with a non-emergent repair or maintenance request, it’s vital to respond in a timely manner. You should always respond within 24 hours, but the sooner the better. Make sure that your response is clear, concise, and addresses all of your Tenant’s concerns. This is vital for encouraging good communication, avoiding confusion, and building trust.
- Be reliable. Similarly, a key part of good communication with Tenants is being reliable and keeping your word. If you say that you’ll fix something by a certain date, make sure that you get it done. If for some reason you’re not going to be able to meet the deadline, let the Tenant know, apologize for the delay, and make every effort to get the work done as quickly as possible.
- Be approachable. You want your Tenants to feel comfortable communicating with you, whether it’s for a maintenance issue or because they’re anticipating that they’ll be late with rent.
Invest in Your Rental Property
Beyond communication, one of the best ways to build good relationships with your Tenants is to invest in your rental property. To make this a habit, it’s a good practice to dedicate a certain percentage of your rental income to reinvestment in the unit each year.
Tenants appreciate seeing Landlords improve the property, and this increased investment encourages Tenants to take even better care of the unit.
If this is a new practice for you, start by investing in Tenant-focused projects, prioritizing any projects that will address concerns raised by your existing Tenants. This shows that you listen to feedback, value your Tenants well being, and are committed to improving your rental property.
Reflect and Always Strive to Become a Better Landlord
As a Landlord, you won’t always get it right when it comes to Tenant communications. You’ll find that some things you’re doing are working and others aren’t. That’s just a part of the process.
The most successful Landlords consistently reflect on what’s working and what’s not working and strive to improve their practices to encourage better communication and strong relationships with Tenants.
One of the best ways to do this is by keeping records of all Tenant communications. You can periodically review these for trends, to evaluate response time, and to determine what practices need to be changed.
The Right Tools Make It EZ to Be a Great Landlord
Being a Landlord is a business. In every communication with Tenants, you should think of it as a customer interaction and work to provide your customer with the best experience possible. This isn’t always EZ to do, but it’s a skill that all Landlords can develop with practice and reflection.
Plus, you can help set yourself up for success by having the right tools in place. Visit ezLandlordForms.com to build a Lease that outlines all Tenant expectations, to customize a Tenant Welcome Letter, or to find important Tenant Notices.
Emily Koelsch, ezLandlordForms Contributing Writer
Emily Koelsch is a freelance writer and blogger, who primarily writes about business, real estate, and technology.