All landlords wish for respectful, timely, and easy-to-manage tenants. It can be hard to find tenants that are courteous, respectful, and who want to stay in the property long-term. Few landlords realize that their own actions can have a profound effect on how the happiness of their tenants.
By making a few small changes in the way that you manage the property, or your tenant-landlord relationship, you can help to ensure that your tenants are happy and comfortable in your property. Remember, a happy tenant makes a happy landlord!
Keep the Property in Shape
Your property may be an investment to you, but to a tenant, it is their home. It’s where they come to relax or spend time with their family. That’s why it’s important to keep the property maintained and well-cared for. Repaint when needed, see to repairs in a timely fashion, and be mindful of updates or renovations that may make the property more desirable.
Just because you don’t live there, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put any thought into the enjoyment of the property.
Everyone loves a deal, and tenants are no exception. Offering small incentives can make the tenant feel as if you are rewarding them or giving them a break. Incentives can include:
- A fee for utilities. While you should make sure that you won’t be losing out financially by setting a single amount for utilities year-round, it makes it easier for the tenant to know exactly what they will be paying each month.
- Offering a small discount if the tenant provides post-dated checks for a year at a time. Rewarding your tenant for essentially providing a year’s worth of rent at a time is a great way to ensure that there are no payment issues, and your tenant will feel like they happened on some good luck.
- Giving the first month free. It can be hard for some tenants to provide a damage deposit as well as the first month’s rent. By giving a tenant the first month free, they only have to come up with a damage deposit, which allows them to budget for the next month’s rent payment. You’ll lose out on a rent payment, but it increases the chances of filling your property more quickly.
There’s almost nothing worse than having a household emergency when you can’t get in touch with your landlord. Remember that you tenant is responsible for contacting you in the event of an emergency, no matter what time it is or if you are on vacation.
Make sure that you answer or return their calls as soon as possible and that you offer solutions quickly and easily. If you can’t be available yourself, consider hiring a property manager to handle property-related issues for you.
Try to have go-to contractors that you can rely on for certain issues, such as plumbing or heating problems, small repairs, etc. Since you may not have the time or the skills to fix whatever is broken, having trustworthy, timely, and efficient contractors will save both you and your tenant time and money.
Have a Lease
Create an inclusive and clear lease. Don’t just hand it to your tenant and except them to read it—go over it with them carefully. Make sure that they understand the allowances and restrictions of the property, as well as what is required of them.
By discussing the lease and what it includes, you can avoid future problems. Your tenant will appreciate that you took the time to explain the lease, and they will have a clear understanding of what they may or may not do while renting the property.
Be kind and answer any questions that they may have. Although you may understand all of the terms and conditions, someone who has never rented property before may not. The more helpful that you are, the more comfortable they will feel in renting from you.
If your property has any issues, such as a leaky faucet or a sub-par water heater, let the tenant know. Tell them about any recent repairs, known problems, or property-specific instructions. Being upfront, clear, and open about the property will give the tenant an idea of exactly what living there will entail.
Be honest about neighbors, amenities, and anything else you can think of. To find the right tenant for you, you’ll need them to know as much about the property as possible. If you don’t mention things beforehand, and they find out after moving in, you might end up with a broken lease on your hands and an empty house.
Make sure to disclose anything that you are legally obligated to address, such as bed bugs, code violations, recent flooding, etc.
If you have a tenant that consistently pays their rent on time, and who is respectful and courteous of both you and the property, don’t be too hard on them if they come to you and say that, for whatever reason, the rent is going to be late this month.
Of course, it’s not something that you would want to make a habit of, but if you’ve got a great tenant on your hands, who is responsible and financially trustworthy, don’t ruin the relationship by punishing them for what was likely an unforeseen or complicated circumstance.
We’ve all had bad days, or unexpected bills, so try to be understanding when you can. Chances are, your tenant will appreciate you more and will do their utmost to always make their payments on time.
In reality, while you are giving your tenant a place to live, they are paying your mortgage or putting money in your pocket. Landlord-tenant relationships are still business relationships, and just like a business may show customer appreciation, landlords should too.
Around the holidays, give your tenant a gift basket or a card. Showing them that you are a person (not just someone who cashes their checks) and that you are happy to have them around will make them feel positive about renting from you.
Help with seasonal costs, such as gardens, by offering to pay some of the bill for landscaping or for their potting supplies. The tenant should feel like the rental is their home, and having it look nice and well-maintained is a positive for you. That way, when the property goes up for rent, it will already have a reputation as an appealing home in the area.
Although landlords are required to give notice before entering a property, make sure that you use them. Even better still, call your tenant before providing notice to ask what day or time works for them. After working out an appointment that works for you both, drop by and leave a formal notice.
It’s better to make your tenant feel like they are in control of who enters their home and when. Instead of just leaving a notice on the door for them to find (or not) the next time they leave the house, communicate with them by phone or by email to let them have a say.
You’ll be entering the home either way, treating your tenant with respect and courtesy can go a long way.
Though it might seem like a lot of work, the basic idea behind retaining happy and long-term tenants is to treat them how you would want to be treated. Try to make it so that they are not only attached to the home that they have created, but to the excellent renting situation that you, the landlord, have created.
Make your presence a bonus in the rental relationship, as opposed to a deterrent. Tenants who have good experiences are more likely to stay in the property long-term, as well as recommend you to friends and family.
What do you do to retain tenants? Have you had any really great landlords? Let us know in the comments!